The Altar

Scripture Reading — Genesis 12:1-9

There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
—Genesis 12:8 — 

When I was in southeast Asia on pastoral visits with our Youth with a Mission (YWAM) teams, I stayed in hotels and homes that had altars set up for Buddha. People burned incense and food sacrifices on them as a way to honor their gods and their ancestors.

Using altars and sacrifices (offerings) goes back to the earliest times in human history (Genesis 4:3-5). What’s important, however, is that we worship the one true God—and with the right attitude.

When God called Abram to leave his homeland, he obeyed in faith. Arriving at Shechem in the land of Canaan, Abram built an altar. Then he traveled toward Bethel, and he built another altar. The altar was his meeting place with God. There he took responsibility for his sin, and the door to heaven was open for communication with God. As Abram worshiped, he received promises and abundant blessings from the Lord.

For New Testament believers, the altar is the cross of Christ. Christ’s blood continues to wash the dirtiest of sinners clean and opens the gate of heaven. The danger is to neglect the altar and let sin go un-confessed, driving a wedge between us and God. When that happens, we find it difficult to hear God’s voice, and our love for him wanes. An active altar points toward the one true God, delights the heart of our Lord, and brings revelation and light into our lives.


Father, in Jesus’ name, help us to draw near to you with hearts full of faith, celebrating our relationship with you. Amen.


Devotion topics: Bible, Books of the Bible, Genesis, Christianity, Doctrine, Heaven