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Friday, July 18, 2014

Tabernacle - Outer Court

Outer Court of the Tabernacle

Yesterday we studied about the Tabernacle's Outer Court curtains, pillars and gate. What was in the compound? There were two items in the Outer Court before the Priests went into the Tabernacle proper, the tent of worship.

(If you will read the entry below this one, you will see the beginning of this study.)

As you came in through the gate, you were in the Outer Court. This Outer Court only had the natural light for lighting. The first thing you would encounter was the Brazen Altar.

The Brazen Altar

Exodus 27:1-8 And you shall make an altar of acacia-wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square. And the height of it shall be three cubits. And you shall make the horns of it upon the four corners of it. Its horns shall be of the same, and you shall overlay it with bronze. And you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels, and its basins, and its flesh-hooks, and its fire-pans. All the vessels of it you shall make of bronze. And you shall make for it a grating, a network of bronze. And upon the net you shall make four bronze rings in the four corners of it. And you shall put it under the ledge of the altar beneath, so that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. And you shall make staves for the altar, staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with bronze. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to carry it. You shall make it hollow with boards; as it was shown you in the mountain, so shall they make it.

The largest piece of equipment, furniture, in the Tabernacle is the Brazen Altar and was also known as the Altar of Burnt Offering. It was made of acacia (or shittim) wood overlaid with bronze (or brass). It had 4 horns on the corners. It had a grate of bronze set beneath the rim of the altar. It had rings on it and poles were used to pick it up and move it. A holy fire was kept burning in it at all times. God supernaturally lit the fire the first time and it was never to go out.

Leviticus 9:22-24 And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out and blessed the people. And the glory of Jehovah appeared to all the people. And there came a fire out from before Jehovah, and burned up the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. And all the people saw and shouted and fell on their faces.

It was to this altar that an Israelite would come with his chosen sacrifice. The Priest would take the sacrifice to the altar and sacrifice it.

The wood symbolizes humanity. The bronze (or brass) symbolizes judgement. The wood overlaid with brass symbolizes that our sin-bearer (Jesus Christ) can endure God's righteous judgement against sin. The brass (or bronze) on the altar protected it from the heat of the fire and prevented it from being burnt up. It was at the altar that the price was paid for sin.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus was the sinless human who was sacrificed for our sins. He is the righteous God of judgement. Christ passed through the fires of God’s judgement without being consumed. He saves, because He is able to endure. It is at the altar that God's hatred for sin is revealed in judgement. But it is here that God's mercy is shown because He provided His very Son to take righteous judgement on our behalf.

As I've said before, Jesus is God man. You see, Jesus had to be a human in order to pay God for the human acts of sin that had separated us from God. And, yet, there will never be a human that is not born sinless. So Jesus also had to be God in order to be sinless. He was human from Mary's side. His mother was a human being. He was God from God's side. God conceived Jesus in Mary's womb. Only a human could pay for sin because it was a human, Adam and Eve, who had sinned to start with and passed down the sin in every human being born afterwards. Only God could be born and live a sinless life. That is why He is called the Son of God and the Son of Man.

Note this description of Jesus in Revelation,
Rev 1:13-18 And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and tied around the breast with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And His eyes were like a flame of fire. And His feet were like burnished brass having been fired in a furnace. And His voice was like the sound of many waters. And He had seven stars in His right hand, and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. And His face was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying to me, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.

The Priest walked up an incline with the sacrifice to the edge of the altar and would tie the sacrifice to the horns where it would be sacrificed. Horns always represented strength.

Psa 118:27 God is Jehovah, who gives light to us. Tie the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

Christ did not have to be tied down or forced to be our sacrifice. He voluntarily submitted Himself to be sacrificed on our behalf. At any time He could have called down an army of angels to save Himself but He didn't. He went as a lamb to slaughter. He gave His life for us and to pay for our sins, to make atonement, to pay the price, to redeem us, to recieve the judgement upon Himself.

1 Peter 2:21-24 For you were not called to this? For Christ also suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps, He who did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth, who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him who judges righteously. He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.

The Laver
The Laver was another piece of the Tabernacle furniture. It was a round bronze (or brass) basin.

Exodus 30:17-21 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, You shall also make a laver of bronze and its foot also of bronze, for washing. And you shall put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet there. When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water so that they do not die. Or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Jehovah, they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they do not die. And it shall be a statute forever to them, to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

Exodus 38:8 And he made the laver of bronze, and its base bronze, out of the mirrors of serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

The Lord directed Moses to use the mirrors that women gave him to make the Laver. Back in those days they didn't have the glass mirrors of today. They had made mirrors of highly polished metal. These were made of bronze (or brass). A laver is a large basin that was used for washing. It was highly polished with a mirror like finish. As the priest looked into the laver he saw himself and then was told to wash himself. He ceremonially washed his hands and his feet.

Whereas the Brazen Altar was indicative of the fire of judgement, the Laver was indicative of the washing by water. Only the priests could use this basin. Water is a symbol of washing, refreshing, cleansing, life (for without water there is no life). At the brazen altar, sins were dealt with and now, the laver is for priestly purification, cleansing. The Laver symbolizes the need of cleansing from the guilt of sin in everyday life even after we are saved by Christ's sacrifice. We are saved but we are still human beings with a persistent evil human nature. So we are saved but we still sin. We have a need to approach the laver, to look at our spiritual selves and to wash once again. What is our mirror? What shows us our sin? What convicts us of our sin? The Bible.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Psalm 119:9 With what shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

James 1:22-25 But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror. For he studied himself and went his way, and immediately he forgot what he was like. But whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his doing.

When we read the Bible, the Word of God, we are naturally convicted of our sins. We realize that we are sinners and that we need cleansing. The Word is like a mirror of our souls. If you have read the Picture of Dorian Grey you will remember that Dorian Grey never aged or looked dissipated. Rather, his portrait showed the passage of time. In fact, as he practised more and more wickedness, he remained young and vital and yet his portrait grew hideous. It became so hideous, full of horror, that he had it locked in an upstairs room and kept covered. He could barely stand to look at it because it mirrored his soul. He visually saw his own vileness, wickedness, sinfulness. Finally he could stand it no longer. It's a wonderful book. But, back to the Laver. It symbolizes the Word of God that mirrors the condition of our soul. We see our true image in it's mirrored surface. We see our need of cleansing. We should approach the Laver daily. We should daily read the Word and take a look at the condition of our soul. If we find sin then we should wash ourselves clean with the blood of Christ.

Remember that Christ died for us to save us from our sins and to present us righteous and clean before God. In order for us to approach God, we must be saved (the Brazen Altar) and we must continually wash ourselves in the Laver. The sacrifice at the Brazen Altar was done FOR us but the washing in the Laver is done BY us. In order to have communion or fellowship with God we must be free of offense. We can go to the Laver and look carefully at ourselves to see if there by any sin (go to the Bible and read it with yourself in mind and see if it applies to you) and then humbly ask Jesus to wash you once again. We have no need for a total washing as that was done at the Brazen Altar, but specific washing by our Priest and Servant, Jesus. Remember the story of the foot washing?

John 13:4-15 He rose up from supper and laid aside His garments. And He took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, Lord, do You wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, You do not know what I do now, but you shall know hereafter. Peter said to Him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me. Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and head. Jesus said to him, He who is bathed has no need except to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. And you are clean, but not all. For He knew who would betray Him. Therefore He said, You are not all clean. So after He had washed their feet and had taken His garments and had reclined again, He said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me the Teacher, and Lord, and you say well, for I AM. If then I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Jesus is our gate to a relationship with God, He is our protection, He is our Tabernacle, He is our Sacrifice and our High Priest, He is the furniture of the Tabernacle. Jesus is everything! He washes away failures in our actions and failures in our walk (hands and feet).

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies having been washed with pure water.

We will go inside the Tabernacle proper in my next devotion.

Read more of my posts on The Tabernacle.

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