In every building project there is some type of blueprint. Whether that blueprint is on a brown paper sack or a huge scroll that meets the codes’ guidelines, there is always some type of plan for what is going to be built.
In Genesis 11, we find a people laying out the plans for a rather noteworthy project.
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,” Genesis 11:4.
Man sought to build something of earthly significance and value—a name for himself. The Tower of Babel reached higher and higher with every feeble effort to become great, and it displayed the desperation of man’s heart without God.
Today is much the same. We live in a world of builders. Men vigorously indulge themselves in their lives, wishing to build their own fleshly kingdom. They nurture and dress their “castle” with shiny things and show off their bounty to their friends. Their toys only become bigger, and their youthful lusts are just repackaged into adult experiences. They grow older, but often they do not mature. Walls are built and resources wasted, all to secure more of their stuff.
Just because your life is filled with more stuff does not mean that your kingdom is strong. God has not called you to build a platform or a pedestal, but to construct a relationship on the foundation of His Word.
There was one man in the midst of name-builders that saw a more precious blueprint of heavenly design. Abraham was not concerned with building his life, but rather with building an altar.
“And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord,” Genesis 12:7-8.
Abraham journeyed to a land that he did not know because he was more concerned with His God than with his comfort. He understood the importance of building an altar wherever God planted him.
But what was so special about the altar? What did it mean to Abraham?
1. It Was a Place of Communion with God
Think of the altar at your church. Why was it built? It was built for the sole purpose of God’s children to commune with their Father. It’s not just a place of religious ritual but a place of prayer and fellowship with Christ.
We often have a skewed view of prayer. We think that it is uttering all our requests to God and asking Him to fix all of our problems. But prayer is so much more than that! It is a conversation with God, not a lecture or a monologue. It is a lifestyle of communion, not just a routine event. Yes we may visit the altar at church, but Christ has made a way so that every believer can enter into the secret place of prayer wherever he may be, for as long as he would like.
When was the last time you came into His presence and stayed there a while?
Abraham understood the importance of communing with his God on a regular basis because it was the foundation of everything that God had in store for him.
2. It Was a Place of Direction from God
Asking for direction is a humbling thing for a man. We would rather roam thirty minutes out of the way and look like we know where we are going, than to stop and ask someone else for directions.
But when it comes to your life, God will not scold you for asking for directions. James 1:5-6 tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth [scoldeth] not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Abraham realized he did not know the way, so he just trusted in divine direction and placed his future in the Father’s hands.
I think many times we hesitate to ask for directions from God because we think we know the way. Our attitude is much different from Job’s: “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” We often think we know what’s best, when we don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. We are afraid of God’s direction today because we do not want the “trying of our faith” tomorrow.
Build the altar today, and He will take care of tomorrow.
3. It Was a Place of Sacrifice to God
Abraham knew of sacrifice. One of the most climactic stories in the Bible is that of Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The promised son of Abram’s seed given back to the Giver Himself. But in faith, Abraham obeyed and God provided Himself a lamb to be offered. (Genesis 22)
Isn’t it interesting that Abraham did not deter from building the altar even when he knew what God would have him to sacrifice. Maybe sometimes we are leery of building the altar of prayer and communion because we are scared of what God will ask us to sacrifice. Maybe there is an “Isaac” in the way of our opening the door to the secret place.
Whatever it is, don’t let it stop you from building your relationship with Christ. Let the world build a name for themselves. Focus your attention on building your relationship with Christ, and He will take care of building your life.