Today we are studying the Altar of Burnt Offerings of the wilderness tabernacle during the time of Moses.
Welcome to our ongoing, chronological bible study called COME AS A CHILD. Our scripture reference is found in Exodus; Chapter 27. If you missed last week’s lesson you may find it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/christ-door/
God told Moses to build an altar of acacia wood that was three cubits high. It was to be square in shape and five cubits long and five cubits wide. There was to be a horn at each of the four corners of the altar, but the horns and the altar were to be of one piece and overlaid with bronze.
All of the altar’s utensils were to be made of bronze – its pots to remove the ashes, its shovels, the sprinkling bowls, the meat forks and the fire pans.
MORE SPECIFICS OF THE ALTAR FOR BURNT OFFERINGS
The altar was to have a grating.
A bronze ring was to be placed on each of the four corners under the ledge of the altar, about halfway up. Poles of acacia wood overlaid with bronze were to be made to insert into the rings so that a man standing on each side of the altar could carry it. The altar itself was to be made of hollow boards.
God showed all of these things to Moses while he was up on the Mountain. You can read of it in Exodus; chapter 27.
THE PLACE OF THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERINGS
This altar was outside the tabernacle between the Sanctuary and the Court of Israel. The spot or place where it existed eventually came to be called “The Court of the Priests.”
PURPOSE AND FUNCTION
The Altar of Burnt Offerings is often called the Brazen Altar.
This was where the animal and bird sacrifices were offered up to God. The blood of the sacrifices would be thrown toward the base and portions of the sacrifice were burned on the top of this altar.
The sacrifices of this altar were seasoned with salt.
Sometimes there were also offerings of wine which were poured out upon this altar.
THREE PILES OF WOOD
This altar burned three separate piles of wood.
The first and largest of the wood piles was used for the burning of the sacrifices.
Secondly; there existed a stack of wood which was used for burning the coals that were used for the incense of the tabernacle.
Thirdly; a stack of wood was used for stoking the fire where the perpetual fires were burned. These were fires that had originated from the hand of God and they were never extinguished. They burned forever and ever.
THE ASHES OF THE FIRES
The ashes of the remnants from these three fires were removed every day. They all fell toward the center of the altar.
CHOSEN BY LOTTERY
The priest to remove the ashes was chosen by lottery every morning.
These ashes were required to be removed before the first sacrifice of the day was offered.
The priest would dress in his priestly garments, wash his hands and approach the altar.
THE PLACE OF THE ASHES
The ground to the east of the altar was called “the place of the ashes.” The priest would take a silver shovel and shovel up the ashes and place them in that particular spot. The ashes would remain there as he went about his priestly duties in the tabernacle.
Afterward he would dress in ordinary clothes, walk back and pick up the same ashes and take them to a place outside the camp which was called “a clean place.” He would dispose of the ashes there.
THE USE OF BRASS AND WHAT IT SYMBOLIZED
All of the utensils for this altar were made of brass. Utensils of iron or bronze were not allowed near this altar.
The original forming of this altar had to be made from brass tools.
The reason for this was that iron and bronze were implements of war.
THE SACREDNESS OF THIS ALTAR
This was a very sacred altar and all of the priests working there had to be vested and had to wash their hands before touching anything to do with the altar, even when cleaning the ashes.
NO STRANGE FIRES WERE ALLOWED
The perpetual fire that was upon the altar which was never extinguished had been started by the hand of God. No strange fire was to be placed anywhere near this fire.
THE SACRIFICES REMAINED THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT
The burnt offerings were to remain throughout the night before they could be removed from the altar. The sacrifices that had to be removed were the ones that were not acceptable to God. If God approved of a sacrifice it would be completely consumed by the fire. If the offering was still there in the morning and it was considered not acceptable; it would be removed.
THE SECOND LOTTERY FOR PRIEST TO OFFER SACRIFICES
There was a second lottery held every day to determine which priest would be offering the sacrifices.
TRANSPORTING THE ALTAR
This altar was carried on poles everywhere that God led the people of Israel to go.
The priests who carried this altar were called Kohathites and they originated from the tribe of Levi.
Every time the people moved the Kohathites picked up the altar and transported it. When they arrived at the next camp the Kohathites set up the altar for service in that place.
Each time the altar was transported the ashes were removed first then a purple cloth was spread over the altar. All of the instruments and vessels used at the altar were placed on the altar and covered with a blanket of badger skin and the carrying poles were inserted into the rings for transporting.
PURPOSE OF THE ALTAR
There were as many reasons for bringing a sacrifice to the altar as there are sins of mankind. This altar was for providing sacrifice for the sins of mankind and restoring men to God.
Unlike some of the other offerings that the people brought where they would actually sit and partake of the meat of the offerings later; this particular type of sacrifice was always totally consumed. Nothing could be left on the altar by the next morning. The idea was that the smoke of the altar rose before God creating a pleasing aroma and God consumed it. By the next morning the offering would be completely burned up by the fire. This happening signified God’s acceptance.
THE RITUAL OF ATONEMENT
The sacrifices at this altar were for the atoning of individual sins.
The person making the offering laid his hands upon the animal (a bull, goat, sheep or bird) and thus associated the fact that he was transferring his sinfulness onto the animal.
After the ritual transferring of sins, the animal was slain; either by the person making the sacrifice or the priest.
APPLYING THE BLOOD
The blood was drained and sprinkled at the base of the altar. Sometimes the blood was placed on the horns on each corner of the altar.
The people were very involved with the killing of the sacrifices and this part of the ritual helped them to identify with the consequences of their sins.
The participation of the person offering the animal was set up in a way that the guilty sinner would be able to comprehend the degree of his depravity.
WHAT ALL OF THIS SHOULD MEAN TO US TODAY
As you have been reading about the purpose and function of this altar that God commanded Moses to set up in the wilderness tabernacle; I hope you caught a glimpse of the function and purpose of Christ on this earth.
He was the Lamb of God, and He came as the ultimate and last sacrifice for mankind.
The wood of the cross became the fuel for the altar for our burnt offering. There Christ offered up His life for us.
THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR
In biblical times horns were a symbol of power and strength. When the sacrifices were made, blood was dabbed on the horns of the altar and this signified the power of the blood to atone for sins. Luke 1:69 proclaims that Jesus has become the “horn” of our salvation.
ALL OF THE BURNT OFFERINGS TOOK ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PASSOVER OFFERINGS
The miracles of the sacrifices of the Passover Lambs were still fresh in the minds of these Israelites who came with their sacrifices to the altar of burnt offerings.
And what of us today?
Is the miracle of the present truth of the atonement of Christ still fresh in our minds, hearts and spirits?
Christ became our Passover; leading us into the promised land of eternal life with God.
THESE ANCIENT SHADOWS SPEAK VOLUMES OF TRUTH INTO OUR PRESENT
These people seeking atonement at the brazen altar of the wilderness tabernacle were simply shadows of our own actions toward God. They had come to believe in the miracle of the lamb; and today we have come to believe in the miracle of The Lamb of God.
Because the people had made the proper arrangements back when they were still slaves in Egypt and offered the sacrifice and covered their doorposts with the blood of the lamb; the angel of death had passed over them and they had been led into freedom.
They did not forget this lesson of the sacrifice of the lamb. The altar of burnt offering became a holy, sacred symbol and it served as the ritual that helped them to remember the importance of atonement before approaching God.
THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD AT THE ALTAR
Just as the blood of the lamb was splashed over their doorposts in Egypt; so was it sprinkled at this altar with the offering of each individual sacrifice.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WOOD OF THE ALTAR
The wood for burning the fires of the altar symbolized the humanity of Christ. It spoke of the mortality of the flesh.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BRASS IN THE MAKING OF THE ALTAR
The brass of the altar symbolized the judgment of God.
COMBINING THE WOOD AND THE BRASS FOR A PICTURE OF CHRIST
With the combination of the wood and the brass (the acacia wood was covered and overlaid with brass) we see a perfect picture of how Jesus Christ took on the judgment of God for the sins of mankind.
Man’s sins were laid upon Jesus as surely as the people bringing their sacrifices to this ancient altar were laying their hands on the heads of the animals and ritually transferring the transgressions of the law and their sins over to the animal that would be sacrificed in their place.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROLES OF THE PRIESTS
The priests serving at the altar examined the offerings carefully to be sure they met the requirements. Each sacrifice brought forth must be a young male of the best of the stock of the herd or flock and they must be “without blemish.”
Here we can see a symbolic picture of how Pontius Pilate examined Jesus and found him “without blemish” thus washing his hands of the accusations of the people who were bringing him forward for trial. We can read the quote from Pilate in John 18:38 that says: “I find in Him no fault.”
So it was that the guilty brought forth the perfect Lamb of God and the priest at the altar (the cross) proclaimed Him to be a worthy sacrifice.
SYMBOLISM OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST IN THE MOVEMENTS OF THE PRIEST AT THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERINGS
In the movements of the priest chosen by a lottery to remove the ashes and take them to a “clean place” we see the symbolism of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
THE CONSUMING OF THE BURNT OFFERINGS
We see that the death of an innocent Christ satisfied the demand of the judgment of God over all of mankind. In the suffering and pain of the cross that Jesus endured we can see how He took the full measure of God’s wrath for us. The fact that the offering is totally consumed and burned up by the fire would symbolize the fact that Christ took on the full wrath of God toward us in our place.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BURIAL OF CHRIST
As the priest puts on his “ordinary” clothes and carries the ashes to a “clean place” we begin to see the symbolism of the burial of Christ.
Joseph of Arimathea (a person with the qualifications of a priest) provided a clean, previously unused tomb never touched by a human corpse for Christ’s burial. He would have been acting like the priest putting on ordinary clothes and taking the remains of the sacrifice (Christ’s body) to a clean place.
THE FREEDOM PROVIDED TO ENTER THROUGH THE DOOR TO THE HOLY PLACES
Once the sin offerings had been made on the burnt altar, the priest was free to go inside the tabernacle, or to enter through the beautiful door that God provided.
Christ is the door.
He is the way.
He has provided us with eternal life.
We may now be resurrected after the pattern of His resurrection because He has come and laid down His life which provided a way for us to enter into eternal life with God.
SALVATION IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
This altar is just the starting place.
As a first-step toward God we come confessing our sins and we proclaim our belief in the miracle of the power and strength of God to raise Messiah from death to everlasting life.
We are atoned by the blood of Christ which was made possible at the cross,.
Because of this amazing way that Jesus has loved us; we can now walk into the heavenly tabernacle and worship God forever.
This is how it works!
This is the truth of the story of the wilderness tabernacle that the Great Weaver has woven into every nook and cranny existing inside this holy place.
It is His story; and he is proclaiming it to us in a million different ways.
WE MUST ALWAYS BE CAREFUL TO OPEN OUR EYES AND EARS IN ORDER TO KNOW THE GLORY OF GOD
Oh that we all could have eyes to see and ears to hear the stories of such a loving God. One who came down to us with the true stories He told through His people and his faithful servant named Moses. The stories are all about His love for us in the mysterious example of this tabernacle which He designed right in the middle of an ancient wilderness and a group of stubborn and sinful people.
NOTE TO THE READER: If you found this article to be interesting; you might also enjoy reading: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/god-master-weaver/ andhttps://theinseasonlifestyle.com/silver-sockets-of-redemption-come-as-a-child-lesson-156-amazing-silver-sockets/ and https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/httpwp-mep8woph-mo/