The Family Altar

Possibly the most important piece of furniture in your home.
History of Altars
For thousands of years people have been making altars where they live, turning their domestic place into a sacred space.

The ancient altar was the focal point of all religious devotion and aspiration.  The true service of the true God in all of life was centered in the divinely prescribed altar.  The resources for such service also flowed from that altar.  The altar meant the precious and gracious presence of God.  It was there that the believer presented to his Lord his sacrifices.  The altar also spoke of God's indispensable blessings.  The Lord met with His children at the altar then and He will meet with His children at the altar today.

When the ancient Israelites were faithful to their covenant God, they were diligent in keeping Jehovah's altar intact and in visiting it regularly.  Departure from Jehovah moved them away from the altar.  Israel's spiritual temperature could be measured by its devotion to the altar.  Elijah, the prophet, gauged the religious decay of Israel in terms of Israel's distance from the altar in 1 Kings 19:10  The prophet lamented that the Israelites had departed from their sacred agreement with God.  He saw the evidence of that departure in neglected and broken-down altars.  Israelites no longer met with God at the altar.  They were out on their own. 

How about our family altars today?  Are they in good repair and in constant use? If Elijah were to visit the homes of those who claim to be Christians today, he would have to make the same charge he did against Israel: "they have thrown down thine altars!"  Our heart's desire in making the Family Altars available is to get a "sacred place" to meet with God back into our homes, so that our prayers will be more than just words and God's precious and gracious presence will once again be experienced in our lives.


What Altars Do

An altar is an external representation of an interior mystery -- the spiritual core of who we really are. It is a way of showing in tangible form what is happening in our hearts. When you look at an altar, you are seeing an outward expression of an inner act that recognizes our spiritual character. And it is a depiction of our own personal honoring of our spiritual selves because we are children of God. 

An altar in the home is a special acknowledgment of our home as our safe harbor and our sacred space. It elevates the place where we live to a temple, a spiritual location wherein we, spiritual beings, dwell. We do not have to be in crisis to feel the comforts of a home altar. In fact, keeping an altar in the home and using it as a focus for simple spiritual practice may very well preclude crises from visiting a household.
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