By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“A powerful motivation for believing God in our present is intentionally remembering how He’s worked in our past.” – Beth Moore
“He built an altar.”
This phrase stood out to me as I was reading through the story of Abraham. Just in Genesis chapters 12 and 13, these words show up three different times. Throughout the Old Testament, you can find these words again and again and again.
Why did they build so many altars?
It seems that altars were always built at the turning point. Any time there was great blessing, a new chapter in the lives of the people, or a great encounter with God, an altar was built.
Altars represented the geographical location where the divine world broke into the human world. It was where God’s work reached its peak or fruition. When God showed up in a powerful way, they built an altar.
Altars were important when it came to remembering what God had done.
Look at what God commanded the Israelites to do in Joshua 4:
“The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe. Tell them to get twelve rocks from the middle of the river, from where the priests stood. Carry the rocks and put them down where you stay tonight.’ … They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ Tell them the water stopped flowing in the Jordan when the Ark of the Agreement with the Lord crossed the river. These rocks will always remind the Israelites of this.’”
This pile of rocks was a structure that the people would pass in their travels and be reminded of what God had done. They would point at the altar and say to their children and grandchildren, “Do you know what that is? Let me tell you how God worked in the lives of His People.”
I feel that in losing the practice of building altars to God, we have lost a critical part in what it means to be People of God. You see, the Israelites wanted to remember what God had done. They wanted a physical representation of how God had worked.
Building altars was a way to remember. They wanted the story to be shared, not only in their lifetime, but they wanted it to be passed down from generation to generation.
Building altars took work. The Israelites in Joshua 4 painstakingly piled rocks in the hot sun. But they knew it had to be done. They couldn’t let the work of God to be forgotten.
What do you do to remember? How hard do you work to continue to praise God for what He has done? What altars have you built in your life that you point to and tell your kids and grandkids, “That is where God showed up.”?
God is working in each and every one of our lives. So let’s build altars that will last for generations.
Parents: Explain to your children the purpose of altars. Tell them some of your personal stories of how God has worked in your life.