1-8 The Bronze Burnt Offering Altar 9-19 The Court 20-21 Oil for the Lampstand
The Bronze Burnt Offering Altar

1“And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 2You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 3You shall make its pails for removing its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4You shall make for it a grating of network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5You shall put it beneath, under the ledge of the altar, so that the net will reach halfway up the altar. 6You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7Its poles shall be inserted into the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8You shall make it hollow with planks; as it was shown to you in the mountain, so they shall make [it].

The bronze altar is in the court. At the altar God meets man. The altar speaks not so much of the cross, but of the Lord Jesus Himself (cf. Mt 23:1919You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?). He is the sacrifice on the altar, but He is also the One Who sacrifices Himself, Who offers Himself to God.

He is completely consumed as the sacrifice, but not as the altar. The altar is of wood – which symbolizes that He is Man – but it is covered with bronze. This bronze comes from the censers over which God’s judgment has passed and which have not been consumed (Num 16:37-3837“Say to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, that he shall take up the censers out of the midst of the blaze, for they are holy; and you scatter the burning coals abroad.38As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the LORD and they are holy; and they shall be for a sign to the sons of Israel.”). Bronze speaks of the righteousness of God that has gone through judgment and has not been consumed. The Lord Jesus is not consumed by the fire of God’s judgment. His resurrection is the proof of God’s righteousness.

The four horns of the altar show the power of the sacrifice. The horns are a picture of strength and the number four speaks of the whole earth. The offer of salvation goes to all people: “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”” (Mk 16:1515And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.). All people can be saved on the basis of the sacrifice. Only those who actually repent and in faith accept Christ as Savior of the world are saved (Jn 1:1212But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name,).

Halfway up of the altar is a grating. On that the sacrifice is consumed by fire. The sacrifice is thus located in the altar. It can only be seen by the priest when he looks over the edge. The suffering of the Lord Jesus, the fire that raged in him, can only be seen by believers who are aware of being priests. All believers are priests (1Pet 2:55you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.), but not all are aware of this privilege.

At the altar there are also rings for the poles. This indicates that we should not only know that our sins have been disposed of by sacrifice, but that we carry this knowledge around with us every day.

The Court

9“You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side [there shall be] hangings for the court of fine twisted linen one hundred cubits long for one side; 10and its pillars [shall be] twenty, with their twenty sockets of bronze; the hooks of the pillars and their bands [shall be] of silver. 11Likewise for the north side in length [there shall be] hangings one hundred [cubits] long, and its twenty pillars with their twenty sockets of bronze; the hooks of the pillars and their bands [shall be] of silver. 12For the width of the court on the west side [shall be] hangings of fifty cubits [with] their ten pillars and their ten sockets. 13The width of the court on the east side [shall be] fifty cubits. 14The hangings for the [one] side [of the gate shall be] fifteen cubits [with] their three pillars and their three sockets. 15And for the other side [shall be] hangings of fifteen cubits [with] their three pillars and their three sockets. 16For the gate of the court [there shall be] a screen of twenty cubits, of blue and purple and scarlet [material] and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver, [with] their four pillars and their four sockets. 17All the pillars around the court shall be furnished with silver bands [with] their hooks of silver and their sockets of bronze. 18The length of the court [shall be] one hundred cubits, and the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits of fine twisted linen, and their sockets of bronze. 19All the utensils of the tabernacle [used] in all its service, and all its pegs, and all the pegs of the court, [shall be] of bronze.

The court is a picture of:
1. the earth, where the Lord Jesus did the work of which the bronze altar speaks;
2. the Lord Jesus, seen in the fine linen of the hangings which people have looked at from outside; “the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19:88It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.);
3. the believer, in whom people must also see the fine linen.

The pillars hold up the fine linen, but are not seen themselves. It must be the same with the believer. He must show the Lord Jesus and not himself.

The pillars stand on sockets of bronze and are connected to each other with silver bands. The bronze points out that by doing justice, by doing what is right in the eyes of God, the linen becomes visible in the walk. The silver indicates that in this commission believers are bound together by the price paid for their reconciliation with God.

In the court there is an entrance on the east side. The entrance is spacious and is formed by a colored screen without cherubs. It represents the invitation to man to approach God. There is only one door. The Lord Jesus said: “I am the door” (Jn 10:77So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.). The door is on the east side, that is the side to which the sinner went (Gen 3:2424So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.; 4:1616Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.). It is also the side that speaks of hope for the sinner. That side is also called the side “where the sun rises”. In it we see a picture of the rising of the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:22“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.), which is the Lord Jesus Who comes with redemption and blessing for His people.

Oil for the Lampstand

20“You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. 21In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the LORD; [it shall be] a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.

The partitioning of the tabernacle is now ready enough that God is able to speak about what is needed for the light. The light is necessary for the priest to be able to serve in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is called here “tent of meeting”. It is the place where God meets His people and meets them.

This is the first time that reference is made to “Aaron and his sons”, the priesthood family, in connection with caring for the oil so that the light can burn. This priesthood is discussed in detail in the following two chapters before discussing the other parts of the tabernacle.

The oil that serves for light – and also for anointing – speaks of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 2:2020But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.). The service in the sanctuary can only be to the joy of God if it happens under the guidance and in the power of Holy Spirit. The lampstand must be lit “from evening to morning”. That means that while it is night in the world, there is light in the sanctuary.

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