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'The Bronze Altar' (Ex 27:1-5)When the common Israelite approached the tabernacle with his sacrifice and passed through that entrance gate he found that between him and the tabernacle structure stood an altar with a priest waiting beside it. The altar was square in shape (foursquare). Its length and breadth were exactly the same as the height of the white linen fence around the court 5 cubits (7 1/2 feet). Its height was 3 cubits (4 1/2 feet) and it was made of acacia wood overlaid with bronze with horns at each corner.
Exod 27:1-5 "You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide-- the altar shall be square-- and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar.
This was the altar on which the sacrifices were made which Lev.1:9 describes as a sweet savour to the Lord. This was where the blood was shed and the sinner was pardoned. No matter how good a person was, without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness. No matter how good a person was, without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness.
Lev 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'
Apart from the bronze altar there was no approach to God. In the covenant with Yahweh it was a blood covenant and therefore the innocent animal represented the sinner and took his place on the altar. That is why there was the laying on of the hands upon the innocent sacrifice and then the violent slicing of the throat. A graphic imagery that would make your skin crawl which brought an incredible awareness of the awesomeness of sin, and the payment being death. Only then could you be accepted and declared clean. The blood of the animal would cover until God Himself (The Lamb of God) would come to take sin away once and for all.
The priest would then catch the blood in a basin, and pour out the blood at the foot of the altar and make the sacrifice and the sinner would go home forgiven until the next sin. Sacrifices were made throughout the year but the yearly sacrifice was made by the high priest himself on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) once per year for the sins of the nation.
Its Seven Names
Ex 27:1 "You shall make an altar of acacia wood...
Ex 29:12 "You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar.
Lev 1:5 `He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Mal 1:7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, `In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, `The table of the LORD is contemptible.' (compare with Lev 21:6,22)
Mal 2:13 And this is the second thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
An ancient altar
Now while the English word 'altar' in our translation was formed from the Latin adjective meaning 'high' this is a late ecclesiastical derivation and not in any way connected with the Hebrew meaning. In Hebrew the word is based on a verb meaning 'to sacrifice' and 'altar' means 'a place where sacrifice is made'. It speaks of that which is "lifted up". The sacrifice was lifted up and then down on the bronze grating by the priest where it remained lifted up from the earth. It also signifies the sacrifice being lifted up in the form of smoke to the Lord. Before the tabernacle those who wished to please God would build an altar and call upon the name of the LORD:
Gen 4:4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,
Gen 4:25-26 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, "For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed." And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.
Gen 8:20 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.
Gen 12:7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
Gen 12:8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
Gen 26:25 So he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.
Gen 33:20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.
Gen 35:2-3 And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then 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 in the way which I have gone."
Ex 27:1 "You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide-- the altar shall be square-- and its height shall be three cubits.
It is not possible to reproduce exactly the design of the Altar of Burnt Offering or bronze altar (as it was known) but a general idea can be gathered from the descriptions in the text.
- It was foursquare (unlimited)
- It was 5 cubits square (mans inability)
- It was 3 cubits high (Gods provision, fully and completely)
(See Numbers and Scripture)- Notice that it was the largest vessel (sacrifice makes the rest possible) The altar was large enough to contain the rest.
- It was made of acacia wood (indestructible)
- It was overlaid with bronze (judgment)
- It was of the earth (not man-made)
Ex 20:24 `An altar of earth you shall make 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 record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you.
- It had no steps (mans nakedness would be exposed) human works
Ex 20:26 `Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.'
Its 4 Horns (Gods unlimited power) (universal)
Ex 27:2 "You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.
The horn was always symbolized as the strength of an animal. Or the power of a person or nation.Ps 89:17 For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn is exalted.
Lam 2:3 He has cut off in fierce anger every horn of Israel; he has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy. He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire devouring all around.
By examining the verse we see that the altar and its horns were one. Just as His person and His power are inseparably connected. There's no limit to Gods power when a sacrifice is made. Notice what else is taught concerning the horns:
Ex 29:12 "You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar.
There was unlimited power in the blood as it was sprinkled on the horns. Also because the blood represents life, and the sacrifice was a substitute, the sinners life would be at one with God. There was a blood union between the altar, the horns, and the sinner.
Gods mercy is also seen here. It is important to note that as well as being a place of sacrifice where the four horns on the corners were used to tie the animal waiting for sacrifice, it was also a place of refuge. A man who was falsely accused of murder could run there for safety and grab hold of one of these horns. If he were innocent they would protect him.
Exod 21:12-14 "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die."
One example is with Adonijah. Fearing the rule of the new King Solomon, his elder brother Adonijah went and grabbed hold of the altar horns for safety.
1 Ki 1:50 Now Adonijah was afraid of Solomon; so he arose, and went and took hold of the horns of the altar.
Another example is with Joab, David's life-long military commander:
I King 2:28 Then news came to Joab, for Joab had defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom. So Joab fled to the tabernacle of the LORD, and took hold of the horns of the altar.
The sacrifices were also tied with cords to the horns:
Ps 118:27 God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
Ex 27:3-5 "Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. "You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. "You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar.
(1) The Pans to receive the Ashes
- Great care was bestowed upon these ashes.- They were not taken outside the camp and thrown anywhere. But only in a clean place.
- They were precious because they spoke of Gods acceptance.
Ashes are also a symbol of complete destruction, that is why people would sit in ashes and pour ashes on their head, or clothe themselves in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of grief and mourning, saying, "God I'm nothing, please help".
Ashes were also for cleansing and purification:Num 19:17 `And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.
- These were probably used to clear away the ashes from the altar and place them into the pan.
(3) The Basins
- The priest would catch the blood in a basin and used it for the sprinkling and for the pouring out at the bottom of the altar.
- The fork was an instrument with three prongs and used for placing the pieces of the offering upon the altar.
1 Sam 2:13 And the priests' custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling.
(5) Fire pans
- Censers used to carry the fire (coals) from off the altar into the Holy Place for service at the altar of incense. The bronze altar sustains the altar of incense.
Lev 16:12 "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.
- There was no doubt that the fire pans were used for carrying the fire on the march.
(6) The Bronze Grating
- There was a grating made of bronze, which seems to have rested on a ledge inside the altar where the slain animals were placed, tied to rings and then consumed. It would allow the fat to drip down and the ashes to fall below.
- The sacrifice therefore was in the altar and not on it.
- The grating was the same height from the ground as the mercy seat. (Equal mercy and judgement):
Ps 101:1 I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. (KJV)
Rom 11:22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
The fire on the altar was originally kindled by God and was to never be put out:Lev 9:24 and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
Lev 6:12-13 `And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. `A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.
(1) Fire was the symbol of the Lords presence and the instrument of His power, either in the way of approval or of destruction:
Ex 14:24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians.
Num 11:1 Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.
The Lord appeared in the burning bush and on Mount Sinai:
Ex 3:2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
Ex 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
The Lord also showed Himself in the midst of fire to many such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John. Notice how He will appear at His second coming:
2 Thes 1:7-9 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
God punishes sin with the fire of His wrath:
Ezek 21:31 I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath, and deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy.
Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
(2) Fire is also figurative of other things in the Bible:
- The Word of God
Jer 5:14 Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts: "Because you speak this word, behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Jer 23:29 "Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
- The Holy Spirit
Is 4:4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,
Acts 2:3-4 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Ps 104:4 Who makes His angels spirits, his ministers a flame of fire.
Pro 6:27-28 27 Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?
Is 9:18 For wickedness burns as the fire; it shall devour the briers and thorns, and kindle in the thickets of the forest; they shall mount up like rising smoke.
- The Tongue
Pro 16:27 An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.
Ja 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
Is 50:11 Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled-- this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment.
Lk 12:49-53 "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! "But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Ezek 39:6 "And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
Is 66:24 "And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
1 Cor 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
There was also to be NO strange fire on the altar
Lev 10:1-3 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: `By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.' "So Aaron held his peace.
The staves were long poles made of Acacia wood overlaid with bronze. These were used to transport the altar whenever the camp moved. As the camp moved, it was covered with badgers' skin and a cloth of purple, and carried by the priests (Kohathites). The altar was always with them no matter where they journeyed and even on into their rest in the promised land. They were strangers and pilgrims in the desert but the provision through the blood was always available.
In Ezekiel's temple, which is a picture of Israel's kingdom age, the altar has no staves or rings (Ezek 43).
Its Holy Character
- The Altar was consecrated (most holy)
Ex 29:44 "So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests.
Ex 40:10 "You shall anoint the altar of the burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar. The altar shall be most holy.
- The Altar was anointed with oil
Lev 8:10-11 Then Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them.
- The Altar made the sinner holy
Lev 20:7 `Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.
Num 4:15 "And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry.
- The Altar was only served by the priests (sons of Aaron)
Num 18:2-3 "Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness. They shall attend to your needs and all the needs of the tabernacle; but they shall not come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they die-- they and you also."
- People brought their gifts to the Altar
Matt 5:23-24 23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
- The Altar sanctified all the gifts
Matt 23:18-19 18 "And, Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it. 'Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
- Nothing unholy or unblemished was to be put on the Altar
Lev 22:22 `Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the LORD.
Without the altar no sin could be atoned for, nor could there be worship offered to God. Every morning and evening a lamb was offered on the altar. On special feast days and annual rituals the Altar of Burnt Offering would be the focal point for the various ceremonies.As for the animals being sacrificed you can look at the section on The 5 Levitical Offerings but suffice it to say the animals to be sacrificed could vary from a young bull for the sin of a priest or the community, a male goat for the sin of a ruler to a female goat or lamb for one of the common people. This meant that the altar might be used on behalf of the whole congregation of Israel or simply to meet the need of that one individual sinner who had found his way through the entrance gate and approached it with his unblemished sacrificial lamb to seek the forgiveness of God. He laid his hand on the head of the innocent victim to identify himself with the one who was about to die. Then he killed the innocent lamb. The death of the lamb took place instead of the death of the sinful man.
It was the death of a substitute. The sinless must die for the sinful. The blood of the blameless must be shed so that the soul of the sinner might be preserved for:
Ezek 18:20-22 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him"
Heb 9:22 "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission."
At that moment the waiting priest took 'some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering and poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar'
Lev 4:34 'The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar."
The fat of the animal was removed and burnt by fire on the altar.
Atonement had been made for the man's sin and he went on his way forgiven. Because his sin had caused a separation between him and His God he would make his way through the camp of Israel, enter through the multi-colored screen and enter the courtyard, carrying his sacrificial lamb and presenting himself to the priest as a man needing forgiveness and then confess his sin. The next thing he realized was that he must identify himself with his sacrifice by laying his hand upon the lamb's head. He also knew that his sin could not be forgiven unless blood was shed. God had been very specific about that.
Lev 17:11 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'
As the blood of the lamb was shed and the life ebbed from its body the Israelite had a very real understanding of the fact that while the soul who sins will die, God had permitted the death of a lamb in substitution for the death of the sinner himself.
Lastly, the Israelite exercised faith that having been obedient to God's stated way of forgiveness, his sin had in fact been atoned for. God's final words to the people of Israel relating to this ritual were these:
Lev 4:35 ...So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
Accepting God's words by faith, this man returned to his tent believing that the separation between God and himself had been removed. But just how it could be removed by the life of an animal for the life of a human was something he could not understand. He only knew that he had done what God had directed.
In the unfolding of God's revelation it later became clear that the sins of all those who had faithed in the sacrificial system were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. Its like writing a check year after year and cashing in on forgiveness, but at some point the debt must be paid in full. The bank of heaven, so to speak, had to make good all those checks. What was the bank of heaven or better yet, who is the bank of heaven. Christ the Lamb of God paid the debt in full. The book of Hebrews makes this very clear:
Heb 10:4-10 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- in the volume of the book it is written of Me-- to do Your will, O God.' Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Jesus died on the altar of the cross.
A Type of ChristJesus Himself bore the fire of Gods wrath on the altar of the cross. Jesus said, "No man takes my life from Me but I lay it down." He chose to go to the place of total abandonment and humiliation and become a sin offering, the very object of all of Gods wrath. His followers all scattered, the multitudes yelled, "crucify Him," the Jewish aristocracy had mocked and scorned Him, the Roman soldiers laughed at Him, the whole world shook their heads, and even God had to forsake Him for that moment. He was consumed with the full intensity of abandonment so that He could win for Himself a bride and pay the debt in full. Since the fall of man the fire of Gods anger had never gone out until Jesus came and willingly stretched out His arms and said, "It is finished," which was a Roman victory cry in war. Since the time of Adam, the devil was handed mans dominion by Adam (Lk 4) because of Adams love for the woman, and the power of death came into this world because the wages of sin is death. When Jesus died, it was the death of an innocent Man because He had never sinned. When Satan and death slew Jesus it slit its own throat. Jesus went down and legally took the keys of death and Hades from the devil and released those that had faithed in Him for all time. He died that we might live. On the altar of the cross a great exchange took place. The innocent for the guilty. He bore our punishment and we bare His innocence and righteousness. So therefore we have the righteousness of Christ through faith. This was Gods plan from the beginning. That He Himself would die for the ones He loves. He suffered what we deserve to suffer but will never have to.
Heb 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
Heb 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
1 Pet 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Jn 19:18-19 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Col 1:20-22 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Devotional Message
Blood Atonement - A Bible Study
The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel was a sanctuary which was given in a vision to Moses as a pattern and constructed by the children of Israel. God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.
Why Study the Tabernacle?
A) 50 Chapters Mention The Tabernacle
Because at least 50 chapters (13-Ex, 18-Lev, 13-Num, 2-Deut, 4-Heb) in the Bible tell of the construction, the ritual, the priesthood, the carrying of the tabernacle, and the meaning of it all. Also many other places in Scripture speak in figurative language concerning the tabernacle. In many Bible studies this subject is overlooked and considered insignificant.
B) The Tearing of the Veil
God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type, as shown by the tearing of the veil:Matt 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,
If we don't understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the veil we miss out on extremely significant information concerning exactly what Christ's death meant to sinful mankind.
C) The Tabernacle is a Type of Christ:
Remember what the Word says, "all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God..." When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn't just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.
Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. The more we become familiar with the tabernacle the more we become familiar with Christ and all that He means to us. What a great reason to become familiar with the Scriptures concerning the tabernacle.
Heb 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,
Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
D) It is a Representation of the True Tabernacle in Heaven:
The Lord wants us to be aware of His nature and character. Even the angels don't fully understand the nature and character of God but they learn from watching His dealings with His church (Eph 3). Things are really happening in the heavenly dimension and the Lord wants to reveal to us what took place in heaven after the resurrection of Christ. There is a real tabernacle in the heavenlies and Christ really appeared before the throne of heaven as the Lamb of God (Rev 5). There is no doubt that some of these things are a mystery but the more we draw close to God and His Word the more He draws close to us.
Heb 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
E) The Presence Within the Holy of Holies Dwells Within the Believer in Jesus:
Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, "Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?" We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn't dwell in buildings now but within His people.
1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
F) Its teaching covers in type almost all of New Testament truth.
The study of the tabernacle is so rich in meaning to the Christian and so pregnant with Messianic significance that we can spend a lifetime in the study of it and only begin to understand the riches and the depth of truth that lies within the study of the tabernacle.Rom 15:4 "Whatever things that were written before were written for our learning."
G) Studying the Tabernacle will absolutely strengthen our faith in the Bible.
Be assured that anyone who has delved into the wonderful details of the tabernacle will confess that the Bible is more than just a book. No man could have thought of this. The Bible is the Word of God.
"all Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."
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The Children of Israel