The Problem is the Altar
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
(Leviticus 18:21 NIV) “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God, I am the LORD.”
The story of children being sacrificed to Molech has haunted me most of my life. As we have grown to cherish life as a wonderful gift of God, it is unimaginable how anyone could intentionally end the life of a child on an altar. In the case of Molech, it was the altar for a false god.
Today we see parallels with abortion. In abortion its advocates recognize that a life is taken and justify it by calling abortion a “necessary evil.” But in the end, a child dies on the altar of personal desire or convenience.
The same can be observed on end-of-llfe matters. When a life becomes a burden it is a candidate for termination. When a life is no longer wanted it can be ended. When someone no longer likes their life the seek assistance in death. Again, a life dies on the altar of personal desire or convenience.
Yet, however revolted we are to abortion, euthanasia or 1o the story of the child sacrifices to Molech, we cannot ignore the story of Abraham and Isaac. There, the true God issued this command: (Genesis 22:2 NIV) “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
What is it that makes the sacrifice of Isaac acceptable and all other sacrifices unacceptable? It is the altar, You see, asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac isn’t the only shocking thing to come from God. Do you remember the words of Jesus talking about loyalty: (Luke 14:26 NIV) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — be cannot be my disciple.”
How can God make such incredible requests of his people? It is because our allegience to God is not dependent upon logic or emotion but on faith. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son trusting that God would be faithful to his promise to still provide offspring. He didn’t know how God would do it — he simply believed it because God said it.
The altar of Christian service is not one of personal gain or selfishness. The altar of Christian service begins with faith There may be logic in aborting life in its absolute earliest stages. It may seem reasonable to terminate lives or allow people to terminate their own lives if they are no longer productive. But because we serve before the altar of God, logic and reason take a back seat to God’s clear directives.
Two of those directives touch us immediately in these issues. The first is the directive not to murder. God is the Author and Terminator of life. It is not our place to presume life should end because it lacks quality or is inconvenient. Life is to be respected and protected.
Secondly, we are to love. We are to help our neighbor in every bodily need. We are to feed the hungry, care for the sick and protect the innocent. We are to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. And we do this because we worship at God’s altar.
There are many times when we are tempted by other altars. The altar of convenience may not lead us to take a life but often it will tempt us to ignore endangered life. The altar of selfishness may not lead us to decisions to stop feeding a loved one, but giving in to the temptation of being selfish may lead loved ones to feel unwanted, unloved and suicidal.
With each thought, word, and action of our lives we must never forget we are at worship before God. It is wise to remember that our sojourn in life brings us past many altars. But our activity in life is worship before God’s altar.
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