March 26, 2021
If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it. Exodus 20:25 ESV
Why would using hewn stone desecrate an altar to God? There are two reasons. First, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. They were to separate themselves from the practices of pagan worship. Pagans would wield tools to build altars with images of their false gods (or that of humans or animals). The only true God is invisible and cannot be reduced to graven images.
Secondly, to hewn stones with tools would imply that the Israelites were to labor in order to approach God in worship. When we think of this dynamic with regard to the Cross, we would “profane” the saving work of Christ that has brought us forgiveness, reconciliation, and direct access to the Father’s throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus is our hewn cornerstone that the builders rejected (Luke 20:17).
Thank you, Father, that your Master Stone Mason has erected an eternal altar of worship for us. Help us to set down our tools—our feeble, human-made attempts to earn your approval—and worship you and your Son in spirit and truth. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling