Continuing our discussion on the evolution of the Altar, let us remind ourselves what sparked this train of thought. If you remember, IreneQ quoted someone as underscoring the purpose of the church and the role that worship plays with the following quote:
?church is all about relationships (something my previous pastor has always said) and that in cell groups you get to build those relationships — and it’s those relationships which will keep you in the church and help you to feel a part of it.
He also said something like, if the church’s doctrine is sound then the method of worship and other stuff like that is really secondary. If you go to a church with sound teaching and you cannot worship there then perhaps there is something wrong with YOU and not with that church.
I am still using the quote out of the context of her reconciling herself with believers, a thing that I applaud?but I am forced to address the issue of relationships and worship. These posts on the Evolution of the Altar have been focused on what happens when God’s definition of worship is supplanted with Man’s definition of worship. The past posts dealt with how early Israel operated by commandment when it came to their worship. The next post showed how certain priests, in their service of worship, committed that which God had not commanded. Our previous post dealt with worship at the altar being influenced by convenience. Today, we will be looking at the Evolution of the Altar in light of choice.
Mind you, these posts are not put here to blast Ms. IreneQ. As I’ve repeatedly stated, I applaud her entering into fellowship with any body of believers and my prayer is that she continues growing in the knowledge and understanding of the will of our Lord God in Heaven. I merely decided to hold a discussion on this topic because it struck an "Interest Chord" in my being due to the fact that I see this thought proclaimed often. It is with a leaning towards understanding then that I broach this subject and not as an attack or rebuttal. Well then, onto "choice".
King Ahaz is spoken of as a wicked man who made his son pass through the fire according to the abomination of the nations (2 Kings 16) that the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel . Concerning this wicked king, we find that in a certain point in his life, he went up to Damascus to meet a certain Tiglath-Pilesar. While he was there he saw an amazing altar which pleased him in it’s design, so he recorded the design and pattern of the thing, according to all his workmanship and had the priest Urijah build the thing (2 Kings 16:10-11).
It was, as he returned from Damascus that he noticed the altar (which was based on a design from men and not after the pattern shown by God) and was moved to offer up worship to God. He offered the drink offering and the grain offering and a burnt offering and a peace offering?all offerings to the Lord. Yet, it was not the way God had prescribed. In fact, he even went as far as putting the new altar in the place of the original altar, and then moved the original altar to the north side of the temple. He then commanded the priests (2 Kings 16:15 ) that the people could offer their offerings on the new altar, but he would save the bronze altar for himself to make inquiry of the Lord.
Here is the house of God with two altars, two places where sin is atoned for, two places where worship is offered up to the Lord, two places not according to the pattern the Lord had prescribed. King Ahaz now had the ability to choose where he would like to worship?.was it at the North of the temple or at the East.
He went on to make huge changes in the House of God (2 Kings 16:17-18), by cutting off the panels of the carts and removing the lavers from them, and taking down the Sea from the bronze oxen and removing the king’s outer entrance from the house of the Lord. All of this he did says the passage, on account of (not the Lord, but) the King of Assyria (2 Kings 16:18 )!
Therefore, we may come up with programs of encouragement, which are man-made and offer choices on worship, relegating this Biblical activity of true worship to singing praise songs?but these are man’s patterns and not God’s. God has defined worship as a bowing down of the spirit towards God alone, resulting in an active life of self-sacrifice towards Him. To take this method of worship and redefine it is the equivalent of Ahaz cutting off the legs of the Bronze Sea or the Laver. It was a place where the priests would wash daily, and it was elevated up higher on the ground so that a priest had to reach up to wash himself. Cutting off the legs, lowers the standard for washing and the same thing occurs in local gatherings today. The standards are being lowered so that all can attend and build a relationship with each other and sing ?worship? songs with each other.
When man is given a choice between God’s way of worship and Man’s way of worship, Man inevitably is saying (by his actions) that God needed help. Man lifts himself up to a level as the most High God and equates his direction with God’s direction. A person may read this and think that I am belaboring the point but we must not forget the words of our Lord Jesus towards the Pharisees and Scribes regarding the washing of hands:
? ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.? (Mark 7:7, 8)
I am not placing fellow believers in the same camp as an unrepentant Pharisaic order, I am merely pointing out the danger of taking the traditions of men (as the KJV says) and putting it before the commandment of God.