How Do You Live Beyond the Altar: The Masks We Wear and the Performances We Give











Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, begins with twentieth verse of the thirty-sixth chapter, and continues through to the tenth verse of the following chapter. When the nineteenth verse of the third-sixth chapter concludes, it concludes with these words—“Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be” (Jeremiah 36:19). These words were spoken unto Baruch by the princes of Judah after he had pronounced and delivered all the words which the Lord had spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah unto them. After the princes heard the words which Baruch had read from the scroll, and after they heard and understood that Jeremiah had pronounced all the words unto Baruch with his mouth, which Baruch wrote with ink, they emphatically suggested to Baruch that both he and Jeremiah go and hide themselves and to withhold their location from any man. When the nineteenth verse concludes it concludes with Jeremiah and Baruch being instructed to hide without any man knowing where they were, while in the twentieth verse we read how these same princes went in to the king in the court. It’s worth noting that when the princes first went into the presence of the king “they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.” This is actually quite interesting, for while it is true that they had heard the words which the Lord spoke by the mouth of Jeremiah read from the book, they did not bring that book into the presence of the king. While it was true that the princes of Judah had taken possession of the scroll which contained the words which Jeremiah spoke by the word of the Lord, they did not immediately bring that scroll into the presence of the king. Instead, these princes entered into the presence of the king without the scroll in hand, and proceeded to recite the words which they had heard Baruch son of Neriah read in their hearing. It’s interesting to note that when the words which the Lord spoke by the mouth of Jeremiah were presented unto the princes of Judah, they were read by Baruch exactly as they appeared within the book. When those same words were presented unto the king, however, they were first presented unto him without and apart from the scroll. Jeremiah recounts in this book how these princes “went in to the king into the court,” and how they “told all the words in the ears of the king.” The more I read and study this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but consider how grossly evil and wicked the action of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah truly were. What adds so much weight and significance to this passage of Scripture is that not only were the words which the Lord had spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah recited in the hearing of the king, but when the king heard these words, he sent Jehudi to fetch the roll. Upon the king’s request, Jehudi took the roll out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber, and read it in the ears o father king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that not only were the words which the Lord had spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah recited in the hearing of the king apart from the scroll, but they were also read verbatim from the roll which Baruch had written as per the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet. Consider the fact that Jehoiakim essentially heard the words which the Lord had spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah—not once, but twice, for once came as a result of recitation, while the other would come as a result of actually reading the scroll. When the scroll was brought forth from the chamber of Elishama the scribe, the contents therein weren’t just read in the hearing of the king himself, but in the hearing of all the princes which stood beside the king. In other words, there wasn’t simply one audience which was present when the words of Jeremiah were read, for the princes which were with the king were also present. Perhaps one thing that is not readily understood when reading this passage of Scripture is that the words which were read in the hearing of Jehoiakim and those princes with him weren’t merely the words of a prophet, but they were words directly from the mouth of the Lord. What’s more, is that those words which the Lord spoke by the mouth of Jeremiah, and were written on a scroll by Baruch son of Neriah would ultimately become what we would know as the prophetic book of Jeremiah. In other words, the words which were read in the hearing of the king and the princes were actually the inspired word of God. That which was read in the hearing of both king and princes were words which would ultimately find their way into the canon of Scripture and would become what the apostle Paul would speak of as the inspired word of God according to the Spirit.

 There is something unique about what we read in the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, and that is that Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah king of Judah. This is important, for we find the word of God being presented before the throne of Judah—not only on two separate occasions, but also in two different generations. When you journey back to the books of Second Kings and Second Chronicles, you will discover that when Josiah reigned over Judah upon the throne of David, the book of the Law was rediscovered in the house of the Lord, and was brought forth from the house of the Lord, and presented in the hearing of the king. When Josiah reigned over Judah upon the throne of David, the Lord confronted both he, as well as all Judah with the words which were contained within the book of the Law. It would be in that generation that the book of the Law would be brought from the place of the altar to the place of the throne. I have written before concerning the power that lies in the reality of the word of God being brought from the place of sacrifice to the place of dominion and authority. What’s more, is that what makes this even more interesting is that there before the throne of David—there in the place of the dominion and authority which was invested in the king of Judah—the Law of the Lord was presented. How absolutely incredible it is that the Law was brought forth and taken from the house of the Lord—from the place of the altar—and was brought to the place of the throne where the king would reign over and govern Judah and Jerusalem. In Josiah’s generation, the Lord caused the Law to be rediscovered in His holy and sacred house, and brought before and into the presence of the king. How absolutely incredible it is that the Law of the King of kings would be brought forth from the house of the Lord and brought into the place of the king. WHEN THE LAW OF THE KING OF KINGS IS BROUGHT INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE KING! I so absolutely love the fact that the Lord caused His law to be brought forth from His house, and brought into the presence of the king who sat upon the throne of David. It was the Lord who watched over and preserved His law within His house, and would cause that Law to be rediscovered at the appointed and appropriate time. It was the Lord who would allow the book of the Law to be found in the Temple, and then brought from the Temple to the palace. I would dare say this is incredibly significant, for it reveals the tremendous reality that the Law of the Lord flows from the place of the altar and from the place of His presence. The law of the Lord did not originate, nor was it found in the place of the throne of David, but in the place of sacrifice and offering.

 Do you want to know where you truly discover and where you truly encounter the Law of the Lord? I believe with every fiber of my being that we truly discover the Law of the Lord in the place of the altar—in the place of sacrifice and offering. I believe we encounter the Law of the Lord in the place of His presence, for it was the Temple and not the palace that truly represented and signified the presence of the Lord. In fact, I would take this a step further and say that what we find in the place of the altar would directly impact what we see in the place of the throne. If the place of the altar was right before the Lord, then the place of the throne would also be right before the Lord. If the place of sacrifice and offering was made and brought right before the Lord, then the place of authority and dominion would also be brought and made right before the Lord. I am convinced the Lord allowed the Law to be rediscovered in the Temple of the Lord, for the one true place where we rediscover and truly encounter the Law of the Lord is in the place of sacrifice and offering. I am convinced the Lord is calling a generation into the place of sacrifice and offering, for it’s in that place of sacrifice and offering where we can truly rediscover the Law of the Lord. The Lord causes His Law to be found and rediscovered in the place of the altar, yet His Law cannot remain in the place of the altar, for it must move and transition to the place of the throne. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the Law of the Lord first manifests and transforms the place of sacrifice and offering, and then once it has done its work in that place, it transitions to the place of the throne where it is able to transform the place of dominion, the place of government, the place of authority. We must recognize that the Law of the Lord must first touch and transform the way we worship before and sacrifice unto the Lord before it can then move to touch and transform the government of our lives. With that being said, it’s worth noting that when it comes to government within and government over our lives, none of it falls upon our shoulders. Mark these words and mark them well, for you weren’t created to have any government within your life. You weren’t created to establish your own government within your heart, or your own government within your mind, or even your own government within your soul and spirit. I believe with all my heart that the reason the Law was discovered in the house of the Lord and then brought to the place of the throne was because it was intended to govern the nation of Judah rather than man. The Law was brought from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, for it is the Law of God and not the law of man that should be governing a nation.

 IT IS THE LAW OF GOD AND NOT THE LAW OF MAN THAT SHOULD GOVERN A NATION! IT’S THE LAW OF GOD AND NOT THE LAW OF MAN THAT SHOULD GOVERN A CONGREGATION AND PEOPLE OF WORSHIP! IT’S THE LAW OF GOD AND NOT THE LAW OF MAN THAT SHOULD GOVERN A MARRIAGE! IT IS THE LAW OF GOD AND NOT THE LAW OF MAN THAT SHOULD GOVERN A HOME AND GOVERN A FAMILY! I am convinced that we have gotten and allowed it to be all backwards, for we have lived in and lived from a place where the law(s) of man is permitted to govern the way we live our lives. This is especially true within this nation, for I believe that over the past several decades we have transitioned to a place where we have allowed the law of man to govern the land and nation rather than the Law of God. We have grown more comfortable with the law of man governing the land rather than the Law of God, for the Law of God calls us to a completely different place—a place many aren’t willing to go. The Law of the Lord was brought forth from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, for the Law was never intended to remain in the place of sacrifice and offering alone. The Law of the Lord was brought forth from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, for the Law was not only intended to touch and transform the place of the altar, but also the place of the throne. How many of us are willing to allow the Law of the Lord to touch and transform the place of the altar within our lives—we are willing to allow the Law of the Lord to touch, transform and even govern the place of worship and sacrifice within our lives, yet we are unwilling to allow the Law of the Lord to touch, transform and govern the place of the throne? For many, allowing the Law of the Lord to govern the place of the throne demands and requires so much more than we are willing to offer unto the Lord. We would rather keep and contain the Law of the Lord in the palace of the altar rather than the place of the throne, for once it reaches the place of the throne, it completely transforms the way we live our lives. If the Law of the Lord was permitted to touch and transform the place of the throne, the government in the midst of, and the government over the people would be the government of God and not the government of man. When the Law of the Lord touches the place of the throne it demands and requires immediate response, for once it reaches the place of the throne it completely touches and transforms everything within our lives.

  I am convinced that this is what was so severe and dangerous about Jehoiakim’s response to the words of the prophet Jeremiah which were spoken in his hearing. Notice that when it was merely the words of the prophet being recited in his hearing, there was nothing he could do about it. Once the words were brought into his presence and were more than just words spoken in his ears but words read from a scroll, he could actually take action against those words. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the whole reason Jehoiakim desired the scroll which contained the words of the prophet to be brought into his presence was so he could attempt to present his authority over those words. If you read this passage of Scripture you will notice that after three or four lines were read in the hearing of the king, the king would take the penknife in his hands, cut off that which had just been read, and cast it into the fire which was before him. This would continue until the entire scroll which contained the words of the prophet was cut with the penknife and cast into the fire. It’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t enough for the king to merely take the penknife in his hand and cut off pieces of the scroll until the entire scroll was cut in pieces. The king didn’t simply stop at cutting off pieces of the scroll with his penknife, but cast it into the fire. What we see in this passage of Scripture is actually quite alarming, for instead of the word of the Lord setting the king’s heart on fire, the king took the word of the Lord and set it on fire. How many of us in this generation—instead of allowing the word of God to set our hearts on fire, we set fire to the word of God? How many of us would rather set fire to the word of God rather than allowing the word of God to set fire to us? How many of us find it easier to set fire to the word of God rather than allowing the word of God to set fire to our hearts and spirits? How many have entered into the house of the Lord and instead of allowing the word of God to set their hearts on fire, they set fire to the word of God within their hearts and minds? What we read in the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah is a king rejecting the word the Lord, a king rejecting the word of God, and a king rejecting the prophetic word in the place of the throne. What’s more, is that we read within this passage of Scripture a powerful example of one who was unwilling to allow the Law of the Lord to touch, transform and govern the place of the throne. The fact that Jehoiakim chose to cut up the scroll which contained the prophetic word of the Lord and cast it into the fire revealed his unwillingness to allow the Lord to play any part in governing the nation and kingdom of Judah.

 During the days of Josiah, the Law of the Lord was rediscovered in the Temple of the Lord, and it was brought forth from the place of the altar and into the place of the throne. What marks a fundamental and powerful difference between Josiah and his son Jehoiakim is that when the Law of the Lord entered into the place of the throne during Josiah’s day, he embraced with everything inside of him the Law of the Lord. Josiah was perfectly and completely willing to allow the Law of the Lord to not only touch, but also transform and govern the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. I will say it again—that if the Law of the Lord is permitted to touch, transform and govern the place of the throne, it will completely transform the entire nation and kingdom. The Law of the Lord touched and transformed the throne during Josiah’s day, and as a result, the entire land was transformed as Josiah launched a campaign of cleansing and consecration within it. When the Law of the Lord touched and transformed the place of the throne during Josiah’s day, it not only brought about a complete cleansing and consecration of the land, but it also brought about a restoration of the covenant of the Lord with His people. When the Law of the Lord touched and transformed the throne of David during the days of Josiah and Jeremiah, it brought about the single greatest celebration of the Passover that had ever been experienced in the land of Israel. When the Law of the Lord is permitted to touch and transform the place of the throne, it not only brings about consecration within our lives, but it also restores covenant relationship with the Lord. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize this reality, for we know the Law of the Lord is touching and transforming the place of the throne within our lives when we pursue consecration with reckless and complete abandon. We know the Law of the Lord is touching and transforming the place of the throne within our lives when our covenant relationship with the Lord is renewed within our hearts and lives. The Law of the Lord touched and transformed the throne of David during the days of Josiah, and it brought about consecration and covenant—two realities which up until that moment had been utterly and completely ignored, neglected and forgotten. The Law of the Lord much touch and transform the place of the throne within our lives for it must restore covenant relationship with the Lord. The Law of the Lord was brought forth from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, yet it wasn’t merely the bringing forth of the Law from the place of the altar that brought about the change and transformation within the land. If the Law of the Lord was brought forth from the place of the altar to the place of the throne without and apart from it touching and transforming Josiah, it would have mattered very little in the grand scheme of things.

 When we consider this reality, the most important thing to consider is not necessarily whether we will be willing to allow the Law of the Lord to move from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, but whether or not we will allow the Law of the Lord to begin to govern in that place. I am convinced that it was Josiah’s encountering the Law and the government of the Lord that so utterly and completely consumed him that he rent his clothes and immediately sought to inquire of the Lord. WHEN A KING ENCOUNTERS THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD OVER AND ABOVE THE GOVERNMENT OF MAN! Oh that we would recognize, understand and acknowledge the fact that the Law of the Lord must not only govern our worship and sacrifice before the Lord, for that can and will only be a surface level reality. If the Law of the Lord only governs how we worship the Lord, then it will only impact and affect us when we enter into the house of the Lord. If the Law of the Lord is permitted to touch and transform the place of the altar alone within our lives, it will never move beyond the house of the Lord, and will only bring about and produce a surface level Christianity before the Lord. If the Law of the Lord only touches and transforms the way we worship and sacrifice, I am convinced we might very well find ourselves in the very same place Saul did when he thought he could spare that which the Lord commanded him to destroy, and then justified by declaring he could present and offer it unto the Lord as an offering and sacrifice. I am going to be bold right now and emphatically declare that the Law of the Lord cannot and must not touch the place of the altar alone, for if it touches the place of the altar alone, it may make us look good before others in the house of the Lord, but it won’t have any bearing on how we live, how we act, or what we look like outside the house of the Lord. It is not enough for the Law of the Lord to merely touch and transform the place of the altar alone, for it will accomplish nothing more than what Jesus spoke of when He spoke of cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside remains unclean. The Law of the Lord was never intended on touching and transforming worship only, for within the Ten Commandments we find the first four commandments—essentially the foundation of the commandments—dealing with our relationship with the Lord, while the remaining six deal with our relations and relationship with men. When the children of Israel were at the Sinai in the wilderness, they not only received the Law of the Lord which instructed them how to walk and live before the Lord, but they also received the Tabernacle of the Lord which instructed them how to worship the Lord. There are many who are focused solely on how they worship the Lord without ever concerning themselves with how they walk before the Lord.

 In the thirty sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find the word of the Lord being brought into the place of the throne, yet instead of the word of the Lord touching and transforming the place of the throne, the place of the throne dictated and destroyed the word of the Lord. It’s worth noting that during the days of Josiah king of Judah Jeremiah could freely move within and throughout the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah, yet during the days of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah and Baruch were forced to hide themselves without any man knowing who they are. WHEN PROPHETS HIDE THEMSELVES AND THE WORD OF THE LORD IS BURNED IN THE FIRE! It’s amazing what a different a generation can make for in one generation the word of God touched and transformed the place of the throne and the prophet was permitted to move about freely throughout the city, while in the other generation the prophet was hidden and the word of God could not touch and transform the place of the throne. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay attention to the reality of the Law of the Lord not only moving from the place of the altar to the place of the throne, but the Law of the Lord touching and transforming the place of the throne as well. I am convinced there are a number of men and women who have been content to allow the Law of the Lord to only touch the place of the the altar within their lives, for it’s easy to allow yourself to be governed in the place of the altar. It’s easy to allow yourself to be governed by the Law of the Lord in the sanctuary—in the place of sacrifice and offering—for you are surrounded by others who are giving themselves to sacrifice and offering. Where the rubber meets the road and where it really matters is when the Law of the Lord transitions to the place of the throne, for the throne is not present, nor is it ever manifested in the place of the altar. Notice that the throne of David was not in the same place as the altar of the Lord, for there was a clear and distinct separation between the two. The throne is removed from the altar, which means that the Law of the Lord—when it is permitted to govern the place of the throne—governs those areas outside of and beyond the place of the altar. It is when the Law of the Lord touches, transforms and governs the place of the throne that it directly impacts and affects every area of our lives before others.

 We must understand the distinction between the throne and the altar, for just as they were separated within the city of Jerusalem, so too are they separated within our hearts and lives. There are those among us who live so far on the side of the throne that they completely neglect and ignore the reality and place of the altar within their lives. There are others who are so far on the side of the altar that they neglect, reject and ignore the place of the throne. It is only when the Law of the Lord is able to touch and transform the place of the throne within our lives that it begins to bring about consecration and covenant before the Lord. It was only when the Law of the Lord was brought from the place of the altar to the place of the throne that Josiah immediately humbled himself before the Lord, and then launched a campaign for consecration and a campaign for covenant before the Lord. I have said it before and I feel I must say it again—the Law of the Lord wars never meant to govern the house and sanctuary of the Lord alone. We can grow so comfortable with the Law of the Lord governing the place of the altar within our lives that we fail to recognize that the Lord desires more than just our worship before Him on Sunday mornings, or perhaps even during a midweek service. The problem with the Law of the Lord only touching and governing the place of the altar is that it only has an affect upon and impacts a couple hours on a Sunday morning, and maybe a midweek service. The Lord of hosts didn’t just give the children of Israel the Tabernacle in the wilderness, but He also gave them the Law. There are many among us who want the Tabernacle, yet want absolutely nothing to do with the Law of the Lord. The children of Israel were not only given the Law of the Lord to govern how they lived within the earth—i.e. Their obedience before the Lord—but also the Tabernacle which governed how they worshipped the Lord. In other words, both the Law of the Lord and the Tabernacle of the Lord go hand in hand, for the Lord is not only concerned with how we worship, but is also concerned with how we walk before Him in the earth. The Law of the Lord must move beyond the place of the altar to the place of the throne—despite how much we may desire to keep the Law of the Lord in that place. So long as the Law of the Lord remains in the place of the altar, we can live our lives however we want beyond the altar.

Perhaps the single greatest question that needs to be asked at this moment as how do you live beyond the place of the altar? How do you live beyond the altar—beyond the place of sacrifice and worship? What is your life like beyond the altar and outside the sanctuary and Temple of the Lord? There must be a complete and total willingness within your heart and life to allow the Law of the Lord to move beyond the altar within your life, and to touch and transform the place of the throne, for it’s in that place where everything in your life is governed. It’s in the place of the throne where you begin to encounter Jesus as more than just Savior, but encounter Him as Lord. So long as we restrict the Law of the Lord to only touch and govern the place of the altar, we will only know Jesus according to His sacrifice, and will never know Him according to His lordship and authority. So long as you restrict the Law of the Lord to the place of the altar, you can never and will never know and experience Jesus as Lord within and Lord over your life. So long as the Law of the Lord can never move beyond the altar to the throne your life can never and will never be governed by the lordship of Jesus Christ. Oh, you may be a good “worshipper” in the house of the Lord, and you may be able to put on a good show in the house of the Lord, but it will make absolutely no difference outside the house of the Lord. When the Law of the Lord is permitted to remain only in the place of the altar and sacrifice, it will only produce professional worshippers who may look good in their “Sunday finest” and look good in the house of the Lord on Sunday mornings, but are completely untouched when the Sunday fig leave garments are removed, and the true garments are worn and displayed during the week. It is when the Law of the Lord moves from the place of the altar to the place of the throne that our garments are exposed, for you will notice that when the Law of the Lord touched the throne during the days of Josiah, he rent his garments. Oh that we would rend our “Sunday best” and “fig leave garments” and allow true consecration and covenant to take place and be manifested within our hearts and lives. Oh that we would desperately cry out and yearn for the Law of the Lord to move beyond the place of the altar and into the place of the throne within our lives.

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