Exodus 27

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 21, 2008


We’ve been looking at the design of the worship system we call “The Tabernacle”.  This was the worship center that Moses was to build so the Israelites would learn how to worship God in the wilderness.  It was built to be portable. We’ve looked at:

The Ark of the Covenant – the picture of God’s throne

The Table for the special bread – a picture that God wants to feed us with spiritual food, bread that has spent time in God’s presence.

The Golden Lamp (Menorah) – we are God’s light in a dark world.

The Tent itself – layers of cloth with pictures of heaven, gold covered boards to remind of heaven, and a series of veils to cover up the Holy of Holies – all to remind us that God has reached out to man, established a place on earth to show man that He wants mankind to know Him, God desires intimacy from His people.

:1-8 Bronze Altar

:1 "You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square; and its height shall be three cubits.

altarmizbeach – altar; from zabach – to slaughter, kill, sacrifice

The altar was 7 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feed wide, and 4 ½ feet tall.

:2 "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.

hornsqeren – horn; from qaran – to shine; to send out rays

There would also be horns on the “golden altar”, the place of prayer, which will be inside the Tabernacle.

We have an idea of what the horns on an altar look like because of what archaeology has dug up, like this incense altar found in Megiddo, Israel.

It’s not real clear what the significance of the horns were, but they certainly had importance.

Some sacrifices were tied the horns of the altar (Ps. 118:27b)

(Psa 118:27b NKJV)  …Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

There were times during sacrifice when the horns of the altar were to be smeared with blood (Ex. 29:12 – during priest’s ordination; for sin offerings Lev. 4:25, 30, 34)

Horns are thought to be symbols of power because they are the main way that an animal with a horn attacks or defends itself (Dan. 8:5, 9).

A criminal could cling to the horns of the altar as a way of asking for mercy (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28), perhaps seeking the “power” of the altar?

bronze[email protected] – copper, bronze (which is usually copper mixed with tin)

:3-8 Summarize

We get more details as to how the altar and its accompanying tools were made.

:3 "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.

There are differing ideas as to exactly how the altar looked.

Some see the entire structure being 4 ½ feet tall with the grate two feet from the top.

Others see the grate at the bottom of the 4 ½ foot tall box, and then setting on top of another structure where the fire would be. Show Ilumina video.

Altar Lessons

1. Approaching God requires sacrifice

The altar was the first thing you encounter when you enter the courtyard.
You don’t get too far past the door without being reminded that you have a debt with God.
Here’s the truth about coming to God:
We are all sinners (Rom. 3:23)
Our sin separates us from God (Rom. 6:23)
The remedy for sin is sacrifice.

One of the kinds of sacrifices performed at the bronze altar was the “sin offering” (Lev. 4)

The animal that is sacrificed pays for your sin by dying in your place.

This is what Jesus did for us.  Jesus died for us.

(1 Cor 15:3 NKJV)  …Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

The first time you come to God, you need to come through Jesus.  Jesus has paid for your sins.
You come to God and say, “God, I am a sinner in need of forgiveness.  I come to you because I believe Jesus has paid for my sins”.

And you have access to God.

Even after you’ve come to Christ, you will find that from time to time you continue to sin.
But because Jesus is God, and His death for us was an infinite one, we no longer need a sacrifice for sin, now we need to simply confess our sin to find forgiveness.

(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we no longer need a sin offering, are we done with the concept of the altar?  Not at all.  There are other sacrifices at are important.

2. The Burnt Offering - Consecration

When we talk about a burnt offering, we’re not talking about my barbecue expertise, burning a steak.
With most offerings, only part of the animal was put on the altar and consumed in the fire.  And yes, it was a bit like a nice barbecue.
The unique thing about the “burnt offering” was that the entire animal would be put on the fire and completely burned up.
When that animal represented you, that meant that you were being completely burned up on the altar.
It’s a picture of you being completely given to God.
I believe that Paul is hinting at the Burnt Offering when he writes,
(Rom 12:1-2 NKJV)  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. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Let the bronze altar be a reminder to give all of ourselves to the Lord.

There are other offerings we could look at, but instead let me just end this section with a word about:

3. Altar Etiquette

When it comes to etiquette, perhaps we think about learning how to set a table correctly.
Maybe we think of the proper way to talk to a woman.
My concern is that we learn the proper way to use the altar.
(Mat 5:23-24 NKJV)  "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

There are some folks who have the attitude that as long as they confess their sins to God, it doesn’t matter how they treat other people.

God is very concerned about how you treat others.

He doesn’t want to be your excuse for being rude or ungracious.

We can’t always make things right with others – not everyone is willing to forgive.  But we can certainly do our part and ask for forgiveness.

(Rom 12:18 NKJV)  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

“It’s much easier for a Westerner to say ‘sorry’ than compared with a Chinese,” claims Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociology professor at People’s University in China. “As a society, China lacks the spirit of apologizing.”
This difficulty with apologies has given rise to the Tianjin Apology and Gift Center. It is a company whose task is to deliver apologies and attempt to facilitate reconciliation. The company’s motto is “We Say Sorry for You.”
Chinese scholars say the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West is very different from Chinese history. An apology in China involves a formal procedure and is a very stressful process for all concerned. “I’m not sure how long it will last,” says Professor Zhou. “In our increasingly commercialized society, people have the idea that you can pay money to others to do your work for you, and that includes apologizing. But if you are sincere, you should go and apologize by yourself.”
Elisabeth Rosenthal, "For a Fee, Chinese Firm Will Beg Pardon for Anyone," New York Times (1-3-01); submitted by Rubel Shelly, Nashville, Tennessee
There is a correct “etiquette” before God’s altar.  Apologize.  Make things right with that other person you’ve wronged.

:9-19 The Courtyard

:9 "You shall also make the court of the tabernacle… For the south side there shall be hangings for the court made of fine woven linen, one hundred cubits long for one side.

:10 "And its twenty pillars and their twenty sockets shall be bronze. The hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be silver.

The Tabernacle along with the bronze altar, were not out in view of the entire public.  They were set up inside a sort of compound marked off with a white linen cloth fence, forming a “courtyard”.

The courtyard was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide.  The cloth fence was 7 ½ feet high, making it hard to for anyone to peek over.

The fence was held up by a system of “pillars”, which we might call “fence posts”.  The pillars had a base made of bronze, were connected at the top with silver rods and hooks, and were also apparently supported with bronze stakes and cords (Ex. 27:19; 35:18).

Summarize vs. 10-19

Play the Courtyard Video

:11 "Likewise along the length of the north side there shall be hangings one hundred cubits long, with its twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of bronze, and the hooks of the pillars and their bands of silver.

:12 "And along the width of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits, with their ten pillars and their ten sockets.

:13 "The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits.

:14 "The hangings on one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets.

:15 "And on the other side shall be hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three sockets.

:16 "For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. It shall have four pillars and four sockets.

:17 "All the pillars around the court shall have bands of silver; their hooks shall be of silver and their sockets of bronze.

:18 "The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, the width fifty throughout, and the height five cubits, made of fine woven linen, and its sockets of bronze.

:19 "All the utensils of the tabernacle for all its service, all its pegs, and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.

Courtyard Lesson

Separation is Holiness

Even though the Tabernacle and God’s presence were right in the center of the nation of Israel and their camp, there was still a difference between God and the people.
God’s point was that He was not like them.
God even had to make some silly rules, obvious for us, but apparently not so obvious to the Israelites, that He was different from them.
There were no outhouses in the ancient Israeli camp.  One of God’s rules was to make the people learn to dig a hole when they went “poop”, and then to fill in the hole after they had done their “duty”.  When I read that, I think, “Isn’t that obvious?”  But it wasn’t for the people.

(Deu 23:14 NKJV)  "For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.

It almost sounds like a parent teaching their child to keep their room clean.

The “fence” was white, it reminded you that you were entering a “clean” place.  It meant you were entering the place of someone who was different than you, someone who was “clean”.
Some things sound so obvious to us, but sometimes the important things aren’t so obvious.
(1 Cor 6:18-20 NKJV)  Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. {19} Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? {20} For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

God dwells in our hearts.  He wants for us to learn to keep His room clean.

:20-21 Light Maintenance

:20 "And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.

:21 "In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.

Show video about the olive press.

We have talked about how the lamp, the “Menorah” was a picture of us, believers, being the light of the world.

Oil lamps need oil.  Here’s where the oil comes from.


Oil from the press

Some of us have been experiencing a growing desire to be used by God to help lost people find Jesus.
That’s what it means to be a “light” in the world.
But to be a good light, you need oil, you need the work of the Holy Spirit.
One of the lessons here in the Tabernacle is about the source of that oil – from “pressed” olives.
How does this work in our lives?
(2 Cor 1:3-4 NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
tribulation thlipsis – pressing together, pressure; affliction

Does this word remind you of something?  It reminds me of the “pressed” olives.

comfortsparakaleo (“alongside” + “to call”) – to call to one’s side for help

It’s a word similar to the one translated “Helper” in:

(John 14:16 NKJV)  "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever;

One of the ways that God comforts us in our affliction is through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” in the King James, one of His jobs is to come alongside us to help, to comfort.

A soldier was wounded in a battle and ordered to the nearest military hospital. Arriving at the entrance, he saw two doors: one marked “For Minor Wounds,” the other “For Serious Wounds.”  He entered the first door and walked down a long hallway. At the end of the hall, he saw two more doors. The first read “For Officers,” the other “For Enlisted Men.” The soldier went through the second door. Again, he found himself walking down a long hallway with two doors at the end. One read “For Party Members,” the other “For Non-Party Members.” The wounded soldier took the second door and found himself back out on the street. When he got back to his unit, his buddies asked, “How’d your trip to the hospital go?” “The people really didn’t help me much,” he said, “but, man, are they organized!”
Andy Cook, The Search for God's Own Heart; found in Men of Integrity (March/April 2005)
I hope that isn’t what they say about us.  I’d rather that we be a little more on the disorganized side as long as we can help others.
How can we turn our “pressing” into something that helps?
The problem lies in what you do with your “pressing”.

Does it make you bitter or make you better?

I think the answer lies in whether or not you find God’s comfort in your affliction.  The answer lies in where you put your eyes.

In October, 1871, Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago businessman, lost most of his worldly possessions in the famous Chicago fire.
In the autumn of 1873, Spafford placed his wife, Anna, and their four children on the Ville du Havre sailing from New York to France. He was forced to stay in the United States for several more weeks to settle some business matters before he could journey to join the family in Europe.
The evening of November 21 found the Ville du Havre prow-east toward France on a calm Atlantic. The journey was progressing beautifully. A few hours later, about two o’clock in the morning on November 22, the Ville du Havre was carrying its sleeping passengers over a quiet sea when two terrific claps like thunder were followed by frightening screams. The engine stopped, the ship stood still. Passageways were filled with terrified, half-dressed people shouting questions that no one could answer. The Ville du Havre had been rammed by the English vessel, the Lochearn.
Mrs. Spafford saw three of her children swept away by the sea while she stood clutching the youngest child. Suddenly, she felt her baby torn violently from her arms. She reached out through the water and caught little Tanetta’s gown. For a minute she held her again. Then the cloth wrenched from her hand. She reached out again and touched a man’s leg in corduroy trousers. She became unconscious. She awoke later, finding that she had been rescued by sailors from the Lochearn. But her four children were gone.
In the meantime, Horatio Spafford was back in the United States, desperate to receive news of his family. Finally, the blow fell. A cable arrived from Wales stating that the four daughters were lost at sea, but his wife was still alive. He was crushed with what had happened. All night he walked the floor in anguish. Toward the morning he turned to his friend, Major Whittle, and said, “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.”
On the way across the Atlantic to join his wife, the captain announced that they were now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. For Horatio Spafford, this was passing through the valley of the shadow of death. He sat down in his cabin on the high seas, near the place where his children perished, and wrote the hymn that would give comfort to so many, titled “It Is Well with My Soul.”
John Huffman, "The Fruit of the Spirit Is Peace," PreachingToday.com

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

How do we turn the “pressing” into oil that is a light to the world?
Where did Mr. Spafford have his eyes?  His eyes were on Jesus. 
Paul wrote:
(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.