Burning Altars by Olatunji Zion

An Altar is a surface or structure upon which a religious sacrifice is offered. Although the term is sometimes used simply to designate a center for religious ritual or for the worship of deities, and although in many societies sacrifices are offered without an altar, altar and sacrifice are generally connected in the religious history of humanity.

Burning Altars by Olatunji Zion

Although common in many cultures, the altar is not universal. It is rarely found in indigenous religions of South America and Africa. Islam seems to be the only world religion that does not use it. Altars vary in size, shape, and construction. Places of offering or sacrifice may take the form of a mound of earth; a heap of stones; one large slab of stone, wood, or metal; or a trench dug into the ground, like the vedi (altar) of ancient India.

The altar has been ascribed deep religious and symbolic significance. It has been considered a holy and revered object, a place hallowed by the divine presence, where contact and communication with deities and other spirits could be achieved. So sacred was its power, often protected by taboos, that it served, at times, as an asylum for those seeking refuge. At the heart of all altar symbolism lies the idea that it is the center or image of the universe. Particularly in India, the cosmic significance of the altar was fully explored. The ancient sages saw its different parts as representing the various sections of the universe and concluded that its construction was a repetition of creation. The altar, as a heaped-up mound of earth, also symbolized the sacred mother; its very shape could be compared with the body of a woman.

The earliest and most reliable evidence of an altar, dating from about 2000 bc, is a horned limestone structure excavated at the ancient Palestinian city of Megiddo. In the ancient Mediterranean world, altars were not necessarily associated with temples. In some Greek and Roman cults, for example, the altar stood in front of a sacred building, and it was the altar, not the temple, that was the focus of religious ceremony. Very often the form and position of an altar reflected its function: whereas a raised altar was used for sacrifices to the celestial deities of Mount Olympus, for example, pits or trenches served as receptacles for offerings to gods of the earth or the underworld.

In ancient Hebrew religion, altars were used both for animal sacrifice and for offerings of grain, wine, and incense. The function of these altars was the same as in many other religions of the ancient Near East, although there were some important differences. For example, the common pagan belief that sacrifice is a way of feeding the gods acquires a strictly metaphorical meaning in Judaism.

In Christianity the altar held far-reaching religious meaning. Starting from a simple communion table, the altar became a symbol of Christ and was marked with five symbolic wounds at its consecration. Many passages of Scripture lend themselves to symbolic interpretation in connection with the altar. For example, the stone of which the altar is constructed could be viewed as symbolic of Christ, the “cornerstone” of the church (Matthew 21:42). By the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), the Christian altar had become a richly decorated throne on which lay the consecrated host (bread and wine) for the purpose of adoration (see Eucharist). As in many other religions, the altar table in Christianity has been the focal point of unity, reverence, prayer, and worship.

But there is an altar God is calling our attention to, it's so different from the ones made of wood which is beautiful, but there is an altar which is not made of wood, it's surface need no adornment for it's adorn already, its fire cannot be seen with the naked eye but its effect can be sensed (seen, felt, heard, tasted...). You are the Altar.

The question is, are you still burning?

Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" A living sacrifice, daily sacrificing yourselves unto God, the thoughts of your heart, your mind, it's a reasonable sacrifice, give it to God. And the thought of a man's heart that's meant to be wicked becomes purified. It takes willingness of the mind, even when the flesh is weak it obeys the mind. Practically exchanging our own self pleasure to please God who became flesh, Jesus who died for our sins even before we realize that we are sinners, far before we ever think of repentance, before we come to our senses, God's provision has been made already for the remission of our sins. Just imagine, your biological parents, has prepared everything you'll need even before you were born, they've bought all your stuffs knowing ahead that you'll need them, even when you don't know you do, not just that they might also go as far as securing you a job when time comes, when finally you arrive in this world, did you say you have no need of them? Even when you do, they'll understand that you're still a child, how much more our Heavenly father would do far better, going to the extreme miles for our own sake. Therefore, every part of the body is an altar unto God, present it holy and acceptable; your tongue is an altar, that is why when you pray God answers; your hand is an altar that is why, when you lay it on the sick they should recover; your whole body is an altar, remember, the shadows of Peter raised the dead right? He served the same God we're serving but obviously his altar was burning more than ours.

Most of the altars now are so cold that they cry to God in vain, they just make so much noise that even blindfold them from seeing the reality of spirituality in their lives. That is why we have so many christians, so many churches, but no evidence of the presence of the living God. When are we going to see how cold our altars have become, because we're not able to maintain that light at first encounter with Calvary, that first love is lost, what is left is showiness full of razzmatazz.

At first employment into the kingdom fold, we tend to be so committed to learning more, as in, the hunger and thirst is so high, the fire of God consumes us and we burn with full rage, but as time goes on, does the story remain the same? It all becomes an history, like a past testimony, as in “gone are the days” and when we see newbies firing we are amazed instead of being challenged, we wait watching out for when these newbies will get cold and finally as dead as they are. What kingdom do you belong? Are you confusing others? Where exactly do you stand? Are you giving the right impression of who a Christian is or should be? Have you lowered your christian virtues and standard because of what friends say? Do you understand what it means to be an ambassador for Christ, which is far more than that of your earthly kingdom? Where exactly you stand? What kingdom do you belong to? Who are you? Find your fire again! Be ablaze for the kingdom like never before. It's never too late to Refire!!!

Salvation is a daily experience, daily evaluating the spirit man, daily asking for Divine help that's the only way we don't get cold in the spirit. The light of God in us burn more when we read the scriptures, why? His promises are new every morning, you read just one verse three hundred and sixty five times, you see the interpretation in three hundred and sixty five new ways all emphasising a point and then you marvel. But why, these days we've allowed the devil to set a veil over our eyes, we get too familiar with the scriptures, too familiar with the preacher's style that we miss the message God has for us or maybe we even recommend it for others, ignoring our own faults, how then can we remain as burning altars?

The fire is always in us, set on at first encounter with Jesus at Calvary, but we are to maintain it, Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling", of course not by our strength but by his grace, running on the strength of the spirit.

Now, we need to understand that burning altars are portals, they are heaven’s gate, having direct access to the deep things of God.

Don't just look like a christian, be a christian. Be just like Christ. Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls". We no longer live for ourselves, we live for Christ, who died so we might have life. So henceforth, even when offended we should take no offense as one who has deep understanding and having a renewed mind. If you're not transformed you'll be believing the devil's doctrine, rejoicing that it's God's revelation unto you.

The devil is hungrily searching for cold altar to lay hold on and rest, the resting place of the devil is always a hell, it doesn't have to be in hellfire. 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour"

Therefore, To be a burning altar we must feed daily on the Word of God Psalms 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path". 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth". Learning at the feet of the cross, neutralizing wordliness and its pleasures, 1John 2:15-16 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world".



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