Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (Gen 8:20-21 NIV)
Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.
(Exo 34:1-12-13 NIV)
I declare that;
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
(Isa 61:1-11 NIV)
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
(Isa 60:1 NIV)
Early this month some members of the OLS Fellowship of Christian Believers, a group of Christians working in agencies that make up Operation Lifeline Sudan who meet twice a week in their Tukuls (accommodation rooms) within the UN Base Camp in Lokichoggio, Kenya, took part in a 7-day solemn assembly that started on 1st of April 2005 and ended on 7th April 2005 with warfare prayers. The objective of this assembly was to give thanks to God and call upon heaven to answer our petitions which included a change in the spiritual stagnation in the local churches, many of which had mushroomed in the last few years but with no tangible power. As we started the fast, I requested the brethren to send to me brief narratives of what experiences, dreams, visions, revelations etc that they may have had concerning Lokichoggio, Churches, and Personalities etc to enable us to come up with a spiritual map of Lokichoggio. What followed this action was not entirely unexpected. It is as if the Lord was waiting for such a plan to be effected for Him to take charge of the programme and literally direct the warfare. What follows therefore in this April Journal is a brief record of what transpired as revelations came one after another. Indeed I now can testify that God can do nothing unless he first reveals it to His servants the prophets. But first a word on altars;
WHAT IS AN ALTAR?
A simple definition of an altar is; a high place for sacrificial worship of a deity where an offering is made by a person, mostly by a priest to a deity. In church, the pulpit area is often referred to as the altar. In most African communities, some places are held in awe and reverence because they are regarded as shrines or places of worship. In the Kenyan coastal region for example; we often hear of the Kayas or revered forests that hold the Miji-kenda’s holy places. Other tribes have specific river sites as places that hold their shrines. In my community, The Nandi, a member of the Kalenjin speaking group, a hilly place was the high ground where the Orkoiyot (seer) would once a year receive offerings from the people. It had to be the best offering and every man; woman and child had to appear no matter what the circumstances were. Even day hold babies and their mothers were not excluded. It is said that if it was an animal being brought to the high place, it had to be a first born with no blemish. The seer or prophet would then accept the offering and proclaim blessings on the people. I have heard that some of the people would even fast for some days deep in the forest prior to performing certain rituals. This was known as keker kut (closing/shutting of the mouth). Most of these practices however were discarded at the advent of Christianity, unfortunately with no proper replacement. This is a story for another day…
ALTARS IN THE BIBLE
A study of altars in the bible reveals that setting up of altars was either an act of making or confirming a covenant with God before, during or after an incident. We see Noah making one after his salvation from the flood. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob set up altars wherever they settled. Notable of these is the one built at Bethel by Abraham;
From there he went on toward the hills east of 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. (Gen 12:8 NIV)
Years later his grandson Jacob renewed his covenant relationship with God upon this same altar when he re-built it.
I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land. (Gen 31:13 NIV)
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau. So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone. So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. (Gen 35:1-7 NIV)
These where divinely appointed godly altars made in covenant with the God of Israel. Divers sacrifices would be made upon such altars either as thanksgiving, atonement, and sanctification etc.
Just as there is a positive for every negative; altars too have opposite representation. Godly altars have opposing ungodly altars. Satanic covens, Cults and Witchcraft shrines etc., are some of the obvious forms of ungodly shrines that we still have today. There are other not too obvious shrines or altars that are not quite godly such as, bars, brothels and divinations joints etc. Some borderline cultic churches have doctrines that are not entirely based on God’s whole word or counsel. You will find that such churches are strongholds of mindsets that cannot be easily shaken. It takes the grace of Christ to reveal truth to anyone held captive by deceptive doctrines. So just as the believer and follower is exhorted to first offer their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, done through confession of the Lordship of Christ for remission of sins. The unbeliever on the hand offers their bodies as living sacrifices to the god of this world who causes them to be defiled and piled up with sins. They then unknowingly become ‘priests’ who worship at the ungodly ‘altars’. That is why you see many people heading to bars, brothels etc instead of going to church.
OUR HEART, THE ULTIMATE ALTAR
Our hearts are altars and whoever has control over them manifests their traits outwardly. If it is Jesus, you will have a sound mind and boldness that is not overly demeaning or without grace. Unlike the unregenerate person, who may well be in a church but show a demeanor that is either too meek or too aggressive dependant on the spirits operating in his/her life. You will find that some people have no problem with nasty swear words which make others squirm, a pointer to who controls the thrones of their hearts. Examine yourself and find out who is control; you, Jesus or the spirits of the god of this world? Ask yourself this; why is it that some people can never confess Christ as Lord and Savior, yet there is overwhelming scriptural evidence of the deity of Christ? Some covenants made in borderline churches have a net effect of total blinders, because they do posses a form of godliness but deny the power of God. Some preach truth laced with a bit of heresy, and others outrightly controlled by devils come complete with devilish tongues. May god give us the fruit of the Spirit to discern whatever spirits are operating in us and others.
INCENSE OF PRAYER
In the Old Testament the high priests would burn incense in the Holy of Holies, making presentation of prayers, supplications and petitions for the people. Modern day altars are everywhere, in churches, offices, parks, schools, colleges etc. These are represented by the many fellowships that are formed in such places. When I came to Lokichoggio in February1997, I found a few brethren holding prayers mostly outside the UN camp as it was generally believed that none can be held within the UN camp. After a few months we started a Morning Prayer group with two brethren which proved very difficult to sustain. It was as if we were being opposed by unseen powers. Soon after, the group picked up outside the camp and would meet once a week until God gave us breakthrough to be meeting in the stress counselors office which was next to my tukul and when she left, the fellowship moved to my place where it has been the default meeting place ever since. Never did it ever occur to me that the very first Morning Prayer team had set it up as an altar. This altar has been burning the incense of prayer ever since and those who have been here and partaken in the fellowship can testify of what the Lord has done and is doing even today.
GODLY ALTARS MOVE GOD (Read 1 Kings 18:19-40)
Elijah repaired God’s altar after the 450 prophets of Baal could not mover their god to accept the sacrifices they had laid out. After the restoration of the altar, Elijah called on Jehovah to come and consume the sacrifice upon it. God manifested powerfully and not only consumed the sacrifice but cleared anything else upon the altar! What followed can only be termed as instant Revival! All the false prophets were destroyed and the Nation wholly turned to God.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!” (1 Ki 18:39 NIV)
Listen beloved, as long as you are in Christ and Christ is in you, there is nothing in the world that can stop you from becoming a repairer of God’s broken altars in your area. Nehemiah heard of the broken down wall of Jerusalem and decided to do something about it. How many times do we hear of problems affecting our churches and fellowships and we just sit there doing nothing? How many times do we say, it is not my problem? Worse still, how many times do we complain? Remember that bad things happen when good people decide to do nothing!
GOD USES THOSE WHO ARE AVAILLABL AND WILLING
When the OLS Fellowship of Christian Believers started the bi-weekly meetings for bible study and intercessions on Thursdays and Fellowship on Sunday evenings, least did anyone know that God was going to use us to usher a move of God that is felt by members and those who pay us a visit. When we took the seven day fast from 1st to 7th April 2005, we saw seven new coverts come to Christ on one week. By the 10th day three more converts had been added in one section of OLS alone. This is what can happen when one decides to apply the anointing that comes through fasting to minister the grace of God in their respective areas of influence.
Over time the Lord had been giving us visions and dreams as well us passing some of us through experiences that were pointers to what the Lord expected of us. Unfortunately we were not sensitive to act on them. However during this fast we decided to collate all these dreams, visions and experiences. What followed can only be described as a mini revival after we acted on them through warfare prayer. Indeed I sense that God is giving the church in Lokichoggio and especially the pastors, a second chance after the 1998-2001 move of God that pettered out due to competing agenda that ended up quenching the Spirit of God in a number of churches and fellowships. But thank God, as was the case in Elijah’s time, there is always a remnant of God’s holy prophets who would never bow to any modern day Baal! Are you one of them?
BUILD AN ALTAR FOR THE LORD
I exhort you today, that you are called to be a royal priesthood, a holy and peculiar person. Please do not hide the glorious light that you posses. Plan to build an altar for the Lord in your place of work, residence or home. Does the bible not say where two or three gather in HIS name, His presence is with them? Call your brothers or sisters, neighbor’s friends etc and have an active altar going for the Lord. Revival will be realized faster if we who have believed in Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior can take our rightful positions in the kingdom and executed our professions without fear or feeling intimidated. If Jesus was never intimidated why should His present day followers be any less effective?
May God open our eyes to behold the power inherent in us who are called to be in the kingdom at such a time as this. The prophets of old desired to be here now but were not able. You and I are here for a season and tomorrow we are gone. What shall you say to our Lord when He will ask you for a fruit? We have another chance while it is still called today.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, I pray that while I am still here on earth, in my home and my office as well as in my social life, that I may reflect your glory to others and cause them to desire to know you and accept you. Forgive me Lord Jesus where I have caused anyone to take your name in vain because of my conduct, action or word. May you empower me with the anointing of your Holy Spirit to enable me be an effective priest capable of setting those in bondage free. Thank you for the past and present victories, receive all the glory. Lead me into even more victories for the glory and honor of your great name. May I also learn from past defeats and mistakes. I pray for my readers that they may be stirred up and become soldiers for Christ and set up altars for the Lord to work with and through them wherever they are. Thank you Lord and blessed be your name for ever and ever, Amen! AMEN.