“That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.”” Judges 6:25-26
Reading the above passage of Scripture this morning, I was struck by the phrase in verse 26a, “with stones laid in due order.” It is not enough that the Lord commissions this particular altar, but we read that his instruction is specific. It is to be a proper kind of altar, with stones laid in due order, an organized structure. There is a careful and diligent manner by which Gideon is to build this altar. Gideon is to think through, and follow specifically, the construction commissioned to him by God. Gideon is to worship and serve God according to the manner that God desires to be worshipped; by the book, so to speak.
Our lives, especially around the holiday season, can become chaotic. We can lose track of where we’re supposed to be, how we’re supposed to get there, who we’ve sent a card to, how much money is in our account. There are a lot of things that throw us out of our groove. That is the brilliance of our God, he has ordered his universe. We can trust and obey him because of who he says he is: loyal, faithful, righteous, just. Notice that all of these words assure us of stability. As the great reformer Martin Luther wrote, “a mighty fortress is our God!” It is in worship that we can bring order to our lives, when we get the cornerstone right the rest of life falls into the hands of the King of Order. As one commentator notes, “By commanding Gideon to build the altar on this pagan site, Yahweh is ordering him to reclaim this paganized land for himself.” So we see that chaos is conquered and what was lost is reclaimed, graciously witnessed through the worship of the trustworthy Father.
The first Sunday of Advent is a reminder of the hope that we have of this type of order. We are commissioned to lay stones in due order, put things back to right. Apply ourselves to the task of following what is spoken in the Word of God. 1 Peter 1:4-5 reads: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Our worship is the means of putting the stones rightly in place, in due order, in fellowship as a celebratory altar of God’s faithfulness to give the Spirit into His temple (the Church). An ordered life is one that desires focus one the cornerstone.
I think of all the Christmases I’ve spent putting various toys together and the number of Christmases I’ll likely spend putting other people’s toys together. Will the amount of time I spend reading the instructions, or simply looking to the box, be reflected in the way the toy is received? Will my child look at the toy and recognize its purpose or will the child be confused that the toy doesn’t work properly… that it is out of order?
Our lives are called by God to reflect the order of His mighty creative hand. You are designed for purpose, for glory. John Piper writes that there is a profundity and passion that is produced when a person seeks to put order into their life. We are to look into our worship and our daily practice the same way Gideon went about building his altar over the toppled chaos of Baal, his family’s previous pagan altar. Sometimes we will be asked to trust God through what seems difficult and other times we will rejoice at the ease, but throughout our experiences we will be directed by the One who ordered the universe and redeemed us by His own hand (Isaiah 48:13).
As you prepare for the season ahead contemplate the beauty of God’s order and his faithfulness represented in such order. We serve a masterful God in whom there is no chaos or division. For out of darkness he shined on us His light (Isaiah 9:2)! Pray for His order to shine gloriously in your life this week.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
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Daniel I. Block. ‘Judges’ in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, vol. 2, Ed. John H. Walton (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 155.
John Piper. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (Nashville, TN: B&H Group, 2013), 171,