Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #7 of Genesis, chapter 12 and we are continuing to look at Genesis 12:7-9:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto JEHOVAH, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto JEHOVAH, and called upon the name of JEHOVAH. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
In our last study, we were looking at verse 7 where we read that JEHOVAH had appeared to Abram and told him that unto his seed He would give the land. The land was the land of Canaan, which pictures the kingdom of heaven. We spent some time looking at the seed and this promise of the land.
The seed points to Christ and all those He has saved are counted for the seed and the land is a picture of the new heaven and new earth in the kingdom of heaven. As far as the physical land of Canaan in the days of Abram, it was just a type and figure. Israel would one day dwell in the land that would become Israel; and they were also a type and figure while they were being used as the outward representatives of the kingdom of God on earth because they dwelt in a land that typified the kingdom of God.
That is exactly what the New Testament churches and congregations became. When God was finished with Israel he made the New Testament corporate church the outward representation of the kingdom of God and that is why the land of Canaan can also typify the churches, which were also a figure of the kingdom of God.
Again, it said in Genesis 12:7:
And JEHOVAH appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto JEHOVAH, who appeared unto him.
This was taking place, as read in verse 6, when Abram passed through the land of Sichem unto the plain of Moreh. We saw that Moreh identified with the “early rain” which fell within the churches and congregations of the world during the New Testament church age. The Canaanite was then in the land and the Canaanite was being used by God to represent the unsaved that had their place in the outward representation of the kingdom of God. Historically, there were the unsaved in the land of Canaan; there were the unsaved in Old Testament Israel that took over the land; and there were the unsaved in the New Testament churches and congregations (tares among the wheat). So, when the Lord tells us that the Canaanite then dwelt in the land that this picture of the kingdom of God must identify with the corporate entity of the church, but it cannot identify with the eternal kingdom of God because there is no Canaanite or stranger in the eternal kingdom. The only ones in the kingdom of heaven are the blessed ones, not the cursed ones as were Cainan and his descendants.
In this place that typified the corporate church it was said: “and there builded he an altar unto JEHOVAH, who appeared unto him.” Abram build an altar and it was in the land of Canaan, which typified the churches. It was somewhere in the plain of Moreh where the “early rain” fell. Again, this reinforces that the corporate church is in view. This is where the altar was built.
When we look up the Hebrew word translated as “altar,” it is Strong’s #4196 and I would pronounce it “miz-bay-akh” and it is from Strong’s #2076, pronounced “zaw-bakh,” and you can see in the consonants that there is an “m” that is placed in front of Strong’s #4196 and the consonants are identical. Strong’s #2076 is a word that can be translated as “kill,” “slay,” “sacrifice,” and “offer.” Of course, on the altar you would kill or slay the sacrificial animal and it would be a sacrifice and offering to God, so we can understand why there is this close relationship between the word “altar” and the word for “slaying,” “killing” or “sacrificing.” It is a place where you would do those activities.
Let us look at some verses where we find this word translated as “altar.” It says in Exodus 27:1:
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.
We can see in the dimensions that the number “five” identifies with the atonement and the atonement has everything to do with Christ being killed or sacrificed as the offering for sin. Since the altar is so intimately identified with sacrifice, it is also intimately identified with the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The altar that was built was, therefore, five cubits long and five cubits broad.
In Exodus 29, we find some details of the sacrifices upon the altar. It says in Exodus 29:11-18:
And thou shalt kill the bullock before JEHOVAH, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering. Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head. And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto JEHOVAH: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto JEHOVAH.
The sacrifice was killed and the blood sprinkled on the altar. The sacrifice was burned upon the altar. All this language ties in with Christ. Every Old Testament sacrifice commanded by God pointed to the one acceptable sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on behalf of His people at the foundation of the world. That was the atonement, so the altar was a place that very closely identified with sacrifice. It says in Leviticus 1:5-9:
And he shall kill the bullock before JEHOVAH: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: And the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto JEHOVAH.
Then it says in Leviticus 1:11-13:
And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before JEHOVAH: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar. And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto JEHOVAH.
Again, all this language points to Christ. If you had a pen and you took notes, you could put “Christ” over the animal being sacrificed. You could put “Christ” over the altar, and so forth. It all pictures Him and His offering up Himself for the sake of His elect people, so we can see the incredibly strong emphasis just in these few verses, but we could have read many chapters that speak of the sacrifices being slain upon the altar. You cannot separate the altar and the sacrifice.
Remember when Abraham was commanded by God to take his only son, the only son of the promise, and to sacrifice him. We recognize that Abraham as the father and Isaac as the son are a picture of God the Father offering up His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. It says in Genesis 22:1-12:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 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. 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. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of JEHOVAH called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 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.
We can clearly see the historical parable and the picture God is drawing of the Father offering up His only begotten Son. Abraham offered his son upon the altar. He has the wood for the burnt offering. He is going to slay him upon the altar and burn him upon the altar, because it is picturing what God the Father did with His Son at the foundation of the world and, also, a second time when the Lord Jesus entered into the world and went to the cross where, again, the Lord was giving His Son, but in a demonstration.
The altar is essential. You cannot have these sacrifices without the altar. In Genesis, chapter 22, Abraham built an altar. Back in Genesis, chapter 12 when he came to the plain of Moreh he built an altar there unto JEHOVAH. It was not prefiguring the altar he would later build for his son Isaac, but it was prefiguring the altar of God that would come a couple thousand years later in the demonstration at the cross in 33AD, which (offering) was already accomplished in eternity past at the point of the foundation of the world. So, the altar is completely associated with the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We could say that when we read the world “altar,” we could think “Christ.” When we see the sacrificial lamb, we think “Christ.” It said in Genesis, chapter 22: “God will provide himself a lamb.” That was a declaration that this was what God had done: “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” The Bible also calls Him “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” So, too, the altar is a representation and picture of Christ. In the Book of Revelation, we read in Revelation 6:9:
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
What are the souls doing under the altar? They are under the altar because the altar identifies with the Lord Jesus Christ. The blood would flow down the altar to its base, so the souls under the altar are “under the blood” or covered by the sacrifice performed on their behalf for their sins. They find themselves not under the Law, but under the altar or under “Christ” and under the grace and mercy and compassion of God in His salvation plan. It goes on to say in Revelation 6:10-11:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
I wanted to read this because it lets us know that the souls under the altar refers to the people that were saved during the church age in the period of the “early rain.” They were saved over the course of that 1,955 years as God evangelized the nations of the world via the churches and congregations. We know this because it says that they should “rest yet for a little season,” and the Great Tribulation was simultaneous with the end of the church age and it is called a “little season” in the Bible. It would be in the Latter Rain period that God would stretch forth His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people and save the great multitude to complete His salvation program. So, these souls under the altar are those saved by the “early rain” and the Latter Rain came later during the Great Tribulation. It is similar to what we find in Revelation 20:4:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Here, it speaks of souls that had been “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,” and it said in Revelation 6:9, “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” There is similarity between these verses. It speaks of souls and not bodies and in both accounts, they are souls that gave their lives for the sake of Christ and His Word. It goes on to say they are clothed in white robes in Revelation 6 and in Revelation 20 they live and reign with Christ a thousand years because at the point of salvation the elect are exalted unto the heavenlies to be seated with Christ Jesus. To be seated means “to rule.” Christ rules as King and the saints rule in Him, even if some are still alive on the earth, but these will live and reign with Christ a “thousand years,” or the completeness of eternity. But notice what it says in Revelation 20:5:
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
This “thousand years” being finished has to do with the duration of Satan’s binding and Satan was bound over the course of the church age, so that “thousand years” is figurative language for the 1,955 literal years of the church age. When that “thousand years” is finished, it was the end of the church age and it was when “the rest of the dead” would live again; that is, the rest of those elect people that God intended to save during the “little season” of the Great Tribulation.
So, we have agreement that the souls under the altar specifically refers to those that were saved during the church age. Of course, looking at it from another perspective, every saved individual (including the great multitude) are “under the altar,” but God very specifically lets us know in Revelation 6 that these are the souls under the altar. And in Genesis 12, we saw that the plain of Moreh identified with the “early rain” that brought forth the firstfruits unto God and the souls that were under the altar or the souls that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus. So, here in the land of Canaan while the Canaanite was still in the land, it confirms that it represents the corporate church and that is where Abraham built an altar. The altar identifies with Jesus and His sacrifice. It is indicating that Christ’s presence is in the land of Canaan, this outward representation of God’s kingdom on earth. And we do find that with the New Testament churches and congregations that the Lord Jesus Christ dwelt in the midst of them (in the midst of the candlesticks) and they were counted a “faithful city” because righteousness (Christ) dwelt within. It was not until the Spirit of Christ abandoned the churches that the faithful city became a harlot. It was immediate. There is no question about it. It was not based on the faithfulness of a particular denomination or church, but it was always based on the presence of the “Faithful One.” They could be looked upon as a “faithful city” because of the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, but the moment Christ departed from the midst of the church, she became a harlot. They are corrupt and apostate because there is no more Christ. You can search the land and you will not find a faithful “man,” as it says in Jeremiah, because the faithful man was the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, here in our verse in Genesis 12 we find an altar is constructed and it identifies with the church. The church age did last almost two thousand years, so it makes sense and it is appropriate that God would have this early information in the Bible that points to the establishment of the church age and His presence there, the altar in the midst of the churches and congregations.