What's your Altar count?
In the first couple chapters of Genesis we follow one of the most influential leaders as he wanders in the desert. The life of Abraham was an epic journey filled with many ups and downs. Although there were numerous challenges that Abraham faced there was one constant in his life which sustained him. Those were GOD's promises.
GOD makes the same promise to Abraham over and over again. HE promises to build a great and innumerable nation starting with Abraham. It was not an easy promise to believe due to Abraham's advanced age and biology working against him and Sarah. When we look at the story in the entirety, we can see the full arc of his travels culminating in an ill-advised pregnancy with Hagar and ultimately the culmination of the said promise with the birth of Issac.
It's easy to just read these chapters thinking that everything just worked out for Abraham. But he was not a passive participant in these promises. Abraham had to hold onto that promise from GOD for decades. He lost friends, entire cities were destroyed and yet Abraham held onto the promise that GOD gave him. There's an interesting practice that Abraham does in the midst of all this upheaval. In verses Genesis 12:6 it mentions that after GOD speaks to Abraham , he responds in a very active way. In a step of faith, Abraham builds altars to GOD in the middle of the desert to remember those promises.
Why did he build an altar to remember that moment? Because he does not take these promises lightly and instead chooses to commemorate them as a place of worship and thankfulness. Abraham builds up his faith In the midst of all the wandering with a physical and tangible demonstration that he can rely on GOD's word. GOD did not leave Abraham stranded without any signs of hope or guidance and Abraham took note.
However, in one of the most dramatic stories in the whole bible, Abraham is called to make the ultimate altar. After the birth of his promised son, GOD calls Abraham to sacrifice Issac. It doesn't make any sense. This was the son that a nation as numerous as the stars in the sky was going to be founded on. But now he was tied down to the altar with no reprieve in sight. GOD tested Abraham's faith and in that moment Abraham showed that no matter how big the promise was ultimately his faith was built on following GOD and not just benefiting from the provisions that GOD provides.
Our faith (journey with GOD) is not defined by us knowing the final destination or knowing all the answers; but, rather marked with altars built on the promises that GOD has made to us. Here's the other important lesson we learn from building these altars. Regardless of whether the answer to prayer is no or not yet, that does not change the nature of GOD. Abraham preparing to sacrifice Issac did not change how big our GOD is. HE remained the GOD of provision and the GOD of keeping HIS promises. So in your journey don't lose sight of our GOD. When GOD gives you a promise don't take it lightly. There's a reason HE choses to speak to us in those moments. Build an altar in remembrance of those moments. Because there will be a time when you feel that your prayers are going unheard or moments where you feel lost. When that happens you simply need to take a look back and look at your life dotted with altars and remember that we serve a GOD who does not know how to break a promise.
Later in Genesis, when GOD tells Moses to speak to the Israelites to lead them out of Egypt, Moses asks on who's authority he can say these things. GOD instructs him to tell the Israelites that the GOD of Abraham, Issac and Jacob was the GOD who was going to lead HIS people out. Abraham's faith and obedience to GOD was more than just about having a son one day. GOD built generations of faith based on Abraham's persistent reliance on the promises that GOD made him. So take time today and take stock of the promises that GOD has made in your life. Be active and build those altars so you never lose sight of them as you wander the deserts of your life.