ALTARS IN THE BIBLE
In the Bible, altars are designed for sacrifices and not just for decoration (Exodus 20:24). The Bible also described the various methods of constructing these altars. Some were made of sand or unhewn stones, that is, stones that have not been chiseled with any tool, and some were made of bricks. In some cases, a natural rock could automatically be turned into an altar. Altars were either constructed for God or idols. Any altar constructed for the purpose of idolatry incurred the wrath of God. In the Bible, we read the story of a king who was sacrificing by an altar and God sent a prophet who prophesied to it. This shows the role of altars in spiritual transactions. As a Believer, you would find that the great men of God in the Old Testament built altars. This was because an altar served as a medium of communication and worship. Abraham, Noah, Joshua, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samuel and David built altars. When Elijah challenged the Baal worshipers at Mount Carmel, he told them to construct their own altar and when it got to his turn, what he did was to repair the broken down altar of the Lord.
An altar could also be described as a place where animals are slaughtered for sacrifice, that is, a place where blood is shed and where blood cries. It is a spiritual dinning table where spirits are offered food. It is a place of spiritual bureau de change where blood is exchanged for something. It is a place where contact is made with the spirit world, and it could be with good or bad spirits. It is a place of spiritual fellowship with either clean or unclean spirits. When Jacob built an altar in Bethel, it was the angels of God who were ascending and descending on it. If he had built a demonic one, there would have been the traffic of evil angels otherwise known as demons.
An altar is a place where covenants are made with spiritual powers. It is also a place of deliberation, decision and action whether negative or positive. From the above description of an altar, we can see that there are positive altars as well as negative ones. For example, the cross where Jesus died was an altar of sacrifice of the Son of God. That cross therefore stood for a positive altar, which is meant for good purposes. When somebody says your prayer altar is weak, it means that your prayer life is nothing to write home about. If they say your holiness is equally weak, they are telling you that your level of holiness is not up to God’s standard. Conversely, negative altars are raised by the enemies to steal, kill and to destroy. An altar can be raised to bless or destroy, promote or pull down a person, an organization or a thing. Altars can also be raised to enhance a course or to frustrate it. So, we see that altars were raised to either save lives or to destroy the enemies in the Old Testament. According to the passage, Samuel raised an altar in the name of God against the Philistines, and as a result, God became angry with the Philistines and thundered with a great thunder against them from heaven. The altar made things easy for the Israelites. God fought for them and they did not have to do anything by themselves.