The last post on the Tabernacle was about the Gate – “PRAYER – THE TABERNACLE, PART 2”. It mentioned the colors used in the screen or curtain and what they represented to the Israelites and to the Christian as well. I also included information about the surrounding curtain of white linen and the posts and all that they represent. It was a lot of good information that I learned myself as I studied it. This post is going to cover the Brazen Altar just inside the gate. Let’s get started and let’s start with the scripture.
“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. 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar. 6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 The poles shall be put in the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar to bear it. 8 You shall make it hollow with boards; as it was shown you on the mountain, so shall they make it.
As you entered the Gate, the first thing you saw was the Brazen or Bronze Altar. It was quite large and you must stop at this alter to have the Priest examine your sacrifice that you brought that day. Now this was no small alter. This Bronze Altar was 7 ½ feet wide and 7 ½ feet long and 4 ½ feet tall. This alter was actually positioned probably on mounds of dirt so there was a space below it for the ashes to drop. The picture above does not show it that way. However, from what I have read it was probably this way. The acacia wood that the altar was made from was the wood that was plentiful for that region and used in making things that needed to last a long time. This wood was very strong and not prone to insects or rotting. It was a very dense wood and when it was covered with the bronze it was quite impervious to the elements.
One of the authors, speaking of the symbolism that the Bronze Altar, said it best in this quote.
“The altar itself was made from acacia wood but was completely covered in bronze. All of the utensils were bronze… even the wooden poles used to carry the altar were covered in bronze. All in all, you would have realised that this entire scene spoke of judgement. The fire that never went out… the continual sacrifices and shedding of blood… the use of bronze on everything… it spoke volumes of God’s hatred of sin. It spoke volumes of the continual judgement of God upon that sin.” From Jesus In The Tabernacle Bible Study, The Outer Court, I Gordon
I have also found a wonderful video that explains the Tabernacle and all the elements included in the Tabernacle area – The Bronze Altar, The Laver, The Tabernacle itself and much more (the video is at the end of this post). This video is narrated by Dr. Terry Harman and he has an altar and all the other elements in the room where he is teaching. It is quite informative and very good. I encourage you to watch it. The video is about 45 minutes but it is very good.
The Bronze Altar is a picture of the sacrifice for sin that Jesus accomplished at Calvary. The Bronze Altar at the Tabernacle in the Wilderness had unwilling sacrifices led to the alter and tied down waiting to die, unlike Jesus. He was the willing sacrifice that was not tied down but He gave His life willingly. The sacrifices at the Bronze Altar at the Tabernacle had to be continually done and the fire was never to go out. Jesus was the final sacrifice taking all of God’s judgment and the fire of God’s judgment burned out with Christ’s sacrifice. As the author of that same article mentioned above stated…
“That is not to say that the fire of God’s judgement no longer exists at all. Surely it does and for those that reject God’s offer of salvation in Christ then for them the text will be fulfilled that ‘it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. ‘Vengeance is mine says the Lord and I will repay.’”
Now there is so much more I could write about when it comes to symbolism of the Bronze Altar. There are the utensils used while performing the sacrifices and each with their own symbolism. There is the ashes and the fire pans that were used to take the coals to the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and much more. I do, however, want to include some … just some … of the things about the Bronze Altar that I found on a wonderful website that I have mentioned before – BibleHistory.com. There is a ton of information on this website about each item in the Tabernacle and it would be well worth your time to visit the website and read about each item. Not only is it about the Tabernacle but many other topics as well. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
The following is some of the information from BibleHistory.com about certain things about the Bronze Altar. Like I said, there is a lot more on that website, but I wanted to include these particular ones.
THE BRONZE ALTAR
- 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 (man’s 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.’
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.
(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.
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.
Again, I know this is a lot of information but this is a huge topic and one that I am led to explore and share. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Tomorrow’s post will be about the Bronze Laver. Also, never forget, God loves you so much, after all, He calls you His beloved.
This is the video of Dr. Terry Harman in reference to The Tabernacle.