November 13 — The Bronze Altar
Read Exodus 27:1-8
Outside the central tabernacle structure was a fenced-in courtyard. This courtyard was the only area accessible to the general population. However, this was not a place for congregating or socializing. The purpose of the courtyard is defined by what could be found at its center. At the center of the courtyard stood a large bronze altar. On this altar, the people would burn the sacrifices required to atone for their sins. Each day, the courtyard would be filled with smoke and the cries of dying animals. This was not a happy place, but displayed the gravity of sin and the serious measures needed to make atonement. The altar, being as large as it was, would almost completely block the view of the inner tabernacle when one entered the courtyard. It stood as a reminder of the gap sin leaves between man and God.
In the time of the tabernacle, there was a long list of sacrifices to be offered for various reasons. Some sin required large animals, some small birds, and others flour, oil, or grain. All of this was designed to make atonement for one’s transgressions and be at peace with God. However, not matter how many sacrifices one made, it still didn’t permit them the ability to enter into the actual tabernacle and the holy presence of God. Only the priest could enter the Holy Place, and the High Priest the Most Holy Place. A common man could never make enough reparation to enter into the presence of God. A few thousand years later, though, God would supply the perfect sacrifice, His only Son Jesus Christ, who would once and for all make the reparation necessary to cover every sin and permit those who believe into the presence of God. Jesus did not abolish the sacrifices described in the Book of the Law, but He fulfilled each and every one of them.