Chapter 2. The Altar of Abraham
Part 1 The a
Altars of Clay
answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto
them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of
Abraham.” John 8:39
What did Abraham do that was counted
as righteousness and how was it so different from the corrupted
conditions found by Christ upon His arrival in the kingdom of Judea?
Where do we find the potency of Abraham’s character? How do we
become a part of God’s blessing for him and his seed? Did God
asked Abraham to do something unique and seemingly out of character
with Jesus Christ?
the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said …
and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who
appeared unto him.” Genesis 12:7
Why did God want Abraham to build an
altar? Was it to kill animals and burn their lifeless carcass upon a
pile of stone and earth? Does God delight in the blood of beasts?
What is the purpose of the altar?
what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams,
and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of
bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” Isaiah 1:11
Jesus expounded upon the absurd idea
that the blood of beasts was a delight to God when he spoke with the
scribe who understood the nature of the kingdom of God on earth.
to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and
with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [his]
neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and
sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said
unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. ...” Mark
If God does not delight in the bloody
sacrifice, then why did he want Abraham to build an altar? What
function did it fulfill? Have we missed the true purpose of these
thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
If the Bible is always taken
literally, then we should go out every morning and cast bread on
ponds and rivers and oceans. The metaphoric meaning is often clear,
yet sometimes is lost in the confusion of impractical historians and
religionists. Casting your bread upon the waters has little to do
with bread or water. And “burnt
offerings unto the LORD” is not really about burning up dead carcasses so that God will be
happy with the “sweet smell” of it.
When Abram left his Father’s
house, he took with him many people who likely believed things very
much the way that Abram had begun to see things. Abram was not a poor
goat herder but a literate, wealthy, and respected man with a
Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all
their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had
gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan…”
As Abram traveled, he continued to
spread his ideology, his beliefs, and teachings. As a man with a
mission, he spread his “tent” and built his “altars”
amongst the people wherever he went. Where people would listen and
abide in God’s way, there was His altar.
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
and the Altars of Clay and Stone
Mizbeach or altars are said to be of two types.
altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon
thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine
oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and
I will bless thee.” Exodus 20:24
Moses made an altar of earth. He was
told to do so. He was not told to use just any type of earth but
particularly the “red clay”. God had made Adam from this “red
clay”. Was the altar made of dirt or was this another
metaphor? Was the altar made of a certain kind of clay, or was it made of a special kind of man?
This altar was used to convey the
sacrifices of the people. The chief characteristic of sacrifice is
not so much that something is destroyed by fire, but rather that it
is lost to the grantor. The grantor must be willing to truly concede
the, “surrender of something for the sake of something else…
something given up or lost.”
Such giving was essential in a free
society where no government collected funds through taxation for
redistributing wealth. Society needed a way of taking care of
community needs. Such voluntary assistance is an extension of what
should already be a part of the family, but, in Israel, it became a
part of the congregational community on a national level. Nothing is
more benevolent than the parent's sacrifice for their children and
the children’s for their parents. The same may apply to nations
with networking intimate charitable congregations.
The burnt offering is
dedicated, or hallowed, upon the living altar of each family
by the grantors. Like bread upon the waters, or tribute to the kings,
it is lost to the grantor. If you have anything more than an
intangible hope and faith to insure its return, then it is not
entirely given and pure charity is not truly exercised.
In the City-State, there is a
contribution for the good of the populous and the general welfare of
the corpus of the State. The difference between those
statutory contributions and those offerings set on Abraham’s
and Moses’ altars was the former is extracted by authority upon
entering the jurisdiction of the State as a member; and the latter
was a freewill offering with personal daily choice in liberty. The
State guarantees social security within its walled boundaries of
authority in the form of entitlements, while God’s altars offer only hope and faith.
Abraham and the people who exercised
the free will choice to support one another formed an altar of earth
and brotherhood. As he spread his tent, his tabernacle, the way of
liberty became strong in the land. When kings like Chedorlaomer
devoured one City-State after another, it was Abram and those who
believed in the law of liberty and choice who were the saviors of
that day. This prophetic principle may still hold true in our own
There was another altar mentioned by
God, but not with the terms “thou shalt”, but with the
terms “if thou wilt make”. This altar was different and
carried specific restrictions.
if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of
hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted
it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy
nakedness be not discovered thereon.” Ex. 20:25-26
This altar was made of stone not
hewn by the hands of men, not touched by tools of iron or
power. You are also warned not to make the altar tiered where
you go up to its higher places by steps or degrees. If you do so, you
will reveal a nakedness or lack of the covering or authority.
The Hebrew word rigmah [hmgr]
is translated into “council”, but actually means literally “a gathering of stones”. It
is from the Hebrew word Regem [Mgr], which is translated “friend” and is the same as ragam [Mgr], meaning “stone”. Both words have as a common origin [bgr] regeb, “a clod” (of earth). Hebrew letters have meanings which define the words.
God wrote the Ten Commandments upon
dead stone. It is not the medium that He preferred, but was a
secondary choice, as the hearts of the people were too hard. They
were stiff-necked and hard- hearted. It was easier to write His laws
on stone than upon the hearts of the Israelites. There would come a
day when this was no longer true.
this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind,
and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they
shall be to me a people:” Hebrews 8:10
God wishes to write His laws upon
lively stones and to construct His altars and temple with those same
stones of living flesh.
also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy
priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by
Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
The stones of the altar of God were
men. The use of the word “stones” was a metaphor, just as the words “burnt
offering” were a metaphor for the idea of giving a thing
up entirely. These altars were composed of men who the community
trusted as friends, not rulers.
One of the key characteristics of
these altars of men is that they are not to be hewn with iron tools.
Again a metaphor of the language common to Abraham. This is in
reference to regulations and restrictions placed upon these men as to
how their job is done.
Why would it not be a good idea to
regulate these men of the Altar? First, you should ask who is doing
the regulating and who made them judge over the men of the altar?
The people who freely give offerings
govern by their power in choosing to give or not to give. If they did
not trust or choose to give, they could stop donating and that living
altar would no longer receive their offerings. The people were the
governors of the system and tempered the wisdom of the altar by their
own freewill charity.
that go up” is another limitation on these stone altars
of flesh. The going up by steps would also be creating a hierarchy of power and control. It would be a centralization of the wealth of
the altar. This would lead to power and authority amongst those who
tend the altar. A different kind of soul would be drawn to the
service of the altar, one thirsty for position, prestige, and power.
They would assume the duties and responsibilities of the people, one
to another, and, in the repose of the people, apathy and corruption
would grow. The people need to participate in the daily choice of
charity. Such activity builds virtue and character, as well as
fellowship and community. Any centralization of authority leads to a
ruling elite, and the slothful deprivation of man’s individual
dominion or freedom granted by God’s good grace is diminished.
is freedom? Freedom is the right to choose; the right to create for
yourself the alternative of choice. Without the responsibility and
exercise of choice a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a
These systems of charitable altars
allowed communities and nations to remain free from the exercising
authority established by men like Cain, Nimrod, and others. It
encouraged strength amongst the gathering of the people through
virtue, brotherhood, and sacrifice. It did not diminish the role of
the individual or the family. It left honor within the family
and compelled men only by the practice of God’s love.
At the core of this system was the
family. It was the family that provided security for men through the
blessings of the ways of God the Father. Each family as members of
the community cared one for the other, forming the whole nation
through a network of caring.
In this fragile life we live,
families may falter or suffer calamity or experience destitution.
When larger groups came together to safeguard the whole community,
they would devise methods by which all could be secure. There was
always a danger of a loss of freedom: the people sought social
security. Abraham’s Altars gave a solution to the dilemma.
In the City-State, security was
established by controls, force, and regulation of men, by men. These
edicts hewed away at the freewill of men, giving power to other men
instead. Men who sought power and control carved this new system into
their own image. The exercising authority corrupted men and with that
power came the danger of tyranny.
draws to it subjection; subjection protection”
These leaders were granted the power
to enforce the security of the State. Stripped of the presence and
plan of God, these men revealed their naked assent to the position of
gods, or ruling judges, of the city or civil powers. The dominion
granted by God to the individual was now incorporated into the City
or Civil State. The ruling elite were perpetually tempted by that
power granted to them by the demagoguery of the people.
From their high positions over other
men and their lofty offices, these principalities exercised authority
that became totalitarian. The temptation to become a beast, devouring
the people and their substance, was too great, except for men like
Moses and Abraham. There was none more divinely suited as ruler of a
free state than Jesus, Who came as a servant.
this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread,
and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither
did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ez 16:49
Leaders are corrupted by their
weakness for power and the weakness of slothful people. Equally
important in the devolution of mankind is the cultivated apathy of
the general populations. People no longer had to choose corporeal
sacrifice in charity. No longer was faith in the Creator and love of
neighbor the essential principles of social security.
It was the will of the organized State
that men conformed to the will of the state and not the will of the
Father in Heaven. The State promised to provide security from famine,
catastrophe, and other “acts
of God” or the tyranny and attacks of other civil gods
A new kind of faith was directed
toward the State and its gods. This faith was called allegiance.
To insure the loyalty and fidelity of men, oaths were required. These
ruling Benefactors also required tribute from all to insure the
benefits of this controlled society. Ultimately, one class of
citizens were deprived to pay for the appetites of the other.
Coveting your neighbors goods became a policy of the State with a
granted license by the voice of the people. Love of the State
was more undeniable than love of neighbor. Private wealth became an
enemy of the state and we soon saw Plato’s simple economic
policy, whereby no gold or silver shall be owned by any citizen,
become true, even before he taught it.
in the hands of the public is an enemy of the state. Adolph Hitler
Children were taught by the State or
abandoned to the care of strangers. The sanctity of marriage
diminished and the natural use of the flesh became dissolute. Fear of
the State was more real than fear of God, for despite the praises in
their temples and churches their real homage, prayers (applications)
and worship was to the State.
themselves to be wise, they became fools… Who changed the
truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature
[institutions] … For this cause God gave them up unto vile
affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that
which is against nature:” Romans 1:22-26
Under the perfect law of liberty and
at the altars of Abraham and Moses, each individual or family
exercised faith, hope, and charity. While at the altars and temples
of the City-State, obedience and compliance were the ruling
creatures. The spirit that moved those altars of force was that of
covetousness, control, and cupidity.
Men may choose to apply, or pray, at a government altar of authority and force or the altar of God’s
granted liberty. God created a law that forbids coveting or stealing
from your neighbor. Man created institutions based on taking from
the creature [institutions] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into
the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21
Mankind is changed by his choice. He
chooses the institutions made by men to rule over men or he chooses
to seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven
suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew
Return to Index of Chapters of "Thy Kingdom Comes"
Order the book
Thy Kingdom Comes