By Kaaren Craig
Scripture is full of the building of altars. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all built a visible altar in thanksgiving to God. In Revelation, the altar of God in heaven is revealed. A definition of an altar is a “supernatural landing strip, a place where divinity meets humanity.” Today, we also build altars in the things that take our time, energy, and purpose.
Jer. 31:33 For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Ancient Israel would bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem to be sacrificed at the altar. But even then, God calls for ““Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; (Ps. 50:14). Today, no one can go to the Temple in Jerusalem, but all of God’s people can offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving in the temple of their hearts. I Cor. 3:16: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
This sacrifice of Thanksgiving is never more needed than in times of stress and trouble. A short history of this secular holiday is applicable as it is the 500th anniversary of the first harvest celebration on the shores of America.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, individual colonies and states celebrated Thanksgiving days. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the 4th Thursday of November during the Great Depression. Both of these eras were stressful and traumatic, and for the wise in heart, the time to look to God.
When focused on what is good, right, and true, thanksgiving is the only way to approach God. Psm. 100: 4,5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courtyards with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His faithfulness is to all generations.
Hebrew is such a poetic, pictorial language. In Hebrew, thanksgiving is the word todah (to- daw’), which comes from the word yadah. Yadah means to hold out the hand not to receive but to give. NAS Concordance: choir, confession, hymns of thanksgiving, praise, sacrifices of thanksgiving, thank offering
Hebrew Honey; Yadah means: To cast, eg a stone. Lam. 3: 54 To broadcast, to proclaim the Name of the Lord is to meet one requirement for reopening a shut-up heaven.
Ps. 30:12 To give thanks, to sing. The person is moving into the atmosphere where God dwells.
From Torah: Lev. 7:11.12 ‘Now this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which shall be presented to the LORD. If he offers it by way of thanksgiving,
I Thess. 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”.
Rev, 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and languages, … saying, “amen, blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen
The purpose of an altar is to connect to God, build a landing strip, or better yet, a hanger. How do we, in our daily lives, connect with Him? Build an altar of thanksgiving. Journal your praises as You enter His Presence, record your daily thanksgiving for big things, for small things, for events, for memories. Thanksgiving is like the spark that keeps the fires burning on the altars we build as we commune with God. Not only is it commanded, it is a marker of our attitude. Gratitude is attitude with the Big G released in our lives.
If you want to know what altars you are building in your life, what takes your time, what are you consistently doing, and where is your focus? I have learned that the first hour of my day sets the attitude and atmosphere. It is the way to enter His courts with thanksgiving and ignites the spark on the altar built for Him in my heart for the rest of the day.
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Kaaren Craig is a BibleInteract board member and loves exploring the depth of Scripture.