“And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord that was before the porch of the Lord.” — 2 Chronicles 15:8
Great is the Lord, and he is greatly to be praised. I would like to share an excerpt from a recent message. It originates here in the 15th chapter of 2 Chronicles at verse 8.
Asa, after receiving a prophecy from Oded, takes courage, puts away the abominable idols out of the land of Judah and Benjamin, and he “renews the altar.” As much as a foundation is important to a house, the altar is of equal importance, if not greater, in any church.
In biblical history, the altar is where God spoke to the fathers of the faith, such as Abraham and Moses. It is where we have encounters with God. The altar remains to be the place where we bring our children when they are dedicated back to God. It’s where we are joined together in holy matrimony. Even at the expiration of life, we bring the bodies back to the altar to give final respect and for a last viewing.
In preparing this message, I did some background study on the altar, and I ran across an article whereby one pastor writes that God never told pastors to call people to the altar. It’s all in how you interpret the Scripture.
It’s important for all believers to understand the times and seasons in order to keep God as priority in your life. It has becomes more difficult to speak truth in a time when truth is not welcome by a society that is passing laws that go against everything God has spoken. It’s even more difficult to teach biblical standards and principles to Christians who are into 21st-century idol worship and don’t realize it. There is a historical gap that needs to be bridged when teaching the word of God.
There is a problem in teaching truth and embracing of the truth due to the historical context of biblical writers who differ greatly from that of the modern-day reader. The way to bridge the historical gap is to become familiar with the historical setting in which the writers lived. They lived during a time period spanning 16 centuries, from Moses to John, and in a constantly changing world situation.
An altar represents the occasion and place where we have had a personal encounter with God. We may not always be able to make physical altars, but they can be established in our hearts. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating the grandest altar of all — the cross of Calvary, upon which the Son of God was laid forth as the sacrifice to reconcile all humankind to God and make possible the infusion of our lives with meaning, the forgiveness of all sins and the promise of eternal life.
I pray for restoration and the renewing of the altar that the church of God will continue to have encounters with the God of the Bible.
Murray is the senior pastor of Fellowship of Love Church of God in Christ and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.