Egypt is renowned for it’s mastery of architectural development in ancient history. As the eye gazes upon the pyramids, sphinx, and other landmarks crafted by the Egyptians, we can imagine how they could’ve easily began to worship the works of their own hands. It is certain scripturally, that the Israelites indeed adopted many of the Egyptian ideologies and way of worship.
We read about the golden calf that was erected at Sinai as well as Israel’s constant idolatrous behaviors that led them into captivity as the Lord’s anger was kindled. Man has always had an urge to outdo God or add to what is already efficient. This is a direct trait of Satan and is assuredly what led to his expulsion from Heaven. In Exodus chapter 20, Moses was given a command from God to make an altar of earth to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings.
If Moses were to make an altar of stone, he was commanded to not use hewn stone which is stone that has been cut or shaped. The reasoning behind this restriction was that if any tool of man were to touch the stone, it would be defiled and no longer be useful as an altar. The Lord desired to have a natural and unaltered altar used. Considering that this moment was following the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the Israelites still had to be purged of Egyptian concepts like idolatry. When we make something with our own hands, it is extremely easy to boast and take credit for the outcome.
In the church culture, cathedrals and mega churches are gazed upon in awe and sometime dictate the number of members that will join based off the size of the building. The Lord didn’t want the altar to become an object of worship, but only a means of worship. When we go to lay our tools to something that God already deems efficient, we are subject to desecrating it more than enhancing it.
If we aren’t careful we will subconsciously erect our own golden calves and start to worship the work of our own hands. Even Cane’s offering wasn’t accepted because it was that of the work of his own hands while Able offered a sacrifice. It was the humility and subservience in his sacrifice that deemed him faithful.
Christians must remember that even the church building is not the house of God and that the people who are filled with the Holy Spirit are the true temple of God. Don’t turn the means of worship into the object of worship. We must not deviate from God’s way.