This is a very interesting question. Let’s begin by looking at the first time that an altar is mentioned in the Bible. It is in Genesis 8:20, “And Noah BUILDED AN ALTAR unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” This event occurred just after Noah, his family, and all the animals had departed the ark. The next person we read of that built an altar was Abraham. Most of us are familiar with the story of how the Lord instructed Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to Himself. We read in Genesis 22:6-9, “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham BUILT AN ALTAR THERE, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” Of course, the Lord prevented Abraham from offering his son as we read in verse 12, “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Interestingly enough the first time we read the word ‘worship’ is found in this portion. We read in Genesis 22:5, “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

In giving Moses instructions for the building of the Tabernacle, the Lord also gave instructions for building an altar to be placed outside the Tabernacle in the courtyard. In Exodus 27:1-2, the Lord says, “And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.” In Exodus 38:1, this altar is called “the altar of burnt offering.”

Do we have an altar today, and if so, where is it located? We certainly do have an altar! Hebrews 13:10-12 says, “WE HAVE AN ALTAR, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” The Jews had their altar on which sacrifices were made. The Gentiles were not permitted to take part. However, for the believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have an altar that those who still adhere to the rites and principles of the Law have no right to eat. That altar is Christ Himself!

In the Old Testament, we read where offerings for sin were made without, or outside the camp. Leviticus 16:27 tells us, “And the bullock for the SIN OFFERING, and the goat for the SIN OFFERING, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one CARRY FORTH WITHOUT THE CAMP; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.” So we also read of Christ, who suffered and died for our salvation outside the gates of Jerusalem. John 19:17-18 tells us, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”

So, where do we go to find this altar today? Hebrews 13:13 goes on to say, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” We go to Him ‘without the camp’, or outside the camp, which in this case is illustrative of the organized religious company that does not bow to the authority of the scriptures, nor do they give the Lord His rightful place of being Head over His body. When the Israelites gathered themselves together and made a gold image to worship, we read in Exodus 32:25-26, “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” Separating himself from the falseness of their idol worship, Moses called for the true believers to come to him, outside their camp. Let’s go to where the Lord is! Let’s go outside the camp because HE is outside the camp. THERE IS OUR ALTAR! (266.2)