THE ALTAR OP BURNT OFFERING
This altar was placed outside the tabernacle, being the first object one would meet after entering the court. It was made of acacia wood, covered with copper, thus reminding us of the true humanity of the Lord Jesus (the acacia wood) and the holiness of His divine glory (the copper).
Its size was five cubits in length and the same in width, and its height three cubits. The number five is that of responsibility, as the human hand with its five fingers teaches. Only four fingers would be weakness, but the thumb gives strength, thus showing that responsibility is met only by God's support in weakness. Three is the number of resurrection, and reminds us that, though atonement for sin is accomplished only by the sacrifice of Christ, yet the outcome of His sacrifice is His promised and certain resurrection.
The utensils for use in connection with this altar were made of copper; pans, shovels, basins, forks and firepans A grate was made also and set inside the altar, half way between the top and bottom. The four rings were on the four corners of the grate, which no doubt necessitated having four openings in the sides, so that the rings protruded through these, thus securing the grate in its place and providing for the altar being carried with poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold, being inserted through the rings.
The copper altar speaks of Christ as the only One whose person is so great that He is able to sustain the responsibility for being the great sacrifice for our sins, for the altar speaks of His person, while every sacrifice was typical of His work of atonement. When first coming into the court, therefore, one would be faced with that which speaks of Christ and Him crucified, just as anyone coming to God must first face the Lord Jesus as the one great sacrifice for our sins.
THE COPPER LAVER
Only a brief mention is made of the making of the laver, which we are told in chapter 30:19-21 was for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet when going into the tabernacle or when offering sacrifices. It was totally made of copper, obtained from the mirrors of serving women. Thus it would be highly polished copper in which the feet of the priests would be reflected. If purification by blood is seen at the copper altar, purification by water is emphasized in the laver. For the blood of Christ cleanses believers judicially before God, while the water of the word of God (Ephesians 5:26; John 13:8) is the means of moral cleansing, which is also essential in our drawing near to God.
THE COURT ENCLOSURE
The court of the tabernacle was enclosed by hangings of fine linen held up by silver hooks attached to copper pillars, each of which was based on a copper socket. Copper speaks of the holiness of God seen in perfection in Christ. But the silver hooks indicate redemption, so that the hangings can only speak of believers, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. They hang from, or depend on, the Lord Jesus, the Holy One of God, whose sacrifice has redeemed them.
The pillars were not seen from the outside, but only the fine white linen. This speaks of "the righteous acts of saints" (Revelation 19:8). Thus, the testimony of believers in the purity of devoted obedience to the Lord is that which should draw the attention to those outside. It is not their words so much as their actions.
The south and north sides of the court were 100 cubits long, each with 20 pillars, while the east and west sides were 50 cubits in length, with 10 pillars on the west side. But the east side included the gate, so that there were three pillars on either side of this, and four pillars (v.19) to hold up the hangings for the gate.
The hanging for the gate was not only fine linen, but woven of blue, purple and scarlet thread intermingled with the fine linen. Therefore the gate speaks of Christ, the only entrance for anyone into the presence of God. But since hanging by silver hooks on the copper pillars, it is intimated that only by His redemption of Calvary can we have any right to enter. The entrance then was much more attractive than the white enclosure. How true of the Lord Jesus!
SUMMARY OF MATERIALS AND COSTS
All these things that were made in connection with the tabernacle were according to the command of Moses, and all to be cared for by the Levites, under the supervision of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest (1 Peter 2:5), and all are also servants (as the Levites were), so that we are responsible to guard carefully the truths that are symbolized in all the service of the tabernacle. These are valuable, and must not be stolen from us, or lost. Bezaleel and Aholiab are again mentioned as the master craftsmen of all the work (vs.22-23).
The total weight of gold is given as 29 talents and 730 shekels, which would amount to nearly 3800 pounds. The silver amounted to 100 talents and 1775 shekels, which would weigh about 11,635 pounds. Verse 26 refers to the one-half shekel of silver that each person of Israel over 20 paid as atonement money, the number of persons being 603,550. The 100 talents of silver were used for the socket under each of the boards of the sanctuary and under the pillars for the veil. The remaining 175 shekels of silver served for making hooks on the pillars of the court to hold up the hangings.
The weight of the copper was 70 talents and 2400 shekels, which would amount to about 8160 pounds. This was used for sockets for the door of the tabernacle, the altar of burnt offering and its utensils, the sockets for the pillars of the court and pegs. Whether the weight of the laver is included in this we are not told.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 38". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany