Altar. A high place. A place of sacrifice.
Here’s the stats. Noah built an altar following the flood, to recognize God’s faithfulness and power. (8:20-21). Abram built one after realizing that God’s promise was really true (12:6-7), two more to communicate with God (12:8), and one to give thanks (13:18).
Recognition. Worship. Communication. Gratitude.
I don’t see many raised-rock altars in backyards these days. So, what’s changed? Everything. And nothing.
Our way of life would be unrecognizable to the Genesis crowd. We have electricity and indoor toilets and cars. (Thank you, Jesus!) We talk to anyone, anywhere, instantly. We are entertained and informed by a thousand television channels, in the privacy of our own homes. Google has the answer to anything. And we don’t sacrifice animals on altars. (Again. Thank you.)
Yet, absolutely nothing has changed about God. His plan for our world is the same today as it was the moment he said, “Let there be light.” And human failure remains the same, too. Since Genesis Three, we’ve been disappointing God and acting in ways that reject Truth.
The most significant and profound change is where we put our altars. Not on hillsides or mountaintops, but in our hearts. And here’s the thing, just as God didn’t provide altars for Noah or Abram, he doesn’t provide them for us either. They must be built.
If I want to experience true worship and intimacy with God. If I want to hear his voice and fall into his presence, then I have to build an altar. Just as it was an intentional act for Abram. It must be an intentional act for me. Every day.
The beautiful reality is that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit living in us. If that’s not a reason to build an altar, I don’t know what is.