The Altar, The Image and
the Return to True Worship
by Deborah Peterson
I have had some "I think Yah is trying to tell me something..." moments in this past week,
And have felt I should share something of what Yah has showing and opening to me.
The passages which He began to speak to me through was Judges 6:25-32 that gives the account of what Gideon was called to do before he and Israel could every have the great victory and deliverance Yahweh promised them:
Later as I opened my bible, my eye was drawn to one of the margins that was giving a little insight into some of the words in the text, considering the original meaning and something of the background. Now as I looked at the page, what lay before me was:
"Now it came to pass the same night [of that day when Gideon had heard Yah's voice, and was called by Yahweh] that Yahweh said to him,
“Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal [the idol] that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it;
And build an altar to Yahweh your Elohim on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you cut down.”
So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as Yahweh had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.
And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the wooden image that was beside it cut down, and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built.
So they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And when they had inquired and asked, they said “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of [the idol we have been worshiping], and because he has cut down the wooden image that was beside it.”
But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!”
Therefore on that day he called him Jerubaal [literally meaning “Let Baal plead], saying “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.” '
With these words "place of sacrifice", Yahweh began speaking to my heart about worship...
"Altar, miszbeach (meez-bay-akh): Altar, place of sacrifice..."
Every human being is a worshiper... we were made to worship. However, with our sin natures, we very seriously should ask ourselves "What am I worshiping?"
What Yahweh seemed to speak so clearly that they is this:
Each one of us have an altar inside our souls... a place of sacrifice.
My friends, we will sacrifice for the things we worship...
Whether it be to sacrifice time to spend it with Yahweh, or to sacrifice integrity to be accepted by people, to sacrifice relationships for money, or to sacrifice purity for pleasure...
Friends, what are we sacrificing to?
You see, both Yahweh and idols have altars... we will be sacrificing. The question is only, to who?
You might ask, "Well, what if you are only living for yourself? What would you be sacrificng then?"
Well, you would be sacrificing the close fellowship with the Ruach that comes when we are loving Elohim and others selflessly. You would be sacrificing other people, their feelings, and what's best for them. You would be sacrificing the Peace that we receive from Elohim through the Ruach, because you are choosing to cling to sin. And if you would continue, refusing to repent, you would even sacrifice Yah'shua and what He did for you, because you would be "crucifying the Son of Elohim all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace", even as we are told in Hebrews 6:6
To who is our place of sacrifice dedicated?
As we consider the account of Gideon, we should notice that with every idol's altar is a wooden image ~ the "image" we are worshipping, but that is in truth dead, and cannot save us.
What about the "image" that being rich might have? Or the "image" of being sexually desirable might have?
Well, you might ask, "What about if someone makes an idol out of a person?"
The person who the idol's image was created in may be alive, but the false image or "picture" the worshiper has is dead. Instead of seeing the truth that this person who is being idolised is frail and flawed (like every one of us), and that we should worship Elohim, the worshiper "sees" someone who they believe can fill all the holes in their aching soul... only to be continuelly dissapointed that the image they are worshipping doesn't fullfill them the way the are looking for.
What stands out so powerfully in this account of Gideon is that before Yah gave Gideon the great victory and freedom He had promised, He required this:
That Gideon should “take [his offering], and tear down the altar of [the idol] ... and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; And build an altar to Yahweh your Elohim on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and [to take his offering and] offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you cut down.”
Before we can know the freedom and peace that Yahweh wishes to give us, we must first be willing to face and tear down the altars and the images of idols we have erected in our lives.
You see, Gideon's sacrifice was bigger then just the bull ~ it was breaking down everything to do with the idol, and using that image that had been worshipped as firewood, even though he knew that it would infuriate those who were still worshipping idols.
Please notice that Gideon called to destroy the image and the altar... not to try and use the old altar to sacrifice to Yahweh, but to tear it down and and build a new altar to Yahweh "in the proper arrangement", or in other words, the pattern Yahweh had revealed to be right.
It means completely turning from the false images that we might have and the old ways we have sacrificed and done things that the altar represented...
If being attractive was our idol, we not only need to pull down the false image that says "My worth is in what I look like", but we also need to pull down the altar where we sacrificed modesty for ungodly attention, and all the other worldly ways that connected to this, and replace it with the Truth that our worth is in Yahweh and the love He revealed through His Son, and the choose to walk in His ways, to sacrifice to Him by choosing the walk in modesty and humility.
Please be aware that there might be some people who will be angry when you pull down your own or their idols... but remember that the One who called you to do so is the Living Elohim! The One who has called us to do so is the One who will deliver us! The One who called us to do so is the One who gave us Life!
May Yah give us grace in this...
And may he especially give us grace to pull down one of the most dangerous idols there is... so dangerous because it may seem "respectable". The Idol of trying to seem "spiritual", or being religious.
How often, because we were sacrificing to seem "spiritual" to others, have we been kept from admiting to ourselves (and others) "You know what, things aren't what they should be"?
May Yah give us grace in this, that we would be able to admit to ourselves if we have idols in our lives, and that they may be torn down that Yah may be glorified. May He grant us grace and surround us with people of His Body who aren't judgemental, but whom we can be honest with and say "You know what... I realised I have actually made an idol of this thing in my life. Won't you pray with me for this?"
May He grant us Life, and Peace, and Freedom in Yah'shua.
Comments by Readers
"True words. I think the Gideon illustration is a good one. The hardest idols are the ones we can't even see even though we have erected them ourselves because over the years we entomb and them whitewash them. Thr bottom line seems to me always to be the way we treat Yahweh (respectfully, indifferently or with contempt) and how and whether we treat the people around us in the same way. However concealed our idols may be, they always reveal their presence in our disjunctive behaviour" (LT, 13 February 2009)
"This is a very good explication. Todah" (D, 13 February 2009)
"Thank you so much for sharing this sister Deborah. I enjoyed this so much. I have met people who tell me, 'I am a prophetess', or 'I am a rabbi', and they make sure everyone around them knows this. And I question why do they have to say, "I am", because it sounds like these people are puffing themselves up before people. They have made themselves to be their own idol, and they can't see it. When I ask them these questions and tell them my thoughts, oh man, do the claws come out. So thank you for this very good teaching" (YL, 23 February 2009)
"I'm glad this could be a blessing :) And I understand what you mean YL about how people can react when you confront their idols (actually I also had to confront someone recently that they were busy with idolatry, and they weren't too happy with me).
"I agree with you about people who try to parade things like being a teacher or Rabbi or prophet or prophetess is making themselves (and their "spirituality") an idol. I guess the reason why people like this might especially react sharply is because you are exposing that the "spirituality" they are so proud of really is just about them worshipping themselves instead of Yahweh. And it is so dangerous... The thing that Yah has been working in my heart about lately is that if we Love Him and love those people with Yah'shua's love, we will confront and correct these people in love, becuase we would want them to be saved from the death that idol worship brings, and to turn to the true and living Elohim and find Life in Him. But people don't like it when we touch their idols...
"Yah has been speaking to my heart a lot about Sacrifice (and also about idolatry) in the last week or so... when Yah brought up the theme of sacrifice a third time while I was reading in the Psalms, specifically Psalm 116:17 that says "I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of Yahweh." I had that very real sense of "He's trying to tell me something"!" (DP, 14 February 2009)
This page was created on 21 April 2009
Last updated on 21 April 2009
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