Dr. J. Gerald Harris
This evening I want us to think about the significance of the altar. Here at Eastside we give, at the conclusion of our services, what we call an invitation, or an appeal, or an altar call. Sometimes we will invite people to come to the altar at the beginning of the service, or during the service, for the purpose of prayer. But what is the significance of the altar?
First of all, I want you to know that it has a biblical precedent. It goes all the way back to the day of Noah. Noah is the first person in the Old Testament to have built an altar. Upon it he offered as a burnt offering one animal from each kind of clean animal and bird which had been preserved in the ark.
We know that Abraham built an altar at Shechem, and one near Bethel, and one at "Mamre," which is in Hebron. Later he built one on mount Moriah where God provided a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.
According to the record, Isaac built an altar at Beer-sheba. Jacob erected one at Shechem and one at Bethel.
Moses is said to have erected an altar after the battle with the Amalekites, and also after the revelation of the Ten Commandments on mount Sinai. And we could go on and on talking about the altars that were erected in the Old Testament.
Of course, we know that there was an altar in the tabernacle which was constructed by Moses. There was also an altar in the temple that was built by Solomon.
While in captivity, Ezekiel envisioned a great altar in a future temple and recorded its size and shape in some detail. There were to be three stages. The base would be 24 feet square, the second stage 21 feet square, and the final stage 18 feet square. The total height would be about 16 feet. Steps would ascend to the altar on the east side.
Solomon made an altar of cedar, overlaid it with gold, and placed it in the holy place of the temple.
Basically, altars were erected to signify a special encounter with God, or to designate a place w ...
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