Abraham: An altar at home

Abraham - An Altar at HomeWhat makes a house a home? We probably all have different ideas. Family. Books. Photographs. Art. Flowers. Memories.

“From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.” Gen 12:8

In these earlier posts I posted on how Abraham understood that which is eternal is significant and that his family continued building an eternal inheritance for generations.

Here I want to pause to consider what it means to ‘pitch a tent’.  We are given no real insight into the logistics of the nomadic lifestyle but we do recognise that the tent is simply ‘home’.  We know Abraham “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Heb 11:10) But he did not neglect his duty to create home here on earth.  How do we know this?

Let me paraphrase the story of Sarah’s death.  When Sarah passed away, Abraham owned no land on which to bury her.  So he approached a local land owner and explaining his situation offered to buy a field from him so that he might bury his wife in the cave at the foot of the field.  The landowner replied ‘what is money between you and I’ and offered to give him the land.  Abraham insisted and a deal was struck for the purchase. (Gen 23)

We learn two things from this:

  1. Abraham was a man of means who could afford to buy the land.  To date he had chosen not to.
  2. Abraham was respected and considered an equal in the eyes and by the measures of the world.

While Abraham’s destination and motive were both heavenly, this did not stop him from acting properly in the world.  He built a substantial business, his home and family were respected. These were not his objectives but they were the outcome of living a life centred on worshipping God.

In thinking about creating a home in this life I cannot avoid this fact: Where Abraham called home, he built an altar.  “pitched his tent…. there he built an altar”

In everything we are told of Abraham, building altars appears to be the one thing he did with consistent intentionality.  Home is where we worship God.  Home is where we acknowledge God’s complete sovereignty.  Home is where we sacrifice in order to follow further.

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2 thoughts on “Abraham: An altar at home

  1. And this, “Home is where we sacrifice in order to follow further.” Yeah, that’s pretty deep. We do sacrifice at home if we are truly following Him, don’t we? Sacrifice time to be with Him. Sacrifice time to be with our family that we might lead them to Him. Sacrifice self. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yeah Meredith I think it is telling that Abraham built his altars at the same place he pitched his tent. It is so tempting to build all our altars, our worship life, away from home. In church, on mission, in ministry. I’ve heard it said a few times lately that family, (whatever that means to each of us) is our first church.

      Thanks again. JK

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