It has been said that the travels of Abraham can be traced by the altars he built. In Genesis 12, we read of the Lord calling him to leave his home and go to Canaan. It says that he went to Shechem and built an altar where the Lord appeared to him in v. 6-7. Then he moved to Bethel and “pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. v 8” In chapter 13, after he separated from Lot, he went to Hebron and again built an altar – 13:18. Under the patriarchal system, the altar was the place of worship to God. Every place that Abraham went, then, he prepared for himself a place and a way to worship his God.
There are a couple places where he lived but didn’t build altars: Egypt (Genesis 12:11-20) and Gerar (Genesis 20:1-9). It is more than interesting to note that those places are the places where he sinned.
Scripture teaches that we are merely sojourners and travelers on the earth – Hebrews 11:13-14. As we travel through life we need, like Abraham, to be erecting “altars” everywhere we go – signs and reminders that, no matter where we find ourselves, we took time to remember God.
In our Families. Raising godly children is not something that just happens. However, having children does. Many enter into fatherhood and motherhood without purpose and without a goal. As a result, their training and discipline of their children, if it happens at all, is done haphazardly and without purpose. Even Christians are sometimes no more specific in their plans for their children than, “I hope they grow up to be faithful.” For the most part, if you’re just hoping, they probably won’t.
The Bible gives us several principles for raising children:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
“…do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4.
How can you bring your children up in the training and admonition of the Lord if you are not living yourself in the training and admonition of the Lord? We need to be building altars to God in our families. That is, we need to make home a place where God is remembered and respected and given a central place. If we don’t, how can we hope for our children to grow up to serve God? On one of the altars Abraham built, he offered up his only son, Isaac, at the command of God. How do you think the unflinching obedience of his father affected the young boy? When Joshua exhorted Israel, he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord – Josh. 24:15.” He had built an altar – making it known that God was not an optional addition to his family.
Some altars we can build:
Does your family have a time they study the Bible together?
2 Tim 1:3-5
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,
4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,
5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
2 Tim 3:14-17
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Do you have a time besides mealtime when you pray together?
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What place does gathering with other Christians have in your family?
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
What part does God play in your normal, everyday conversations?
5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
If the Lord has a constant place of honor and involvement in the fabric of our family life, then we won’t have to merely hope that our children will grow up to be faithful. We will instead have the assurance that we are, indeed, bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord, and that, even when the children have left the home, He will be a permanent fixture in their lives and our own.