Repairing the altar is about our vertical relationship with the Lord, while repairing the wall is about our horizontal relationship with other believers. Both concepts are two-pronged — for the individual and for the corporate body of believers.
Repair the altar:
Repairing the altar involves restoration of true worship by cleansing out every kind of compromise and re-devoting ourselves to the Lord Jesus. Hosea 6:1 immediately came to mind: “Come, and let us return to the LORD: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up.”
Elijah repaired the Lord’s altar on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:30-39). “Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ And … he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was broken down” (v. 30). After setting everything in right order upon it, Elijah prayed a simple prayer, beseeching the Lord to reveal Himself as the One True God and to turn the people’s hearts back to Himself, and “then the fire of the LORD fell” (vs. 36-38).
But there is another incident in the Bible of someone repairing the altar, and I just couldn’t get away from this story. In 2 Chronicles 33:12, 13, we read the story of Manasseh, the most wicked king Judah had ever known, repenting and turning his heart to the Lord:
And when [Manasseh] was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him: and He was entreated by him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
Manasseh not only repented, but he took action to repair the great wrong he had done:
And [Manasseh] took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars which he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings upon it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. — 2 Chronicles 33:15, 16
Today, many churches across America have “strange gods” and “idols” right within the house — compromise, agendas that are not inspired by the Lord, side issues that have taken center stage. The idolatry that rests corporately in the Church is a symptom of the idolatry which rests in the heart-temples of individual believers who make up the Body of Christ — and God is putting forth a call for change.
So, what do we do about it? First of all, each of us must attend to repairing the altar of our heart by removing anything that distracts from the Lord Jesus or offends Him in any way. If we ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal the things which need to be cleansed out, He will help us.
Intercessors can bring about repair of the corporate Church’s altar through identifying in repentance with the whole body of believers, as Daniel did, in Daniel 9. We should not point the finger at the rest of the Church and say, “God, they are wicked. Clean out their compromise.” We have to develop an “us” mentality, for we are all part of one Body — a Body which Jesus dearly loves, and which He wants us to love as well.
Also, God will raise up prophetic voices, who will be required to speak truth into the compromised Church. That will take courage and self-sacrificing love.
Each of us must do what we can to repair the defenses around our own life and around the Church by repairing relationships within the Body and fostering renewed unity. In order to repair the wall, we must remove the rubble. What came to my mind was the story of the repairing of the wall in Nehemiah 2:17 – 4:14.
When we allow broken relationships, both as individuals and in the Body at large, we cause holes in the wall of God’s protection around us. As individual believers and as the Church, we are weakened, open to attack, and not able to experience the power-filled lives which God intended for us.
We who are intercessors must take our place upon the wall for our cities and the churches in them. But to do that, we have to fill in the breaches in the wall through prayer, especially to stop up the gaps where the Church as a whole is not functioning healthily. We will need to join hands with other intercessors for a unified wall of prayer around our churches and around our cities.
By cleansing our own hearts through repentance and then humbly joining together in prayer for our churches, our regions, and our nation, we will truly be instrumental in repairing both the altar and the wall. And then the fire will fall.