My first observation in this passage was the urgency in which the Levites and priests reestablished sacrificial worship of God by rebuilding the altar. The people were quickly reintroduced to the beauty of sacrifice, prayer and worship. The place of the atonement for their sins was reinstated. The altar was constructed of Acacia wood which symbolized the works of humanity (the flesh). It was then covered with brass/bronze which was a symbol of judgment and suffering. This is the place that God atoned for the limitations of man through the shedding of blood.
Hallelujah! Jesus Christ has come. He took on flesh (humanity) and suffered and took the judgment of God upon Himself. Then He arose again, so that we could walk in victory over sin and death. We walk in freedom if we confess our sins, laying them down at the cross and place our trust fully in Jesus Christ. The altar is the place where we, as Christ-followers then become “living sacrifices”. This is where our flesh is put to death, according to Romans 12:1-3,
“Therefore, I urge you, brother, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Juanita Bynum gives an excellent definition of the flesh in her book, The Threshing Floor, “The flesh is everything you think and feel except that which is a result of the will of God and His Word within you.” -ouch.
I Corinthians 3:13-15 tells us that every work will be tested by fire. What part of your flesh experiencing the fire of God at this time? Have you struggled being a “living sacrifice” unto God? For each of us to move on with the Lord we are called to become a living sacrifice and surrender our will, thoughts, ways and ideas to the throne of God.
The second thing I looked at was the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. This feast is also called the “In-gathering”. (Leviticus 23:39) It took place in the month of October before the Harvest Rain. The people were called to celebrate and remember the time the children of Israel spent in the wilderness. They would cut down olive, pine and myrtle branches and live in booths/tents built with these branches for 7 days. (Nehemiah 8) As I am watching the signs of the times, I have to wonder… are we in the time of the “Ingathering” of the harvest. Is the Lord preparing His people for harvest as He directs ” the hearts of father’s to their children and the hearts of the children to their father’s.” (Malachi 4:6) Is He inviting us to offer ourselves on the altar as living sacrifices. Is He preparing us for the Harvest Rain of the Spirit of God that is to be poured out in the last days. Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-21.
The last thing I would like to mention is the response of the people of Israel, the old and the young at the rebuilding of the foundations of the temple. The older generation that had witnessed the temple built by Solomon were grieved at the lack of glory seen in the foundations. The younger generation, that had never seen anything but Babylonian captivity were gloriously celebratory. I find it interesting to note that no one instructed the people how to feel at this time. Each one was allowed to process through their emotions and express them at this assembly. Grace was given, grace was offered and grace was received. During this time it is my prayer that we can all give and receive the outpouring of the grace of God. Let us be people of courage that can live in the tension and steward that responsibility well.
My heart continues to be stirred by the Lord Jesus. Does yours?