This morning in my devotions I was reading Amos 9:1 where God said, “Strike the capitals of the pillars so that the thresholds shake.” It got me thinking about pillars mentioned in the Bible 96 times. I wonder, “Do we have pillars in our own lives—and in the church—that need to be shaken and perhaps struck down?”
The Oxford Dictionary defines a pillar as “a tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal, used as a support for a building, or as an ornament or monument.” Or, it can be “a person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.”
The Bible makes it clear there are good pillars—and there are bad pillars.
Five good pillars:
- When wandering in the wilderness Moses and the Israelites were led by “a pillar of cloud by day”, and a “pillar of fire by night”. These pillars weren’t made of solid materials like most pillars. But they were pillars the Israelites in flight could always depend on.
- The pillars of acacia wood that held up the curtains of the Tabernacle.
- The pillars of stone that held up the Temple.
- The church of God in I Timothy 3:15 is referred to as a pillar.
- A person can be a pillar. Jesus, in Revelation 3:12, told John to write to the people of Philadelphia the following: “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again.”
- Lot’s wife turned into “a pillar of salt” when she disobeyed God’s instructions and looked back toward Sodom.
- Solid structures were built by foreigners to worship foreign gods. Occasionally, however, even the Israelites built pillars to foreign gods. God, in every instance, instructed that these pillars be torn down and destroyed.
I sometimes think of the planning stages of such structures. In my mind, I can imagine the excitement of teams doing the planning, sort of like the Israelites building the Tabernacle, and later the Temple. Then finally comes the moving-in day. People's senses, I'm sure, were overwhelmed when they walked through the gate, door, or curtain.
But, sadly, very many of these structures are still majestic—but most are devoid of people. Because of their majesty and history, no one wants to tear these structures down. So many are being turned into museums, or repurposed to earn money for their expensive upkeep.
What happened? Are these structures like the manmade pillars of the Bible that represented false gods?
What about the structures of today? And I’m not talking just about physical structures. We have a trend today toward organizations like megachurches. Might they be considered pillars—some even bad ones?
Do we in our denominations, and even independent churches set up pillars difficult to tear down? All of us, including myself like the comfort of doing things the same way. Ask my wife. We like procedures, bylaws if you will, spelled out to a T so that we don’t have to think too hard to follow them. But is this the best plan of action?
Has everything gotten too big for us to even think about changing things up—to think about rocking the proverbial boat—to think about the fact that God by the power of His Holy Spirit might be directing us—to tear down some of the large pillars we have set up?