When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar. – 1Kgs. 2:28 NIV
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In an attempt to reverse the plan of the Almighty God to have Solomon occupy the kingship of Israel after the reign of his father David, and willingness of King David to implement the plan (1Chr. 28:1-21), Adonijah had planned on two occasions to crown himself as king – 1Kgs. 1:5-53; 2:13-35. In his first attempt, noticing that King David, his father was becoming frail, he had arranged with some of his father’s trusted aides, his brothers and some elders of Israel, for a coronation ceremony where he was to be crowned and was already succeeding until King David heard and quickly took a step that thwarted this plan. Knowing that he had been found out, he ran towards the temple and held on to the horns of the Altar asking that he be forgiven. With the people equally pleading with the king on his behalf presenting that his action of holding on to the horns of the Altar was a demonstration of his fear and reverence for King Solomon, he forgave Adonijah with a caveat that a repeat of similar act in the future will not be pardoned.
Adonijah and his group of rebels probably thought what saved him and by implication that entire group was the fact that he held on to the horns of the Altar in an action that presented a picture of a repentant person so, when on the second occasion of his illegal and unsuccessful attempt to take over the throne from King Solomon, he was killed immediately before he could even get to the temple, Joab, in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotional, felt he was lucky to have escaped being killed, ran towards the Altar of the temple and held on to its horns swearing that he was not going to leave the location until he got a promise from the king that he will not be killed for his rebellion. The deceitful act of remorse was however not working this time as the king ordered Benaiah to kill him right there as he wished, with his blood remaining on his head. The horns of the Altar had failed to save him this time, as he may have thought.
Several Christians today seemed to have mastered the act of or believe that they can commit all kind of atrocities and evil against others and run to God for protection believing that the power of the Altar will protect them from the repercussion of their evil acts. By holding on to the horns of the Altar, both Adonijah, Joab and other Christians who behave like this believe that the power of the Almighty God associated with his Altar will save them. The truth is that indeed there is immense power available in the Altar of the Almighty God but it is not available for the willful sinner. If salvation from the repercussion of such evil action is achieved through the intercession of the priests or prophet of the Almighty God, it is because the power of the Altar was made available through Grace, but the Apostle Paul stated clearly that it is not possible for grace to abound when we continue in sin – Rom. 6:1. Willfully sinning after receiving grace earlier is an attempt to crucify Jesus Christ all over again just as the writer of the biblical book of Hebrews stated and it is impossible for those who have enjoyed the grace to be restored again should they fall back into sin – Heb. 6:1-6. The Almighty God himself through Prophet Jeremiah made it clear that he would not tolerate a situation where people go and commit all kinds of atrocities, only to run into towards his Altar in expectation of protection – Jer. 7:1-29. There was no way He was going to watch His house turn into a den of thieves.
The true Altar of the Almighty God is indeed very powerful and this power is very much available to the true Christian. That you committed that atrocity and your spiritual leader was able to get you freed by his intercession for you on the Altar is not a license to continue in evil, expecting that all that needs to happen is for you to pretend to be remorseful and run to the house of the Lord to seek protection. It may not always work. Not because the power of the Altar is ever exhausted but because the grace of the Almighty God, made available through his son for Christians cannot be abused. It is true that the advocacy role of Jesus Christ for all believers is available (1Jn. 2:1-2) but no true believer will continue to sin willfully simply because of this available grace. You can rest assured that this grace will not be there for such individuals and at those times, the worst will happen with the spiritual leader becoming the victim as he/she is seen as being spiritually inefficient. This view will be completely wrong because all the genuine spiritual leader can do is to intercede with the Almighty God just as the people of Israel did with King Solomon on for Adonijah. It remains the sole discretion of the Almighty God to accept such pleas and such a person should know that the Almighty God will never support the unfairness that is in the act of willful perpetuation of evil with the expectation of his protection.
Avoid evil as grace will not always be available for you at the Altar. May God put in us all the spirit that avoids evil in Jesus name. Amen.