An encounter at the altar can change your life and the life of a nation in a moment. An altar is not just a physical place. It is a place of sacrifice and worship. It is meant to draw us closer to God. We like to make religious monuments to things that were meant to be transforming and life giving. We too often observe religious activities as just something we do instead of what they actually are. I can go back to every time that God radically touched, healed, set free and directed my life, each time was at an altar. Some were in a church where we typically say the altar is but others were in my living room, my bedroom or where ever I made the altar.
In 1 Kings we have the account of Elijah as he is facing off with king Ahab and all the false prophets of baal. After the people of baal made a fool of themselves and danced and cut themselves all day long with nothing to show for it Elijah took center stage.
The first thing he did was call the people and have them come around. (1 Kings 17:30) This is so important because too often people think that certain things are not for them or just for other people. Religion will say “that is not for you” even though God is saying come on and join Me. Elijah called the people around as he rebuilt the altar, he made them a part of not only what he was doing but what God was doing. He took 12 stones and used them as he rebuilt the altar. The stones represented the 12 tribes of Israel. The altar was built with that which represented the people and their past. One of the greatest lies of the devil is to tell you that your past disqualifies you for a future in God. The devil is a liar. You are significant! Your choices or circumstances do not determine your value. Jesus already established what you were worth when He died for you. Don’t ever see yourself as less than the price He already paid. You see you don’t build an altar out of what you want to be, you build it out of who you are. You are the most important thing to God.
The next thing Elijah did was to dig a trench around the altar. That is not insignificant. You see we often come to God and allow what He says or does to just run over us and down the hill so to speak. The trench was put there to hold the water. The Bible describes the Word (Ephesians 5:26) and Spirit (John 7:37-39) both as water. God doesn’t want the altar to be an event but something we carry with us forever. We can’t allow what God is doing in our lives to get washed away or just roll down the hill. It is our responsibility to hold on to those things and let them saturate us to shape us into who God has created us to be. The trench gives us this picture that as the people were being established in who they were and meant to be that it just wasn’t a thought that faded away but it soaked them so they would remember and begin to walk in who they were.
When the time came for the sacrifice the Fire of the Lord came down from heaven (1 Kings 18:38). It says it licked up the bull, wood, stones, dust and even the water. Everything was consumed even the stones, those hard stones. What a powerful picture. Those hard stones didn’t stand a chance from the fire of God. You see those hard stones are usually the things that stop us from coming to God. Many times they are our past or those things we have been through that have hardened our heart to God. Even for something as hard as a rock God has a promise. God said He would replace our hearts of stone with one of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26) That is so awesome. God takes those old hard things from our lives and on the altar they are consumed.
On the altar that fire that consumed everything also started a fire in the heart of the people that cried out to God. As a response to that rekindled fire they captured the false prophets of baal so they could be executed that very day. They removed that which called them away from the One True God. Then the people could once again walk in their identity as the children of God.
Join us at the Altar. Let the fire of God touch your life so you can be everything God purposed for you.