1 Samuel 19-21

Luke 11:29-54

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”       —1 Peter 2:9 

When we think of worshipping God at the altar in the Old Testament, what comes to mind may be the transportable altar of burnt offering made of acacia wood and overlaid with bronze that God revealed to Moses (Exodus 27:1-8). Yet, before this altar was crafted for the Tabernacle, God gave specific instructions 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 honoured, 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. And do not go up to My altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed” (Exodus 20:24-26).

The altar that God wanted Moses to make was considered a “lay altar,” which allowed the average Israelite to worship Yahweh without an intermediary—without a priest. The altar that the Israelites were told to build was composed of ordinary natural stuff around them like dust, dirt and stone. It was God who took the common, ordinary objects and imbued them with sacred meaning. Even if the Israelite was to make a more permanent altar of stone for God, they were told not to chisel it, dress it up or make it look all pretty. Instead, the stone should remain as it was, all jaggedy around the edges. 

As we consider the lay altar in light of the New Testament, we begin to understand the context of Peter’s writing in 1 Peter 2:4-5: “As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” As believers in Jesus Christ, we are living stones being built as a spiritual house, or Temple, where offerings of worship are being raised and where the prayers of the saints are fellowship offerings.

Hence, when we connect Exodus 20:24-26 with 1 Peter 2:4-5, we find the One who is perfect in every way closes the gap of imperfection. He knows our wayward heart and does for us what we cannot do ourselves—He takes our rough around the edges, dirty and dusty lives and builds a beautiful altar of worship where we can have communion with Him. He does not need us to get all cleaned up; He invites us just as we are, all rough around the edges, to be the altar of praise because He is the perfection.

O Lord, You are perfect in every way. Thank You for inviting me just as I am to worship You. You perfect my imperfections. Praise You!

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