In my earlier days as a Christian, I heard about the testimonies of the saints on how the power of prayer helped to change their lives. It not only changed their lives but it also changed their loved ones which they interceded for that the Lord would bless them. If a sister in the church was having problems in her marriage, instead of her being on the phone telling all of her business, she would be at the altar bringing her concerns to the Lord. If would not only be her praying but she would also have other season praying sisters who cried aloud and spared not as Isaiah commanded in Isaiah 58:1. If the prayer was regarding a son or a daughter that was out in the streets drinking all kinds of poison, taking drugs or locked up in prison, that praying mother stood on God’s promises knowing that He would save her child.
As the church, we too must get Back2TheAltar as these sisters did because Jesus is still on the main line. The main line is not your latest 5G cell phone but it is that Heavenly connection through prayer that we can tell Jesus all about our struggles because He still guides till the day is done. As Abram built an altar unto the Lord there are three important lessons that the Lord would want us to take from his personal experiences in the word of God. The first lesson that we take from the first altar that Abram built was that the Lord Presence was with Him. The second lesson that the Lord would want us to take is that He can help us to deal with the internal enemies that we keep secret from other. Finally, the third lesson that the Lord would want us to take from Abram returning back to the altar in Bethel is that the Lord will help us to see the opportunities for growth as they are presented before us.
Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the LORD (Genesis 12:6-8 NKJV).
His Presence is with us
The first time that Abram built an altar to the Lord was a place called Shechem in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:6-8). During his time of worship, the Lord revealed to him that His presence would be with him. The presence of the Lord would be with him as a witness to all of those in the land that Jehovah God was in covenant relationship with Abram. Though the Canaanites in Shechem were the ones who occupied the land in the Lord’s timing the Lord would give their land to Abram and his descendants. Many years later the Children of Israel would go into the promise land where they would inherit a land that was filled with milk and honey. According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the word Shechem means a shoulder and the city itself dwelled on the shoulder of Mount Ebal.
Just as the Lord had provided His presence to Abram, the Lord has provided us His presence as evidence to us that we have a covenant relationship with Him. In Psalms 110:1 the Lord promised that through our submission to Him, He would make our enemies our footstool. It does not matter how many that might come front us, the Lord will arise on our behalf (Psalms 68:1). We have the promise of God that He would be our hiding place who hides us from trouble and He will surround us with His songs of deliverance (Psalms 32:7). The songwriter once wrote “I need thee oh, I need thee, every hour Lord I need thee. Oh Lord now bless me now my savior, I need thee Lord, I need thee”.
The enemy that is within us
The second time that Abram built an altar to the Lord was in a mountain that was east of Bethel in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:6-8). During his time of worship with the Lord not only did the Lord assure Abram His presence but the Lord would also provide him guidance to navigate throughout the land. In the Hebrew language, the word Bethel means the house of the Lord. The Lord knew that the guidance that Abram needed would not only be for the people he came in contact with but it would help him to make necessary adjustments when he needed to make them. For example, when the famine arose in Canaan it was an adjustment period that Abram should have made by remembering the Lord promises that were made to him. However because Abram did not choose to seek the Lord, he instead chose to go down to Egypt with his wife and those with him. The decision by Abram to go to Egypt also revealed an inward enemy called fear which nearly sabotaged the purpose of God in his life.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you (Genesis 12:10-13)”.
The first inward enemy that Abram was confronted with was the enemy of the fear of man. As a result of him going to Egypt to avoid the famine, Abram became afraid that the men of Egypt would take his wife and kill him. The very thing that Abram feared would happen to his wife, the princes of Pharaoh brought the news of how beautiful Sarai was and cause her to be taken from her husband. The Pharaoh gave Abram several gifts in exchange for his wife which he willingly agreed to part with her to keep himself safe. However, the Lord would step in the midst of this life-altering transaction by sending great plagues upon Pharaoh and his house to prevent Sarai from becoming a part of his harem. As a result of the plagues that came upon Pharaoh and his house, this cause Pharaoh to confront Abram for lying to him and saying that Sarai was his sister. The Pharaoh would return Sarai back to her husband and commanded his men to have Abram and his wife sent away along with all of the stuff that they had.
The same way that fear was an inward enemy for Abram in his life, if we are not careful fear can also be an inward enemy to us if we fail to make proper adjustments when we are required to make them. In Proverbs 29:25 the writer tells us that “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe”. The word snare according to freedictionary.com means to “To take or catch in or as if in a snare or trap”. The enemy knows that once we become born again and we give our lives to Christ that he can do nothing to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). However, what the enemy will do is to use fear to ensnare or paralyze us in keeping us from walking in His will. He will use fear to bring torment in our minds to cause us to be afraid of not wanting to step out in try because we do not want to be criticized by people. The Lord does not want me and you to be ensnared by fear of man because He has not given us the spirit of fear but love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The Lord has promised to us in Hebrews 13:6 that “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”. The House of the Lord is not about being a brick and mortar building which is built by the hands of men. However, we are the Bethel or the house of the Lord where God’s presence is with us which will help us not to be snare by the fear of man.
The Opportunities for Growth
As Abram, his wife and those that traveled with him left Egypt he would ultimately come back to the altar in Bethel which he called upon the name of the Lord. Yes, he was rich in cattle, having plenty of silver and gold, but none of his abundance would replace what was missing in his heart. In Abram return back to Bethel, it would represent him returning from the breaking off point where he had failed to make the necessary adjustments in his journey with the Lord (Genesis 13:1-4). When we fall short of God’s glory, He will provide us the chance that we need to embrace the opportunities for growth in the Lord. One opportunity for growth that Abram would be able to learn and apply in his life was to understand that the Lord had called him to be a leader who was supposed to cover and protect his wife.
As a leader, Abram failed to cover and protect his wife and exposed her to be taken by a heathen king. It was Abram’s responsibility to not just be with his wife in the intimate times but to also cover his wife even if it means him possibly losing his own life. We would learn later on in the life of Abram that he was a man who had trained servants of war and if he had chosen to trust the Lord if he would have face conflict regarding his wife Sarai, the Lord would give him the guidance how to lead those who were with him. As men, we are the covering of our families and the Lord has empowered us to provide and protect them with our presence. In the tough times that we go through, those times when the heat of the kitchen is turned up it does not mean run and go missing in action. The leadership we have as husbands and fathers will be respected when we learn to serve those by laying down our very own lives for a theme. Our wives and children will trust our leadership because we make godly decisions and choices from the word of God that come from us being at the altar of prayer.