Exodus 27:1-8
And you shall make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare…

I. Look now at the POSITION which God assigned to the altar of sacrifice in the Jewish Tabernacle, that heaven-sketched symbol of the Church. Behold one of the marks of a true Church. It will give great prominence to the altar, the cross of Christ, or the doctrine of His atoning sacrifice.

II. THE RELATION WHICH IT BORE TO EVERY OTHER PART OF THE TABERNACLE. It was the most important part of the whole Tabernacle. Like the root to the tree, like the foundation to the building, like the fountain to the stream, like the mainspring to the watch, like the heart to the body, it was that, on which every other part of the sacred structure depended, and from which it derived all its value. This altar represents the cross of Christ. As we look at it from this point of view, we seem to see written on it as with a sunbeam, the great practical truth, that the way to heaven — the only way by which any of our ruined race can enter there — lies over Calvary. There is no pardon, no renewal, no acceptance, no righteousness, no peace, no grace, no blessing, no salvation to any of Adam's children, but through the sacrifice once offered upon the cross. And this is true not of our persons only, but of our services also. "Accepted in the beloved," is the great underlying doctrine of the gospel. Our prayers, our praises, our sighs, our tears, our repentance, our faith, our words, our actions, our labours, our sufferings, our vows, our alms-givings, our sermons, our sacraments — all things that may be crowded into the entire circle of our services — have worth, or merit, not in themselves, but only as they stand connected with the sacrifice which Jesus offered on the cross, and are sprinkled with His atoning blood, in all its prevailing efficacy.

III. Our third lesson from this altar is suggested by the CONTINUITY of the offerings presented upon it. There was to be no cessation, no suspension, or interruption of the service here rendered. The sacrifice on the Jewish altar was an imperfect sacrifice, and hence the necessity for its repetition. They were "sacrifices," as St. Paul says, "offered year by year continually, which could never make the comers thereunto perfect." Our sacrifice, offered upon the cross, is a perfect sacrifice, and therefore it needs no repetition. It was offered "once for all"; and by this one offering, Jesus, our great High Priest, "perfects for ever them that are sanctified "; i.e., all His believing people. The offering was once made, but the merits, the influence, the efficacy of the offering, abide continually. And because it thus abides, there needs no repetition of it.

IV. Our fourth lesson is taught us, when we consider the EFFICACY OF THE OFFERINGS presented on the brazen altar. You may say, indeed, that we have just spoken of their imperfection, and that is true. They were not intended to do for the Jews what the sacrifice of Christ does for us. They were only types, or shadows of that sacrifice. Of course they could only have a typical, or shadowy efficacy. This, however, they had in perfection. And here the brazen altar points significantly to the cross of Christ. It speaks to us, in eloquent tones, of the thorough efficacy, the absolute perfection of the sacrifice He offered.

V. The fifth and last lesson taught us by this altar is seen, when we observe the EXTENT OF ITS BENEFITS. It was open to all.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.

WEB: "You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and its height shall be three cubits.

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