“‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.”-Exodus 20:24-25
In His closing speech, YHVH appears to repeat the 2nd the Word of God which prohibits the making of any images or physical representations of Him.
He then goes on to provide instructions regarding how altars to Him are to be built.
The first thing we need to know is that there is ONLY ONE purpose for an altar: sacrifice.
It is not a simple monument built to commemorate a person or an event.
Nor is it a podium where someone gives a sermon.
An altar was a place where ONLY worship and sacrifice was to take place.
Furthermore, it was ONLY God who decided where an altar would be erected in conjunction with a proper sacrifice.
The people couldn’t just build altars left and right in a carefree manner and expect God to honor their sacrifice and bless them.
One chief characteristic about God’s instructions concerning building an altar to Him is that He does NOT desire grand and sweeping cathedrals, churches, and synagogues decorated with the finest materials.
Boy, if there ever was an instruction that has been so blatantly ignored by both Jew and Christian alike, it’s got to be this one.
By contrast, God’s instructions were to simply pile up some dirt to sacrifice upon.
He also said it was okay for the Israelites to build an altar of stone if they so preferred.
But it can ONLY be stacked stones picked up off the ground in their natural form.
If one takes a chisel or any other tool and attempts to alter the stones so that they might be more visually pleasing, in God’s eye, you have just profaned that altar.
Keep in mind that the altars I’m talking about here are different than the Wilderness Tabernacle which would actually be built with very expensive materials.
The purpose of the Tabernacle was to serve as a teaching tool and be a place where God could dwell with man.
It was also modeled after God’s heavenly abode and would have tremendous prophetic significance.
There are two great takeaways I get from today’s post.
First, in our day and age, WE are now His temple.
The places where we gather to fellowship and have communal worship are not to be in these huge and expensive magnificent buildings.
The truth be told, I’m not sure God even wanted a permanent Temple built in honor of Him.
He allowed it because King David was so insistent in building one.
Second, notice how God specifically commands that we are not to mar any stones we use to build an altar.
We are to accept them as they are in their natural form.
Now shouldn’t this same concept be applied to ourselves as well?
Shouldn’t we accept our “natural” selves as the Lord has created us, instead of always comparing ourselves to others or trying to alter who we are?
The Lord tells us to “Come as we are”.