An Unusual Altar

An Unusual Altar

04 July 2011

Reading: 2 Kings 15-16; Hosea 1; Hebrews 1


10 King Ahaz then went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. While he was there, he noticed an unusual altar. Then he sent a model of the altar to Uriah the priest, along with its design in full detail. 11 Uriah followed the king’s instructions and built an altar just like it, and it was ready before the king returned from Damascus. (2 Kings 16:10-11 NLT)

Ahaz was not one of Judah’s good kings and when he took the throne, he led Judah on a quick downward slide into the pagan behavior of her surrounding nations. He submitted himself to the king of Assyria instead of standing up in faith against his enemies, and to show his loyalty, he traveled to recently-conquered Damascus to pay homage to Tiglath-pileser.

While he was there a pagan altar that caught his eye. Because Ahaz had no personal commitment to God or to God’s ways, and because he wanted to make an impression on the king of Assyria, he had his priest make an altar just like the “unusual” one he saw in Damascus. He put Moses’ altar aside and set the new altar in its place and began to offer God’s prescribed sacrifices on a pagan altar.

Our world is changing more rapidly than we can fully comprehend. I’m thankful for technology and for the changes that allow increased freedom of expression and create opportunities of interaction for people of many cultural backgrounds. I don’t fear science or what we may discover about the origins of the universe or of earth or of life.

In this season of unprecedented change, I am concerned about these two things:
• We must not refuse to allow the church to change, adapt, and remain relevant to the culture, any culture, she functions in.
• We must not look to the culture for core values and essential practices that will replace those that God put in place.


Father, Please give us wisdom to let the church be the church and organically adapt to the rapidly-changing cultural environment. Please give us wisdom to stay faithful to the foundations you put in place and not make core-level changes based on “unusual altars” that catch our eye. Amen.

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