Genesis 12:7-9 Once Abram finally reached Canaan, God again appeared to him and told him, “Unto your seed will I give this land.” Abram’s response to this new revelation from God began a pattern of worship which he repeated until the end of his life. Abram discovered this life of faith which God had called him to live must be lived out of a tent as a pilgrim. The tent led him to the place where he was to build an altar to worship God. From the altar he returned to his tent again and continued his life in this cycle of faith which he practiced the rest of his life.
This was the first of many altars which Abram would build. You can trace Abram’s footsteps by looking for the ashes from his altars. Altars must be built as they do not come prefabricated or readymade. Good altars are always built out of a revelation of God. It was only when God appeared to Abram and renewed His promise to him that Abram responded by building an altar to Him and worshiping.
Altars deal with our PERSON and speak of sacrifice. Hebrews 7:27 The patriarchs would offer a burnt offering upon their altars. Whatever they offered to God must be completely consumed by the fire of the altar. This is a picture of the times in our lives when God tests the motives of our works as by fire. Ultimately, all believers must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ for a final judgment and “the fire will test each one’s work.” I Corinthians 3:12-15 We will only be_ rewarded for the works which are not destroyed by the fire of God’s judgment.
But there will be times of testing in this life as well. We call them times of rededication but what we are speaking about is bringing our lives to God’s altar and placing ourselves in His hands. We must allow the fire of God’s Holiness, “the spirit of burning,” to purge us of everything which is not God’s will in our lives just like the fire of Abram’s altar consumed his fleshly sacrifice. Isaiah 4:4
Even though it is obvious that Abram had lived in a tent for many years, this is the first time we find it mentioned in the story. Abram became the first of a long line of people who lived a life of faith from out of a tent. The tent deals with our POSSESSIONS and testifies to the world that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” and have not arrived home as yet. Hebrews 11: 13-16 The Patriarchs were never to build themselves houses as that would have destroyed their testimony of being pilgrims and would have brought the temptation to stop following God in a life of faith and to become like the people who lived around them. I Peter 2:11
What are the things which you should place in your tent? Only bring things that have been sanctified by the altar. Whatever the fire of the altar has touched is pure and can be safely placed in your tent. The altar of self-denial will produce a tent life of separation from the world.
It is interesting to note the place where Abram first pitched his tent was between Bethel and Ai. The name Bethel means “The House of God” and the name Ai means “a heap of ruins.”
This is an excellent picture of our spiritual lives. When we make the choice to live a life of faith, we find there are two natures within us. Galatians 5: 17 We are both “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14 Even though we have been born of God, we still find there is a fleshly nature within us that will lead our lives to a heap of ruins if we decide to follow it. Our life is filled with making many decisions and choices. We must choose to build Bethel (The House of God) and to destroy Ai (the heap of ruins). Remember, if we do not bring our fleshly appetites to ruin, then they will ultimately bring us to ruin. This was the bad decision which Lot made when He “journeyed east” going toward Sodom. He was a good man but was headed in the wrong direction. Genesis 13:11