THE BRAZEN ALTAR
THE BRAZEN ALTAR OR, THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING.
Exodus 27. 1-8. Verse 1. "And thou shalt make an altar (the altar]."
THE SIN OFFERING
was burnt, or consumed, without the camp: the BURNT, or ASCENDING
OFFERING, was converted into a sweet savour on the altar of burnt
offering by the fire which came originally from God, and which was kept
always burning in it.
In the SIN
offering we see Jesus, who knew no sin, made sin for us, suffering
without the gate, and putting sin away by the sacrifice of Himself.
In the other,
Jesus, the spotless Victim, offering up Himself as a sweet savour unto
God, and His acceptance manifested by His resurrection from the dead,
and ascension to the right hand of the Father.
the camp it is wrath CONSUMING, and for ever setting aside the sins
which Jesus bore.
brazen altar it is justice and holiness, FEEDING with complacency on
the excellency of the victim.
altar of burnt offering, cleansed, anointed, sanctified - an altar most
holy, on which the fire was always burning, and the sacrifice always
consuming, was the place of communion between God and His people, and
between the people and their God (see Exodus 29. 36-46) strikingly
exemplified. There we see Jesus, the BELOVED SON of the Father, whose
dwelling-place eternally was the Father's bosom; that HOLY One, who
knew no sin, and that blessed One, "God over all, blessed for ever,"
drawing hack from, and deprecating the enduring of God's WRATH, the
imputation of sin, and the infliction of the CURSE. Yet the cords of
love and obedience bound Him - love and obedience to the Father, love
and compassion to us. So that, in the end, we see the willing Victim
passing through the three long hours of darkness, made SIN for us, and
nailed to the accursed tree.
This as to the
VICTIM; then as to the SINNER, or the WORSHIPPER. In 1 Kings 1. 50 we
read, "And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and
caught hold on the horns on the Altar." Again, chapter 2. 28, "And Joab
fled unto the Tabernacle of Jehovah, and caught hold on the horns of
the altar." What strong consolation is provided for the poor sinner who
flies for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before him in the Gospel,
founded on the perfect and accepted sacrifice of the sinner's Saviour,
and the sinner's Friend ! And the believer, too, finds here a refuge
and a rest.
The SHITTIM wood
and the BRASS - emblems of the tender SYMPATHY and the Divine Almighty
POWER of the Saviour of the lost, and the Sustainer of the saved - give
faith its firm holdfast.
WOOD and the BRASS - the SYMPATHY and the POWER of Him who is thus set
forth, giving faith its grasp of undying tenacity. The sinner and the
saint find in Jesus, who is here set forth, one ABLE TO SYMPATHIZE and
MIGHTY TO SAVE.
But what a solemn
lesson is read out to us from these horns of the brazen altar! In
Exodus 21. 14, God says, "But if a man come presumptuously upon his
neighbour to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar,
that he may die." For the PRESUMPTUOUS sinner, and the hypocritical
DECEIVER, the atonement of Jesus itself provides no shelter, while he
continues such. It is of no avail for a person to say, "I am trusting
in the blood of Jesus," while presumptuously continuing in sin, or
hypocritically professing repentance. "Thou shalt take him from Mine
altar, that he may die," is the stern command of Divine inflexible
justice. Solemn thought! How many a soul has gone on for years,
clinging with vain hope to a mere profession of faith in Jesus, lulled
into a false peace, with a spirit unsanctified and a soul unsaved, to
perish at last. Thus was it in type with Adonijah. "And Solomon said,
"If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not a hair of him
fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall
die" (1 Kings 1. 52). So it turned out. "King Solomon sent by the hand
of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada: and he fell upon him that he died" (1
Kings 2. 25).
6, 7. "And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim
wood, and overlay THEM with brass. And the staves shall be put into the
rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear
The staves adapted
the brazen altar to the wilderness condition of God's people, so that
the altar accompanied them in all their journeyings. Wherever the camp
pitched, the altar rested; wherever the court was enclosed, the altar
was placed at the entrance; wherever the tent of the congregation was
set up, the altar stood at the door. The daily sacrifice on the altar
of burnt offering, was the standing link of communion between God and
His people typically. The taking away of the daily sacrifice was a
national calamity. The fire was always burning in this altar, never
permitted to go out. The victim always consuming on it day and night,
the sweet savour of it was always ascending. Thus the ground of
communion was at all times prepared, the way of communion at all times
open. On this perpetual burnt offering, the other special sacrifices
(as on the Sabbaths, new moons, etc.) were burnt, and the sin and
trespass offerings presented. So now, though our God is a consuming
fire (and the apprehension of this is ever to be kept alive in our
hearts), the sacrifice of Jesus has met, and for ever satisfies, all
the demands of holiness and justice on our behalf. On this account, "If
we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The ground of
communion has been made good, the way of access is ever open, the
fragrance of the sacrifice of Jesus is ever before God. Wherever we
are, whatever our circumstances, communion with God may be maintained
unbroken, our walk down here may be an Enoch walk - a walk with God.
The STAVES of the
TABLE of shewbread were connected with the BORDER (chapter 25. 27); for
the guarding of COMMUNION is important in connection with our
wilderness state. The STAVES of the GOLDEN ALTAR are connected with the
GOLDEN CROWN; for it is a GLORIFIED CHRIST through whom we worship. The
STAVES of the BRAZEN ALTAR are connected with the GRATE of BRASS; for
it is a SUFFERING Saviour who laid the foundations of our constant
communion with God.
THE DIVINE PATTERN.
8. "Hollow with boards shalt thou make IT: as it was shewed THEE in the
mount, so shall they make it."
mighty to suffer, and Almighty to save, was the EMPTY and dependent
One. "He was crucified through weakness."
How different is
the appearance of Calvary, and of Him who suffered there, when seen on
earth's low level, and with human thoughts and feelings, to what it is
when looked at in the light of God - as God Himself reveals the
marvellous scene! In spirit raised above surrounding things, and upon
the MOUNT with God, looking down on Calvary's Cross! Thus are we to
form our conceptions of it; thus shall we learn its mysteries and its
uses, its value and its power; and thus shall our souls experience the
blessing which God has provided. Communion with God on the ground of
sacrifice must be according to God's order and thoughts, and not
according to the plans and opinions of men.