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Exodus 38:1. The altar. The tabernacle had two celebrated altars, the altar of incense within the sanctuary, and the altar of burnt-offering mentioned here, which was without. The exterior frame was wood, the platform was a hollow network of brass, that the ashes might pass through, and that the air having free access to the fire, the victims might be quickly consumed. Many hallowed implements also appertained to the altar, as shovels and pans to bring the coals and take away the ashes, and hooks to turn the pieces of the victims. It was provided also with brazen dishes or censers, in which the priest conveyed the fire into the holy place when he burnt incense. From these mysteries I learn that my sinful soul ever needs to take refuge at the atoning altar; and my heart has need to be constantly warmed with the flame of redeeming love: and I would never cease to offer up to God, through Jesus my great High-priest, the sacrifices of prayer and praise. Let the sinner likewise flee and take hold of the horns of this altar, on which the great propitiatory sacrifice has been offered up, and there wait for pardon and acceptance through the atoning blood.
Exodus 38:8. The laver. This was made of pieces of polished brass, used by the women as mirrors. It stood near the altar, and here the priest washed his hands and his feet. This laver presignified the cleansing waters of baptism, or rather of regeneration, in which we are cleansed by the blood and the Spirit of Christ from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, that we may afterwards proceed to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Looking glasses. This is an accommodated reading; glasses not being used till after our Saviour’s time. The Hebrew ראה raah, is he saw, as in Genesis 29:32; “the Lord hath looked on my affliction.” Here the word looked is equivalent to that of a reflector. Among the Greeks those reflectors were made of mixed metals, copper, tin and brass. The apostle refers to these in 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see in a speculum darkly.”
How immense the oblations of a poor and afflicted people! What gold and silver, and precious stones; what brass and linen, and riches they bestowed on the sanctuary of the Lord; and yet they continued to give till forcibly restrained by a refusal of their gifts. Yet what are all these perishable gifts, when compared with the gift of Christ, and all his grace! God who is rich in mercy, when we were dead in trespasses and sins, hath raised us up together with Christ, and made us sit together in heavenly places. And shall we think any thing too rich to give to God, or too hard to do for his service. Oh no: had we the wisdom of Bezaleel, the skill of Aholiab and Ahisamach, we should employ the whole for him; and bless him that he has counted us worthy to have a name and a place in his house for ever.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 38". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany