When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven. 1 Kings 8:54
In the Old Testament, the altar of God was a sacred place that only the priest was allowed to go. Whereas the Israelites were instructed to present their sacrifices once every morning and once every evening to atone for their sins, only the priests were allowed to go to present the sacrificial before the Lord at the altar. The Israelites were expected to present animals without blemish and the best of the fruits of the land as offering to the Lord at the altar.
This elaborate and ostentatious sacrificial system made it impossible for regular Jews to go to the altar on their own behalf. Then came Jesus who became the propitiation for our sins. Jesus was the perfect lamb offered by the Father for the redemption of humanity. Through Jesus, every sinner is giving access to the altar so the sinner can present oneself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Therefore, we no longer need any priest to intercede for us. We can go to the altar just as we are and be accepted by the Lord.
Like the Israelites in the Old Testament, believers should put themselves at the altar through prayer and meditation once every morning and once every evening. As we continue to struggle with our sinful bodies, we need to be reconciled with God and atone for our sins by putting ourselves at the altar so we can find mercy for our sins. The altar is not a place of perfection it is a space for redemption.
Now and then, I find it necessary to lay prostrate before the Lord in my prayer space so I can offer myself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. An altar is a place of communion with the living God. It reassures us there are forgiveness and salvation in the name of Jesus. It reminds us that we have been set free from slavery to sin.
However, the altar requires surrender and spiritual yielding. We may come to the altar as sinners, but we leave the altar as sanctified disciples of Jesus Christ. When the sacrificial animals were burned at the altar, that action was a symbol that the sins of the Israelites were also burned and thrown in the sea of forgetfulness. The expectation was that the repentant sinner would covet holiness and walk in repentance.
An altar is also a place of healing. Sin is a spiritual disease that infects us all. The only cure for sin is faith in Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus is the only remedy given to humanity as a therapy for sin. Therefore, the songwriter says, “what can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The blood of Jesus has the antibody against the pandemic of sin.
As a sick person goes to the hospital for treatment, or a car goes to the auto-shop for a tune-up, we are to go to the altar for spiritual overhaul. We can bring our dysfunctions, or addictions, or depression, or brokenness at the altar. God will fix what is broken and restore us unto righteousness. However, we have to put ourselves at the altar.
The altar is not necessarily a particular place. It is a state of consciousness, a matter of the heart if you will. At the altar, the soul cries out for the Almighty God to quench its spiritual thirst. Only at the altar can our spiritual hunger be satisfied as we get spiritual bread from heaven. Then, we can offer our bodies as a holy sacrifice and walk in sanctification. What are you waiting for to put yourself on the altar?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for allowing us to put ourselves at your altar so we can be reconciled with thee. May we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit when he prompts us to go on the altar.