The Israelites had it no different from us. They had the immense desire to follow and worship God, but they also had the pressures of the world, the battles of their enemies and their temptations to give in to their own ways.
Their story, as archaic as it may be, it still resembles some of the issues the we face today when serving God. After all, He is still the same God.
It took a long road to built the desired temple which was filled with much spiritual meaning. The altar, located inside the temple, was the designated place for encountering God’s presence.
The Israelites suffered to see their enemies take down their city and the temple devastated. Their time in the exile after the fall of Jerusalem was filled with great discouragement but the time came when they were able to return to their city and rebuilt the Temple.
The altar was rebuilt first. They couldn’t wait to start offering god worship and praise and experience God’s presence there. Despite the recollection of the past and fears of what surrounded then; they couldn’t wait to start all over again.
“Even though the people were afraid of the local residents, they rebuilt the altar at its old site. Then they began to sacrifice burnt offering on the altar of the Lord each morning and evening. ” Ezra 3:3-4
We are the temple of the living God.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
There is an altar right inside of us where God wants to meet with us as we worship Him with our lives. Just as the altar that the hebrews built, we need to care for and take joy in encountering God in the altar of our lives.
The enemy will try to ruin your altar because his purpose is to keep you from encountering real presence with God.
If your altar has been torn down or you haven’t been offering the right sacrifices in it; God is waiting for you to lift again an altar to Him. He wants to be praised and he wants to meet with you there.
When we see our lives as altars before God, we may find a lifelong commitment to follow God. The responsibility to maintain a place of worship in ourselves becomes a heartfelt desire rather than an obligation.
It doesn’t really matter if we’ve been a long time away from God, like the Israelites in the exile, or what we’ve done, or what we’ve become. When it’s time to rebuilt the altar we don’t do it for us. We do it for Him. Because He deserves it.
There is only one way to rebuilt an altar: through God’s Grace.
There is only one way to maintain it: Getting closer to Him.
“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
Up next in Rebuilding the Altar Series: Grace and getting closer.