Living with a Hollow Altar

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The altar must be hollow, made from planks. Build it just as you were shown on the mountain.

Exodus 27:8

One of the curious features of the altar described in Exodus 27 was its hollowness. This characteristic of the altar facilitated its function as the place where sacrifices were offered and burned, rather like a giant barbeque. But the hollowness of the altar also allowed it to be carried on large poles of acacia wood (27:6-7). A solid altar made either of stone or metal would have been too heavy to transport. A hollow altar, which surely weighed quite a bit, could accompany the Israelites in their travels, like the Tabernacle of which it is an essential element.

The image of a hollow, movable altar reminds us that we present our offerings to God not simply in one place. To be sure, the sanctuaries of our churches invite us to present our sacrifice of praise to God. Yet our “altar” is not limited to our church buildings. Rather, in a sense, the whole world is our altar, at least potentially. Whether we’re at home sitting around the table with our family, or out with our friends, or laboring in our workplace, we have the opportunity to offer ourselves to God. How? By offering a word of encouragement, or by being generous with our belongings, or by allowing God’s truth to guide our professional decisions, or . . . you name it.

As God’s people, filled with God’s own Spirit, we can live with a hollow altar that travels with us wherever we go. Our whole lives can be an offering to the Lord as we live under and extend his kingdom into the world.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever thought of your place of work as an altar? Your home? Your classroom? Your neighborhood? How might you live differently if you “carried your altar with you” at all times?

PRAYER: Holy God, what a privilege it is to worship you. I am blessed to gather with your people each week as we offer you our praise and thanks. Yet I have the chance to worship you, not only as your church gathers, but also as I live in the world.

Help me, Lord, to be someone with a “hollow altar.” Teach me to see every context of my life as a place of worship. Empower me to serve you wherever I am. Use me in each venue of my life to represent and extend your kingdom. Amen.

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