A.W. Tozer quote, defeat the worshiping believer, devil, distracted, emunah, faith, fall down and worship me, feeds the soul, Luke 4:5-8, satan, spiritual onslaught, spirituality, stability, subtle fashion, ten commandments, things of the world, worship
5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘ You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Luke 4:5-8
You might imagine this issue would occupy a major portion of the battle for good and evil. The first four commandments deal with this issue of worship. Satan came blatantly at Jesus, showing Him all the world’s kingdoms, and their glory… offering them for His worship. Satan probably will not approach you so blatantly. The devil comes at us for the same purpose but often in a more subtle fashion.
There was once a poor country pastor who was livid when he discovered his wife had purchased a $250 dress. “How could you do this!” he exclaimed.
“I don’t know,” she wailed, “I was standing in the store looking at the dress. Then I found myself trying it on. It was like the Devil was whispering to me, “‘You look great in that dress. You should buy it.'”
“Well,” the pastor persisted, “You know how to deal with him! Just tell him, “Get behind me, Satan!”
“I did,” replied his wife, “but then he said ‘It looks great from back here, too.'”
Satan never said to me, “Fall down and worship me.” But he has tried to get me to deviate from God’s plan for my life. He has gotten me so off track it almost ruined my commitment to God. Satan has tried to fill my life with so many other things and other people so they would occupy the Lord’s time and ministry. Many times we can find ourselves withdrawing from the physical act of worship for various reasons. The number one way Satan accomplishes this is by getting believers preoccupied and focused on other things.
He begins to attack us by making the “things of this world” so appealing and luring. He continues to lull us to sleep, getting us to focus on the wrong goals, the wrong areas, and the wrong people. He gets us to trade the best for something better, then we trade the better for something good, then we trade the good for something bad.
Jesus wasn’t even remotely fooled by Satan’s attractions. He quickly stood up and said, “I’m not getting distracted. It is written, ’You shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall you serve!’” Note how passionate Jesus was when he rebuked Satan over the issue of worship. Nothing was going to diminish the intensity of His love for God, and the passion with which He expressed it.
The same should be true for every believer. Our worship should always be guarded. We would all stay out of trouble if we would quickly and passionately defend our worship of God. In a Catholic church a sign was hanging over a shrine which said, “This Shrine is out-of-order. Do not worship here.” This is a little parable of what sin does to the Christian. It makes us spiritually out-of-order. Satan knows this truth and attempts to keep us out-of-order so that real worship isn’t important as it once was.
I read recently in Hebrew the word for faith (emunah) is the same word for stability. They are linked to each another. The Lord knew long ago the only way for His followers to survive the spiritual onslaught of the devil was to remain in faith. Faith creates stability. Worship feeds my soul like no other spiritual vehicle. I can be a physical, mental, and spiritual wreck. But… when I worship my Creator all the planets, sun, moon, and stars become aligned. Everything makes sense. Satan knows he will never be able to defeat the worshiping believer. There is a war going on in and around you today for your worship. How are you doing?
building altars, carrying burdens, Cullen Hightower, enteing the Promised Land, experiencing God, faith, Genesis 12:6-7, Genesis 35:4, God's word, Living Water, Moreh, personal altar, pray, Shechm, worship
Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:6-7
Every hot-hearted seeker of God will build an altar of dedication in their lives. Early on in his walk with God, Abraham learned the benefits of building this type of altar. In order to understand the process of dedication Abraham went through, we need to understand this sacred place called Shechem.
Shechem means “the shoulder – place to carry burdens”. It sits between two mountains, Mount Ebal (Barren) and Mount Gerazim (Fruitful).
I have had the privilege of visiting Shechem. It is now in Palestinian control. It is also the place were the Children of Israel buried the bones of Joseph when they entered the Promised Land. Shechem is seen as the entrance to the Promised Land.
Both Abraham and the Children of Israel carried the burdens of their past into the Promised Land. God wants all of His children free from burdens in order to be blessed with the fruit of the land. Abraham, the Father of Faith, was first to lead us into God’s promises. Abraham came to the place in his life where he was ready to spend time with God and allow the Lord to teach Him His ways.
Every day we must set aside time to come to our personal altar where we read God’s word, worship Him, and pray. Like Abraham, we must have a dedicated place set aside to experience the Lord. Here we will encounter Him afresh and the Lord will teach us His ways.
Do you have a Shechem or Moreh in your life? Where is it? If you don’t have such a time or place, you must purpose to build it now! It must be a quiet, sacred place where you go to experience God. Building an altar of dedication will not happen by itself. The responsibility is yours. Too many people are waiting for the Lord to move, yet they never arrive at Moreh to meet with their Creator upon His altar.
In Genesis 35:4 and Joshua 24:23-26 we learn more about Moreh in Shechem. Jacob buried the family idols at the foot of this same tree by the altar of his grandfather. In addition, the Children of Israel, under the guidance of Joshua, erected a stone of covenant at this same spot and purposed wholly to follow the Lord.
As we come daily to our personal altars the Lord will reveal those “idols” in our lives which need to be buried and forsaken. These are things we have placed before God and interfere with our worship. In these quiet moments at the altar we can bury these idols and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
This altar at Moreh was the same place that Jacob later built a well which existed in Jesus’ time. Do you think this is all an accident? Or is God trying to speak to us? Here Jesus told the Samaritan woman “He was the Living Water.” (see John 4:12, 21-23)
All this began centuries earlier because one man, Abraham, dedicated himself to the Lord and built an altar to God. You too could change the destinies of people’s lives because you sanctified yourself on God’s altar.
I don’t know if you have picked up on this fact before from reading through Genesis, but Abraham was an altar builder. Isaac dug wells; Jacob made monuments; but Abraham built altars to worship the Lord.
Why were altars so important? If altars were so important to God in the Old Testament, then why don’t we build and worship at altars today? I’m glad you asked that question. Some of you are probably thinking, “We consider the altar to be the front of our church.” Yet, this is not really the same type of altar in which Abraham worshipped. I ask those questions to draw a parallel between the altars of the Old and the altars of the New Testament.
~ Altars Are About Worship ~
True worship takes place in the context of our obedience to God (see Genesis 12:1-5). Abraham was in the process of obeying God’s prompting to go to the land of Canaan. We cannot truly worship God unless we are in the place of obedience.
How many of you have discovered it is difficult, if not impossible, to worship God on Sundays when your living in known disobedience? The only effective way to truly worship the Lord in body, soul, and spirit is to be obedient throughout the week. It is your obedience that gives you excitement, passion, and fervor to worship the Lord. Disobedience breeds apathy, coldness of heart, neglect, and boredom in worship. It was only after Abraham became truly obedient to God that his real worship of God began.
~ Abraham Built Altars to Worship Effectively ~
Wherever Abraham went (cities, countryside & villages) he built altars to the Lord God. There he worshipped the Lord.
The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7
8Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. Genesis 12:8
Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. Genesis 13:18
Abraham was a trailblazer. We know now that God prescribed and commanded the children of Israel to build and worship Him on altars. Abraham didn’t have all this information. He blazed a trail. He was simply a lover of God. He was just discovering the art of worshiping God on altars.
We live in the New Testament era of grace, so where are our worship altars? Are all the altars gone or are they present here today? Why ask? In order to gain forgiveness, acceptance, and access to God, altars were needed. Sacrifices were made on altars. Blood was spilled on altars. This was done that sin might be removed and the worshiper cleansed.
We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat (Hebrews 13:10) which is in Christ! Through His blood we have access any time to the throne of God. In Christ we have everything we need that “pertains to life and godliness.” So today we no longer have need of “altars” in the Old Testament sense. But we do need altars in our lives in another way.
~ The Altar Represents True Worship ~
The altar represents true worship and involves: SURRENDER, SACRIFICE, and SERVICE. Abraham would have used raw stones (not touched by man’s strength and skill) to represent a yielding to God’s strength and not trusting in his own strength. (Exodus 20:25). We cannot worship or offer God anything that is not tainted in some way by the world. Therefore we are to take things God gives us (Jesus Christ) and worship the Father. It is important that you understand this point because most people do not. They want to worship God in their own way or fashion. When God rejects them by not gracing them with His presence they are offended. It is imperative we worship God as He requires through Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is our altar. We are to approach God in and through Him. In Abraham’s life we can see the need for altar worship. It is gives a keen sense of who Jesus is and our need for Him.
Are you ready to examine the three types of altars Abraham erected and discover the deeper meaning of what it means to worship at God’s altar? I will discuss these later this week.