The sin of Judah is written with an iron stylus, engraved with a diamond point on the tablets of their hearts … and on the horns of their altars.
The sin of Judah was also written on the horns of their altars.
Clearly Judah had embraced idolatry, which came with altars that looked like those used in the worship of God, but was actually for the worship of other deities. The horns of the altar were 4 projections that a sinner could hold onto and in so doing would receive an amnesty for his sin. The altar therefore represented, by virtue of its horns, a place of mercy. At the altar, mercy was obtained by virtue of a sacrificial animal receiving the punishment instead. The idea, therefore, of sin being indelibly written on the horns of an altar, means that those horns were ineffective as a place of mercy. This is a stark and quite terrible calamity, especially for someone who realises the perilous situation they have been put into by their sin. When you are under the threat of judgment, the one thing you need is mercy, and you need to know that the place of sacrifice in which you put your trust is capable of providing you with the mercy you need.
This is not the case if the god to whom you sacrifice is a false god.
God is calling us to examine the objects of worship in our lives – the people, things, and pursuits for which we give up the control and ownership of our lives and for which we sacrifice everything. Is this the true God, the King who possesses the prerogative of mercy, or is this a god of our own invention, one that cannot provide either security or significance, and certainly cannot provide us immunity from judgment. Judgment is as inevitable as reaping time comes after sowing, so it is imperative that we search our hearts, or have God search our hearts for us, to see if there is any idolatry in which we trust.
Prayer: Search me, O God, and see if there is any idolatry in my heart. I renounce evil, idolatrous altars that have inserted themselves into my heart.