For his Palm Sunday sermon, Pastor Phyl spoke on the topic of Altars. His message is titled “Keep The Fire Burning”. He began his preach by saying that there is something powerful about Palm Sunday. This is the beginning of the greatest sacrifice of all time. Pastor Phyl asked the readers in the congregation if any of them liked to skip to the end of the story. This is something that we are able to do. We already know the end of the story, because we are on this side of history. We are on the side of history that knows that He is no longer in the tomb; that knows that He has risen.
Referring to Leviticus 6:9-13 Pastor Phyl explained that this was all about gaining forgiveness for God’s people. The High Priests would come to the Altar and sacrifice burnt offerings to atone for the people. The fire was to be kept burning, and on no account was it to be allowed to go out. We, too are called to have a fire on an Altar that must be kept burning, but this Altar, and fire, is in our hearts. This is the place where God meets us. Altars are incredible things. Noah felt the urge to build an Altar and sacrifice an animal when he and his family were able to leave the Ark. Abraham also felt the urge to build an Altar. He felt he could do nothing more than build an Altar and start to praise God. All through the Old Testament.
People build Altars after encounters with God, marking a physical place of meeting with Him. Another thing that comes with an Altar, is that it is a place of forgiveness. In the Old Testament, only certain people could go to the Altar. The New Testament, and the New Covenant ushers in a new order where the Altar can be entered into by anyone. Even us. There is no need for a High Priest. We are now afforded direct access to God.
Many modern Churches have no Altar in their buildings. The Altar is now in our hearts. Instead, of an Altar, many Churches have a Table Of Remembrance, where we can remember God’s sacrifice, but it is important that we don’t lose our reverence for this. We must never underestimate the sacrifice God made for us. Because of His sacrifice, God sees the righteousness of Jesus when He looks at us, and not the blackness of our sin. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we can know that we are loved and accepted. He makes unholy things Holy.
Hebrews 13:9-15 encourages us to meet Jesus outside the city. We must take God’s word and run it through our hearts. We must work out our own faith by means of a relationship with God, and by spending time in His word. Good preachers will show us the way to Jesus, but it is us that must then walk the path. The truth is that we no longer need others to make sacrifices for us- we can go straight to God because Jesus came, and made a way for us. He made it possible for us to set aside old traditions, and to go outside the camp, to find Him at the cross. He brings us new promise, and all we need do is confess our sins and ask for forgiveness; then our sins and iniquities will be remembered no more.
We have no need for physical altars in our lives, but instead, are called to build one in our hearts; to continually keep the fire burning, night and day. The fire must NOT go out. The Holy Spirit can help us to keep the fires burning, so that we may bring a sacrifice of praise to Him who came that we might be saved.
In closing, Pastor Phyl reminded us that God is NEVER asleep, and encouraged us to keep our fire burning continuously, night and day, so that it would not go out.
Scriptures: Leviticus 6:9-13, Hebrews 13:9-15