It is a privilege to build an altar for the lord. In ancient Israel altars were physical structures built out of whole stones as this passage describes. But, it is basically a place of meeting between God and his people. Believers and worshipers build an altar to the lord as a place of meeting, sacrifice, reconciliation and renewal of covenants. In other words, the worshiper interacts with God freely and rejoices before him in thanksgiving at the altar.
However, it is important to note that God demands this building of altar from the children of Israel after they crossed the Jordan. This means that, altar is characteristic of those that have received deliverance from the lord. Today, believers are the spiritual Israel. Therefore, we are the living sacrifices placed as whole burnt offerings on the altar. The altar we build for God today is our lives in totality. This becomes obvious in our deliberate moments of worship through prayer and consistent obedience to God’s word.
Furthermore, verse 5-8 requires that we build an altar of stones and use no iron tool on it.
You shall build with whole stones the altar of your God and offer sacrifices on it. Then, you shall write all the laws on these tables of stone to obey them
Interestingly, these stones are no longer needed. Our hearts are the whole stones that must not be cut. No sharp iron that divides shall be upon our hearts because we have offered it wholly to God. Hence, we are completely his.
Moreover, the laws are written boldly on the tablets of our hearts and we are sold to righteousness. This is because, the letter kills but the spirit makes alive. Hence, it is to our benefit that God makes his law ingrained in our hearts so we can live in total obedience to him. As we burn continually on this altar as living sacrifices. The question remains what is the state of your altar? Is it filled with ashes of yesterday or are you burning continuously on it as a living sacrifice?