By Scott Franks
In the Mosaic Law, God gave extensive instructions to the Israelites on how to worship him, and he went into great detail about the rituals, even telling the priests what to wear. But those laws started with a simple directive:
[God speaking to Moses] “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).
We no longer sacrifice burnt offerings on an altar because Jesus came as the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. But there is still a truth in this old command that we need to remember as we come before God to worship him.
God wanted his people to make altars of earth or stones, but he forbade them from getting fancy by using carved stones or gold or silver. They were to use only natural materials. They could use only what God had already created. Those earth and rock altars would not have been very impressive or attractive. Some craftsmen could have improved on the looks of those altars . . . so why didn’t God allow them to?
Quite simply, God’s rules took the people’s skills, talents, wealth, and egos completely out of the picture. They couldn’t show off. They couldn’t make the sacrifice or altar about them or turn it into a competition about having a better altar than the people down the street. When the people came to worship, God did not want them to be dazzled by what they had done for God, but only by what God had done for them.
That’s a good reminder that as we gather for worship and to take Communion our focus should be on Christ. Of the many things we experience here today, Jesus should make the biggest impression. We cannot improve on Christ’s sacrifice. There is no substitute for it; we can do nothing for ourselves to earn salvation. We cannot make his perfect grace any more perfect. We can only humbly thank him and praise him. Let’s do that now in prayer.
Scott Franks preaches for the Edgemere Church of Christ (Edgemere.org) in Wichita Falls, Texas. He also contributes weekly devotionals to the 728B site on Facebook.