As we look at the furniture it is very easy to see a type of Christ in every article yet it is possible to gain other insights that reveal the way God has prescribed to enter his presence. Taking each piece of furniture as we would come to it as we progress on our trip through the tabernacle. The first article of furniture would be
The Bronze altar and its utensils
Also called the altar of burnt offering was placed in the eastern half of the court between the Gate of the court and the Tabernacle. It was made of acacia wood covered in bronze (this could be copper or brass ) to protect it from the heat. Being 5 cubits square (7.5 feet) and 3 cubits high (4.5 feet ), a hollow box without top or bottom. At each corner was a "horn", a triangular extension of the sides at their junction. The altar had a grate placed inside half-way between the top and the bottom. At each corner of the grate was a ring on the outside, through which bronze covered poles passed for the transporting of the altar. As the priests were not allowed to go up the altar by steps (Exodus 20:26), and as it would be too high to reach from the ground, the earth was probably raised on one side of the altar so as to approach it by an incline.
Previous to this, the worship of God had always centred around the family altar, e.g.. Noah (Gen.8:20) Abraham (Gen 12:7-8) Isaac (Gen 26:25) Jacob (Gen 35:1).The Altar was now for the Nation. Only one Altar, only one place of sacrifice, indeed a sacrifice could be offered nowhere else (Lev. 17:1-9). It was the only place where God would meet with the sinner or accept the worshipper.
The basis of all approach to God is the sacrificial offering (Heb 9:22). The offerer came to the altar with his sacrifice, which was to be without blemish (Deut 17:1). He would identify with his sacrifice by laying his hand upon its head (Lev. 4:4), his sin passed to the offering, his substitute and he was forgiven. Only the death of the offering could atone for the soul (Lev. 17:11).
The fire that burnt upon the altar was to consume the offerings by fire. The fire was originally kindled by God (Lev 9:24), and was never left to go out (Lev.6:13). It was a witness of Divine acceptance (Psalm 20:3) and Gods Holiness is spoken of as "devouring fire" (Isa.33:14 Heb.12:29). It also provided fire for the burning of incense (Lev.16:12), in fact, when Nadab and Abihu offered "strange fire" before the LORD they both perished (Lev.10:1-2).
After about twenty years two hundred and fifty censers were flattened out and nailed on to the sides of the altar (Num.16:17, 36-40). This reminded the Israelites that God's Judgement is sure and swift, a fire like that burning before them. A reminder of the most chilling sort that God will not condone rebellion against his chosen leaders by men who, although were Levites serving in the tabernacle, were ambitious to be priests and leaders. The main complaints of the rebels was 1/ you are no better than anyone else; 2/ everyone in Israel has been chosen of the LORD ; 3/ we don't need to obey you. It is amazing to see how Korah twisted the first two statements - both true - to reach the wrong conclusions. The altar was the place of sacrifice, sacrifices that we need to make not only of property but a place to put to death wrong attitudes, wrong motives and wrong thoughts, a sacrificing of personal ambitions and desires, just as Christ gave himself as a sacrifice on the cross so we need to take up our sacrificial cross.
Thoughts for simple sermons ;
1/ The Bronze altar was now the only acceptable place of sacrifice, from many to just one place for forgiveness to be found and then God appointed one place in time as Christ died once for all, there is now no need for further sacrifices.
2/ The bronze altar was a demonstration of the holiness of God. His willingness to accept the prescribed sacrifice to enable relationship with Him.
3/ The altar speaks of complete dedication, just as Christ was the complete and perfect sacrifice (Heb.10:1-7). We also should offer ourselves completely as a living sacrifice to God (Rom.12:1-2).
4/ The altar is the place were God shows that he accepts and sanctifies the gift we give, whether it be financial, a talent or an ability we recognise they are from God and consecrate them to God.
5/ The sacrifice burnt to ashes given irrevocably to God, no possibility of reclaiming it.
6/ The censers that were nailed to the altar represent rebellion and ambition. We need to nail our ambitions before they lead to rebellion
7/ It must be remembered that todays ashes were yesterdays sacrifices. Our relationship with God can not be based on past events, our past sacrifices or yesterdays achievements. Our relationship with God is vital and alive, it lives in the 'now' time, today. Hebrews 4:7 says "Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts
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