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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Altar: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Joshua 22

“The Reubenites and the Gadites called the altar ‘Witness’; ‘For,’ said they, ‘it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.’” Joshua 22:34

As Israel settled into their new land, Joshua released the tribes from across the Jordan to return their inheritance covering them with thanksgiving for keeping their charge, accolades that they had not forsaken their kindred in a time of need, and prayers “to love the Lord your God and walk in his ways, to keep his commandments, and to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart with all your soul.” They also returned with great riches.

Then when the families of Israel heard the tribes had built a large altar on Israel’s side of the Jordan their own tribes rose in consternation and prepared to go to war against them for their perceived unfaithfulness. But first they begged them not to be unfaithful to the Lord by building a false altar and also extended the offer to be incorporated onto the Jordan side if their land was unclean. “Only do not rebel against the Lord, or rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar other than the alter of the Lord our God.”

Shocked by the accusations, and perceived intentions, the Canaan tribes hastily explained their intent. The altar was not to replace the Lord’s altar but rather an altar of witness to future generations of all the tribes on both sides of the Jordan that they all served the same Lord. For them the altar was a warning and a hope to the future generations to not rebel, to not forget their heritage, and to continue to serve the Lord in life and in His tabernacle.

They had seen their parents’ generation lose the promised land because of disobedience. They knew their exodus history and recognized how quickly a person, a family, or a generation, could become separated from the Lord’s altar and thought to prepare ahead for strength to remain faithful.

Do we? Many of our worship sites no longer have altars because under Jesus our altars are not on stone but written with a different style. “…. being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”  2 Cor 3:3

Lord, help us to be faithful and true witnesses of Your truth at all times. Keep us diligent and compassionate towards others and ourselves when false words begin to influence our hearts and our service. Help us to recognize the dangers and hold tight to Your Holy Spirit’s counsel.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 142: 3 & 5

“When my spirit is faint, you know my way..”
“…You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

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