“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” – Hebrews 13:10
A huge blessing that Christian leaders rarely mention is that of the New Testament altar. Yet, every Sunday morning at the end of most church services we hear the echoes of an altar call. Many are called to the front of the church where a banister or carpeted steps are called the altar. Surprisingly, this is not a biblical altar. This error came about in the 1800’s where evangelists would coerce multitudes of people down front to what they termed “the altar.” Now be honest and think. Is it recorded anywhere in the New Testament where just one apostle ever called the people to come to a designated place in the temple, in a synagogue, or anywhere else that was called an altar? No. What we do find is the apostles calling the multitudes to Christ – a person, not a place. What about the Lord Jesus? Do we find Jesus calling the lost and hurting to a designated place called an altar? No. Every invitation by the Lord was a call to come to Him. “Come unto Me,” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 and in John 7:37.
Could this be the reason why there are so many professions, and at the same time so many departures from the church? Could it be that they were called to an altar, and not to Christ?
The book of Hebrews makes this very clear. Hebrews was written to help those first century Christians to understand what they had in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. What they had was much better and more glorious than what the Jewish religion had to offer. Understand that the Jews were mocking these Christians. They claimed that the Christians had no high priest, no sacrifice, and no altar so therefore they could not be legitimate. Yet, the writer of Hebrews encourages them by showing that everything is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Lord Jesus is our High Priest according to Hebrews chapter 5. The Lord Jesus is our final sacrifice for sin according to Hebrews chapters 9 and 10. Lastly, the Lord Jesus is our New Testament altar.
Christians have something (or rather Someone) much better than the Old Testament altar, and we most assuredly have a greater altar than carpeted steps at the front of a church auditorium. The Christian is blessed with a spiritual altar of worship at all times. We do not have to wait for the end of a church service to worship and pray. Just as Jesus Christ, your High Priest and sacrifice, is with you in your heart at all times, so it is with the altar. You can offer the sacrifice of praise and prayer to God because Jesus Christ is your spiritual altar at all times - everywhere you go. That’s our altar!
David C. Hale, pastor