Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Exodus 20:22-26 Instructions Regarding Idols and Altars

"Then the LORD said to Moses,
'Tell the Israelites this:

"You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven:
Do not make any gods to be alongside me;
do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

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.

And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed upon it." ' "

Exodus 20:22-26 (NIV)

Some observations:

  • The Israelites had heard God speak to them from heaven.  They knew that God had given instructions to Moses which they were to follow.  God reminded them of this fact, which implies that they now had a certain personal responsibility to follow these commands.
  • The Israelites were to have only one God.  No additional 'gods' would be tolerated.  No images of God or other 'gods' were to be made, even if they used precious metals such as silver or gold.
  • God directed them to use an earthen altar.  If they did make an altar of stones, they were not to shape the stones with tools, for this would defile it.
  • They were to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.  Sheep, goats, and cattle were to be sacrificed.
  • In the place where God caused His name to be honored, He would come to them and bless them.
  • One practical instruction:  Their altars were not to be built upon platforms which were reached by steps.  Such an architecture might result in improper exposure as the priest went about his work.  To guard against such a situation, Aaron and his descendants were instructed to wear linen undergarments as part of their attire as they carried out their priestly duties.

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