2 Chronicles 28: 24 Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 29:3 He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the House of God.
Ahaz was a wicked king. We see a contrast between him and Hezekiah who came after him. Where Ahaz closed Hezekiah opened.
The Lord highlighted the generational contrast to me recently. When you consider that not only did Ahaz close the doors, the implications were that the Lampstand was snuffed out, the candles were snuffed out, the incense altar went without offering, the sacrifice of animals stopped and as a result the priests became secular workers as there was no more role for them.
As a student of the Word, that means I study to learn, not that I know all, but in my commitment I learn something new. I in my role as a student must think and meditate beyond the text.
First we must look at the elements.
We must look that it was the King who shut down the Temple.
The King was an authority, a leader. It means he had the authority to close or open. Ahaz determined to close the nation to God. He was a King predisposed to other gods. He closed down God’s altars in the Temple, closed the Temple, and made altars throughout the city.
I am convinced by the Church movements today we have a similar situation. How do we know that the “altar” we open up is God’s?
Right now the Lord is visiting leadership, and as two kings here demonstrated by their reigns, one was closed to God, brought judgment on Israel, the other led Israel into covenant with God. In fact Hezekiah opened the Temple doors in the first month of His reign.
It is for this reason that God raises up leaders. And our need to both pray for leaders and ministers, and discern if they are truly of God’s appointing. The leaders today may not have “other gods” but may have ambitions and plans not born in God. They snuff out the Lampstand by their corruption. I say corruption as a steady slope downward, of compromising spiritual truth with worldly ambition. The end result of this “way of Korah” is the privileged position God puts them in, but their own ambition challenges the true authority of those who are truly called to lead.
God’s appointed Altars
There were two specific altars, one being the Blood Sacrifice altar, the other being the incense altar.
There are two undermining features at work even today, that is the lack of teaching, ministering the revelation concerning the Blood of Jesus. It’s role not only in our salvation but also in our freedom from the demonic. The greatest example is in Exodus, where the angel of death went over the nation of Egypt to kill the firstborn. The Lord indicated to Moses that the Blood smeared from the Lamb would distinguish between a covenant people and a heathen nation.
The covenants of Scripture can only be ratified as the cutting of flesh drawing out the Blood. Until Jesus the Pascal lamb was the Atonement for a nation. The blood of bulls for individual sins. It was through this sins were covered. However in Hebrews we see that the Blood not only redeemed but it resolved the sin atoning issue. Even in John 1, we see John the Baptist proclaim Jesus as the Lamb who came, and who comes to take away our sin.
The devil knows the power of this reality, and he fears the Blood. So much so that he makes it forgotten in many modern church settings. It is not taught. Revelation 19 says that it was by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of their testimony that they overcame the devil.
Without this revelation we can become in bondage to fear.
The other altar is the incense altar which speaks of intercession. Our ignorance of prayer as a discipline and as a means of intimacy means we do not tap into this reality. The reality of intercession must start with the realisation of the Work of Calvary.
This must unify the fact that Jesus is the Lamb but also the High Priest of the Melchizedek order who opens heaven for us to become sons and citizens. This must renew our perspective that in Revelation 1:6 We are called in Him as Kings and Priests. The Kingly stream through us keeps the “Temple Doors open” and the altars offering. The priestly role we are called into is the role of administering spiritual truths and disciplines which bring the life of God into daily life.
Prayer today can be against injustice but surely we must approach this with our lives aligned to covenantal intimacy first. Our perspective will change concerning world events. And the world we live in.
When the Lampstand is snuffed out
The Lampstand stood in the Holy place. It flowed with oil. Zechariah 4 gives us this vision. We also see it in Isaiah 11 symbolized in the 7 fold SPIRIT.
Jesus rebukes the Church in Ephesus in Revelation and threatens to take their Lampstand away.
One deception I see widely today is the configuration of some church movements where worship and the Word take precedence. The congregational involvement held at a minimum. Each meeting programmed to just focus very narrowly. Throughout the Word I see a diversity and a corporate movement together in the Holy Spirit. We see the Holy Spirit in Acts manifest in multitudes with manifestations given. Paul gives us a list of the 9 gifts which are displayed when believers come together. This corporate witness in the Spirit edifies the Body and brings the sense of service and corporate priesthood. Some of the modern models of Church reduce people to spectators and mere investors.
Therefore as I study the New Testament Church I see this corporate moving together particularly in Acts 11. This Antioch model birthed the apostolic ministry of Paul and Barnabus. The implication of this is that as we diversify and open the ministry to a larger group we impact the world.
The Lampstand is significant that not only gifts are manifest but also a maturity in love, joy, patience and we see people flow in their individual vocation so that collectively can manifest Jesus together.
Once we snuff out the gifts we also start to inhibit the fruit. The Churches with many issues probably stem from inactive saints.
When the Doors close anarchy reigns
The closure of the Temple means that Ahaz had altars built in numerous locations. He closed the doors on God’s glory and opened up to other loves and influences. How many places has other ambitions and politics has come into nullify true godly authority!
Therefore in conclusion let us pray
For our leadership.
That they have care of God’s altars!
That they have personal covenant with God.
And that the Lampstand of Fruit and Gifts ever flow with oil in our midst.