1Samuel 7:17: Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the LORD.
At this time Samuel was taking charge of the religious and political life in Israel. His mentor Eli had died and unlike him he was going to make honouring God a priority. The raising up of an altar served to focus attention on God and his things. An altar represents relationship with God.
It was supposed be the place where heaven meets earth. When sacrifice goes up to God, the blessing comes down.
In the bible Abel raised the first altar to God, and he got the record that God was pleased with his offering (Hebrews 11:4-7). To raise an altar and give offering on it is an act of faith, as you seek to connect to an unseen God via what you see, and that is pleasing to God.
There was regular, twice daily sacrifices, which constantly reminded the people of their connection with God and their reliance on his mercy.
It reminds them of the deliverance God wrought to bring them out of bondage in Egypt. When they sacrificed Lambs and put the blood on the door post, they were spared while all the families of the Egyptian suffered the loss of the firstborns (Exodus 12-15).
That was the last straw which broke the back of Pharaoh’s camel and he let the people go without condition. That was a great deliverance, which was followed by the division of the Red Sea for the people to pass through on dry ground. The formation of their nation started with the incident of the slaughter of the lambs, and God told Israel to make that month the first in a year.
The blood shed on that night signifies new beginning. It signifies change in circumstances. And when we come to the New Testament, all those things and many more were effect through the blood of Jesus.
When you pray, give offering, praise God, offer him thanksgiving, you are raising an altar. Though on earth, through these means you are connecting with God in heaven.
In the New Testament the heart is the altar, and the heart is the base of purpose, of motivation. Jesus said it is not enough to call him Lord, we also need to also do what he says (Luke 6:46). To correlate that, Paul said that we should offer our bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). That being our life of obedience to God, devotion to him is sacrifice, a sweet smelling sacrifice to God.
When an altar is raised, God comes near; it is raised to heaven and God comes down with his blessing. When Abel raised an altar to God, he received God’s approval. When Noah raised up an altar, God promised never again to destroy the world in a flood (Genesis 8:20-22).
When Elijah raised up an altar on Mount Carmel, the fire of God came down (1Kings 18). And when Jesus was raised up on the mount called Calvary, it was an altar, and Jesus was the lamb on the offer, when that offering was complete as Jesus gave up the ghost, God broke out from the holy of holies, as the veil over that section of the temple was torn (Matthew 27:50-51).
Jesus offered himself for the world, and now God is available for the whole world, to reach out to him and be saved. The bible says: whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
God had been limited to the temple in Jerusalem for centuries but with the offering of Jesus to God, God came down, just as the fire came down on Mount Carmel, and was followed by the rain coming down in Israel after three and a half years of drought.
What was offered by Elijah brought a radical change. Similarly, what was offered by Jesus (himself) led to the fire of the Holy Spirit coming down (John 16:7).
In Jerusalem, about fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus. and the rain of the presence of God stated falling so much so that Peter told a group of people that they if they believed in Jesus times of refreshing will come from the presence of God, there will be radical changed in their lives on the bill of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19).
The bible says that we have come to the blood of sprinkling which speaks better things than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:24). Through the blood of Jesus shed on the raised altar of Calvary (a raised platform with the cross, a wooden structure on it, and the sacrifice placed on top- Jesus), we have forgiveness of sins, we are able to draw near to God (Ephesians 2:13), come to the throne of grace where we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). You find grace to bring radical changes in your internal and external conditions.
Prayer is offered from the altar of our heart, and Hannah made a vow that if God will give her a son she was going to give it back to her (1Samuel 1:1-2:21).
So on the altar of her heart she had offered a son before she had it, and after she fulfilled her vows God gave her back sons and daughters. God will not allow her to out-give him.
She offered something to God and God touched her with his supernatural power. He rewarded her with children, and changed her name since she had been called barren before them. She need God and God showed up for her big time.
This was a woman who had been the butt of rude jokes from her rival wife. She had not been having a good time though she had a supportive husband. Her desires for children was not being fulfilled and it was a pain in her heart, a pain she could not hide, and pain that she brought to God. She did not come complaining to God, she came with an offering on the altar of her heart in form of a vow and that did the trick.