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 honored, 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. Exodus 20:24-25
Why does God prohibit the chiseling of a stone in His altar? Because man is always using his chisels to whittle God down and to build himself up. He chips God down into an image he can get his hands around and control. He flourishes the altar to exalt himself upon it. God knows that man autographs everything he touches with the lie—“See how great I am!” These words are the blueprints to the Tower of Babel. Under the camouflage of spiritual ministry man’s heart conspires “Let us make a name for ourselves.” We stop bowing down to God, and start bowing down to the altar. See how great my altar is. See how beautiful my altar is. See how big my altar is! So the ministry to God becomes a monument to man.
When worship of the Almighty becomes confused by who we are and what we’ve done instead of who God is and what He has done, we begin to worship an idol forged into our own likeness. God wants altars of earth to remind us it is about Him and not the altars we build to Him.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” The earth is God’s handiwork. The looming granite-slab mountains of North America and the iron peaks of the mighty Himalayas are too small an altar to lay a sacrifice worthy of God upon. There’s nothing man can add to God’s altar that is grand enough.
The peoples of the world are also God’s possession. Your business; your testimony; your ministry; your connections; your community service; your hard work, your family; your ingenuity and talent--Do you think they were given as a monument to yourself? They are the stones that build the altar of worship to God. Offer them to the Father with no adornment. We are a humble landing pad for his glory. “Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.” See it is the One-Who-Comes-Down. See it is all His handiwork. The altar is nothing. It is God who is autographing the altar with His greatness by coming down upon it.