I admit, my choice of blog title is a bit obscure. It was late and it seemed like a good idea at the time. After a couple of days, it still seems like a good idea. I was thinking of the quote "The problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar." I believe Jim Elliot said that, or C.S. Lewis. Maybe it was Rick Warren. But just as Jesus scorned the shame of the cross, we are to gladly accept the call to die with Christ so we can be raised with Him to live a life of worship and service.
With those thoughts running through my head, I remembered where the phrase "clutching the altar" appears in the Bible (or something close enough). It is the story of one of my favorite Biblical figures, Joab. If ever there was a man who relied on the strength of his own hand, it was Joab, and he did many great things as David's General. He was fiercely loyal to David, but his lust for power lead him to kill Abner, Saul's general, and David's son Absalom. So as one of his last acts, David ordered Joab's death. At that point, Joab ran to the Tabernacle and "took hold of the horns of the altar," seeking mercy. He was shown none, just as he showed none.
Do we come to the altar like Joab, seeking to escape the consequences of a life driven by our lusts, or do we come to the altar to die with Christ so that we may be raised to new life in the Holy Spirit? Do we continually lay down our life for Christ's sake, or do we merely run to Christ when there is nowhere left? I hope that on any day you see me, I will be clutching the altar where Christ intercedes for me.
I encourage you to read more about Joab in 2 Samuel.