Altars and Wells

One common thread we quickly observe as we journey through the story of the Jewish patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is their devotion to basic principles that underpin their lives. These men were primarily farmers, owning and raising livestock as well as cultivating the ground. And they were often on the move in search of greener pasture (literally) or better farming conditions. But wherever they went, there were two things they always did: raise altars of prayer and dig wells of water. These two actions have great significance for us now as it did for them then. Let us explore further…

In Old Testament times, an altar signified a meeting place between a human being and a spiritual being. Israelites and non-Israelites raised altars, whether to Jehovah or to other gods (idols). Two critical things that happened at an altar was the offering of a sacrifice, and communication between two parties. The sacrifice was an animal, and the offeror (the human being) always expected to hear from the other party, the unseen being. People made supplications, consultations and even initiated covenants at an altar. An altar was also a memorial – a reminder of conversations held there.

In New Testament times, the practice of raising a physical altar has been abolished. Jesus offered Himself as a once-for-all sacrifice for sin to broker peace between God and man. We have unfettered access to God in Jesus’ name, as His blood instituted an everlasting covenant between God and every man who believes. But the raising of spiritual altars continues to be important – the practice of initiating conversation with God for the purpose of supplications, petitions, and enquiries.  Now, the altar is your heart, and the sacrifice is your life – you must present yourself as an offering to God.

Alive, but dead to sin, to the world and to our natural desires – we must no longer be controlled by these things as we offer ourselves to God daily. The Bible records some of the encounters these patriarchs had at their altars as a pointer to the supernatural dimension we can experience when we initiate conversation with God on the altar of our heart. It includes divine promises and instructions, pronunciation of blessing, affirmation of promises, a revelation of the future and even a change of name! Their life decisions and choices were guided by the outcomes of their encounters at the altar.

A well – an assured source of water in arid regions where these men wandered – was a necessity upon settling in a new place. To dig a well is to create an enabler for your natural profession. He who successfully dug a well guaranteed life and demonstrated capacity to deliver. In our modern world, digging wells would be equivalent to acquiring knowledge. While shallow wells dried up during heat or drought, deep wells remained reliable year-round and assured sustenance in and out of season. Deep wells of knowledge enable you keep growing in your profession and sustain a livelihood.

The fathers of our faith left us great examples as they pursued their earthly professions with such dexterity while passionately building their relationships with God. They recognized God’s role as the Giver of life and purpose and involved Him in their affairs. They affirmed He was their Source as they skillfully plied their trades. He guided them in the way they should go and brought them to rest through guidance received from altars of prayers, and blessings confirmed through wells of water they dug. Of necessity, in our days, we also must raise altars and dig wells.

A few Scripture references: Altars (12:7-8, 13:4,18, 26:25, 33:20, 35:1-7), Wells (Gen 21:25-30, 26:17-25, 32)

Author: thetoyintaiwo

My name is Oluwatoyin J. Taiwo – a Christian, an Engineer, and a Writer. I enjoy reading, travelling and watching football + lawn tennis. I love working with young people, especially teenagers. I believe that people are shaped by the words they hear or read, and our most important decisions are those we make in the first three decades of life.

21 thoughts on “Altars and Wells”

  1. Oh wow!… such a timeless piece. .. Of altars and wells.. This insight shared surely comes from a place of practical experience. Never will I read of those two in the scriptures again with same mindset.

    This part of the closing really got me: ” They recognized God’s role as the Giver of life and purpose and involved Him in their affairs. They affirmed He was their Source as they skillfully plied their trades.”

    Thanks for blessing us again with your gift that keeps on giving MOG. God bless you sir.

  2. Thank you for this write up Toyin. Nice one. What do you think about bible references so that we can understand what you refer to?

    1. Thank you, Mr. D. It’s certainly a great idea! I had avoided quoting any because there are quite a number of them. But I have now updated the post with a few Scripture references at the end. Cheers!

  3. So help me God to raise Altar for You and dig wells to bless lifes.
    Great piece! God bless you Sir. May God multiply His grace over you in Jesus name.

  4. Thanks for this piece . May the lord continue to give you inspiration revelation and illumination into God’s word.

  5. Nice write up.
    Every altar (demonic or divine) requires a human attendant(a high priest). No high priest functions without an altar.
    In addition, there is a New Testament altar that is less spoken about and the high priest of this altar is our Lord Jesus Christ. The name of this altar is “the altar of Melchizedek” (Hebrew 6:19-20). This is an eternal altar of the New Testament believer. This altar is not of this world and those who are stuck in the old covenant of the law that doesn’t recognize Jesus have no right to eat from but we have the right to eat from that altar. We can eat breakthrough, healing etc because every priest lives from what’s on or belongs to the altar he/she serves.

    Wherever there’s bleeding is the location of the altar( applicable to both divine and demonic). This altar of Melchizedek is located right where God’s throne is (as can be seen from John’s account in Revelation 4-7). John sees a lamb and a lion as pointed out by the eleder’s in the throne room. The lamb is symbolic of the face of the high priest while the lion is the face of the king. Remember, we are priests and kings. A king lives from what he kills or conquers while a priest lives from what’s on the altar. As priestly Kings we are expected to learn to eat from both sides and equally understand how things work.
    See these battles of altars ( 1 king 13:1-7 and 1 Samuel 5:1-4).
    Altars have names and can control territory as can be seen from “the altar at Bethel” that controlled the territory of Bethel (1 king 13). God passed judgement on that altar and sent “the nameless man of God” to go destroy that altar. Notice that the king (a priestly king too albeit demonic) was also the attendant of that altar. Also 1 Samuel 5:1-4 shows us what happens when a superior altar(here an earthly mobile altar of God) comes against an inferior altar.

    We are priestly kings( 1 Peter 2)of the order of Melchizedek whose high priest is Jesus and who’s altar is situated right where the throne of God is in heaven. We prophesy and offer sacrifices as priests and decree as kings in the marketplace.
    Let’s start asking for the nations(territory) as God said we should( in psalm 2:8) because just as the sons of darkness know…he who controls the territory controls the people and what happens in it.

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