DECEMBER 30: FIRST THE ALTAR

FIRST THE ALTAR

By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

"Then stood up Joshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases, for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening."
Ezra 3:2-3
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Today's Read: Ezra 3-5
Of great consideration to this passage is the context which asserts a portion of history we must not overlook:
God's people (Israel) had violated God's covenant and turned their backs on Him repetitively and with staunch determination to have Him removed from their presence.
The hardened, unresponsive, unrepentant people were granted their wish ... and God determined for them a 70 period of Babylonian captivity. The Jewish people were dispersed, enslaved, and made subject to the prevailing powers of oppresive regimes placed over them.
And then ... the 70 years ended.
Returning to God at full staff was the order of the day.
Surrendered flags of repentance were waved by a God-hungry remnant ... and a promised trip back to the motherland was finally theirs.
God had kept His promises, preserved His remnant, and protected His people through rebellious years ... all because God is faithful to His promises.
Ezra is a two-part work coinciding with Nehemiah, telling the story about a prodigal son named Israel returning to a faithful father named God.
It is the story about redemption and reconciliation.
It is God's story to man about His infinite and immeasurable love.
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The return of God's people into Jerusalem, while mingled with joy and anticipation, was also a solemn one in many regards:
Fear of the surrounding nations and the "return of the Jews" was not deemed favorable by all. The Jews were viewed as a threat and menace yet by many.
Their presence would have been unsettling and their "building project" concerning.
Gratefully, the King's hand (Cyrus of Persia), had procured them with a degree of safety and settlement but still ... the people surrounding them would have created no little anxiety.
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Hmmm ...
What do we do when we are afraid of returning to a land which God has called us to but which we may not be received well upon return?
Hmmm ....
Let's study a blueprint and DNA code of our spiritual predecessors:
-We begin by securing an "altar" before the Lord.
The flag of surrender and confession must be appropriately displayed and God's redemptive work fully relied upon.
The altar begins with the foundation of confession.
-We submit ourselves and give ourselves over to the construction of His cleansing methods and allow Him to rightfully bring the reconciling terms to us in order to move forward.
He may remove us from people in order to propel us to new lands or He may return us to people and begin a needed revival back home.
This is not for man to decide.
This is God's doing and it ought to be given prayerful and careful consideration.
Until the altar of a single and corporate heart is "made right" there can be no "flow of Immanuel's blood" flowing through it. And without redemption applied, reconciliation is denied and deemed impossible.
This is the Gospel.
The works of God will be made manifest through the realization of these spiritual realities in place but be sure of this:
God's blood flow will never be shorted by man's deciding.
NEVER.
God is calling the shots and His Son has provided the blood and until "this" redemptive package is applied to all there is no corporate story of God at work.
End of Story.
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God's people here, erected an altar that spoke to reliance upon God, even in the midst of the human factors of fear and anxiety they were experiencing.
Getting the order right and setting the order in place is paramount to witnessing God's great power.
It was back then ... and it proves true yet this day.
The "remnant" knew this and governed their activities and lives upon it. The foundation begins with the altar of the soul ... and confession upon it is the intial act of God at work.
Everything hinges on this initial reality and flows in succession from it.
Keep going to the altar ... keep offering the sacrifices of prayer, praise, and confession and God will determine how He is going to be lifted up.
"And they set the altar upon his bases, for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries; and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening."
Ezra 3:3
Morning and evening ... keep at it.
God will be faithful to the end.
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Three Study Suggestions:
1) Record a promise from today's reading that inspires you internally.
2) Prepare the altar of your heart and make things right between you and the Lord.
3) Wave your flag of confessional surrender and watch and see what the Lord does in response to it.
Lift it high in the sky ... little Warrior.
Pray for God to do something God-sized and then don't be surprised when He does.