THE BRAZEN ALTAR
The Brazen Altar in Moses' day was made of shittim wood overlaid with bronze. Acacia or shittim wood is known for its durability, and wood represents humanity. “Shittim” means to scourge, to flog or to pierce. Bronze, as we discussed earlier, represents judgment. In this we can see a type of Christ whose indestructible body was scourged, pierced and sacrificed for the judgment of your sin and mine.
After Aaron and his sons were anointed by Moses as priests they offered the first sacrifices upon this altar, and God’s fire descended from heaven and consumed it. In that day an animal was sacrificed after the priest laid his hands on its head, symbolically transferring the sins of the people onto the animal. The altar was always burning and was in daily use.
The meat offerings of that day foreshadowed Christ's sinless body that would be the only acceptable substitute for our sins. Oil that was poured on the altar symbolizes Jesus' anointing by the Holy Spirit. The burning of the animal also represents Jesus' obedience, even unto death, that was a sweet smelling aroma to the Father. Some of the meat offered as burnt offerings was used as food for the priests. What a wonderful reminder that Christ is our Daily Bread!
The word “altar” comes from a root word meaning “a place of sacrifice”. Today you and I don’t need to bring an animal. But God tells us in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Just as in Moses’ time when sacrifices were given to God daily, we must bring ourselves to the Father daily, offering our lives up to Him.
Our sacrifice is our flesh – the carnality that we still must deal with on a daily basis. When we offer our fleshly desires, emotions, thoughts, attitudes and actions up to the Lord He consumes them. This is a vital part of the process of growing in intimacy with Him because, “no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:29.
Only the fire from the Brazen Altar was used to ignite the altar of incense in the Holy Place. Anything else would be strange fire, and not acceptable to God. What does this mean for you and me? It means that we cannot offer true worship or true intercession until and unless we first offer ourselves as sacrifices. This requires brutal honesty, laying aside all pretenses and excuses, and agreeing with God that we have fallen short of His glory. In other words we have sinned. It is the place of total surrender.
Sacrifice is always painful and messy, and it is tempting to fore-go it. I believe that this is why so many of the altars in today’s churches have become places of entertainment, self-promotion and empty ritual. Flesh has not died. But when you and I willingly give everything over to the Lord, when we deny ourselves as Christ did, then the Father is pleased to accept our sacrifice and He Himself resurrects us into a newer level of intimacy with Him. He then prepares us for the next step in the process – washing at the Bronze Laver.
To be continued….