Rebuilding the Temple and Restoring the Altar

















Today’s selected passage continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and more specifically is found in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters. These particular chapters continue the prophet’s discourse(s) to the nations and deals exclusively with Syria and its capital city of Damascus and the land of Ethiopia. The seventeeth chapter opens with these words—“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 17:1-3). What is so captivating and intriguing about this passage of Scripture is not necessarily what is recorded concerning Damascus of Syria, but what is recorded concerning Jacob and the work of the Lord in the earth. “At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images” (Isaiah 17:7-8). These words are absolutely and incredibly powerful for they mark a wonderful and powerful transition within the earth. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord emphatically declares that there would come a day when men will once more look to their Maker, and when their eyes would have respect to the Holy One of Israel. How truly marvelous are these words—words which speak of men once more looking to their Maker—men who previously and up until that moment gave no consideration to the Lord of hosts. These words speak of a day when men would not only look upon their Maker, but also when their eyes would look with respect upon the Holy One of Israel. Permit me to pause for a moment and ask you this very pointed and powerful question—Are you looking to your Maker who sits upon the circle of the earth? Do your eyes have respect for the Holy One of Israel? Do you within your heart have any respect whatsoever for the Lord of hosts? Respect being a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements. I must at this moment ask you a second, and perhaps more important and pointed question of you—Do you within your heart truly believe and feel the Lord deserves and is worthy of your respect? When speaking of respect in terms of the relationships between men and women we often speak of it in terms of something is earned and not freely given. For many respect is deemed the same as trust—that which is not given casually or lightly, but as something which must be earned. Consider what it takes for you yourself to reach the point where you respect another human being. Think about what another human being would have to do in order to earn your respect. In all reality, I am convinced that there are many who place respect at such a high cost that others are forced to strive and labor to earn it. Think for a moment about what you may or may not be willing to do to earn the respect of another being. Think for a moment about what another man or woman needs to do throughout the course of your life for you to reach the place where you respect them with great admiration. For many, respect is something that starts off rather small and gradually increases as time progresses. In other words, you may respect someone to a certain degree, yet more is needed on their behalf for that respect to increase. Pause for a moment and consider those individuals within your life whom you have the utmost respect for. Now consider those within your life who you have absolutely no respect for whatsoever. Think about those whom you perhaps respected at one point, yet as a result of various actions on their part you have found your respect waning. One of the most interesting facts regarding respect is that while it is something that many feel must be earned by others, it is also something which can be lost based on a variety of actions. There are even words which are directly connected “respect” such as “disrespected” and “disrespectful”—words which speaks of how the actions, words, and choices of another directly impact another. When thinking of and considering the concept of respect within your own life, pause for a moment and think about what others need to do in order to earn your respect.

 I would dare say that respect among men is a rare and precious commodity and one that very few are willing to give without first asking for, and perhaps even demanding something first. In other words, respect for such individuals is always such that is the ends of a particular means—that which requires very specific actions, and perhaps even living a certain way. When considering this concept of respect we must also come to terms with the expectations and standards we impose on others in order for them to earn our respect. For some, a sense of entitlement is directly linked and connected to respect as they demand very specific actions from others. Respect like trust is something that for many comes at a premium and does not come, nor ever will come cheaply or without cost. Take a moment and really think about what it takes for you to look upon another individual and say that you respect them—and mean it. Count how many men and women you can look upon right now whom you can honestly say you have the utmost respect for. Now consider those whom you may be able to say that you have lost respect for and if that respect can ever be earned or won back. If you have lost respect for another individual, is it possible you to even reach the place where you can respect them once more? The concept of respect is of such a nature that it even transcends one’s own life, for think about how many men and women have died, yet are still widely respected by others. Consider someone like Martin Luther King, Jr, or Rosa Parks, or Mother Theresa, or various other individuals whom countless men and women look upon—even after they are no more—and say that they respect them. I am convinced that respect is such a rare commodity in the earth today, and countless men and women directly link and connect it to a set of standards and expectations they themselves have.

 Take all of this and now project it on to the Lord, and do so in light of the words which the prophet Isaiah proclaimed and declared in this seventeenth chapter. The prophet—according to the word of the Lord—declared that a day would come when men shall not only look to their Maker, but when they eyes would have respect to the Holy One of Israel. Considering everything that I have just written concerning respect, can you truly and honestly say that you respect the Lord? When your eyes look upon and behold the Holy One of Israel, can you look upon Him with respect—respect for who He is as the Lord of hosts? When your eyes look upon and behold the Holy One of Israel, can you truly say and declare that you respect the Lord of hosts? Through His servant Moses the Lord of hosts spoke of loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our strength, yet there is within that realm of love the concept and reality of respect. How can you say you truly love someone if you have absolutely no respect for them? I once heard someone say that they weren’t simply looking for someone they could love, but someone they could respect—respect with the utmost respect. Respect just like love is a verb—it’s a choice and an action that we make within our lives. We make the conscious choice and decision to love another individual, and we likewise make the same type of decision to respect another individual. Respect isn’t simply a state of mind, or an attitude, or an emotion, or even a thought—rather, it is a deliberate and conscious choice that we make. Choosing to love and respect someone is also greatly linked and connected to the trust one has in another individual. Respect, trust and love all go hand in hand, and each are a deliberate and intentional choice we make. If you trust another individual—you have made the decision to trust them. If you love another individual—you have made the decision to love them. If you respect another—you have made the decision to do so. There is no grey area when it comes to love, trust and respect—you either love someone or you don’t, you either trust someone or you don’t, you either respect someone or you don’t. How many of us are deliberately and intentionally making the conscious decision to love, trust and respect others?

 I absolutely love the words of the prophet Isaiah, for not only does he speak of a day when men will look to their Maker, but when the eyes of men shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. The question we are confronted with right now at this very moment is actually quite simple, yet has three different and distinct parts. The first question—do you love the Lord of hosts, the holy One of Israel? The second question—do you trust the Lord of hosts, the holy One of Israel? The third and final question—do you respect the Lord of hosts, the holy One of Israel? One of the single greatest decisions you can and will ever make in your life is whether or not you are going to love the Lord your God. Simultaneously you will have to choose and decide whether or not you are going to trust and respect the Lord your God. If you don’t love the Lord, permit me to ask you your reason(s) for not doing so? If you don’t trust the Lord, permit me to ask you your reason(s) for not doing so? If you don’t respect the Lord, allow me to ask you your reason(s) for not doing so? The prophet Isaiah speaks of men looking to their Maker and their eyes having respect to the Holy One of Israel, and I can’t help but wonder how incredibly powerful and relevant these words are in this generation. How many among us in this generation can truly say that they truly respect the Holy One of Israel and that their eyes look upon with such respect? How many among us in this generation can truly say that they truly trust the Holy One of Israel, and/or even that they truly and genuinely love Him? There is such a tremendous and powerful call in this generation for men and women to once more look to their Maker, and for their eyes to have respect to [and for] the Holy One of Israel. There is a tremendous cry in this generation for men and women to trust and respect the Lord—to trust in and respect His character and His nature. In our lives I can’t help but wonder what we base our trust and respect on more—the actions of others or the character of others. If you can truly say with all your heart that you trust and respect another, can you say such a thing based on their actions, or based on their character? In all reality, I am convinced that actions are directly impacted and influence by one’s character and integrity. If you want to truly understand the character and integrity of another, you need look upon and examine their actions, deeds and words and you will understand everything you need to know.

 What I find incredibly unique about this particular passage of Scripture is that directly connected with man looking to His Maker and his eyes having respect to the Holy One of Israel is what the prophet writes concerning the demonstration and manifestation of that reality. “And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images” (Isaiah 17:7-8). I can’t help but notice a strong contrast within this passage of Scripture between where man directs his attention and focus. In verse seven the prophet writes about man “looking” to his Maker, while in the very next verse the prophet writes about “not looking” to the altars, the work of his hands. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of these two phrases, for they present us with a powerful contrast between the direct of our affections and our attention. These two phrases present us with two different perspectives within our lives—either we are looking to our Maker or we are looking to the work of our hands—to the altars which we have made. What we read in this passage of Scripture is in all reality two opposite sides of the spectrum and pendulum, for there is no grey area when it comes to the direction of our attention and affection. Our attention and affection(s) will either be directed toward the Lord our Maker, or they will be directed toward the work(s) of our hands. I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in the first chapter of his epistle to the Roman congregation—“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and t heir foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, AND WORSHIPPED AND SERVED THE CREATURE MORE THAN THE CREATOR, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:16-25).

 It is that final part—“and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator”—that I can’t help but see a direct connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah spoke of men looking to their Maker, and directly linked to them looking to their Maker was them no longer looking to the work of their hands—to the altars which they themselves had made. I believe the words of the prophet Isaiah powerfully reveal the demonstration and manifestation of one looking to their Maker and their eyes having respect to the Holy One of Israel. The greatest demonstration and manifestation of one’s respect to the Holy One of Israel was indeed the lack of regard for that which one’s fingers have made. The prophet speaks of looking to one’s Maker and to having respect to the Holy One of Israel while also speaking of not looking to the altars [to the work of one’s hands], and not regarding that which one’s fingers have made. What an incredible contrast is set forth in this passage as it reveals two distinct groups of individuals—those who look to their Maker and those who look to the altars, to the work of their hands. It is absolutely impossible to look both to one’s Maker and to the altars which they themselves have made. You are either looking to the Lord your Maker or you are looking to the altars which you have made—both which powerfully reveal that which you are worshipping. This is demonstrated in the life of Solomon king of Israel as revealed in the eleventh chapter of the book of First Kings—“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, that when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8).

 True respect for the Lord is when one no longer has any regard or respect for that which their fingers have made. True respect for the Lord means that you lose any and all respect you have for anything other than the Lord your God, the holy One of Israel. The prophet Isaiah makes it very clear that you are either respecting the holy One of Israel, or you are respecting that which your fingers have made. The prophet makes it very clear that you are either looking to the Lord who is your Maker or you are looking to the altars, which are the work of your hands. The prophet also makes it clear that you either have respect for the Holy One of Israel or you have respect for that which your own hands have made. Do you want to know if you are truly respecting the Lord? You will know you truly and genuinely respect the Lord when you no longer have any regard or respect for the work of your hands—your high places, your altars, your idols, your images, and/or the like. The prophet Isaiah makes it perfectly clear that when it comes to one’s focus you are either looking to the Lord who is your Maker or you are looking to the altars you have made. I have written before of the reality of which throne you are worshipping before—the throne of the Lord of hosts in heaven, or the throne of the prince of this world. With that being said, I would also declare and speak of the reality that you are either worshipping at the true altar of the Lord upon which sacrifices and offerings are presented unto Him, or you are worshipping at and upon the altars you have made. I find it incredibly telling that Solomon was directly involved with the building of the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and even participated in offering sacrifices and burnt offerings upon the true altar of the Lord in the court of the Lord, yet toward the end of his life we see him no longer worshipping at the altar of the Lord, but building and worshipping at altars and high places which he himself had made. The same heart that was once inclined to worship at the altar of the Lord in the court of the Temple had become inclined to worship at altars and high places which he himself had made. I absolutely love the words of the prophet Isaiah for he speaks of and reveals a deliberate breaking away from looking to the altars which we have made and a looking to the Lord of hosts, our Maker who dwells in heaven. The prophet speaks of a deliberate throwing off of one’s respect for the work(s) of their hands and looking with respect upon the Holy One of Israel once more.

 ALTARS, GROVES and IMAGES! The prophet Isaiah clearly speaks of a breaking away from worshipping at altars which we ourselves have made, as well as a breaking away from the groves and images which men have made. Perhaps the single greatest demonstration and manifestation of this is found in the days of Josiah when he became king of the southern kingdom of Judah. “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the Temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for ZBaal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the house of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the woman wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that wer eint he entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-meleth the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, di the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchers that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchers, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed…And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:4-20).

 The words which I read in this passage of Scripture are actually quite astounding, for within “the burden of Damascus” the Lord speaks of men looking to their Maker once more, and of their eyes having respect to the Holy One of Israel. The more I read this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but consider how such a reality is desperately needed in this generation, for there is a great and powerful need for men to once more look to the Lord of hosts who is their Maker. There is a great need for the eyes of men to once more have respect for the Lord of hosts, and for their eyes to no longer look with respect upon the images, the idols and the altars which they have either made themselves, or allowed themselves to worship. The days have come and are now upon us when we must forget the groves and the high places we have allowed ourselves to look upon—and not just forget them, but to do as Josiah did and completely defile, pollute and devastate them. There is a clear and definitive cry in this generation for the spirit of Josiah to once more rise up in the land—that spirit which causes men to forsake the high places, the groves and the altars which they themselves have made, and to return to the altar of the Lord. Perhaps the single greatest cry in this generation is that cry to return once more to the altar of the Lord. There are countless men and women who need to once and for all forsake the images and idols they have made and allowed themselves to worship, and to return once again to the Lord who is their Maker. There are men and women who right now need to forsake that which their hands have made, and/or that which the hands of others have made, and to once more gather before the altar of the Lord. THE RESURGENCE OF THE ALTAR OF THE LORD! THE RESURECTION OF THE ALTAR OF THE LORD! One of the things I absolutely love about the Old Testament books of Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah and Ezekiel is that they all point to and allude to the rebuilding of the Temple of the Lord—a reality that would bring with it the altar of the Lord upon which sacrifices and offerings will once more be presented and offered upon. The prophets Ezekiel, Haggai and Zechariah all saw the resurgence and resurrection of the Temple of the Lord in the earth—a reality which strongly speaks to and suggests the resurrection of the altar of the Lord in the earth. Toward the beginning of the prophetic book of Isaiah the prophet speaks of the exaltation of the mountain of the house of the Lord, which speaks to and alludes to the very same reality.

 The Jewish people have already rebuilt the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem once, and the Scriptures point to the reality that they will rebuild the Temple once more. The Hebrew prophets saw the Temple of the Lord standing once more atop the mountain of the house of the Lord in the city of Jerusalem, and we would be incredibly wise to pursue the rebuilding of the Temple of the Lord within our lives, within the earth, and even within our churches. I hear within my spirit the call to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in the earth once more, and for the altar of the Lord to be rebuilt among us in our midst. There is a clear and definitive call to return once more to the altar of the Lord bringing our gifts, our sacrifices and our offerings with us. There is a call to forsake all high places and all altars which we have allowed ourselves to worship at within our lives. Oh that the altar of the Lord would once more have its place of prominence in the earth once more, and that men would forsake all other altars for the true altar of the Lord. Oh that the high places we have worshipped at would be forsaken as we return once more to the mountain of the house of the Lord. Oh that the very Spirit of Almighty God would strike at the very heart of idolatry within my own life and would grant me the courage and the willingness to tear down every false altar that has been permitted to exist within our lives. RETURNING TO AND REBUILDING THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD! RETURNING TO AND REBUILDING THE ALTAR OF THE LORD! Let us in this generation rebuild the Temple of the Lord and to return to the altar of the Lord where we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Oh that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord would reveal and expose every high place, every altar, and every grove we have allowed to exist within our lives, and that we would abandon, forsake, reject, and destroy every idol, image, high place and altar we have allowed to be present within the earth. Let that spirit which was present within the heart and mind of Josiah be manifested in the earth in these Last Days and that the reformation of Josiah would emerge with such great force and fervor among us. Let us once more look to our Maker and lift our eyes with respect to the Holy One of Israel as we completely abandon, forsake, tear down and destroy every altar, high place, image and idol within our lives.

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