05 August 2008

Replacing the Brazen Altar – 5.30.08

Just this morning I read the interesting narrative of Ahaz, king of Judah, recorded in 2 Kings 16. I'd ask you to take a few minutes to carefully read the 7 verses below, then we'll focus in on how it applies to our lives today.

10. And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

11. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.

12. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.

13. And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.

14. And he brought also the brazen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar.

15. And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king's burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brazen altar shall be for me to enquire by.

16. Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

Did you catch what happened? King Ahaz is on a business trip in Damascus. He's holding peace talks with the king of Assyria. While there, he sees this heathen altar he really likes and sends back word to Urijah to build him one just like it. Urijah gets the word and has the altar built before the king returns.

It'd be bad enough if the story ended there. But it doesn't. Ahaz proceeded to take this heathen altar into the house of God AND replace the brazen altar with it.

But notice that he didn't get rid of the brazen altar. He set it aside…just in case he might need to enquire of the Lord.

Now, God had given Moses the pattern of this brazen altar back in Exodus 27. It was on this altar that the priests were to offer the various offerings and sacrifices as prescribed by the law. And I believe Ahaz knew all of that. If there was nothing special about the brazen altar why keep it to enquire by? Why not enquire by the Damascus altar you're using for the sacrifices?

Do you see the application to our lives? God has given us specific instructions in His word. He has revealed HIS WILL to us in the pages of the Holy Bible (Ephesians 1:9; 5:17). We do know, or at least we can know, what's right. We do know, or at least we can know, God's way.

But don't we oftentimes do just exactly what Ahaz did? Don't we replace God's way with our own…because we like our way better? But we'll not throw the brazen altar (God's way) in the scrapheap. We'll keep it close by somewhere just in case we need to "enquire of the Lord." We'll do our own thing and go our own way and ignore what God said. That is, until trouble comes. Until difficulties arise. Until we're in special need of direction. Then we'll bring back in the brazen altar. Then we'll seek the Lord. Then we'll walk the straight and narrow.

Young person, it's wrong. It's wrong. It's wrong! And God does not accept it. To get His blessings, you've got to go His way. Amen.

And one more note. Verse 16 says, Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded. Probably the most troubling aspect of this whole situation is that THE religious leader of the nation of Israel went along with all of it. Likewise today, there are "men of God" who have replaced the Bible with business models and psychological theories and will condone just about any way you want to live as long as you say you love the Lord and are doing it for God (Ahaz was offering sacrifices on his Damascus altar). But that didn't make it right back then, and it doesn't make it right today.

God's way is perfect. Stick with that.

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