You shall make an altar of earth for Me,
and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings
and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen;
in every place where I cause My name to be remembered,
I will come to you and bless you.
There is something about this verse of Scripture that makes me read it over and over and over again. In my very much inadequate ability I am going to attempt to share why this verse captivates me so.
The children of Israel had just spent the last 400 years among altars of gold, among temples, among man made images to false deities. Here, after God has given them His commands of what not to do, He gives them a command of what they are to do.
They were to build an altar to Him from the earth.
When I read this my mind goes back to the garden. It’s amazing how often God brings me back to the garden… back to Genesis… back to the beginning.
Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place,
and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas;
and God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed,
and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”;
and it was so.
The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind,
and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind;
and God saw that it was good.
There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
The waters were to be gathered to one place and then the earth appeared and out of the earth would come life. Out of the earth would come fruit trees that were meant to bear fruit… after their kind. They were to yield seed and the seed were to grow and bear fruit of their own… after their kind.
The children of Israel had been gathered out of the nations… they passed through the water and they now appeared and God said this is good… now go and be a witness to the rest of the nations and bear fruit after your kind… after Me, your God. Do not bear fruit from the gods of these other nations bear fruit after after Me… I am going to use you to bring forth life as you witness as my priests, as my preachers.
God told the children of Israel that they were to make an altar of earth for Him and there make their sacrifices. Did God mean He just wanted them to pile up a big mound of dirt and sacrifice on it?
I live in Alabama. We have a city near me called Moundsvillle. It is full of ancient mounds built by the early Native Americans as tombs and altars of worship to false gods. I don’t believe this would be what God was calling Israel to do… it would contradict the previous “not to do” commands. God simply was not like these other gods and He would not be treated as though He were.
So there must be more to this altar of earth…
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being.
Man was formed from the earth… from the dust of the ground.
Oh precious one, did you see it?
The altar of earth?
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,
“SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED,
BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME;
IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE.
“THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME
(IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME)
TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’”
After saying above,
“SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS
AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them”
(which are offered according to the Law),
then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.”
He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5-10
Everything has always pointed to Him, to Christ, to this God-Man with a body of flesh that would be the ultimate sacrifice and the only place where His name would be remembered and when we come to Him, to this One who says “Remember Me“… and we lay our sacrifice on this altar… here we are blessed. Here our God comes to us, to meet with us, when we call on Him the One who would cause the name of God to be remembered forever.
I have to look up the names of the false gods worshiped through out history… I forget them.
However, whether they love Him or hate Him… no one who has ever heard the name of Jesus can forget Him.
His name is always on the tip of their tongue, on the back of their mind, naggingly whispering… who do you say that I am?
He is indeed unforgettable… even if all you have ever heard about Him is just the name. He will cause His name to be remembered.
Now my friend, let me ask you, have you prepared your altar of earth on which to worship your Creator God?
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do notbe conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
God doesn’t want a big fancy temple. He doesn’t want an altar of gold or silver or an image of brass or bronze. He wants the dust of the earth that He formed to be a man and breathed life into. He wants this broken, dirty, fallen flesh of earth that He created to bear His image.
He wants this altar of earth to go and be used by Him to cause His name to remembered. If you will give Him this altar and lay out this body as a living sacrifice to Him and here worship Him… He will come to you and He will bless you.
The children of Israel were being told here that no matter where they were, no matter where they got scattered… if there was earth, they had a place of worship. They had a place, and all the material they would need, to build an altar to call upon the name of their God.
I am overcome and overwhelmed with You. This earth belongs to You and this body of earth belongs to You. I offer upon this altar of earth my everything. You offer us the opportunity to worship You wherever we go. No matter our material possession, no matter our geographical location, earth is everywhere… and our body is with us wherever we go. You came to this earth in a body… and then You come and dwell within this body of mine to dwell with Me and make you this body, this flesh formed from the earth, Your temple. Yes, I am overcome and overwhelmed with You. My Jesus, take this altar of earth and use me to cause Your name to be remembered.
It’s in Your name I pray,