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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

February 7, 2018

Exodus  27:1-21

  1. Verses 1-18: Here are instructions for the outer courtyard (“court”) of the tabernacle. Because this is where animal sacrifices were offered. Only the pieces that the priests needed for this duty were placed here: the “altar” of burnt offering (30:28; Lev. 4:7), also known as the bronze altar (38:30), and the bronze basin (40:6-7), for washing.

  2. Verse 1. The largest piece of equipment, also known as the “altar of burnt offering” (Lev. 4:7, 10, 18), was situated in the courtyard of the tabernacle. It was covered, not in gold as the items inside the Holy Place, but in bronze. The altar symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ coming in human flesh. Made of perishable wood (as in the pillars, a symbol of humanity), the altar was made invulnerable by its bronze sheeting (a symbol of invincibility). Like the other pieces of furniture and equipment, it was also built to be carried by poles (verses 6-7). This altar was 7 1/2 feet square and 4 l/2 feet high.

  3. Verse 2. The bronze/brass altar of burnt offering was also an altar with horns. In (Leviticus 4:7, 10, 18), this altar is named “the altar of burnt offering.” The position of this altar near the entrance of the main court indicates very clearly the absolute necessity for the sacrificial blood atonement before real fellowship can be initiated with an infinitely holy God. The slaughter of animals was a vivid reminder to Israel that sin indeed requires a high price. The horns were used to bind the sacrificial animals (Psalm 118:27). “Bronze/Brass” has to do with judgment. The brazen altar was the first thing a person came to when he entered the court. A person who comes to God must go to the place of repentance first. You cannot truly worship God until you realize you have sinned, repent, be saved and then worship God. The place of repentance was before the place of baptism. This altar was outside the holy place in the outer court. When someone would sin, he would run to this place, grab hold of these horns of mercy and beg for forgiveness. Even the priest on the way to the sanctuary had to pass by this brazen altar. This was a place of purging away sin. There was an altar in the holy place, but an individual could not go to that altar. This brazen altar was available to everyone. These “horns” on the corners of this altar showed God's strength, not man's. This altar not only made man conscious of his sin, but was a place where man could come and make peace with God. This altar, in that sense, was symbolic of the cross of Jesus which does the same thing. We Christians find our place of repentance at the cross of Jesus.

  4. Verses 3-5. All the altar’s utensils and accessories were also made of bronze, not gold.

  5. Everything to do with this brazen altar was of the very same metal. These instruments did not need to be gold, because they would not be used in the Holy Place or the Most Holy Place. God also instructed the construction of a grate/plate of brass with holes in it, to let through either the blood that drained from the parts of the sacrifice or the ashes. The grate was fastened to the four horns of the altar so it could be let down and hung in the middle of the altar.

  6. Verses 6-8. They were to make poles like those that were made for the ark. The grate that was lowered had poles that were used to raise and lower, and the altar had poles that were used to transport the altar.

  7. Verse 9. The tabernacle courtyard (“court”) was a rectangle outlined by a wall of curtains (“hangings”) and posts (20 on the south side, 20 on the north, and 10 on the west end). These curtains, which were 7.5 feet tall, blocked public view into the courtyard. The dimensions of the rectangular courtyard space, bordered by curtains and poles around the tabernacle were also precisely given (150 feet by 75 feet). The outer hangings were high enough, 5 cubits or 7.5 feet, to block all view of the interior of the courtyard (verse 18). Entry into the courtyard of God’s dwelling place was not gained just generally and freely from all quarters. The long part of this outside court was a wall of linen 150 feet long. The court marked out the boundaries of the sanctuary with a pure white linen curtain, broken only by the colorful section which marked the single gate. Inside were the altar of burnt offering, the basin, and the holy places. Into this area, the individual worshipers would come to offer sacrifices and seek God’s presence.

  8. Verses 10-11. This “north side” and “south side” were both 150 feet long and this was held up by 20 pillars. These pillars were not solid bronze (imagine the weight!), but were made of acacia wood, and then bronze-plated. The silver-plated upper portion of the pillars, and the “bands” wrapped around the pillars to hold on the “hooks” which held up the curtains. Here we have an illustration of the true believer--just dead wood, but covered over with the character of Christ, crowned with glory, and holding “the confession of our hope” in Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:7, 1 Peter 5:4, Hebrews 10:23). This “curtain of linen” (righteousness), was going out around the entire court of the tabernacle. The linen represents righteousness, and specifically Christ’s righteousness worked out in the believers’ life experience. This is not a passive righteousness. No, these are the ones who have overcome, who have gone through the great tribulation and come out victorious, who have washed their robes, and have done righteous acts. All the hangings of the court all around were of fine woven linen. The white linen curtain surrounded the entire court. This represents the righteousness of believers--not just individuals, but all God’s people together. From the outside, the white linen formed an unmistakable boundary of righteousness. Everything inside was holy; everything outside was common. This is God’s plan for His church. The hooks that held the curtains were made of silver. We are held up by silver (Christ’s redemption and righteousness).

  9. Verses 12-13. The east and the west outside walls were 75 feet Wide. This made the outside enclosure 75 feet by 150 feet. As we said before, anyone could come here for help from God. The metals in all of this, give us the progression a Christian goes through on his way to God. The first thing is, we judge ourselves, which is represented by bronze. Then we seek redemption in Jesus. Redemption is symbolized by silver, or the cost paid. God accepts us and brings us into His presence. Gold is symbolic of the presence of God. We find this progression: In the outer court, bronze at the entrance. In the Holy Place, silver and gold. And in the Most Holy Place, gold only.

  10. Verses 14-16. On either side of the opening entrance to the outer court, there were three pillars, 22 1/2 feet high on either side of the entrance. The opening was in the middle, not counting the corner pillar which holds the curtains up. The doorway was a curtain as well. To enter, one just pushed this curtain back and came in. You could call it a gate, but really it was just a loose curtain hanging in the opening to keep curiosity seekers from seeing inside. Anyone repentant could come to the outer court. The curtain forming the covering for the entrance way into the courtyard was colored differently from that which surrounded the oblong courtyard. Clearly there was only one way to enter this very special place where God had chosen to place the evidence of His dwelling with His people. We see that this entrance into the outer court was beautiful. These beautiful heavenly colors were woven into this curtain are symbolic of the beauty of Christ (Exodus 38:18). The single entrance of the courtyard represents Christ, the only means of access to God. He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). The special screen or curtain which marked the gate was woven with fine white linen of blue, purple, and scarlet threads. We do not know the exact pattern. The three colors each have symbolic significance. Blue represents loyalty, purple is associated with royalty, and scarlet is the color of blood and sacrifice. Notice that loyalty and sacrifice (blue and scarlet), when combined, indicate royalty (purple). We are told that Jesus was “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8-9), (Revelation 19:16). The door is inviting and glorious. These (four) pillars show that “whosoever will” can enter in at this gate. The number “Four” means universal or all and we know that God turns no one down because of nationality, color, sex or age. Salvation is offered to whosoever will. This gate was never locked, but was always open.

  11. Verses 17-19. Except for the silver post and hooks, everything in the courtyard was made of bronze. The courtyard was a place where one prepared themselves to fellowship with God by examining their lives.

  12. Verses 20-21. The clear oil from crushed un-ripened olives granted almost a smoke-free light. The people were to provide the fuel to maintain the light needed by the High Priest and his priestly staff in the Holy Place. This “beaten oil olive” is symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God in dwelling in us. This Light, that was to burn always, is the Spirit. We must always allow the light of God to shine. Aaron and his sons were to keep the lamps burning from evening till morning.

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