WE ALL NEED AN ALTAR

When Abram arrived in Canaan, the land of promise, the Lord made a special appearance to him. This prompted Abram to build an altar and this became a pattern. The Lord would appear to him at strategic times and he would build an altar. The altar was used to offer sacrifice. It symbolized Abram offering himself unreservedly to God.

We all need an altar. We need to come to an altar point periodically where we renew and deepen our commitment to God. This could involve a special physical place. But the real significance of the altar is a point where we yield to what God is calling us to.

As we walk and talk with the Lord, he calls us to witness for him in various ways to people he brings our way.. He challenges us to greater and higher spiritual planes. The Lord calls us to love him more. He draws us to greater works and commitment.

All of these strategic points of realizing God calling us to greater things requires the sacrifice of saying yes to the Lord. The song goes, “I’ll say yes, Lord yes, to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord yes, to your will and to your way.” This yes develops our covenant with the Lord, increasing our awareness of his care and provision as we yield more and more to him.

We will follow Abraham’s altar points in the next few days to enhance our understanding of an altar relationship with the Lord.

CALLED OUT FROM THE WORLD

Ten generations after Noah and the flood, people were back to corrupting themselves and society was going downhill again. And again God had to do something drastic to keep mankind from totally annihilating themselves and losing all knowledge of God.

This time God would choose a different remedy than a flood, but he would choose a man who had a heart for God like Noah. This man would be willing to leave his relatives and the society he had grown up in. He would also be willing to follow God without knowing where the Lord was going to take him. He would have faith to believe he could father a great nation in the new land, a people separated from ungodly society.

God called Abram, whom he later named Abraham, out from the wicked society. The mighty nation of Israel he fathered carried the banner of truth across the years and gave us the Savior.

God still calls his people out from the world today. In 2 Corinthians 6:17 he commands, “Come out from among them and be separate.” The idea of becoming like the world so we can win them to Christ is all wrong.

God calls us to live separated unto God; separated from the lust of the flesh (sensualism); from the lust of the eyes (materialism); from the pride of life (humanism) – see 1 John 2:16. These three constitute the operative drives of the world and produce “the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar” (Galatians 5:19-21).

God’s people function on faith, hope, and love and produce “the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬). (The operative drives of the world are perversions of these: Sensualism is perverted love, materialism is perverted hope. Humanism is perverted faith).

However, in the New Testament dispensation, we are intended to influence the world much more than the Old Testament people did. We are to infiltrate and influence the world as witnesses of Jesus through the fruit of the Spirit. But we are not to be a part of the operative drives and works of the general society. In being separated to the Lord we can change the world and bring glory to God.

 

GOD WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD

People full of themselves and devoid of God’s love decided on a venture to bring the community of Shinar together. They wanted to build a name for themselves. They were not interested in bringing glory to God. But their lack of God’s love prevented them from having the unity they needed.

No doubt each person in Shinar was speaking his own language in his heart before God confused their words. Each one was in it for himself. When they began speaking words unintelligible to each other they reflected what was already in their hearts.

The worst of the Shinar project was they were trying to be great in their own strength and show they didn’t need God. God only allows people to go so far in their rebellion. How foolish it is to defy him. For he will have the last word, both in this life and the next.

 

 

THE GREAT REASSURANCE

God knows we are insecure and unfulfilled apart from him. As much as ungodly people profess their self-sufficiency, they show otherwise. Their obsession for material things, instant sensory gratification, and ego centric prestige is ongoing. This is their worship, their never ending quest for what does not satisfy.

God knows how we are made up because he designed us. He knows we need things like food, housing, and tools. He knows we need wholesome pleasure and sense of self worth. And he knows we need to be reassured that we find these, our basic needs, in him.

Noah and his family exited the ark into a naked world. As they viewed the destruction of the flood, they needed the reassurance that meaningful life would be possible going forward. Therefore, God made a covenant with them.

This covenant contained the promise of never having to to experience a worldwide flood again and God’s provision and protection. The rainbow was God’s token of this reassurance. The bright, glowing bow of red, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet colors stretched across the sky warmed their hearts and reinvigorated their spirits. The sight gave them incentive to pursue life.

Today the rainbow reassures us that God is really all we need. He is the ultimate provider of abundant life and all the ingredients of it.

BIG ENOUGH – STRONG ENOUGH

The perceptive Noah heard God’s answer to the coming flood. It would be a ship built to a design way ahead of its time. The size, stability, and efficiency would not be matched until thousands of years later.

Although this great boat would have no onboard propulsion system, it would driven by currents and wind – and confront huge waves. Therefore, it would need to be narrow enough to cut efficiently into the waves (no doubt pointed into them by drag anchors). It would need to be high enough to not be swamped. And it would need to be long enough to ride out the swells and strong enough to not shake apart.

The size and design would not be seen again until the 19th century. Many cargo ships today are very similar in size (510’ long, 85’ wide, 51 high) and similar in proportions (the length 6 times the dimension of its width and 10 times its height).

This size and design would also make the ark big enough to hold thousands of animals and all the food they would need for 1 year and 17 days. The cubic space would be equal to that of a 5 mile long train of box cars.

God provided what was needed for the situation and the faith-expectancy of Noah. The Lord will do no less today for those who place faith in Him to match their needs with his provision. It will be big enough, strong enough, and whatever else needed enough.

RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD PREPARES US FOR THE STORM

Noah didn’t suddenly become aware he needed an ark 3 days before the flood. He was developing relationship with God 120 years before the flood.

His fellowship with God informed him the flood was coming. His relationship with God informed him he needed an ark. And his contact with God informed him he needed to build the ark.

Through the years he developed understanding of how to build an ark and understand God’s voice. He learned many things from God and taught his family about God. This all prepared the family for the great storm.

I don’t need to tell you we all will face storms. Are you getting ready? Are you building an ark of seeking God and gaining knowledge of his way? Are you teaching your children about God.

Our society is forgetting God and already facing the storms of division, hatred, and self-destruction this causes.They are totally unprepared and most refuse to listen to the warnings.

GOD FAVORS THOSE WHO LIVE OUT HIS CAUSE

Image this! God favored Noah and his family but destroyed everyone else. A very shocking reality! Why would God do this and how do we reconcile this with “God so loved the world?” (John 3.16).

First, God loves people enough to act against people destroying themselves. If God had let people go as they were going in Noah’s day, they would have corrupted to the point they would have had no moral direction left and annihilated mankind.

Second, God loves the world for his own sake. He is determined to advance what he wants the world to be about.

For these reasons God’s love caused him to favor Noah who lived out his cause. And he continues to favor those who do the same today.

 

IF EVER WE NEEDED TO WALK WITH GOD, NOW IS THE TIME

Harvey, Irma, Jose, 8.1 earthquake – all in North America! Is God trying to wake us up? Whether he is allowing these storms for this purpose, I will not presume to declare. But for sure we should be calling on God. We called on God in mass after 9-11, but only for a short time.

These recent disasters are a continuance of shocks to our well being. This should foster a continuance of seeking God and determination to walk with him. This should provoke us to turn from our sin. This should cause us to cleave to the Lord.

Many are wondering why God allows the storms to continue in spite of their prayers. Could God have a higher purpose? A purpose to save us from the storm of debauchery sweeping our land? A purpose to save us from much more devastation than what a hurricane or earthquake causes?

Well, Enoch walked with God at a dark time in the early history of mankind. We know little else about him. We do know that God took him. God saved him from what was happening on earth. I suggest to all North America: Let’s try walking with God. Then we will be able to trust him for protection, to say nothing about all the other amazing benefits of abundant life.

WE MUST MASTER ANGER EVEN WHEN IT IS RIGHTEOUS

Cain was angry so God told him he must master his sinful anger. If he had obeyed God and offered what God required he would not have had the temptation to be jealously angry because God accepted his brother’s offering and not his. He certainly would not have killed Abel.

But what about anger? Anger is a normal human emotion but we “must master it.” God doesn’t intend for us to let anger rule us even though he created us with the potential to have this emotion.

Ephesians‬ ‭4:26‬ says, “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” It is normal to have anger when we feel we have been mistreated but there is great danger in this kind of anger. We should not harbor ‭this kind, should not let the sun go down on it, should not go to sleep with it. But how do we master anger? When we are angry for being mistreated how do we deal with it.?

We need to reminded ourselves that God is taking care of us. We need to remember our future is not determined by how people treat us, but by God’s protection and care. If we are trusting God for our well being, we have the power to let the anger go

Cain was angry at God because he thought God had mistreated him, a sure indication he did not “know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CSB‬‬). Then he got angry at his brother because he thought God was showing favoritism, like so many today. They are angry because someone has it better than they do.

Oh how our society needs God to replace this selfish, jealous, anger–that is tearing us apart–with his love. And certainly as Christians we must master our anger. Even when our anger is righteous, when we are angry at sin, angry at the perversion that is being fostered on us. Our anger must be mastered by the love God gives us. But we will only have this love to the extent we are surrendered to God.

 

GOD’S FAVOR WON THROUGH SIMPLE OBEDIENCE

Abel offered a lamb. He simply did what God wanted him to do. This was his worship, finding joy in doing the Lord’s will. Cain wanted his own way. He wanted to offer his garden produce, what he chose to offer. How could God refuse such a beautiful offering? How dare he refuse! God surely would not want to turn a worshiper away.

Today many want to claim God’s favor, for doing what they decide they should do. If they want to work to feed their families on the Lord’s day instead of going to church, God should understand and appreciate their noble efforts. If they want to show their love in a homosexual way, God should appreciate their love expression. Someone suggested God holds the hand of those who abort their babies.

How dare God restrain people from doing whatever they please if they supposedly are not hurting anyone. God should be glad they are doing what makes them happy, according to these modern-day Cains. He surely doesn’t want them to be unhappy. How dare anyone be so rude as to suggest they are doing wrong!

God had a plan. His plan was to have his Son die as a sin offer for Cain’s sin so he could be saved from death. The lamb sin offering would illustrate the need of one life being offered for another. Of course Cain and no one else understood the significance at this time. But Cain’s determination to have his own way precluded him from having faith in God and the gift of salvation the Lord so desired to give him.

Abel simply did God’s will, in full surrender of his own will and received the salvation God offered. Today we can be saved as we trust Christ’s sin offering, the sacrifice Cain’s lamb sin offering foreshadowed. In doing so we turn from the sin for which his life was offered. What joy there is in simple obedience!