The Bronze Altar (Exodus 27:1-8)
At the time of Moses, the people were required to bring a sacrifice when entering the Eastern Gate. At this point they would be standing before the Bronze Altar while the priest would slay their sacrifice and present it upon the altar before God.
The bronze altar was 7 ½ feet wide and 7 ½ feet long and 4 ½ feet high, a square. It was made of wood encased in bronze. The wood speaks of our Savior’s body, His humanity, the Son of Man as our sacrifice. The bronze cries forth of judgment upon our sins by a Holy God. The fire is a picture of God’s wrath upon sin that He brought down upon His only begotten Son, for us.
As the flames leapt to the heavens, the intense heat consumed the sacrifice, leaving smoke wafting in the air and the smell of judgment upon the altar. However, the wood of the altar was not consumed, since it was securely wrapped in bronze. This reminds me that Jesus is not in His grave. The grave is empty. With us, our corpse would be resting in the earth, but Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father. He said that no one could take His life. He gave it freely, and He conquered death (John 2:19; 10:18).
Year after year, those living prior to the cross brought their sacrifices to the altar in anticipation of the one and final sacrifice that would be made (Isaiah 53:7). All those multiplied thousands of sacrifices only stayed God’s hand of judgment upon us until He provided the sacrifice of His own Son. Then Jesus accepted His Father’s wrath on our behalf upon the cross. Jesus stood in the gap, and deflected all judgment for our sins upon Himself. God gave us a picture of God the Father sacrificing His own Son in Genesis chapter 22 with Abraham and Isaac.
Since the cross, there is no longer any need for sacrifices. Notice what the Lord states in Hebrews 10:1-4; 11-18.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
The one sacrifice that matters has been made and the penalty for sin has been paid by Jesus Christ. To offer any other is a sin and will not be accepted as the following verses say.
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)
The knowledge of the truth is that Jesus Christ is the only sacrifice that God will accept. If we continue to deny that sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, and instead offer our own works, we will remain in our sins and face the judgment of God.
This is very serious. God has made it very clear in His Word that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. The only thing we can do is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
It is crystal clear in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it is “…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
But human nature wants to add something to it or take something away from it. To do this will bring down God’s judgment upon those who refuse His Son.
And then there are those who just will not accept a blood sacrifice for their sins, specifically the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They are those who follow the way of Cain. They want to do it their way. However, God says,
“…without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Sad to say, many will go to their graves thinking they are good enough to face what they are not sure is on the other side of death. Those of us who know Jesus Christ are sure what is there; i.e. Jesus as Judge or Jesus with open arms. Any other sacrifice than that of Jesus Christ will not be accepted. These unbelieving souls will meet Him as Judge.
The Bronze Altar is the Cross of Christ. Where we once brought sacrifices to the Bronze Altar, we must now come empty handed before the Cross of Christ. To do otherwise is eternal suicide. He is our Sacrifice. He can be our Savior, and if He is our Savior, then He is our Lord and our God.