“But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.”
2 Kings 16:15
Although the bronze altar had been consecrated for the Israelites to offer their sacrifices upon it and it had been done this way for years, out of his desire to please his benefactor, the Assyrian king, King Ahaz erected a larger altar that was a replica of the one he saw in Damascus. He used it as the main altar in the temple on which the people were to burn their offerings, removing the original altar and placing to the side. He made the bronze altar a place where he would seek guidance from God according to pagan custom and, by doing so, he turned the sacred altar into an instrument of superstition.
Indeed we do approach God’s altar to seek divine guidance, but we primarily turn to God to offer sacrifices, not to ask for a favor from him. By switching the altar around and making God’s people change their way of worship, he in essence replaced the pure religion of Israel with pagan worship. People started to make sacrifices on the altar dedicated to pagan gods and, in the mean time, sought guidance and support from the Lord when they were in need of help. Does this remind us a little of our worship today?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”
Whatever we do for a living, either sacred or secular, we do unto the Lord and for his glory. We should always be conscious of this truth and act it out accordingly. We live for God; therefore we work for him as well. Unfortunately, we have drawn a clear distinction between the worldly and the spiritual, as if we make sacrifices on the pagan altar daily at our work, and turn to God in worship or petition for guidance or help occasionally. By doing so, our loyalty to God is clearly divided, and the Lord only gets the leftovers after we have devoted most of our energy to the world.
There was only one altar in the holy temple, not two. What was added on by Ahaz was an anathema.
Upon the same altar we should offer our daily sacrifices and from it we should also seek guidance and support. The altar isn’t divided, neither is our loyalty to God. “But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.” After the pagan altar was built, worshipping the Lord in truth became an afterthought for Ahaz, and seeking the Lobrd was merely a lip service. The bronze altar he kept in God’s house served no other purpose but for show. He somehow kept the Lord in his life just in case he needed him, and nothing beyond that, really.
Upon which altar are we making our daily sacrifices? This is an important question that we should address to ourselves.