An Altar to the Lord

[Abram] built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
An Altar to the Lord
Here for the first time you see that though the holy patriarch is an exile and a sojourner, nevertheless, on account of the promise made to his seed, he gives consideration to a definite habitation. Now for the first time he builds an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. That is, he appoints a definite place where the church should come together to hear the Word of God, offer prayers, praise God, and bring sacrifices to God; for this is what it means to build an altar. . . . Abraham did not arbitrarily select this place for his altar. The Lord Himself, who appeared to Abraham there, selected it; for the Lord is its first founder. He shows Himself there because He wants to be worshiped there and to have His promise proclaimed. Likewise later, when Jacob had seen the angels ascending and descending on a ladder, he said (Genesis 28:17): "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Therefore because the Lord is the first to tarry there and sow His Word, He truly dedicates or consecrates the place, so that it is not secular but sacred and serves sacred purposes; for it is the Word by which all things are consecrated (1 Timothy 4:5). At this place, however, the Word is proclaimed, not by a human being but by God Himself.

From Lectures on Genesis (Luther's Works 2:284-85)
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