After some significant battles over the last couple months my husband and I went before the Lord for help, direction and strength. The Lord’s response was ‘RESTORE THE ALTARS’.
Restore the altars, how Lord? How?
He reminded me of the Maccabees and of Hanukkah: the Festival of Lights. A story so dear to my heart because it’s about a father and his 5 sons. We too have 5 sons. They led a revolt against the oppression of the Jewish people under the Greek ruler Antiochus IV. He suppressed all practice of Jewish law. His army killed thousands of Jews, he initiated harsh decrees and made worship forbidden. Scrolls of laws were confiscated and burned. Any practice of Jewish law including worship would be punishable by death. The moment that finally sparked the revolt was when a Syrian-officer erected an altar in a Jewish village and demanded they sacrifice to the Greek gods. This family refused. In fact, when another Jew who converted to the Hellenized way stepped forward to offer an unholy sacrifice, the father killed him. He, his sons and friends attacked the army and drove them off. After, they feared the swift and evil hand of Antiochus so they fled to Judea. While there more and more faithful Jews joined them to fight against the unholy worship. They formed legions! They continued to fight and win. Finally God sent them to Jerusalem to liberate it. They entered the temple and cleared it of all false idols and practices. They built a new altar but when they went to light it they only found enough pure oil for one day yet it lasted 8 days which was enough to make new oil. Thus the altar DID NOT GO OUT!
Leviticus 6:12: ‘The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually, it shall not go out.
How do we restore the altars. Our altars; the ones in our hearts? We release everything to Him and I mean everything. Complete surrender. Complete desperation. Completely unhindered to anything but Him. And from that place we worship. And even though life continues; errands, responsibilities, jobs and relationships; our hearts forever stay in that place. That is how we restore the altars.
Doesn’t the altar represent sacrifice? Wasn’t an animal placed on them and burnt. The incense reached the nostrils of God and he would respond? But God requires something so much deeper. In Samuel 15, we see the choice between sacrifice and obedience. Saul made the sacrifice more important than obeying the direction of God. His own religiousness caused him to fail in obeying.
1 Samuel 15:22 – And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
In our obedience we restore the altar of our hearts. We move when he moves, we speak when he speaks. While in complete confidence yet in the surrendered place we burn for Him.
Now to only keep them burning and so they do not go out……