Returning To The Altar

Returning To The Altar

Abram went up from Egypt . . . to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
–Genesis 13:1, 4

Before Abraham’s disobedience led him to Egypt, he was kneeling at the altar, praising God. After his disaster, he returned to that same altar. Genesis 13 says, “Abram went up from Egypt . . . as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord” (vv. 1, 3-4).

Failures can either drive us away from God or draw us closer to God. In the end, Abraham’s failure led him closer to God.

If you have gone through a tremendous failure in your life, you may wonder, “Can God ever forgive me? Can He ever use me again?” Satan says no; he tries to convince you that you are finished spiritually. God says yes, He can use you again. But in order for God to use you, there has to be a point where you come to the end of yourself, where you turn around and start walking in a new direction. Many times, it takes a tremendous failure like Abraham experienced to get us to that point where we say, “I am tired of going in this direction. I am ready to repent.”

That is exactly what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15. He departed from his dad and made a series of bad decisions, leading him further and further into rebellion. It was only when he was in the far country, he had dissipated his wealth, and he was eating pig slop that he came to himself, the Bible says. He realized, “My father’s slaves have more to eat than I do. I will get up and go back to my father.” And his father greeted him not with the judgment he deserved but with a feast. Somebody has written, “Swine husks are often the hors d’oeuvres before the fatted calf.”

The only way to get back into the will of God is to confess our departure, forsake it, and return to the place of fellowship. That is what Abraham did. He came back to Canaan, the place he had left God in the first place. He knelt back down at the altar, and he received God’s forgiveness.

Maybe you can pinpoint with precision the place where you departed from God, and you have been going further and further in your rebellion against God. Acknowledge that wrong decision, change your mind, and start heading in a new direction.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Prodigal Nephew” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.