The Altar Hearth of God

Ariel in Isaiah 29 refers either to an altar hearth or to the lion of God. Both fit for Jerusalem, the city of David. Jerusalem would certainly be God’s altar hearth, the heart of true worship. The trouble is that the fire had gone out. The people were going through the motions. They were religiously hypocritical. 

“These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service, yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me” (Isaiah 29.13). The altar heart should be a place of blazing zeal for the LORD. Instead, it would become cold and lifeless. Ironically, Jerusalem would burn. The LORD would bring Babylon in to destroy her. Israel would be refined for the glory of God.

The Lord Jesus pronounced His woe upon the hypocrisy of Jerusalem in His day as well (Matthew 23). He also quoted this passage in Matthew 15: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15.7-9). 

Beware of human rules or the commandments of men. Many will take religion and twist it. Jesus said that we should keep His commandments and that we should worship God in Spirit and in truth. We must be a people of integrity. We must walk in the Spirit for the fulfillment of the law’s requirement. Those who live according to the Spirit have set their minds on the Spirit. Relational Christianity is a mindset of life and peace, the mindset of the Holy Spirit. Much of religion is hostile to this mindset (see Romans 8).

Father, truly warm our hearts. Fill us with Your Spirit that we might be the altar hearth of God. Keep us from evil and the evil one today. Give us a zeal that is in accordance with knowledge. Direct our thoughts, words, and actions. Holy Spirit, lead the way. We will follow for Jesus’ sake!

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