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 25. Here we see the plan of God being laid out before us. Sure we want our faith to be based on solid foundations. We don’t want to have everything we trust and believe in wiped out by every little change in the weather, we want to have a solid foundation to our faith, something that won’t change, so let’s build our altar on a base of stone. Now as you know, stones come in some very irregular shapes, and if we just plonk one down then chances are our altar will be a bit wonky. So let’s get out our chisels and hammers and chip away at it and make it into a shape that suits us. This is called dressing the stone. (No, its not putting pants and a shirt on it). But in this verse God says not to do this. Why? Does He want a wobbly, wonky table for us to come and worship at, where we can offer up our sacrifices? No! He has already made a stone that is to be used as His altar, and He has already made His sacrifice on it for us.
Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.
We cannot make an altar to God which would be acceptable to Him, nor can we offer a sacrifice that would be acceptable. Nor do we need to, for God has provided the perfect altar and the perfect sacrifice. All we need do is accept that. Jesus is our sacrifice and Jesus is the altar to which we can come to offer our praise, thanks and worship, and from whom we receive Love and blessings.
This act by God in providing an altar and sacrifice is available to everyone, within each of us, freely, it is called Grace. We don’t deserve it, nor do we earn it. It is the only way we can come before our Creator, it is the only way we can be saved from all that is wrong in us. It means that everyone has ready access to God’s Love. But what else does God’s Grace provide for us if we don’t have to come to a church to come before His altar and receive His blessings? Can we not just meet with Him anywhere, even if we stay at home on Sundays. Yes, but God’s Grace is not given just so that you are saved, it means that you are now a minister, a priest, of His Grace, for you are the one that can come to His altar and offer up praise and thanks. As St Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” ( Cor 15:10). In other words, St Paul says that the Grace of God is what made Him a minister of the Gospel.
Then St Peter says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10). So what we have is God providing each and every one of us not only the means to come before Him and worship Him, but also the power and the means to minister to each other. And this is not something you can do in your lounge chair on a Sunday. This is why we should gather together as often as possible, to lift each other up. How much of this wonderful Grace has God given us?
Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly”; and
Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t that just more than enough. Isn’t God just too much! Isn’t He a mighty loving Father.