Just then an angel of GOD called to him out of Heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes, I’m listening.” “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.” Genesis 22:11-12 (MSG)
Since Bible days right from Noah men have built altars as a place of meeting, praying to and worshiping God. In the Old Testament right up to the coming and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, men would offer to God animal sacrifices on the altar.
Abraham is one of the men who built an altar to God to worship. One time God asked him to offer his dear son on the altar.
Abraham went ahead to offer his son but while he was about to sacrifice him God stopped him saying – Genesis 22:12 “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.”.
Here Abraham demonstrated that God was everything to him, that he totally surrendered to God in absolute trust.
Thus, the altar is a place of surrender where we declare that God is our all in all.
Today we are not required to build physical stone or earthen altars and offer to God animal sacrifices on them. We have an altar prepared by God Himself. Hebrews 13:10(NIV) We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat.
The Tabernacle referred to here is the one of Moses and it represents the old covenant of the law, the Levitical priesthood and the animal sacrifices that were offered by the Israelites in order to cover their sins and be accepted by God.
Anyone who’s still trusting in keeping the law of Moses in order to be accepted by God cannot partake from the New Altar that God Himself has prepared for us His beloved. This New Altar where we are now under the New Covenant is the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God that was slain to redeem us.
This is where we bring everything to God. At the cross not only our sins, condemnation, sickness, curse and poverty was taken up by God but even our own human efforts and worldly wisdom were surrendered to God.
Paul expresses this surrender of all of himself where his old self is gone.
Galatians 2:20 (AMPC) I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Bringing anything to the altar in this sense means realizing and acknowledging that it’s no longer about you and what you have or haven’t done but what Christ has done for you that sets you right with God and then empowers you to act and live right before God and with fellow man.
Surrender your merits and demerits on the altar of the Cross of Christ. It’s not your good works but His finished work that established an everlasting relationship and fellowship with God and you.
Then in view of all this that the Lord has done for us we can therefore bring and offer to God on the altar sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.
Hebrews 13:15 (AMPC)Through Him (Jesus), therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.