Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21.

Today your LORD (יהוה) God (אלהים) says:

Beware of idols. You cannot walk in the fullness of the Spirit if you are letting idols into your temple. And you may think you are not, but think again.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob built altars to Me wherever I appeared and spoke with them as a memorial of My presence. Starting with My promise to give him the land I showed him for his descendants, Abraham built Me altars wherever he went.

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7.

Isaac also built an altar to Me when I promised to be with Him and bless him as I had his father Abraham. Jacob also built altars to Me as the one true God.

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem. Genesis 35:1-3.

The altar was a memorial to show Me as their God and the only One worthy of worship.

The first altar built to Me to show Me as the one true God was built by Noah as soon as he stepped out of the ark.

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. Genesis 8:20-21.

Why was that aroma so soothing? You will find later that the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering offered upon the bronze altar were also a soothing aroma to Me.

And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. Leviticus 1:9.

Why was this so soothing when it was to cover sin? It foretold of the sacrifice of My Son who would take the punishment for your sin and turn your heart from evil to love so we can unite as one. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant sweet-smelling (euódia) aroma (osme). Ephesians 5:1-2.

Yes, Jesus has also clothed you in the fragrant sweet-smelling aroma, for when He died to sin once for all, you died with Him, and when I raised Him from the dead filled with eternal life, I raised you up with Him. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma (osmé) of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance (euódia) of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.

Looking back at the altars of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua, you will find that altars were built as memorials to remind them of the magnificent promises I made to them there. And they built them in thanksgiving and reverence. These were places of sacred encounters where they called upon My Name.

And Moses when he had a personal encounter with Me for the first time, wanted to know My Name so as to identify Me because the Egyptians had so many “gods.” And I gave him My sacred Covenant Name that only My people could call: LORD (יהוה), the One who is, who was and who is to come. I AM with you. I AM whether it be your past, your present or your future. This is My Name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. Exodus 3:15. All are alive for Me. I knew you before the foundation of the world and I will know you forever. I have loved you with an everlasting love.

And from then on they were only to build altars and make sacrifice where I put My Name.

You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My Name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. Exodus 20:24.

When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the [a]contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. Deuteronomy 12:10-12.

Saul, on the other hand, built a monument to himself. 1 Samuel 15:12. It was soon after that that I appointed and anointed David to take his place.

When I appeared to Gideon, he built an altar to Me and called it YHWH Shalom, the LORD is peace, but that was not sufficient to bring him back to be the one through whom I worked a great deliverance from the enemy. I had to be his God or I could not work with him as he was limiting My authority to work in his life and deliver him. So I told him to pull down the altar in his yard to Baal.

Now on the same night the LORD said to Gideon, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down. Judges 6:25-26.

You shall have no other god but Me, and actually there is no other God but Me. I am the one true God. I do not know of any other.

“I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me . .  . Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” Isaiah 44:8.

When Elijah called Me to come down to prove I was the only true and living God he built Me an altar.

But let us step back a bit. If you consider from the days of Adam until the present you will see a flow that has to do with altars and idols. This became the distinction between those who followed Me and did what was pleasing in My sight and those who did evil in My sight and led My people into lawlessness and unrestrained behavior that led to them being overrun by their enemies. It all came down to who they were building altars to and calling upon.

Altars are memorials to what you consider important in your life.

The letters of John are addressed to believers in Jesus, he calls them brethren and children. The last words in the first Letter of John may seem strange when he had just told believers how very secure they are in Jesus. But really they are right on point.

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21.

Jesus was also talking to believers, Covenant people, when He gave His sermon on the mount and He addressed this as well.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. FOR THIS REASON I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-34.

If you are concentrating your life on the needs of the flesh without any input from the Spirit, if you are focused on your needs your prestige, and yourself alone that you do not tithe or give offerings, you have built an altar in your life to an idol. Mammon. Like the people of Israel when they would turn to idols, they no longer thought I was enough to supply for their needs.

Let us consider for a moment the story of Solomon who had sought Me with his heart in his youth and asked Me to give him a hearing heart. He had asked for wisdom. And I granted his request made him the wisest man that ever lived to that time. And with wisdom I  gave him riches and honor so that he was also the wealthiest man on the earth.

All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. 1 Kings 10:24.

But later one greater than Solomon came. It is all a matter of the heart. Listen to what Jesus told the leaders who rejected Him:

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42.

Jesus remained meek and humble of heart, living for My glory, but Solomon did not.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”  1 Kings 11:1-13.

And thus began the line of evil kings that followed Solomon’s worship of idols, even building altars to them in the Temple that Solomon had so solemnly and gloriously dedicated to My Name alone, and the good kings whose hearts were with Me tore down the altars of the idols and eradicated their worship during their reigns. And thus there began the division of those who followed the ways of the later days of Solomon and those who followed the ways of David. And it all had to do with how they valued My Word in their hearts.

But as I stated, this was not a new problem. It started with Adam. And Moses ran into it in the desert with the golden calves and the continued grumbling and rebellion. Joshua had run into it when he drew the line between the curse and the blessing and invited all to commit to Me as he and his household had done. Samuel was in it and brought a nation back to My Word. And later it caused the downfall of the kingdom of northern Israel with it capital in Samaria and totally obliterated the tribes of Ephraim and Dan from ever appearing again, not even in Revelation 7 with the 144,000 that are saved from the tribes of Israel. It brought the downfall of Judah and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. And finally it brought about the rejection of Jesus, the Messiah. And the spirit of the anti-Christ is still at work today to put up the idol, the beast, in the third Temple once it is built. And then all hell will break loose.

Idols were the downfall of the glorious united Kingdom of Israel and then of the Northern Kingdom and of the Kingdom of Judah. It distinguished the kings who did evil whose hearts were hard to Me from the kings did what was good, it was all about the altars and the high places of sacrifice to other “gods,” that is, idols.

Manasseh, the son of the good king, Hezekiah, did evil in My sight. He built altars to and worshipped idols and led all my people into the sin of idolatry. He even built altars to other gods in My temple. And he made his children pass through the fire in worshipping another god. He ignored My prophets and continued to give his life to the devil. He was finally captured and carried off against his will by the king of Assyria, who also conquered the Northern Kingdom for their continual idol worship, and thrown in prison. It looked like it was all over for him. He was trapped by the enemy. But he turned to Me and prayed humbly for forgiveness and acknowledged Me as LORD. I picked him up right out of that prison and put him back on his throne in Jerusalem. And guess what he did? Manasseh set up the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thank offerings on it; and he ordered Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. 2 Chronicles 33:16.

He knew I was the only God, for none other could have pulled him out of prison and returned him to his throne when he prayed to them. And he pulled down all the altars he had built to pagan “gods” and made the temple again into My magnificent structure dedicated to My Name.

At the time of Jesus the temple was not filled with altars to idols as it had been under Manasseh, but it was more subtle. Mammon had even entered the Temple and subtly worked its way into the religious leaders. Of what am I speaking? Jesus, if you recall, went in and overturned the money changers tables. You cannot serve Me and Mammon. The LOVE of money is the root of all evil. When you rob Me in tithes and offerings for the worship of Mammon, that is, you worry over your provision so you keep all, you have built another altar and it is not dedicated to Me.

If you look at pornography, perverted lifestyles, godless movies and entertainment that are contrary to My commandments and leave Me out entirely, you have built another altar and it is not dedicated to Me. And many of these new philosophies and doctrines that the power for miracles is your own and you harness the universe with your thoughts and mental disciplines is nothing but blasphemy while it makes of pretense of being like My teachings but leaves Me out. All man ruling the issues of life without Me. 666. And humanism, i.e., no God and all man, is making you the idol.

When you bow the knee to what is politically correct now, such as abortion, gay rights, gender change operations, you have built another altar and it is for an idol and not Me.

And when you gossip and judge, hate and harbor bitter roots, curse and swear in rage at others, you are building another altar and eating from it and drinking from it.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 1 Corinthians 10:21.

I love you. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. They will take all your strength, your youth, and your love away and leave you bereft and fruitless. And even those who are wise can be led astray, like Solomon. He forgot the teaching of his father, David, or rather, there came a point where he thought the power was his and he could ignore My Word and still be ruler. But this was not so.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.