Moses waited on bended knees. He lifted his hands in praise. “Great and Mighty God, Your ways and Your thoughts are beyond everything I’ve imagined. Yahweh, I am in awe of the things You are showing me. I cannot help but wonder why You chose me for this assignment. I am humbled by the beauty You are showing me, and I haven’t yet seen Your house. The beauty humbles me. It will stir attention in this wilderness of red sand and rock. May it draw Your people to come closer. How I want them to know You as I do. What are You going to show me today? Are you going to tell me about Your house? The Tabernacle?”
Moses waited. He knew God was listening. Before hearing Him speak the first time Moses was on the mountain alone for six days. (Exodus 24:16) “I am willing to wait, Yahweh. I love being in Your glorious Presence,” he sighed.
As a warm breeze wrapped around him, Yahweh spoke. “Before we get to the Tabernacle, I have two important pieces to describe to you. Find a comfortable place to sit and relax. You are going to see the details as I explain them to you.”
Moses sat down and leaned against a big rock. Putting his head back, he closed his eyes with expectation.
“And thou shalt make an altar of shittim (pronounced shh team) wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.” Exodus 27:1
“Wood is a picture of humanity, Moses. It is subject to harm and death. But, as you know, shittim or acacia wood is not open to decay. Its use in the altar represents My Son. What you are building here is the Altar of Sacrifice. It is a picture of My Son who will come as a sinless man and sacrifice His physical body and blood for the sins of all mankind. ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given you the blood to sprinkle upon the altar as an atonement for your souls; it is the blood that makes atonement because it is the life.’ Leviticus 17:11 TLB Without holiness, men cannot come before Me.”
As God presented the details about the blood, Moses smiled. “Now I know why the scarlet thread is in the Gate. And now I see why we will enter the gate with thanksgiving and praise,” he reasoned in his mind. “What love You have for Your people, Yahweh.”
“In later times,” Yahweh continued. “Paul will write. ‘He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.’ Philippians 2:7-8
And in 1 Corinthians 5:21 ‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’
Then in Colossians 1:21-23 ‘And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.’
“The word altar means to be lifted up or a place of slaughter. The prophet Isaiah will write about this sacrifice. ‘He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.’ Isaiah 53:7
“And later My Son will say, ‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.’ John 12:32 NIV
“This altar of five-cubit or seven-and-a-half-foot sides symbolizes My free gifts of favor and grace. Grace is the power to do My will without striving. These gifts are for all the world. That is the meaning of the four equal sides. Its three-cubit or four-and-a-half-foot height represents Myself, My Son, and Holy Spirit. We are all a part of the atonement offering.”
“Let’s go on. ‘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 27:2
“Horns represent power, strength, salvation, or rulers. On the Altar of Sacrifice, they represent salvation and mercy. In the future, Adonijah and Joab will both go into the Tabernacle courtyard and take hold of the horns of this altar hoping for mercy. 1 Kings 1:50-53, 1 Kings 2:28-34 One will receive mercy and the other will not. I am looking for a response from the heart.
When the people bring their sacrifices, they will tie the animals to the horns of the altar for burning. But My Son will willingly give His life.
“As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep… No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:15, 18
[Bronze covered the altar inside and out. “Bronze is one of the earliest metals known to man. It is an alloy made of copper and another metal, usually tin. Compositions vary, but most modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. (https://www.thoughtco.com/bronze-composition-and-properties-603730)]
Going on, Yahweh related the rest of the instructions. “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.” Exodus 27:3-8
“The utensils used by the priests who tend the altar will also be bronze. Plus, bronze covers the rings and poles or staves used to transport the altar from one place to another. The Altar of Sacrifice is the place of judgment for sin and bronze represents judgment.”
With his eyes still closed, Moses marveled. Before him, he saw the fiery glow of the brazen altar. Even without the fire burning inside, it radiated God’s love, His mercy, and His sacrifice.
“Yahweh,” he prayed. “You are giving me understanding today. It humbles me. Thanksgiving and praise overflow without effort from my heart. My prayer is that the people will understand too. Rather than withdraw from You as they did at the bottom of the mountain, may they draw near to honor You and give You praise. Teach us Your ways, Yahweh. We have so much to learn.”
While I’ve added a touch of fiction here, I believe it may be close to the original experience. So little of the cross and the sacrifice are preached today. Paul knew the value of this message to draw people into worship and salvation. 1 Corinthians 2:2 says For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Is it possible to enter His presence without a full appreciation for all He’s done?
Spend time this week considering His sacrifice. Take some time to thank Him. He dwells in the praises of His people. Invite Him in through remembering and worship.