Altars of the Heart; A Vital Time of Consecration
Recently I was spending some time with the Lord and I heard him say, "Build Me an altar." Then He took me on a journey these last several weeks of personal consecration, recommitment and renewing of my covenant with Him. I had been in similar places and moments like this before with Him, but this was different somehow. I, of course, did not build an actual altar, but an altar of the heart. In my times with Him, I have experienced a deep gratefulness for the outpouring of His unconditional love in My life. But, I have also experienced a sense of His plumb line being extended before me as I consecrated myself again to Him. These moments with Him were weighty and I felt the gravity of my decisions to bring everything into alignment and complete surrender to what His Spirit is doing in this time.
I feel that He is calling His sons and daughters to this beautiful place of consecration in this hour. We are on the brink of so much change as we continue into this new era, and the Spirit of God is wooing the hearts of His people to cause us to be fully ready to embark on the journey ahead with Him. As we embrace the call to consecrate ourselves afresh to Him, there are some keys in studying the history of altars and covenant that bring understanding and enlightenment to our present day journey.
As believers, we know that the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, paid the debt for our sins once for all. In contrast, the culture that Jesus came to was so familiar with the law and the rituals of offering sacrifices, that it is hard to imagine how dramatic a shift they must have experienced in understanding and believing that their debt was indeed paid in full, and the offering of blood sacrifices on altars would no longer be needed after Jesus' resurrection. Because of this, the book of Hebrews refers to Jesus often as our "Great High Priest", using language that the culture of the day could easily understand.
"Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." Heb. 7:27
An Act of Worship
As we look at altars in scripture we find many references to altars, the first being in Genesis 8:20 where Noah builds an altar to the Lord as an act of worship to offer burnt offerings as soon as they disembark from the ark. God was pleased with the aroma, (vs. 21) and then He made the promise to never again curse the ground or destroy all living creatures.
To Make a Memorial
Sometimes altars were made to make a memorial or commemorate an encounter with God such as the experience Gideon had with the angel of the Lord in Judges 6:22-24. An important facet of God's nature, "The Lord is Peace" was revealed to Gideon, and Gideon chose to seal it in his memory as well as acknowledge it before the Lord through his sacrifice at the altar.
Making Covenant with God
Another key reason for building an altar is found in Exodus 24: 3-8 where Moses leads the people into making a covenant with God. He first built the altar, then sacrificed young bulls and took half the blood and splashed it against the altar he had built, then after reading the Book of the Covenant to the people he sprinkled the blood on the people signifying the covenant with the Lord that the people were making.
This brings us to the beautiful reality that we now live under a New Covenant. We need to pause and reflect on the fact that everything God does is based on covenant. A covenant is a "solemn binding agreement". A look throughout scripture reveals that He is a God who makes and keeps covenants with His people. "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." Heb. 9:15
Altars of the Heart
I share all of this to lay a foundation for what I feel God is wanting to release for His people in this hour. He is calling His people to "Romans 12: 1" consecration moments with Him.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." Rom. 12:1
This word, spoken to a people who were very acquainted with the law of the Old Covenant requiring sacrifice, must have struck a deep chord within the hearts of many. It was well known that a sacrifice required an altar. The Hebrew word for altar is "misbeah" which means to slaughter. The Greek equivalent is "a place of sacrifice".
However, the altars of the heart that I believe God is looking for in these days of consecration can be anytime and any place. But, they are no less a place of offering as we are the sacrifice. We are to be a living sacrifice unto Him. This sacrifice is not about "paying for our sin" or making atonement. That is done "once for all" through Jesus Christ. This sacrifice is about looking into the face of immeasurable love and being so undone that we are willing to give up our lives to serve and follow Him. When we come to this altar with Him we hold nothing back. Our lives are totally wrapped up in Him and are for Him. In these moments we put no conditions on our sacrifice. We don't "cut a deal" with the Living God. We die to ourselves, our own agendas, our need to be in charge of our lives and we become a living sacrifice. Romans calls this "your true and proper worship." (12:1)
As Pentecost is approaching, many in the church are hungry to see the fire of God come in a great outpouring of His Spirit. We've seen and sensed for quite some time that we need to see a move of God that changes, restores, renews, and sets us ablaze. The fire of God doesn't come on an empty altar, but His fire comes on sacrifice.
As we set aside the coming days to seek Him and commune with Him in the secret place, I hear Him saying, "Come and build Me an altar in your heart. Purposefully offer up what is of value to you, your very life, as your spiritual act of worship. Consecrate yourself afresh for the days of New Wine are here, and I will come and fall on you, My living sacrifice, with My Baptism of Fire. I will kindle the flames of your heart and I will cause them to roar to life. You are My covenant child, and I endured the cross to see you walk in all My Father has prepared for you."
"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross! " Phil. 2:5-8