Discover His heart: He communes with us at our altar of dedication
A few years ago Tom and I took up residence at a new location. It wasn’t a place we had planned to live, but through God’s leading, we knew it was exactly the right place for us at the time. The Lord provided it for us through one of His servants whose generous heart made it possible, and although we didn’t own this place, it was home to us. Before the very first night we slept under the roof of our new home, we built an altar – no, it wasn’t a literal altar for sacrificing animals, followed by a visit from the local Fire Marshall. It was an altar of prayer, straight from our hearts, where we thanked God for His provision, and it was an altar of dedication, calling on Him to bless and protect our dwelling. We learn from our reading today that the patriarch Abraham knew plenty about pitching a tent and building an altar.
@ Genesis 12
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others’… So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed.”(1-2,4)
This obedience to the Lord by Abram was monumental on many counts: 1) Abram worshiped many gods when God called him (Joshua 24:2), so to be obedient to this voice of one and make this challenging transition was huge. 2) Abram was a wealthy landowner, and it was a risky proposition. The nomadic lifestyle in that day was assigned to those without a land or inheritance. 3) This move wasn’t just a matter of packing up the family and pulling a trailer to a new location. Abram moved everything – livestock, valuables, servants and their families. 4) Abram knew nothing about his new home.
We can conclude that hearing this word from the Lord created faith in Abram’s heart, and a belief that this God, Yahweh, was the true God worthy of his obedience. In our times of transition, it is often the Word of God that reinforces our determination to follow the One who is Yahweh, the true God who is worthy of our obedience.
The first stop of significance for Abraham was Shechem, “Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh…Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (7) Second stop, “After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord.” (8) I’m beginning to see a pattern here – pitch a tent, build an altar.
@ Genesis 13
Abram experienced a brief and difficult sojourn to Egypt where no tent was set up, nor altar built, but now he was back on track, “So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev…From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before. This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again.” (1-5) Then, finally after a long and tedious journey from his home in Haran, Abram settled in Hebron, “So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord.” (18)
Wherever Abram set up his tent, he built an altar to God – the pattern of one who follows God’s plan in obedience. No matter where Abram was on his journey, God was going to be honored, worshiped and called upon by him. Communication would continue, not only in the process, but also in the promise.
What we learn from Abraham’s walk with God is that no matter whether we are on the way to our next dwelling or living in the promise, wherever we pitch our tent, we should build an altar, a place of reverence to Him. Whether it is a new home, a new job or a new marriage, we would do well to build an altar in our hearts to honor and worship the Lord, to call upon Him and to commune with Him.
Moving Forward: My tent is pitched today and the altar is built where I worship and commune with my God.
Tomorrow @ Joshua 16-20