Exodus 27: The Bronze Altar

1 “You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. 2 And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 3 You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4 You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5 And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. 6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8 You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.

-We previously read of instructions for an alter in Exodus 20:24-26. There, the Israelites were told not to use “hewn” stones meaning tools, not to build it high enough to require steps, and to build alters out of materials of the earth. This alter here is made of wood and overlayed with bronze. This is not a contradiction as the alter is still wood. The bronze rings and tools are not the alter itself so this does not violate the original requirements as well. As far as tools used to build it, the verse in Exodus 20:25 does say “if you make me an alter of stone…” so it’s possible this restriction does not apply to wood because it is still an earthly “natural” material and since it is not stone, tools can be used to construct it. It would be difficult to imagine cutting wood in the shape of horns at the corners and getting the grating perfect without the use of some tool. This alter is only three cubits high which is 4 and a half feet tall so it does not require steps to reach and any fully grown man would be able to stand and work over it. The meanings for this construction are the same as mentioned in the Exodus 20 commentary. There are no steps to elevate oneself to God’s level, the material of the alter itself is natural and not constructed by the hands of a man, and stones were not artificially tampered and chipped by man’s hand. Here is a picture of what the alter likely looked like: http://www.knowyourmessiah.com/tabernaclem_files/image005.gif
The Court of the Tabernacle
9 “You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side. 10 Its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 11 And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, its pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver. 12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. 13 The breadth of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. 14 The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 15 On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases.

-Here is a picture of what you just read to make things a bit easier: http://www.knowyourmessiah.com/tabernaclem_files/image003.gif . It is amazing how we now have four different areas you can be in terms of closeness to God. You can be outside the courtyard, inside the courtyard, inside the Holy place, or inside the Holy of Holies. This seems to symbolize the walk of faith as we are separated from God until we are allowed in, layer by layer, to become closer to Him. We see the number 50 again and this number seems to have a running theme of waiting in the bible. Pentecost is 50 days after the first crops begin to sprout and also the time the Holy Spirit came to the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps in all this symbolism that we see Jesus, the number 50 is representing the Holy Spirit.

16 For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. It shall have four pillars and with them four bases. 17 All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver. Their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. 18 The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze. 19 All the utensils of the tabernacle for every use, and all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.

-The gate has the same screen or veil as the opening of the temple as well as the separation of Holy of Holies minus the Cherubim. As it says, all tools are made of bronze, the outer walls and hooks in pillars are constructed of silver, and the holiest places and objects of Gold. The further you go in, the more you go from bronze to silver to gold. These elements are very special as they are some of the only metals that can be found pure that aren’t mixed with other materials and they all share the same column in the periodic table in column 11: http://djarn.edublogs.org/files/2011/01/periodic-table-2jh1745.gif . For those like me who didn’t know this, Bronze is copper with just a little bit of another metal like tin mixed in. These three elements do not rust or tarnish nor are they magnetic. God chose the perfect materials and ordered them in order of rarity and atomic number from smallest and most common to largest and least common.
Oil for the Lamp
20 “You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.

-Pure beaten olive oil would be the best possible olive oil that could be used meaning only the highest quality is worthy of use in God’s tabernacle. The lamp is tended “evening to morning” which would imply overnight. If it were 24 hours non-stop, it would say “evening to evening”. The lampstand, as discussed before, represents Jesus as the light of the world and it is always lit at night to show that God watches over us while we sleep. Take note of the word “forever” and realize forever means forever. In the New Earth, priests will light a lamp every night in the tent of meeting.

Sources:)

http://raebear.net/faith/biblestudy/exodus/seg3_sinai/courtyard.php

http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/ancient-altars.html

http://www.knowyourmessiah.com/tabernaclem.htm

http://www.scienceminusdetails.com/2012/08/why-are-olympic-medals-gold-silver-and.html

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