Our church is using the E100 Bible reading program, and I’m really enjoying it! Yesterday we read God’s calling of Abram. There are so many significant moments in this relatively short passage of scripture, but the “take this with you today” point that stood out to me was when Abram built an altar after God had appeared to him.
Genesis 12:7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Then I read in the ESV study Bible notes:
They [altars] are a common feature of the patriarchal period because no central sanctuary existed before the exodus from Egypt. Before the construction of the tabernacle, God was not perceived as ordinarily dwelling on the earth. These altars are places where God may be encountered in worship.
As I read about this progression of man encountering God on earth, I couldn’t help but think about the sermon my husband preached on Sunday. Here we have Abram constructing a place where God may be encountered in worship. Eventually we will have a tabernacle that travels with the Israelites, followed with a temple envisioned by David and finished by Solomon… all of the places signifying God’s dwelling place, but access was utterly limited. Only a patriarch here and there encountered the presence of God. Only a high priest once a year and after making a bloody atonement could come anywhere near God. Sin had separated us from a holy God.
This makes the truth of Hebrews 4 so striking!
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I thought about my own little life. Do I really believe I have access to God through the once and for all sacrifice of our Great High Priest, Jesus? This means anytime, regardless of how badly I blew it, or how strong the temptation, I can run to the throne of grace and find mercy and grace in that time of need. Abram’s altar was near the oak of Moreh. My “altars” are in the kitchen, in the homeschool room, in the den, in the mini-van.
Lord, help me to remember to draw near to you, not just in the morning when I read your Word, but all day long as I try to walk in the good works you have prepared for me. Even more, help me to grow in understanding and appreciating just how amazing it is that I have access to You through Christ. Amen.