Summary: This message is part of a series on the book of Exodus. Application of this message shows what is necessary in order for us to worship God.
-last week we finished our study of the ten commandments
-God is still giving instruction to Moses
-Moses will not come down from the mountain until the end of chapter 31
-God will continue to give instruction about building the tabernacle
-In this passage today God gives instruction about building an altar where they can make sacrifices to God
Altars were very common in the bible
(the first altar in history)
Gen 8:20 KJV - And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Gen 13:18 KJV - Then Abram removed [his] tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which [is] in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
Gen 35:1 KJV - And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
An altar was usually just stones they would stack together to make a place to offer a sacrifice to God
When Paul was at Mars Hill he came across several altars to false gods
Act 17:22 KJV - Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
Act 17:23 KJV - For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
In the book of Revelation when John saw the throne of God he also saw an altar before the throne where the prayers of the saints are brought
Rev 8:3 KJV - And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Even today many churches call the front of the church the altar some even build a place where people can come and pray
Notice if you will that God repeats the second command to Moses before he gives him the instructions on how to build an altar
in verse 23 he says You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for youselves god of gold.
Israel did not need a god of gold or silver, because they couldn't truly represent God
Paul said that idols are nothing
1Cr 8:4 KJV - As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one.
After God repeats this second command to Moses he gives instruction for building the altar, because there is a connection between the two
Notice how simple the altar is to built
it is to be built out of unhewen stones verse 25, they are not to carve the stones at all. And they are not to build it up high where steps are required to reach it.
If they used tools on the stones they would be tempted to carve them some elaborate way and it would take the focus off of God and worship which is what the altar was all about
Matthew Henry point out that the beauty of Holiness does not need mans paint
The altars were not to be built up high because the people who worshiped pagan gods thought the higher they got to worship the closer they were to God
Num 22:41 KJV - And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost [part] of the people.
There was altars were also a place of sexual immorality which explains the last part of verse 26, yet Jehovah God was more concerned about the elevation of their hearts, not their altar
If they were not careful, and if they refused to follow Gods instructions on building the altar, the altar itself could become the idol
It happened in Jeremiahs day when the people trusted and worshiped the temple more than God who met them in the temple
Jer 7:3 KJV - Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
Jer 7:4 KJV - Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, [are] these.
It even happens today when people worship a building, tradition, or ritual more than the living God or when people think they have to go to a certain place to get close to G