March 13, 2012
Some of us live in places where altars are familiar sights. Usually, these are altars to a god, goddess or an ancestor. These can be found not only in homes, but along the road-side as well. On the altars are images of the object of worship, as well as some incense and food offerings.
If you visit Israel today, a guide will probably point you to an altar in the midst some of the ruins. These were mostly for the worship of Baal or Asherah, the god or goddess of the Canaanites.
In Scripture we read records of altar building for the worship of Jehovah God. The first such altar was built by Noah, when he and his family came out of the ark after the flood.
Abraham, after each of his encounters with God, also built an altar to the Lord. Other altar builders in the Old Testament included Jacob, Moses, Samuel and David. These altars were built as a testament to what God had done for them.
In the Old Testament, altars were erected as symbolic reminders of worship. Animal sacrifices were placed on the altars and burned to God. As the Israelite population grew, God saw the need for them to have a more structured place where they could offer sacrifices and pray.
When the Israelites were taken as captives to Assyria and Babylon and their temple was destroyed, it necessitated a change in the way of worship. Synagogues were formed, but there was no altar. These synagogues became places where the Jews gathered for worship.
After the ascension of Christ, the believers began to gather for worship in homes. Eventually, they constructed special buildings and called them “churches”.
True believers recognize that God cannot be contained in a building. He is Spirit, and must be worshipped in our hearts.
Worship cannot be restricted to a specific place, nor is it dependent upon a minimum number of people. Family worship is important. Although we may assemble together, no one can worship for you. Each individual must approach God himself/herself.
God deals with human lives. Whether alone or in groups, we may experience Him in intimate ways. Those encounters with the One True God must translate into worship.
Abraham’s altars served as a reminder to him, and those around, of what God had done. Later, they could go back to those altars to recall God’s goodness to them.
What “altars” or spiritual markers do you have? What is there about your worship that will draw family, colleagues or small groups to remember God’s goodness and worship Him continually?
Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.