Text: Judges 6:19-32.
1. What is Altar?
Two definitions. (1) The table in Christian churches where communion is given. (2) A raised structure on which gifts or sacrifices to a god are made.
The Hebrew word for altar is mizbe’ah from a word meaning “to slay”. It is any structure of earth (Ex. 20:24) or unwrought stone (20:25) on which sacrifices were offered. Altars were generally erected in conspicuous places (Gen 22:9; Eze. 6:3; 2 Kgs 23:12; 16:4; 23:8; Acts 14:13). The word is used in Heb 13:10 for the sacrifice offered upon it - the sacrifice Christ offered.
Paul found among the many altars erected in Athens one bearing the inscription, "To the unknown God" (Acts 17:23), or rather "to an [i.e., some] unknown God." The reason for this inscription cannot now be accurately determined. It afforded the apostle the occasion of proclaiming the gospel to the "men of Athens."
The first altar we read of is that erected by Noah (Gen 8:20). Altars were erected by Abraham (Gen 12:7; 13:4; 22:9), by Isaac (Gen 26:25), by Jacob (33:20; 35:1,3), and by Moses (Ex 17:15, "Jehovah-Nissi").
2. Evil Altar.
References to altars dedicated to pagan gods other than the one true God appear throughout the Old Testament. They were devoted to the Baals (2 Chr. 33:3) and various other Canaanite gods and goddesses (Deut. 12:3) - Chemosh the god of Moab, Ashtoreth of the Sidonians, and Molech of the Ammonites (1Kgs 11:5-7). The Lord gave specific instructions that these pagan altars should be torn down and destroyed before altars dedicated to His worship were built (Deut. 12:2-3).
3. Lessons from Judges 6:19-32.
A. Pulling down Altars is instructional. 6:25. By divine instruction alone.
B. God wants another altar built on the evil one. RSV Judges 6:26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order; then take the second bull, and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down." (Underlined emphasis mine. Meaning that the one built is powerful but a greater power is here).
C. The rebuilding has to follow specific pattern for it is written …in an orderly manner (NAU), in the proper arrangement (NKJV). There is a pattern of building God’s altar. Follow it.
D. Be wise. Gideon had to do it at night to avoid physical confrontation which could cause unnecessary trouble.
E. There will be opposition and an unrighteous decree of death. NAB Judges 6:30 “So the townspeople said to Joash, "Bring out your son that he may die, for he has destroyed the altar of Baal and has cut down the sacred pole that was near it." It is written: ASV Isaiah 10:1 “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness”. BBE Isaiah 10:1 “Cursed are those who make evil decisions, and the writers who make the records of their cruel acts”.
F. Those who demolish evil altars will have the Holy Spirit surround them. NJB Judges 6:34 “And the spirit of Yahweh clothed Gideon around…” NLT Judges 6:34 “Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon”.
G. It is counted for righteousness. DRA 2 Chronicles 14:2 “And Asa did that which was good and pleasing in the sight of his God, and he destroyed the altars of foreign worship, and the high places”.
H. It brings divine victory. ESV 2 Chronicles 15:5-7 “In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded."
Note: This was prepared by Rev. Eniola Olatunji on instruction from God to you. Are you available to pull down evil altars around you and in your nation? Thank you.
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