The Altar of the Abyss – 2

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the pattern for a new Tabernacle. The sermon follows the pattern of the Tabernacle furniture, which in turn follows the pattern of the Creation week.1 At ‘Day 3′, Altar and Table, are His commands concerning Covenants (divorce and oaths), and the Lord’s prayer.

“Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:24

Interestingly, these blessings are mirrored by the curses upon the saints’ evil twins in Matthew 23, the Jews who sat in Moses’ seat of judgment.2 The “woes” follow exactly the same pattern, and climax with Christ’s prophecy of the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple. And what do we find in this passage at Day 3?

They cross Land and Sea to make one disciple for their corrupted religion, and make him twice the child of Gehenna as themselves. “Ge-Henna” is Greek for the despised Valley of Hinnom southwest of Jerusalem, the previous location of Tophet’s child sacrifices that became an open, mass grave during the Babylonian siege. It was made the rubbish dump, full of maggots, with the refuse continually burning.

Jesus quotes Isaiah 66:23-24 to describe it. Just like the Babylonians, the Romans would besiege the city. This time the invading armies would trap Jews from all over the empire who were in Jerusalem for Passover. Their unclean “Table” was made a snare, and Gehenna was filled with the bodies of these deceived “children” of corrupt Judaism. Like Jeroboam’s evil altar, it would be defiled with bones, and their world would be destroyed in a “flood” (Daniel 9:26).


1  The Tabernacle was an architectural model of the world. Each of the seven speeches of the Lord (Exodus 25-31) is introduced with a variant of the phrase “Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying.”For a full discussion, see James B. Jordan, Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Available for download from
2  Matthew’s gospel is structured chiastically, and the sermon on the mount matches the woes in the second half. See James B. Jordan, Toward a Chiastic Understanding of the Gospel According to Matthew, Parts 1 & 2, BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 94 and 95.


Share Button

Comments are closed.