"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." - Hebrews 13:10
As a kid in a small rural town in the Missouri Ozarks, I was a member of the local Southern Baptist Church. I still remember those hot sultry summer nights in that non air conditioned building where some revival preacher would come and preach for a few nights in a row. I remember one particular revival meeting where there was quite an urgency that hung thick in the humid air. Not only was the Lord going to come and destroy the earth, but I was under the impression that I could be raptured at any minute and that we should start looking for the signs of the times even in the local newspapers! But the most urgent message of all was to those listening that they must not put off “being saved” any longer and that all would be given an opportunity at the end of every church service to come to the front of the church building in front of the altar and either “get saved,” or “rededicate” one’s life before the pastor and the congregation. Within my mind, and in the minds of the audience, there was this impression that anything that was good and holy was down in front of this altar. After all, this altar was decked out with a beautiful table cloth, it’s where the Lord’s supper was served from, and behind it were big throne like chairs where our pastor would sit all decked out in holy robes. And this is where God seemed to do all of His saving! I had seen dozens of people "saved" right there in front of this sacred and holy altar.
The Lord eventually revealed to me that all of this was just man made foolishness on display. The New Testament, and especially the book of Hebrews tells us that ornate altars and other physical items of the Old Testament used for worship through the sacrifice of animals are now done away with in Christ. We don’t need crosses, special furniture, incense, candles, robes, stained glass windows, or any other thing that would make us to feel religious. These things are a distraction and lead us away from Christ. Christ is now our altar! Christ is our sacrifice! He’s our high priest, and we rest in HIM as our Sabbath. Christ is the way, the truth, and the Life. We look to Him and turn from our idols and the use of relics in our worship. The Lord will have His people to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!
Christ’s deity is the altar upon which His humanity was sacrificed. And He is our representative as our High Priest. God is satisfied that the demands of His righteousness have now been met in Christ and His sacrifice. This sacrifice is complete, successful, and effectual. It’s so perfect that there is no need for another. Christ’s work is FINISHED. And the altars of false religion can never compete with the one true Altar that is Christ our Lord.
I still feel bad for folks that think they need something physical like a wooden altar, a cross, or some other relic in order to feel as if they are worshipping their creator. May the Lord lead His people away from such foolishness and into the fullness of life that is in Christ Jesus.