Tools Of The Trade Make A Polluted Altar

Exodus 20:25 “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”

Hello readers, I recently noticed this verse in the Bible. I had been thinking about the word “pollution” in the Bible, it’s in there! Because our world is pretty pollution obsessed, so they do recognize that pollution is bad and undesirable… but guess what, God is also big on pollution!

We should not pollute the Bible, and we should not pollute the precious doctrines of the Bible… but they have been by many people. And when something is polluted, firstly, God rejects it, but secondly, nobody wants it or has use for it either.

How does polluted water sound like to you? Feeling thirsty? Would you rather drink pure spring water, or water polluted by sewage and effluent and poison? See, we know that pollution is bad, we know clean and pure is best… and God doesn’t want us to live polluted lives, and that’s because nothing about him is polluted. In fact, quite the opposite, he is holy, which is the opposite of pollution.

There are 50 verses in the King James Bible that have the word “pollute” in them, and 3 that have the word “pollution” in them. And there are a variety of contexts in which these words are used, but today I want to focus on polluting the Bible. Because Christians have polluted Bibles, which results in polluted doctrine, polluted worship, and polluted living. And thus there is a problem between them and God, and they don’t enjoy the sweet communion with God that God desires and instructs us so that we can have. Note: because you’ve changed your pollution standard and tolerance… God hasn’t… he is holy.

We have the HOLY Bible, not the polluted Bible. But there are a lot of Bibles who stopped being holy a long time ago, and the instant this principle and precept of the Old Testament in altar building was violated.

And because we have polluted the altar, the sacrifices we make on it are not acceptable to God either. And as a result you get no benefit from the sacrifice, but we are meant to benefit enormously from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us! We’re missing out bad!

See, they made sacrifices upon an altar back in the Old Testament. So before offering a sacrifice, they had to build an altar, and they had to build the altar right, and obey God in doing so.

And it was quite a big deal making an altar to God. It was a special and reverent place of service and worship to God. And people understand this concept, because people all over the world through time have used altars, and thereupon offered all kinds of sacrifices to appease all kinds of deities.

But in the Bible, altars were made to sacrifice to the Lord God. They were a place of worship and thanksgiving and communication with God. And that fellowship with God was based on his acceptance of that sacrifice. And of course, we know that all those sacrifices pointed to Jesus Christ, the sacrifice to fulfill and end all sacrifices, and who’s sacrifice of himself we are accepted by God based upon.

So now, we look back at God’s instruction in the Old Testament in altar construction, and we can take some serious pointers from God on what is acceptable to him and what is not. And we find that it was meant to be an altar made of stone, but you weren’t meant to “hew” any stone, that is alter the stones in any way, regardless of your reasons for doing so.

And imagine building an altar with some oddball stones, or one that just didn’t quite fit, or didn’t look like you thought it should. Surely God won’t mind if I just neaten them up a bit, take off some rough edges… hey, I can make it fit better and look better! Surely God won’t mind if we just chip this part off, and chop that part off, and smooth that out, and take that edge off! Let’s take the edges off preaching on sin, that’ll fit much better!

But if you did that, the altar would be polluted, and thus unfit for any sacrifice to be offered upon. Far out, can you see the seriousness of this thing yet? And we know that we are meant to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” So you could sacrifice your whole life to God, and yet because you’ve violated this principle here, you’re unacceptable to God… polluted! Don’t you want to be a contamination free zone? Isn’t that what you’re meant to be if the Holy Spirit lives in you?

But many people have “lift up thy tool upon it” and polluted the stones of the altar. Because they chopped and changed the Bible, they smoothed out the rough edges, they cut and hacked the precious doctrines of repentance and faith and eternal life… and they’ve polluted themselves. Not only this, but they go through religious reformation rather than Holy Spirit transformation, and God doesn’t accept or honour that either. Think about all the Christian “tools of the trade” for changing people instead of faith in Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit of God and growing in grace?

Think about it, “pollution” is a strong word. Because everything about God is the antithesis of “pollution”. Think about it, we have the “Holy” Bible, which are the “holy scriptures” inspired and honoured by the “Holy Spirit”, and the word of the “Holy” God. What about the “most holy” faith and our “holy” calling? Holy, holy, holy! Yeah, God is anti pollution.

So why are we polluting his altar? If you’ve gone to the effort to make an altar, is it that hard to obey God’s instructions of how to do so?

According to Webster’s dictionary, “polluting” means “Defiling; rendering unclean; corrupting; profaning.” And “pollution” means “Defilement; uncleanness; impurity; the state of being polluted.” And “In the Jewish economy, legal or ceremonial uncleanness, which disqualified a person for sacred services or for common intercourse with the people, or rendered any thing unfit for sacred use.”

So it’s a pretty dirty word, and if your altar was polluted, it was a waste of time offering anything on it. It didn’t matter what you brought, how much you brought, when you brought it… God would not accept it.

So you may be offering your efforts and life to God on the altar of Christianity… but it’s polluted Christianity. You’ve got a polluted Bible, a polluted faith, a polluted mind, a polluted understanding… and you’re trying to do the right thing and a good thing, but God is not accepting it. Because it’s polluted.

And think about “hewn stone”. Hewed and hewn mean “Cut and made smooth or even; chopped; hacked; shaped by cutting or by a chisel.” So when you gathered stones for the altar, you were meant to use them as you found them without changing or altering them in anyway. Think about recent times, where Bibles have been “smoothed” out, chopped, hacked and shaped to make Christianity in many different ways… you think God’s happy with that? Nowdays it seems like every Christian has a different Jesus Christ, like an infinite number of versions of him exist.

And each stone would have been different, and that’s ok, because we are all different, but stones alike, if we are saved. God’s altar has stones of different shapes and sizes, but they all have a place and a purpose. So much of Christianity isn’t trying to mould believers in our idea for them, and we have tools to do so… rather than the Holy Spirit making them what they are and placing them where they need to be. Remember, we are not the Creator, God is, and he knows how to create perfectly, whereas look what we make… we make messes. Somehow we get the idea we know better than God and can do better than God, love more than God… but yeah, we aren’t, don’t and can’t.

And note, it doesn’t matter your reasons for hewing the stones, God said not to do it. Maybe you thought the stone would fit better. Maybe you thought you knew better. But God says he’s not accepting it. We are not meant to chop and change God’s word to make it fit and make it work… we are meant to leave it as we found it and obey God.

And I actually thought about the word “tool”, because we are in the age of “Bible study tools”. How many people have lift up their Bible study tools on the Bible itself, and exalt their expertise over it, but all they do is pollute it. Notice, they didn’t pollute God, they just polluted their own life, their own acceptance with and usefulness to God.

You should never put any “tool” over the Bible, it doesn’t matter whether you thought it would make it “easier to understand” or “more seeker friendly” or “in today’s language” or whatever your reason was. It doesn’t matter what tool you got which “makes it better”. You can’t enhance or add to God’s word. You can’t shape it better, you can’t make it better, you can’t do it better. And God says your altar is now polluted. And how many churches are places of pollution and contamination… because the glory of God is gone.

Nothing is meant to be elevated above the Bible, not your Greek and Hebrew tools, not your critical text tools, put your tools down. God’s word is not meant to be touched by man, no matter how much better or more fit for purpose he thinks he can make it. When you change it, all you’ve done is polluted your copy of it, God’s word still remains unchanged, just now you’re unacceptable to God and rejected by God. So you really haven’t helped your own cause.

And now think about how polluted Christianity has become. Think of how the leaven has leavened the lump. All because people were trying to help maybe even with best intentions, people who thought they could shape Christianity, God and the gospel better. They thought they could make it better, do it better, and all they did was pollute it. And now nothing can be offered on it, because it’s unfit for purpose. A polluted altar was good for nothing, just like a Christian without salt and light is good for nothing.

We need to get the basis of our service and worship to God right. Because if you’re offering on a polluted altar, the Holy God is not going to be accepting of it, no matter how insistently you offer upon it. And it won’t be the place of relationship and fellowship and communion that the saints of God enjoy and fall back to. You want to be right with God? Do it right, do it God’s way.

If you don’t yet grasp the importance of this principle in the Bible consider that Jesus Christ is called “a living stone” and we who have believed are “lively stones”. How about take Jesus Christ as he is rather than making him who you want him to be or think he should be? And note that we are meant to let God work on us and shape us and make us who he wants us to be, not make people who we want them to be. Often we think we know what’s best for people more than God knows what’s best for them. How about less of us and more of God? Wouldn’t that help? Because when we get involved with stuff, we tend to pollute stuff, not help stuff.

And let’s not forget that we are saved on the basis of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection ALONE. We did nothing. We are nothing. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t help ourselves. All we can do is reach out to God’s outstretched hand toward us, a hand we did not deserve to be extended to us, but a loving hand of mercy and grace which we must take hold of. And it’s time to drop our tools, our ways and means of getting stuff done, and just let him lead. Let God be God, let his word be what he says. And so often we have all our “tools of the trade” as Christians, devices and things to get stuff done how we want and think it to be done, so often we have all our tools of the trade in ministry and service, but we all we make is a polluted mess. Stop with our tools, tools down, trust God and let him work, be saved, let him work and lead and operate in our lives.


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – :)

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