Exodus 20:24-26, “You need make for me only an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your offerings of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. But if you make for me an altar of stone, do not build it of hewn stones, for if you use a chisel upon it you profane it. You shall not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.”
Verse 24. An altar is a place where you come to offer a sacrifice or gift-offering to a deity, it is where you meet with your god, a holy place (a place set apart from other ordinary places). The word ‘altar’ comes to us from Latin meaning ‘high’, thus also ‘altitude’. The most common siting for altars was on high ground, and also that the altar was a place to raise up from the ground the activity being enacted. In ancient times altars were made of stone or wood and thus were usually built as permanent structures on what would be considered to be ‘holy ground’. The high ground, plus the added height of the altar, obviously made the action closer to the god you were trying to interact with. They are usually very elaborate and normally under the control (often sole-control) of an appointed specialist who is said to have the knowledge and prestige to act as an intermediary between the supplicant and the deity.
God our Father did not want us to build such places, but to build an altar of earth. Where can we find such altars? What do we know of that is made of the dust of the earth, that God has set apart as special? Where does He say He will write His name in all the Earth?
Revelation 3:12, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ” Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
And does God then say, “If you come to this place I will remember all of the things you have ever done wrong, and I will get really angry with you, and I will beat the livin’ be-gorrahs out of you forever”? No, He says He will bless you! So come to Him with your thanks-giving and worship in your hearts. If the Israelites had approached God on the mountain He would have blessed them, not killed them!