November 08, 2021 – Monday
Exodus 20:25 NIV
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.
Friday, November 5th, I mentioned there are 257 references to stones in the Old Testament, but only one reference to uncut stones. Later I mentioned that to build an alter with uncut stones dated back to Exodus 20:25, our verse for the day. Notice it does not say uncut stones, but not to build it with dressed stones. Thus, we have a new way of describing stones that are uncut, stones that are not dressed.
You will find an example of this in Deuteronomy 27:5 where we read, Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them. They do not call the stones uncut or undressed here , but the meaning is clear, the stones will not be shaped by tools. But in Exodus 20:25 we are told the reason this is not to be done, because if it is done you will defile it, the stone. One person wrote, Since the altar is associated with God’s presence, the Israelites must ensure it is not defiled in any way, but that still did not explain why cutting / dressing a stone for an alter to God would defile it.
There are two thoughts in several commentaries that shed some light on why the stones would be defiled if they were cut or dressed by man’s tools. The first is the prohibition is to avoid creating alters that would be like Canaanite alters. The second is that the finished fine beautiful alters could themselves become idols of worship because of their beauty. In the Gospel of Mark 13:1 this is implied when, As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” It should not surprise us to learn in that time people were known to ‘swear on the temple’ as if it had the power of God. Nor should Jesus’ reply in the very next verse surprise us, Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down. He was not just prophesying, but also addressing the worship of such structures.
Today we see much of the same as people will “OOH and AAH” over beautiful church buildings often forgetting the church is not really the building, but the believers who attend as they are the stones that make up Christ’s church of which He is the cornerstone. I will mention John Bryan State Park again as it is a great place to see large stones to “OOOH and AAH” over as they were indeed made by God, our Creator.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the insight about using stones that are not dressed by man’s tools so we might avoid worshipping them and not the cornerstone, Your Son. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton in Beavercreek