God Wants to Come to your Home!
Did you know that God wants to dwell in your home? God is a dwelling God. He not only dwells in Heaven, but loves to dwell with His people on earth. He delighted to dwell with the children of Israel in all their journeys, He wants to dwell with us now, and His ultimate purpose is to dwell with us forever. When John saw the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, he "heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).
Although we can experience the presence of God continually in our hearts and in our homes, God loves to align Himself with something very specific. Did you know that God loves altars? He loves to come to altars. In Exodus 20:24-26 God explains explicitly how He wanted His people to build their altars. And then He says, "I WILL COME TO YOU." How would you like God to say to you and your family, "I WILL COME TO YOU"? And what does He does when He comes? He says, "I WILL BLESS YOU."
Who would not want God to come to their home? Who would not want God to bless their family?
As I read through God's Word, I find many principles relating to altars. All these principles relate to us and to building an altar in our home. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, "All these happened unto them for an examples (a type): and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." These ancient truths are as up-to-date as tomorrow and show us how to live our lives today. They are like seeds in a pod that can open up and flower, even in this 21st century.
The patriarchs built altars to make a place where they could draw near to God, to call upon Him, and to hear Him speak to them. We no longer have to build a physical altar, but we establish a spiritual altar in our home--a time each day where we come before the Lord as a family. Christians in years past called it The Family Altar. Not many Christians have even heard of this phrase today; that's how far we have got away from our biblical roots.
Let's see what we can learn about altars and how we can apply them to our family life today.
Altars are Always in God's Presence
Over and over again in the Bible it talks about the "altar before the Lord." In other words, God reveals His presence at altars. 2 Chronicles 1:6 HCSB says, "Solomon offered sacrifices there in the Lord's presence on the bronze altar." Creating a family altar in your home will always bring the Lord's presence.
Altars are to be Simple and Down-to-Earth
God demanded that any altars made to Him were to be made out of earth or whole uncut stones (Exodus 20:24-26). They were not to use any tool to cut the stone to make it fit perfectly and look professional. They were to pile up the stones as they found them in the rough. This reminds me of Family Devotions in our families. Children don't always behave perfectly. Everything does not always go according to plan. Often there are upsets. Sometimes children are tired and irritable.
Dear mother, relax. You are not on candid camera! God understands family life. Don't give up when it doesn't all pan out the way you want. It doesn't have to be perfect. All God requires is that you are faithful. The more faithfully you do this in your home, the more your children will become accustomed to it and it will become more and more enjoyable. You will always reap the benefits of your sowing, especially as they grow older.
God also told them not to make their altars high with steps going up to the top. Instead, they were to be low altars. You don't have to be experts at doing family devotions. God is looking for humble hearts. He avoids the proud like the plague.
Altars Don't Suddenly Happen
You have to build altars. They don't just happen. It took effort and hard work to make the altars of old and I'm sure that everyone in the family was involved in helping. Jacob said, "Let us arise... and I will make an altar unto God" (Genesis 35:3). It's the same in our homes. We have to make the family altar happen. We have to organize our whole day around our morning and evening devotions because we know they are most important times of the day. They are not optional. They are paramount for the blessing of our family and future generations. We may have to forgo activities that everyone else is doing or cut out activities that are of less importance. We have to do everything in our power to make it happen.
Altars are Where We Call on the Name of the Lord
The patriarchs main purpose in building altars was to call upon the name of the Lord.
Solomon knelt before the altar of the Lord and spread his hands out to heaven as he prayed for his nation and also the nation's future (1 Kings 8:22-55). To establish a time every morning and evening to call upon the Lord is the most important thing we can do as a family. It is top priority. How can we say we are a believing family when we don't take time to call upon the Lord?
We are living in a strategic hour when our great nation stands on the precipice. It is turning away from the foundation on which it was built. Are we concerned enough to pray? Imagine if all God-fearing parents gathered their children around them each day to call upon the Lord for this nation? God has promised to answer if we cry out to Him (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Jeremiah 10:25 gives a warning. It says, "Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name." Could it be that we are like the heathen if we are not calling upon His name?
God Blesses at Altars
Solomon gave his blessing on the nation at the altar of the Lord (1 Kings 8:55-62). God comes to bless families at altars and this is where parents bless their children, too. Let's not miss out on God's blessings because we allow our time to be encroached by lesser things.
God Speaks at Altars
When God told the children of Israel to offer a lamb upon the altar every morning and evening, He also said, "where I will meet with you, to speak to you" (Exodus 29:42). God can speak into our hearts at any time of the day or night, but He especially loves to speak at altars. What an opportunity we have each day to gather our families around the Word of God and listen to God speak to us. Don't read God's Word to your children just because you know it's the right thing to do. Teach your children to open their ears and their hearts to hear God speak to them. When we listen in faith, expecting God to speak, we will hear Him. God wants us to ask, "Where is the Lord?" in every Scripture we read (Jeremiah 2:8). And tell me, what is more powerful in this life than hearing God speak?
We Eat and Rejoice at Altars
Altars are not to be religious. They are associated with eating and rejoicing. That's why we like to have our family altar at the table. After eating and fellowshipping, we are ready to hear God's Word. Deuteronomy 27:5-7 says, "And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God... and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the Lord thy God." God is not a kill-joy. We can laugh and rejoice in the presence of the Lord. After a great altar experience, Moses and the elders of Israel went up the mountain and "saw God and did eat and drink" (Exodus 24:1-22). Eating, drinking, and experiencing the mighty presence of God are associated together.
Blood Splattered Altars
There are many family altars today. It is a phenomena that many God-believing families don't have time to establish an "altar of the Lord" but they have time for their sports altar, their TV altar, their Facebook or computer altar, or even their "too busy to give time to God" altar.
The biblical altars were blood-splattered altars because atonement for sin was made at the altar. In fact, the blood was not only sprinkled on the altar, but on the people, too (Exodus 24:4-8). On every altar an animal was slain and the blood was poured out. Every sacrifice pointed to the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world for the atonement of our souls. Leviticus 17:11 says, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."
Is it too much to gather your family together every morning and evening to honor the precious blood of Jesus Christ and to thank Him for His great salvation, without which we would be condemned and have no hope?
Altars Release a Sweet Smell to God
The first of many Scriptures we read of God smelling a sweet savor is when Noah built an altar to the Lord, "and the Lord smelled a sweet savor" (Genesis 8:20-21).
Numbers 28:6 tells us that the burnt offerings upon the altar were "ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savor." When Jesus sacrificially offered himself and shed His blood on the cross as an offering for our sin, He became a "sweetsmelling savor" to God (Ephesians 5:2).
As we sacrifice ourselves to His service each day at our family altar, we too can become a sweet savor to God.
It Takes Sacrifice to Build Altars
When God judged the land of Israel because David had taken a census of the people, the prophet came to him with a message from God, "Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite" (2 Samuel 23:18). Araunah was happy to offer him not only his threshingfloor, but the oxen, the wood, and everything he needed for the sacrifice. But David answered, "Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing" (2 Samuel 24:24).
Is it because of the cost involved that many Christians families don't get around to having family devotions in their home? Is it because it will cost them time from their other activities? Is it because it will cost them the effort to train their children to sit and be attentive? Is it because they may have to change their lifestyle to make it happen? Or perhaps because they do not have a love for God's Word and prayer? We need David's attitude, don't we?
Altars are for Cleansing and Sanctification
When Jacob took his family to build an altar in Bethel, he commanded everyone in his household to "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments" (Genesis 35:2-5). Each morning and evening the priests took out the ashes from the brazen altar, speaking of the sin and dross which the fire of the Holy Spirit consumes in our lives (Leviticus 6:8-13). It is at the altar, in the presence of God, that He shows us that which grieves His Holy Spirit. When we don't take time to come to the altar, the sin and grime of the flesh and the world builds up and often we don't even recognize it. However, in the presence of God, these things are exposed, enabling us to keep short accounts with God.
Altars are for Consecration
The burnt offering on the altar was consecrated to God. In the new covenant, we no longer offer a burnt sacrifice, but we now offer ourselves as a "living sacrifice" to God (Romans 12:1). Each day we consecrate ourselves and our family to live for God, which is our "reasonable service."
The Fire of God Falls at Altars
Do you want the fire of God to fall upon your family? The family altar is the right place for it to happen. The classic family hymn by B. B. McKinney says, "God, give us Christian homes!/Homes where the children are led to know/Christ in His beauty who loves them so,/Homes where the altar fires burn and glow,/God, give us Christian homes." The "altar fires" speak of the family altars that were once part of every God-fearing family. He also commanded us in Leviticus 6:12-13 that the fire upon the altar must never go out. Has the altar fire gone out in your home? Or is it burning brightly?
Altars are Part of Revival
We know we are living in Laodicean times when God's people are too busy to meet with him as a family each day. It means we are still in our state of lukewarmness, mediocrity, and complacency. However, we will know we are in revival times when family altars are repaired and established all over the land. We will see God move His mighty hand of power as God-fearing families gather together daily to cry out to God for their city and nation and to listen to Him speak through His Word.
The altars were always repaired in great moves of God in biblical days. It was a spiritually barren time in Israel when Ahab and Jezebel reigned. Do you remember how Elijah met with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and challenged them to which god would answer by fire? After the prophets of Baal had screamed and cut themselves for hours, all to no avail, Elijah "repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down" (1 Kings 18:30). He prepared the sacrifice on the altar and then ordered 16 barrels of water to be poured over it. As he prayed at the time of the evening sacrifice, "the fire of the Lord fell... and when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord he is the God" (1 Kings 18:37-39). The fire fell after the altar was repaired.
Read the story of revival in Asa's time. 2 Chronicles 15:8 says, "When Asa heard... the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of the land of Judah and Benjamin... and renewed the altar of the Lord." Check out the blessings that came to the land after they renewed the altar (2 Chronicles 15:9-15).
Manasseh was a very wicked king, but he humbled himself and repented. And what was the fruit of his repentance? "He repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel" (2 Chronicles 33:12-16).
Revival starts with repairing the altar of the Lord. Will you be part of this revival?
Scripture List for Altar Building
I have listed many Scriptures on every point in the above article. If you are a "Berean" and would like to check them out, go to:
To understand more of this important family function, which is the powerhouse of the nation, order the booklet,
Family Devotions--The Husband's and Wife's Role
You will discover what is the husband's role, what is the wife's role, and how to make it happen in your home.
Go to: http://tinyurl.com/FamilyDevotionsUS