ALTARS THAT CHALLENGE
So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. -- Genesis 13:1-4
Every man has stood before an altar where an initial confession of faith was made, where cleansing baptismal waters flowed, where marriage vows were exchanged. By returning, the soul is braced for the dangers and challenges that lie ahead.
Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well. -- Genesis 16:25
The sequence is exemplary; that life is blessed which invokes God before settling in a new home or undertaking a new responsibility.
After the pestilence that threatened Jerusalem was lifted by the Lord, David sought to purchase the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite in order to built an altar. Araunah wanted to give the king everything he needed for the sacrifice of thanksgiving, but David protested.
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” -- 2 Samuel 24:24