The Altar Wall

Sitting at the top of the sanctuary during a church service gives one a unique perspective.  At times it feels as though one is disconnected from the service – watching what goes on but yet not able to participate.  It was this feeling I had as I sat through service yesterday.

The service began as usual with a song and announcements.  It was a typical Summer Sunday with many members on vacation or traveling home from vacation.  As I stood there watching the members listen to the worship team sing (not all – some were singing along) the thought entered my mind “Have our altars become a wall?”

Strange thought I know but it’s one that took the rest of the service to figure out.  Throughout the service my mind would wander (just being honest here) from worshiping to watching.  If you know me, you know that I tend to have “issues” with church – and one of those issues is “worship.” I love music and it has brought healing and comfort throughout different stages of my life. But yesterday I just couldn’t seem to connect with the words.

I wonder if it’s just me.  There are times when I’m singing that I just say the words. Other times I let the worship team sing them for me.  It is because I don’t believe what I’m singing or do I feel guilty about my lack of faith? Do I really mean in my heart those words? Can I sing them and mean them or do I just sing along so no one thinks I’m not a “good Christian”?

It was during one of those times of my not singing that I heard “Have our altars become a wall?” I pushed the though aside and started singing.

The pastor would never get to preach the sermon.  It was to be a day of healing and restoration. With the thought about altar walls pushed to the back of my mind the service went from singing to a prophecy of healing.  The pastor gave the “altar call” that if you needed healing in your body to come forth.  Though I was in pain, I stood there – not moving toward the altar for healing.  Why?

God told me not to.

Ouch.

I knew immediately why.  The pain I was experiencing from standing wasn’t something He gave me but something I had done.  I had become lazy in my exercise and eating and had gained back the 10 pounds I lost before going to Disney in March.  I wouldn’t experience His healing that day because of something I had done. But I was okay with that.  I knew what I had to do (starting today).

Which brings me back to the thought of – “Have our altars become walls?”

Toward the end of the service one of the more mature Christian ladies of the church spoke and said something like “If you’ve been to the altar before and it hasn’t worked, come again.  God is the only one who can help you.” {Not an exact quote.}

It was then I knew what was meant by “Altars becoming Walls”.

The word Altar (mizbeach; Strong’s Number 4196) is used more than 300 times in the New King James Version alone.  Its Hebrew definition means a place of sacrifice.  It’s taken from the Hebrew word zabach (Strong’s Number 2076) which means — to slaughter for sacrifice, to slaughter for eating, or to slaughter in divine judgment.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Altar is one of the places to go for help.  It is a place to sacrifice our thoughts and desires, a place to sacrifice our words and deeds. But yesterday it felt like a wall to me.

Several times in the Old Testament an altar would be constructed to say Thank You to God.  To offer animal sacrifices; to bring grain offerings. It is the place where Abraham would lay his son Isaac to offer him back to God. Yesterday, having been told by God not to go down would I truly understand the place of the Altar.

As I’ve thought about the Altar being a Wall these thoughts come to mind:

  • Have I turned the Altar into a Wall as I allow the worship team to sing songs for me to God because I don’t feel I am good enough to sing or have the right to sing with them?
  • Have I turned the Altar into a Wall as I allow the preacher to tell me what I need to hear because I’m afraid to read the Bible for myself?
  • Have I turned the Altar into a Wall as I allow the prayer team to intercede for me because I don’t understand that I can boldly approach the throne of grace myself?
  • Have I turned the Altar into a Wall as I deny the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and restoration to my life because I’m afraid it won’t work?
  • Have I turned the Altar into a Wall as I fail to realize that to approach the Altar means I must offer a sacrifice?

It is these thoughts that I have wrestled with since yesterday – maybe you have too? {Note: those things are not wrong in themselves – but consider the motive of why.}

To truly not turn the Altar into a Wall there’s only one thing to do.

Let Go. Surrender. Sacrifice. Worship.

Let go of our insecurities. Surrender our thoughts and desires. Sacrifice our words and deeds. It is then – when we [I] do my part that the wall falls and healing and restoration can come forth. It’s a place to worship God.  To lift ones hands and say – Here you go God.

Just like my No to going down to the Altar yesterday for healing was because of something I had done, there’s always a Yes when I’m going to the Altar to Surrender and Sacrifice for something I have done. It is the place of healing and restoration. It’s a place to say “I’m Sorry – Forgive me.” It’s a place to say “Thank You”.

So, whether the Altar is at the foot of a cross, or the space between the seating and stage, the foot of one’s bed, or standing at the top of the Sanctuary –  the only Wall at the Altar should be the Hands of God wrapping around you and me. And it’s there He will “Create in me a new heart and put a new Spirit within me” {Ezekiel 36:26}.

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About Follow 2 Serve {Lorna}

I am a follower of Christ and I love to serve Him. I am married with two sons. I received my Liberal Arts Associate Degree in May of 2012. My hobbies are reading, crocheting, quilting, knitting, nature photography, and being with my sons.
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2 Responses to The Altar Wall

  1. Carol says:

    In the beginning I ran to the altar every call. I was on my knees more that standing. I cried constantly. I wanted cleansed from eveything. Now, I jusdge what I go for. Is this really serious enough..look at so n so…they are broken I am only …..or, I have gone for them so many times HE already knows… I am judging what I need to tell God, to ask him for… Singing to him is my greatest joy. I sing daily, priaise him & thank him for all the blessings he has bestowed up me, Bob..our family. but it seems I don’t trust him enough to give it ALL to him anymore. I pick what I think is important enough..hmmmmm, could this be–a wall? Thank you my friend for opening a door….

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