Altar–a place of worship—
…where sacrifices are offered or incense burned (NIV Concordance). An altar is a raised area in a house of worship where people can honor God with offerings.(vocabulary.com)
Stage—a raised floor or platform, typically in a theater, on which actors, entertainers, or speakers perform:
Therefore, the frequent reference to the raised platform in churches today as a stage instead of an altar is very disturbing. When did the Altar become a stage? Is the area of praise more about performance rather than reverence?
We see in Genesis 12:7 The Lord appears to Abram and says, “To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he builds an altar there to the Lord, who had appears to him.” The NIV study bible states, “Altars were more than places of sacrifice, they symbolized communion with God and commemorated notable encounters with him. Abram regularly builds altars to God throughout Genesis:
1. For prayer and worship
2. As reminders of God’s promise to bless him.
Building altars helps Abram remember that God was at the center of his life. Regular worship helps us remember what God desires and motivates us to obey him.”
God’s specific instructions for the Altar
“The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offering on it.” Leviticus 6:12-13
It’s easy to want to skip a lesson such as this, since Jesus paid the ultimate price on the altar of Calvary and the sacrificial system does not apply to us as Christians, yet we need to understand as followers of Christ just how sacred that place of worship is to God.
Exodus 27:1-8 describes the altar. The altar is made of acacia wood—durable, incorruptible, resisting decay…and it bore heavy thorns. The altar is square and overlaid with bronze and under it, a bronze network. A horn at each corner of the altar is placed to secure the sacrifice.
Jesus says in Mathew 23:18-20—-(as he is condemning the religious leaders for their hypocrisy) You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath. You blind men! Which is greater; the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and everything on it.”
Beth Moore says, in the study of “A Woman’s Heart God’s Dwelling place, “If the altar, representing the vehicle or means by which we bring an offering, is unacceptable, how can the sacrifice placed upon it be acceptable?” (Moore, 2007. p. 78)
The priests are given specific instructions in carrying out tasks for the altar, anointing the altar, ordainment to prepare them to minister before the Lord and to the people. We must understand, if they disobeyed they would die. (Lev. 8:35) When they obeyed….they saw the glory of the Lord. (Lev. 9:6)
The tabernacle (and especially the altar) is shadow of the throne in Heaven:
Lev. 6: 12-13– The fire must be kept burning; it must not go out.
Joshua 6:13—The priests blow the trumpets continually as they march the ark around Jericho.
Rev. 4—-The elders and creatures around the throne in heaven, ‘Day and night never stop saying: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come.
Moreover, this shadow of heaven is to be place of reverence and holiness on earth.
So we know, as New Testament believers in the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and His rising from the dead on the 3rd day; we bear the sacred Holy Spirit within us. Hebrews 13:10 says, “We have an altar from which those who sacrifice at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” Christ suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (Heb. 13:12) ‘Through Jesus , therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name. (Heb. 13:15)
Furthermore, with the New Testament view, may we revere His house and God’s established instructions for worship. The altar, is not an ancient relic but a template to understand true humility. Hearts will seek to offer Him all glory through song and praise, never diminishing the altar as a place of performance.
Alas, as we come to Him today, the living Stone—-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—-we are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:4-5) We will offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:2) in worship, praise, obedience, giving to others, caring for others, and revering our place of worship as Holy and consecrated as our hearts long to be with Him. May we not grieve the Holy Spirit with unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander or malice (Eph. 4:29-30). Allow us Lord, the awareness to approach the throne of grace with hearts willing and fire that will never burn out.
Love you! Have a blessed day.