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 Good Morning.

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. (Exodus 27:1-2)

By now you have noticed that we have spent considerable time discussing some of the items that were in the interior of the sanctuary, or if you will, the heart of the sanctuary. Now we have worked our way to the outside and have come into the courtyard to examine the altar of sacrifice. Starting in the heart of the tabernacle doesn’t mean that what occurred on outside was less important. In fact, from mankind’s perspective, if one is to approach the Almighty, one of the first stops is the Brazen Altar. We can’t go into the Holy of Holies without first dealing with the issue of the altar.

While the description in this chapter emphasizes its bronze components, other passages describe it as being an “altar of earth” (Exodus 20:24). Actually, the altar was a hollow “box” that matches the description we have here but filled with earth. Apparently, a mound of earth equal to the altar’s dimensions was heaped up and then the altar was set over it. Thus the altar speaks to the issue of fallen man (symbolized by the earth) desiring to approach a Holy God. If we are to do this, our sinful nature must be acknowledged and  dealt with — this is where the bronze comes in. The bronze components of the altar remind us our nature but also of God’s mercy and forgiveness (remember the Bronze Serpent). If we go to the altar and allow our fallen nature to be “consumed,” we can approach the Holy One’s Throne.

Rabbis explain the importance of altar in this manner. The Hebrew word for altar forms a Hebrew acrostic that is translated as “Forgiveness merits blessing and life.” In other words, forgiveness of sin brings us from death into life. Contrary to many views, the Tabernacle, including the bronze altar, was about life – not death. It wasn’t about blood and gore but about expressing a desire to die to a corrupt nature and embrace a life of blessing found only in a relationship with the Almighty. So then, if we are to truly live, we must be willing to die to self. We must be willing to come to the altar, crawl up on it and present our lives as a living sacrifice. Life comes when we draw closer to Him.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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