Gen. 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar
By Richard Lodwick
The word altar(s) appears in the Bible 429 times. Here is the first mention. It is the Noahic altar. It is immediately after the flood, and the fact that God saved them in it. Now, on the heels of our series on Beth-el, where there was an altar, let’s look at this great thing in the Bible.
Altar: (Heb. mizbe’ah, from a word meaning “to slay”), any structure of earth (Exodus 20:24) or unwrought stone (20:25) on which sacrifices were offered. Altars were generally erected in conspicuous places (Genesis 22:9; Ezekiel 6:3; 2Kings 23:12; 16:4; 23:8; Acts 14:13). The word is used in Hebrews 13:10 for the sacrifice offered upon it– the sacrifice Christ offered. The altar of burnt offering (Exodus 30:28), called also the “brasen altar” (Exodus 39:39) and “the table of the Lord” (Malachi 1:7). We’ll cover this more later. Remember well Gen. 2:17, Lev. 17:11, & Ro. 6:23.
An altar, to the Lord, is a very special, powerful, and meaningful thing. As we saw, God sees them this way along with what is offered on them. It is on the altar that a sacrifice is made.. to God. It is where we honor God, and His holiness, and our lack of it. It is where we honor Him by giving up something that is of value to us, where we say to Him YOU, God are more valuable to me than this that I offer! It is also where we offer back to Him that which He demands, and to the One Who alone has rights to it. The altar must be holy as well as the sacrifice offered upon it. Notice also there is fire on the altars that consumes the sacrifices.
I’ll get right to the point. How is your altar? My altar? Have we abandoned them in this age of grace? What about the old “family altar?” It is where we offer to the Lord our time, our minds, and our family! As often as we sacrifice, it is that often that we offer something to God.. and see Him work. It is where we are faithful and stay close. I think of the hymn, Nothing Between here. May I ask… were altars for only back then, and not for now? (See Ps. 4:5, 116:17, & Heb. 13:15) I know, we have not animal sacrifices anymore, and we do not have altars of stone or wood, but do we have one at all anymore? (See Heb. 13:10). Is our life really one of hit and miss with God? Is He nothing more than a “car hop” at our fast food life style where He has nothing more than a wink and a nod? I pray that these studies bring us back to an altar at our Bethel, and if necessary cause us to rebuild it and show us how to respect Him more.
Noah’s altar was an altar of thanks. Have we got one? His altar was an altar of reverence. Is ours? Are we? His altar was one of seriousness of Who God is. Is He still? I said in the Bethel series that He honors those who honor Him in such ways. I will repeat that. Altars are where man draws near to God in the only way God set forth. How close are we? Do we sacrifice ourselves and time, to and for things of this world…. or Him?
All CBBI Mini-series are authored by Richard Lodwick.