The text for this sermon comes from Genesis 12:4-9.
The title of this sermon is: Building An Altar.
Read Genesis 12:4-9.
We have already seen that Abram is a man of faith. It takes obedience and faith to follow God to a land that Abram had never seen. He did not know if God was leading him to a place where he could live and have gardens and animals or if God was leading him to a place of dirt and rocks.
Abram left and follows God’s directions. He walks not sure of where he is going and takes the time to build an altar to the LORD.
What is the significance of the altars that Abram builds?
Altars were mainly used for sacrifice. Animals would be taken to the the altar and sacrificed as atonement for sins. Leviticus 1:3-9.
Abram, while on his journey, passed through the land of Canaan. The Canaanites had their own religion and had altars upon which they made sacrifices. However, Abram, as to not involve himself in the same superstitions and false worship makes a new altar. Abram’s altar is intentionally made as an altar of gratitude.
Notice that as soon as the LORD shows up and speaks to Abram, he builds the altar. This is an act of worship. Abram wanted to call upon the name of the LORD.
Why is this important? Why did Abram choose there to build an altar?
It would not be difficult to see or find the false gods that these people worshipped. An inward worship of God is shown in the outward expression of professing Him and making Him known. Abram’s altar is built to God but it is also a reproach to the altars that the Canaanites make sacrifices on because their sacrifices are in vain.
Abram’s altar is an external sign of worship.
The altar is about the heart.
If you go to the altar and your heart is not in a position of repentance, your sacrifice is in vain. You would have killed an animal for no purpose.
If your heart is not right when you worship God, you are no different than any other hypocrite. Hypocrites know the words to the songs, they know the right words to say but their hearts are from Jesus.
We are often no different than the Canaanites. We all make sacrifices.
We sacrifice our kids on the altar of the flatscreen
We sacrifice our spouse on the altar of stuff
We sacrifice our family on the altar of selfishness
We sacrifice our church on the altar of pride
Those are the wrong types of sacrifices.
When you want to praise, worship, be grateful, or just meet with God, build an altar. This is a marker that will remind you of where you were when God showed up and met with you. Whether he just comforted you, delivered you, worked in an area where you needed a miracle, guided you, answered your prayer, build an altar.
Abram called upon the name of the LORD.
To call upon the name of the LORD means that you are either going to Him in prayer or celebrating Him with praises. You can worship Him through prayer and thanksgiving.
You set up these altars and keep moving until God kills you or Jesus comes back.
The cross is the altar upon which Jesus was sacrificed. Those who serve the tent are under the Jewish law such as the Pharisees and cannot partake in what we eat. There is an allusion here that goes back to Leviticus in which the priests were allowed the meat that was sacrificed. The reason those that are under the law cannot partake in what we have is because they do not believe the gospel.
To eat of the sacrifice made on the cross means to believe that Jesus came in the flesh. That he lived a perfect, sinless life. That he was the perfect sacrifice atoning for the sins of all those that He draws to Himself and He raised from the dead.
We celebrate this sacrifice at the altar when we take communion.
It is because of Jesus that you do not walk into the church, slice an animal open and have the pastor pour the blood on the altar.
When Jesus’ blood was poured out on the cross, that was sufficient for the atonement of your sins. One sacrifice.
Now like Abram, you can build altars in your life that show where God did something in your life that has a significant meaning to you.
Your outward proclamation and love of Jesus is a sign of the worship and praise going on inside you. No talking about Jesus…No sharing the gospel…No worship and praise.
At the cross, Jesus took your place. Jesus took upon Himself your sin and exchanged it for His righteousness. At the cross you died.
Your hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness…dead
Jesus takes your sin and replaces it with Himself.
vs 13-14 You have no city here. You may live here but you do not belong here. You are a nomad. A wanderer. A stranger.
Build your altars. You need reminders of where Jesus worked in your life. When you look back, you can see where He rained down grace and mercy, joy, comfort, and peace.
You are not seeking the comforts of this life because they are no substitute for the comfort and peace of Jesus. There is an urgency of you sharing the gospel with people and you cannot be satisfied settling for anything less than obedience to Jesus.