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.