I cannot get away from the altar. Over a month ago, I released a word about returning to the relevance of the altar. I was reminded of this word yet again this past Sunday during corporate worship. It was in this time that a burden of prayer and intercession came upon those in attendance. As people came to the altar to pray and intercede, the Lord led me to 1 Chronicles 21, and He showed me some things I want to share with you. I believe that not only is the altar becoming relevant once again, but I believe the intercessors are understanding what it means to become the altar upon which prayers and intercession are released before the Presence of God.
In 1 Chronicles 21, we find King David is instructed by Gad to go up and raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The instruction came following a census of Israel authorized by David, but not by God. After the people of Israel suffered the loss of seventy thousand men due to King David’s decision, the instruction came for him to ascend the hill so he could build an altar.
Threshing floors were typically constructed on hilltops so that the wind blew the chaff away from the grain. The threshing floor was a place of crushing, breaking, and separation. In seasons of grain harvest, the threshing floor was a place of high value, and as a result, threshing floors were subject to attack. Ornan’s threshing floor was about to take on another realm of value and identity. The mountain was about to be reminded that another altar had been built there in times past. It all shifted when a king built an altar on a foundation purposed for crushing and separation, a foundation holding high value and threat of attack when the harvest was plentiful.
Living stones on threshing floors
As I pondered on this story, my thoughts went back to the altar. According to Vine’s expository, altars were initially constructed of earth. “They were to be fashioned of material that was strictly the work of God’s hands.” As time went on, altars were constructed out of rock. An altar is a place of slaughter, but even more so, it is a place of worship. The altar is a place of loss and gain, death and life. It is a place of incense and intercession before the Lord.
The Lord showed me a vision of stones in the altar during this time of prayer and worship. These stones represented people, and my understanding of 1 Chronicles 21 unfolded in my spirit. When King David built an altar before the Lord, he was setting stones on the threshing floor, the place of breaking. He was coming with a heart of repentance and with a heart of intercession for his own people. After he offered the burnt offering and peace offering, David declared , “Here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.” (1 Chronicles 22:1)
This mountain was not a random location. God had directed David back to the very place where Abraham had built an altar to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I believe the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor because he knew its history. He knew an altar had been erected there long before a physical threshing floor existed. Yet Abraham was a threshing floor that had erected an altar on a mountain top, trusting God would provide in his time of crushing obedience.
Oh, come to the altar
The people in the altar that morning were the living stones referenced in 1 Peter 2:5:
“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
A place of threshing was becoming what it had always been; a place of sacrifice and the temple of the Lord. Do you see it? Those who pray and intercede as a royal priesthood are living stones, forming the house of God, the temple, and part of the temple is the altar. The altar is integral to the house of God, and there is power in building an altar in a threshing floor that was once an altar. The altar receives the sacrifice, the offering. When you set an altar on a place that is accustomed to breaking, separation, and the wind of God, pure substance comes forth.
God is looking for people who will answer the call to ascend the hill and stand in His holy dwelling (Psalm 24:3). We are to be that holy dwelling place. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and temples contain altars. We are altars and living sacrifices all at once. We are living stones, altars “fashioned of material that is strictly the work of God’s hands”, and from the living stones come spiritual sacrifices or offerings.
I see living stones on threshing floors in this hour. It is the house of God, functioning as one in Christ. I see a threshing floor full of plentiful harvest. I speak not of material possession, but of people. There is a reason why the enemy is coming to attack so violently in this hour; there is high value in the eternal soul. As living stones, we must be willing to position ourselves in the threshing floor and stand guard through the Word and the Spirit of God, through intercession and warfare. Even when it is not our own doing that has brought trials and tribulation.
We as living stones are those who will come to the place of breaking and crushing. We will come as kings and priests, and we will offer up prayers and intercession on behalf of others, bearing the love of Jesus Christ. We will refuse to offer up something that costs us nothing. When we as the house of God choose to honor the Lord and have His heart on the matters that matter, when we accept our call as a living sacrifice, the fire and the glory of God will fall on the altar.