Genesis, the first book in the Bible, records the histories of four men – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –all of whom passed through distinct situations in the course of their lives. Noah built the ark, Abraham left his country for a promised land, Isaac inherited all the riches of his father and married Rebecca, and Jacob tricked his father in order to take the birthright from his brother. Although these men went through very different life experiences, one thing is common: they all built an altar to God (Gen. 8:20; 12:7, 8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 33:20; 35:7). In this series of posts we will consider these altars in the book of Genesis.
To build an altar to God is for the purpose of offering sacrifices to God. A sacrifice is something that is set apart from its original usage and position in order to be wholly for God. In Romans 12:1 Paul exhorts the New Testament believers to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God.” This shows that we should be the sacrifices that are wholly for God, or in other words, we need to consecrate ourselves to God. With this understanding, we can see that the spiritual significance of these four men building an altar to God is that they consecrated themselves to God, that is, they gave themselves and all that they had to Him. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s consecration was their consent to give themselves to God to let Him fully work in them and on them. This consent made each a sacrifice to Him. Previously, they could live for themselves. But now they were set apart for God’s use. As Witness Lee states, “To put it simply, to be a sacrifice means to be offered to God for His use” (Experience of Life, p. 37).
Once we have consecrated ourselves to God, we may suppose that we are ready to work for Him. Actually, our consecration firstly positions us to be worked on by Him, which is necessary before we can work for Him. Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, Jehovah, You are our Father; / We are the clay; and You, our Potter; / And all of us are the work of Your hand.” With the attitude expressed in this verse, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave themselves and their permission to God to freely mold them as a potter molds the clay. Just as the clay does not work for the potter, but the potter works on the clay, so God desires that we first let Him work on us so that we may become useful to Him. May we open to the Lord in prayer concerning building an altar to Him, consecrating ourselves to Him, and consenting to let Him work freely in us and on us as He sees fit.
Witness Lee, The Experience of Life, Chapter 2 (Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Print).
Witness Lee, Life Lessons Volume 2, Chapter 18 (Nook, Print).
Witness Lee, Consecration (Nook, Print).
Holy Bible Recovery Version, all verses mentioned in this post and their corresponding footnotes (Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Print).
All references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.
5 thoughts on “The Altars in Genesis (1) — The Significance of Building an Altar: Consecration”
“These five points of consecration, therefore, were not conceived in our imagination to indoctrinate people; rather, the actual condition of a consecrated person is our basis for unveiling these points and making them explicit. I do hope that through these explanations and investigations there will be on one hand a development of the consecration that is already in one’s inner being, and on the other hand that the defects or lack of intensity of one’s consecration may be revealed, that by this, one will be enabled to pursue and progress continuously in this experience.”
thank you for this publication found it very useful.
Thanks for sharing
Appreciate so much with great gratitude for this teaching. My eyes have been opened with greater understanding on the importance as to why men of God built altars to God.
I thank the Holy Spirit for directing my attention to this topic of building an altar and its significance in my personal and family life. May God bless this ministry that he has given you to continue teach people like me.