Come To The Altar

Come to the Altar

Altars. For the modern believer, the altar represents a place of surrender, perhaps of petition, intercession, or a step of faith.

For biblical characters, the altar meant sacrifice.

And sacrifice meant death.

Death and bloodshed.

When Abraham and Isaac climbed Mount Moriah, it wasn’t for prayer. It wasn’t to rededicate their lives. It was to worship through sacrifice and something or someone would lose their life.

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’

‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied.

‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’

Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.” (Gen 22:6-8 NIV)

That day, Abraham sacrificed, not Isaac, though it looked like that initially, but his right to himself. Abraham’s right to do what he pleased. Even his right to favor Isaac.

God asks the same from us. Consider the following verses:

  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” Matthew 16:24-25
  • “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:5-7
  • For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

Modern life keeps death at a distance. The food I eat comes neatly packaged. I don’t have to wring the neck of the chicken we ate last night. The occasional funeral is as close to death as I get.

Even the cross becomes a picture. A piece of art. Jewelry I wear around my neck. Rough wood, stained with blood, punctured by nails, and bearing a criminal, is not part of the justice system in 2018.

Real death leaves a hole.

Life stops.

Breath stills.

A beating heart falls silent.

What needs to die in you today?

Take it to the altar and put that thing to death.

Workout of the Week: Come to the Altar

Memory Verse: For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

Meditation Passage: Genesis 22

Just Do It: Take it to the altar and put that thing to death.