Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

24 “‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’

I often think about these words from a hymn, regularly sung in church when I was a child:

‘There is a way for man to rise, to that sublime abode:

An offering and a sacrifice, a Holy Spirit’s energies,

An advocate with God.’

The previous verse has posed the question:

(‘O how shall I, whose dwelling here

is dark, whose mind is dim,

before the face of God appear

and on my human spirit bear

The uncreated beam?’)

As we saw yesterday, although God is a God to be feared – an awesome God – there is a meeting place between God and people, and this is at the ‘altar’. The altar prefigures the Cross, where ultimately God made it possible for Him to come to us in blessing (24).

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

‘Let us not be among those who avoid the near presence of God, but of those who are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Let us exercise our right to draw near to the throne of grace and stand in the very presence of our Father-God, because we have a great High Priest who is passed through the heavens.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.45.

(Here is a great sermon from Alistair Begg, on keeping the cross central in preaching: