“Bring all your needs to the Altar …” was a popular chorus emphasizing the need to “come to the Altar and bring your needs.” The NT speaks of 4 sacrifices that we as NT believers are to place on the Altar:
- Our bodies—loving the Lord with our “strength” and making our bodies available for His service (Romans 12:1,2).
- Our money and possessions—not just the tithe or offerings, for all belongs to the Lord and we are to be stewards of His bounty (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16).
- Praise—the fruit of our lips and lives (Hebrews 13:15).
- Good deeds—sharing Christ “in word and deed” that “men might glorify our Father which is in heaven” (Hebrews 13:16; Matthew 5:16).
The Altar is Christ, the LORD (Heb. 13:10)! Every one of these sacrifices are just that—sacrifices that are contrary to the ordinary “fleshly things” (Romans 8:5-8), the comfortable, the extra, or the leftovers!
In the OT, the Altar was a place of surrender and death with the old flesh screeching, halting, screaming for escape and release, and of smelling the Fire that would burn it to its final end! There were no live sacrifices placed on the Altar, just dead ones! The stench of death, splattered blood, the putrefying smell of waste, and the cries of the slaughtered filled the air. Sacrifice was costly, deadly, and final! There were no other options, no exceptions, and no retreat, if the Altar was to “catch fire”—God’s Fire representing God’s approval and glorious Presence!
Steps to the shekinah (glory) in the tabernacle began at the altar, not the mercy seat … the place of smoke and fire, not the place of incense … the place of stones, not the place of gold … the place of repentance, not the place of exhilaration. It all began at the altar!
The Lord God prescribed in detail its construction, its approved sacrifices, the manner in which the services were to be rendered, and the priests as to their qualifications and consecration to the priesthood. Nothing was left to man’s reasonings or opinions, or to the will of the people (Exodus 27:1-8).
Beginning with Sacrifice at the brazen altar (altar of judgment); Sanctification at the brazen laver (altar of self-judgment); Shining Revelation at the candlestick (the only light in the holy place); Supplication at the altar of incense (fire from the brazen altar—true intercession); Sustenance at the table of showbread (the table of His face or “of His presence” [NASB]); and Satisfaction at the mercy seat stained with blood (inside the ark of the covenant was the broken law [reflecting sin and man’s rebellion], Aaron’s rod that budded [final resurrection], and some manna [“What is it?”]); and finally to the shekinah! Hallelujah!!
In a theocracy, God dictates! We believe and obey! He delights in hearing our voice and seeing our face (Song of Solomon 2:14,15). Oh, to “behold Him” and be “transfigured” by Him from “glory to Glory”—from transfiguration to translation! What a day that will be (John 17:23)!
On the other hand, Cain, Nimrod, Nadab, Abihu, some of Israel’s and Judah’s kings (especially Jeroboam, Ahab, and Ahaz), NT Pharisees and scribes, and a host of the religious and “non-religious” of this world throughout the centuries to this very day have determined in rebellious defiance—or in some cases ignorance—their own altar with its sacrifices, means, and priesthood! Jeroboam’s decision to erect an altar 31 miles north of Jerusalem in Shechem (I Kings 12) and Ahaz’s duplication of the Assyrians’ altar (I Kings 16) represent classic examples of man’s attempt to provide a syncretism for worship: man’s way and God’s way can co-exist without doing damage to either!
Satanic counterfeits always have something of the “original”, something of the “past”, something that reflects Truth, but always outside of God’s boundaries of the “old paths” and the “landmarks” of God’s Word, rightly divided and interpreted!
At Jeroboam’s altar in Shechem, outwardly everything looked “fine” when compared with that of Jerusalem. He created similar looks, fervency, actions, programs, sacrifices, feasts, and priests! And the fire … where did it come from? Ahab was not that subtle. He built an altar to Baal and “worshiped him.” Ahaz, king of Judah, for a while followed the Lord, then went fully into idolatry and made his son “pass through the fire,” copying the abominations of the heathen the Lord had cast out from them. Ahaz visits the Assyrian king, views his altar, and returns to build his own altar in Jerusalem, a replica of the Assyrian one, to impress the Assyrian king on his forthcoming visit. He began with placing this false altar and god alongside the true Altar of God, but finally moved God’s Altar to a place of obscurity … in the corner!!
There are many obvious, as well as hidden, lessons that can be learned from these OT illustrations of NT truth. The Word of the Lord is that offerings that are without heart, holiness, and truth, and are from vainglory (done for pretense, show, and honor) are an abomination (Isaiah 1; Malachi 1)! He does not delight in sacrifices when the offerer tramples on His Word and ways by sins of the flesh and of the Spirit (II Cor. 7:1): pride, covetousness, greed (all in the name of the Lord), pleasure, fleshly thinking, reasonings, spiritual laziness, an “anything goes” approach, and fleshly manifestations contrary to the Spirit and Glory of God and Christ.
It is no wonder then, that in true revival, the false altars were first cast down and destroyed (Judges 6; II Chron. 14; II Kings 11, 18, 23) and the true Altar was restored, the priesthood sanctified, and renewal of worthy sacrifices and offerers was again accepted by our holy and loving God (Ezra restored the Temple and Altar, then Nehemiah restored the walls)!
It is only at this Altar of God that rivers can flow from under the “threshold of the Temple toward the east … on the south side of the Altar … waters were running out on the right side … north gate eastward …” It is these waters from the Temple that bring healing, life, fruitfulness for all to partake, and abundance.
Oh, God, let the River from Your Temple, under the threshold of humility and holiness, through Your Altar, reach me, mine, and all those who need not just a “drink” (Heb. 6:4) but an Altar experience of true salvation and reconciliation with You, Lord and God!
Thank you for all of you who support us in prayer, finances, and encouragement. The Lord’s and your faithfulness is evident. All of our needs have been supplied. We give Him and you thanks! May the Lord recompense you all. You are in our hearts and prayers continually!
To our only wise God and Savior Jesus Christ, be glory both now and forever …
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira