We Have an Altar

We Have An Altar - Sun Mar 20am

You’re desperate! The guilt and shame you feel is unbearable. You long for forgiveness! You need to throw yourself at the altar and make things right with God, but you are too weak to make the journey to the temple. Even if you were able to get to the temple, you have no money! Nothing to even barter with, to pay the outrageous price of an animal to give to the priest. No sacrifice means no forgiveness! It’s hopeless!

Go back a couple of thousand years and just imagine being at the mercy of this corrupted religious system man had created. Can you hear the helpless cry of the poor, the lame, the broken ones?

Then there’s the worthless sinners, the lowest of the low. I’m sure many longed for an altar to seek repentance, but they were already hopelessly condemned by the law and the religious leaders. They had to die for their horrendous deeds. A woman caught in the very act of adultery was shown no mercy: she was to be stoned to death! The scribes and Pharisees pressed Jesus to agree with them. But little did they know when they cast the woman at Jesus’ feet, they were throwing her into a whole new dimension of an altar where mercy rejoices over judgement. Jesus “…said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (John 8:7).

Have you ever felt as condemned as this woman?

I feel like I’ve gone too far to even be worthy enough to step foot in a church, let alone throw myself on their altar. Even if I get enough nerve to go to their altar, all I have to offer God is a broken, messed up life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:17

If your heart is broken and you are sorry for your sin, then you have the best sacrifice you could possibly offer up to God.

An altar is always the path to God.

The only way to God is through an altar. Okay, but what if I want to surrender my life to God right now? I am nowhere near a church. I need to find an altar!

An altar is simply a place to meet with God. It’s not just a piece of furniture located at the front of a church sanctuary. Church should be a refuge, an ideal place to meet God, but it’s not the only place. God will meet you wherever you are, regardless of who you are.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

                                                           Romans 10:13

When you call on the name of Jesus, you are making an altar right where you are!

The Old Testament saints made altars everywhere! Starting with Abel then Noah, as well as Abram, Isaac, Jacob and the list continues on. In fact, in the Old Testament, the word altar is mentioned over 400 times. From mountaintops to valleys, in the middle of deserts and alongside the riverbanks, nowhere was too far out of God’s presence to build an altar.

But you don’t understand! I have never even prayed! I don’t even know how to pray! You don’t know where I’m at or what I’ve done. I’m not sure God will even honor my altar!

God is no respecter of persons! Scripture says whosoever…shall be saved. Not whosoever, except… Whosoever includes the drug addict and the dealer, the prostitute and the porn addict, the hurting and the hated, the abused and the abandoned…Whosoever excludes no one!

Whosoever included the adulteress woman in John 8. While the religious leaders did their best to keep her from their altar, in doing so they were only condemning themselves.

Have others labeled you as a hopeless case, hindering your efforts to get to an altar? Or can you relate more to the scribes and Pharisees? Do you enjoy the comfort of your religion while looking down at those who aren’t as “churched” as you?

Much of Christ’s ministry while on this earth was focused on those that others had deemed worthless. The religious leaders condemned Jesus for ministering to the publicans and sinners. People may condemn you and even exclude you from their “Christian” circle. But Christ doesn’t condemn or exclude anyone.

Jesus is calling…

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

 

We have an Altar.

God’s loving mercy covers it all. You don’t have to make an altar because God has provided one for you.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Hebrews 13:8-9

Don’t get bogged down in doctrines or man’s religious systems. It’s really very simple! You don’t have to make a long journey, or go through a ritual or ceremony like those that serve the tabernacle. You have an altar available to you 24/7!

 

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Hebrews 13:10

The word altar appears in the New Testament in only 23 verses most of which either are referring to history in the Old Testament or a heavenly vision in the book of Revelation. Hebrews 13:10 is the only verse that stands alone in the context: We have an altar! You have an altar! You have a place to go to meet God. You have a refuge to find mercy and forgiveness, peace and comfort, healing or deliverance. Whatever you need can be found in this altar!

When Jesus suffered and spilt His own blood on the cross, He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. You don’t have to go through a priest, the pope, a preacher, or a religious system.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

                                                     Hebrews 13:11-12

Jesus willingly laid down His life to be our sacrifice. He conquered death, hell, and the grave. Now He is seated at the right hand of God, acting as our great high priest.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Hebrews 13:13-16

The priests, sacrifices, and altars of the Old Testament were just a type of what was to come. Like in the Old Testament, you still must go through an altar to get to God. Halleluiah! Jesus fulfilled all of it! Christ is your altar!

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

No matter where you are, you can call on the Lord Jesus right now! Christ is your altar, but it’s up to you what you do with Him. You can ignore the altar, trample over it, kick it, neglect it. Or you can take hold of it and humbly bow down before it, and let Jesus change your life. Submit all you have to Christ. He wants to take everything you have, the good and the bad, and use it for His honor and glory.

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