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Worship Marks The Spot

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“Worship” Marks The Spot

Genesis 12:1-9

There was a time, when someone who had something of great value would often bury their treasure so that no one could find it and take it away.  Of course, there was always the risk that one might forget where their treasure was buried, so to make sure that they would remember where it was, they would often make a map.  Usually they would mark the spot where the treasure was with an “X”.  That is where we get the expression, “X marks the spot.”

       By way of comparison, I want to talk to you about how “worship” marks the spot!

(Notice with me please, Genesis 12:1-9.)

Genesis 13:18 (NASB), “18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord” (bold type added).

Genesis 22:9 (NASB), “9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” (bold type added).

Genesis 26:24-25 (NASB), “24 The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham. 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well’” (bold type added).

After God encountered Abraham in Genesis 12, Abraham built an altar to the Lord, who appeared to Him.

       In the next verse, Abraham journeyed about 20 miles further and pitched his tent, or set up camp.  At this point, Abraham built another altar, and this time he called upon the name of the Lord.

       When we consider the other verses that I read; we can see a pattern of altar building, in the life of Abraham.

(Now, why did Abraham build altars?  Well, Abraham built altars to the Yahweh:)

1.     As a memorial to the presence or appearance of Jehovah God.

Altars were built as a sign of the presence or appearance of God.

       “Here in Shechem, Jehovah assured Abraham of the future possession of the land of Canaan for his descendants.  The assurance was made by means of the appearance of Jehovah.  Abraham understood this and ‘built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him” (Keil & Delitszch).

       On his journey to the Promised Land and on his journey through life, Abraham would need some reminders of the times and places where God had miraculously appeared to him.

       As Abraham memorialized the time and place of the appearance of Jehovah God by building an altar and worshipping the Lord, every time God appears to us, through the direction of His Word and Spirit, we need to build an altar to the Lord.  We need to memorialize the times and places in our lives where God has appeared to us.

       There are times when God appears to us in a very dynamic way through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.  His internal voice is very strong, or the Words of Scripture jump off of the page, or the Words of a sermon strike us very deeply.  When God manifests Himself to us in a significant way, we need to build a memorial to Him in our lives, in our souls.  We need to set up a worship marker that will remind us of the appearance of God.  How you choose to do this is idiosyncratic or individual, but it needs to be done.

       On this journey through life, to the spiritual Promised Land, we all need memorials, i.e. reminders of the times and places where God appeared to us.  One of those memorials, for this church, should be the construction of this building.  I praise God that you have set up a worship marker, a time of celebration.  Return to this marker every year to celebrate God’s appearance to you as a church through this event.

(Abraham also built this first altar for another reason:)

2.     To worship Jehovah God for His appearance.

Abraham “built an altar in Shechem, to the Lord who had appeared to him, to make the soil which was sanctified by the appearance of God a place for the worship of the God who appeared to him” (Keil & Delitszch).  In the passage before us, Abraham worshipped God for His appearance.  But, he not only memorialized the appearance of God, He worshipped God for that appearance.  This spot of His appearance became holy ground!  Worship marked the spot that God appeared, and Abraham and his would act differently when they approached holy ground.  This should be natural for every worshiper, but God also stipulates it.  Jehovah God told Moses, “Take off your shoes; you are standing on holy ground!”

We need to establish some holy ground in our lives!  The fact that there is a church here means that God has appeared to the organizer of this church.  That means that this is holy ground.  Every geographical, historical, and chronological place that God appears becomes holy ground.  We ought to do as God commanded Moses and take off our shoes.  Why?  The songwriter captured the reasons well:

We are standing on holy ground,

And I know that there are angels all around.

Let us praise Jesus now.

We are standing in his presence on holy ground.

Therefore, we should approach these places with an attitude of holy celebration!

Now, we don’t celebrate by just marking the spot or the day of God’s appearance.  We must sacrifice something!  The Hebrew word mizbeah, ‘altar,’ means a place of sacrifice.  (Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel:  Its Life and Institutions [London:  Darton, Longman & Todd, 1961], p. 408).  Sacrifice is one of the major ways of worshipping and thanking God for who He is, and for what He has done.

       You are thinking, “What should I sacrifice?”  New Testament sacrifices are summarized in

Hebrews 13:15-16, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

       There are three categories of sacrifices here:

1.     The sacrifices of our lips.

The sacrifices of our lips are praise to God and thanksgiving to His name.  This is the sacrifice of praise.  With our mouths we magnify the God who appeared to us.  We say things like:

·        We praise You God for your appearance.

·        We praise You God for your promises.

·        We thank You God for your Name and all that it entails.

·        We thank You God for this church.

·        We thank You God for your vision for this church.

(The second category of New Testament sacrifices is:)

2.     The sacrifice of our lives.

The second sacrifice is doing good, through the sacrifice our lives and lifestyles to God by doing good to everyone, everywhere we go.  With our manner of life we magnify the God who appeared to us.  We don’t just holler and shout; we have got to live a life of praise and worship.  The sacrifice of our lives, which amounts to praise and worship, is an ongoing, every day thing.  Our lives are to be lived in worship to Jehovah God.

(The third category of New Testament sacrifices is:)

3.      The sacrifices of our living.

The third category of sacrifice is sharing of our material living.  This is the praise of sacrifice.  Out of our means and beyond our means, through faith, we share our material to magnify the God who appeared to us.

       I know some of you are asking, “Share with who?”

·        Share with the poor of the world; glorifying God with evangelism in mind.

·        Share double honor with your pastor; the one who labors among you and should be honored with respect and remuneration.

·        Share with your church; the memorial place, people, and reason that God appeared in the first place.

Let us dedicate the financial offerings that we give every Sunday, but particularly on the occasion of the construction of this house of worship, as tokens of worship to God who has appeared to us and given us promises.

This is the time to worship God, with praises, right living, and giving, because of His miraculous appearance to you in the construction of this house.

(Abraham also built this first altar for another reason:)

3.     To worship Jehovah God for His promise.

The altar was, no doubt, also to worship God for His promise concerning this land.  The first three promises that were given to Abraham, when he lived with his family in Ur of the Chaldeans, did not specifically promise the land as an inheritance to his posterity.  God said that he would show him a land to travel to and God said to Abraham,

“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you; and I will make your name great.”

But, He does not specifically promise the land as a perpetual inheritance to Abraham’s posterity at first.  This is what God does in verse seven.  God’s revelation is progressive.  He reveals more to Abraham as he needs to know, and as he obeys.  So, Abraham worships God for this promise.

       Likewise, the construction of this building is a fulfillment of God’s promise to you.  Therefore, we should worship Yahweh for this fulfilled promise!

In addition, we not only worship Him for what He has done, we an worship Him for what He is about to do.  Because He that promised is faithful, what He did before He is going to do again.  What He promised will come to past!  Some men are promise-keepers, but But Jehovah God is the Promise-Giver and He is the Promise-Keeper.  Somebody ought to worship and praise Him on credit for what He is about to do!

(We find at least one more reason for Abraham’s altar-building, when he builds his second altar.  The reason was:)

4.     To worship Jehovah God for the blessing of reaching this point in his journey.

(Before we get to this last point, I need to point out something about Abraham’s character.)

Here Abraham not only builds an altar, but he also pitches a tent.  These two actions illustrate two great features of Abraham’s character:  a wayfarer in this world, and a worshiper of God!

       The tent represented the fact that Abraham had no permanent place on earth.  He was a wayfarer, a stranger, a pilgrim.  He was a nomad looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God.  Abraham had nothing ultimately important on earth.  His all-in-all was in God, in heaven.  David stated the same thing in

Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee?  And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.”

       We should first recognize that we are wayfarers, strangers, pilgrims, on our way from earth to glory.  We can’t stay here and we shouldn’t become too attached to anything down here, because this is not our home.

So, tonight, we need to pitch a tent, i.e. we ought to stop long enough to commemorate what God has done by building an altar!  Satan is tricking us in America.  He keeps us so busy that we don’t stop long enough to acknowledge the work of God in our lives!  We don’t know that there are times when we need to slow down, stop, reminisce, and think about:

How I got over, over my Lord.

My soul looks back and wonders how I got over.

When we reminisce we ought to realize:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come.

T’was grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

We ought to be able to sing:

I’ve been millions of places and I’ve seen lots of faces

There’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong

But in every situation God gave me blessed consolation

That my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all, through it all.

I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all.

I’ve learned to depend upon his Word.

I thank God for the mountains and I thank Him for the valleys

I thank for the storms He brought me through

If I’d never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them

I’d never know what faith in His Word could do.

Through it all, through it all.

I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all, through it all.

I’ve learned to depend upon his Word.

Abraham thanked God for bringing him this far on his journey.

       Perhaps we see a similar situation, when the Lord fought for Israel, against the Philistines, at Mizpah.  After Jehovah God thundered against the Philistines and confused them, and Israel routed them; we read this in

1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’”

I like the KJV here,

“Hitherto, the Lord has helped us...”

The stone was a memorial, a marker, an altar of celebration and sacrifice, because of what God had done.

Likewise, during this celebration, you should build an altar of worship to the Lord, for the blessing of bringing you safe this far on your journey to the Promised Land; and you ought to proclaim for the world to know:  “Hitherto, the Lord has helped us!”  “Thus far, the Lord has helped us!”

We ought to sing:

I thank You Jesus, I thank You Jesus, I thank You Jesus, I thank You Lord;

‘Cause You brought me, yes You brought me from a mighty, a mighty Long way, a mighty long way.

I thank You Jesus, I thank You Jesus, I thank You Jesus, I thank You Lord;

‘Cause You brought me, yes You brought me from a mighty, a mighty Long way, a mighty long way.

We have come this far by faith leaning on the Lord;

Trusting in His holy Word; He’s never failed me yet.

Crying, “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, We can’t turn around!”

We’ve come this far by faith.

My thesis for this message is simple:  you ought to build an altar of worship to Jehovah God to memorialize His appearance to you and to worship Him for His appearance, promise, and blessing in bringing you to this point in your spiritual journey.  Worship ought to mark every spot where God has appeared to you!

       At this very significant time in the history of your church, join together and mark the spot with worship and praise;

·        Worship marks the spot the appearance of the Lord to you;

·        Worship marks the spot of His blessing in appearing;

·        Worship marks the spot of our thanksgiving for fulfilling His promise; and

·        Worship marks the spot of our thanks for bring you this far.

       So, I implore you!  Slow down long enough to mark this spot with worship and praise!

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