And you may not approach my altar by steps. If you do, someone might look up under the skirts of your clothing and see your nakedness. Exodus 20:26 NLT
The Lord instructed Moses to build the altar low to the ground to prevent exposing the nakedness of the priests, but there may have been a more fundamental reason for this instruction.
In the days of Moses there was a belief that the height of the sacrifice made them closer to heaven. There is always been a tendency to externalize religion. It was true in the day of Moses and Jesus, and is still true today. We have a tendency to dwell on the external trappings of our faith, the forms and places we use to worship. By instructing the priest not to approach the altar by using steps made it necessary to build an altar that was low to the ground. Thus communicating that God was not after the height of the sacrifice but the elevation of the heart of the one who brought the gift. There is a simple reason that we dwell on the height of the offering, it’s much easier to build and maintain an external or formal religion than one that comes from a pure heart. We can fix our attention on an outward façade of faith while lacking the inward motivations that produce a sincere heart. This kind of faith builds beautiful looking houses that are empty on the inside.
Large and beautiful places of worship are not necessarily wrong, as long as they are built from the inside out. Constructed by elevated hearts where people don’t need to walk up steps to reach God.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing Email: email@example.com website: https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/