Drinking Deeply

Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 12:05 AM

Setting an altar because of fear

A few days since I last posted.

In Ezra 3, the returning exiles built an altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings according to the Law of Moses. (Ezra 3:1-3)

This passage strikes me in particular because of the reason that was given for their putting up of an altar. Now surely there was a desire to be obedient to the Law of the Lord, but we see in verse 3 -
"They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands."
Where do they run for security when threated by the people around them? They do not build a wall nor do they start training for war, but instead they enact an altar to offer sacrifices on! Why? Because they know that the Lord is a God who hears them and protects them (Ezra 8:21) and is one who has judged them in the past for their disobedience (Ezra 5:12).

How little do we trust in the Lord when the chips are down. We claim that the Lord will sustain us but when the stresses and struggles come, we freak out and stress out about work, about grades, about applications, and everything. Yet God asks, no, commands our obedience in spite of all our sufferings, our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, knowing that it is really these things that will bring joy, truth, and rest.

Isaiah 31:1
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!

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