Exodus 27


‘Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece and overlay the altar with bronze. Make all its utensils of bronze—its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans. Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar. Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze. The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried. Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.’ Exodus 27:1-8

The Burnt Offering Altar

The Burnt Offering Altar was the first item to be seen after entering through the Door into the Tabernacle’s Outer Court. It was an impressive construction, made from acacia wood overlaid with bronze, it stood 1.4 metres high and 2.3 metres wide and broad, square. Exodus 38:1-7.

Wood is a biblical figure of man, Psalm 1:1 / Psalm 1:3 / Jeremiah 5:14. Acacia wood is a strong, high quality wood, signifying the best humanity, that of Jesus.

Bronze in the Bible speaks of God’s judgement, particularly His judgement over our rebellious thinking and speaking against Him as in Numbers 16:29-40 / Jude 11.

Since the wood is overlaid with the bronze, the Burnt Offering Altar reminds us of man under God’s judgement for our rebellion against Him. Since the wood is acacia wood, this speaks of Jesus bearing the judgement of God for us on the cross.

At the Burnt Offering Altar the priests sacrificed various Offerings to God, some offerings were for their own sins and for the sins of the people. The point of the burnt offering was that, by it, a person might become accepted before God and forgiven, Leviticus 1:4.

For the burnt offering a male animal was sacrificed: a ram, a goat, a bullock or a turtle-dove or a pigeon, Leviticus 1:3-17. The offering had to be without blemish, the very healthiest and best available.

This foreshadows the Lord Jesus, Who was examined by Pontius Pilate, who declared “I find no fault in Him at all”, John 18:38. The blood of the offering was poured out round the base of the altar, foreshadowing the Lord Jesus, whose precious blood flowed out when His side was pierced on the cross by a Roman spear, John 19:34 / 1 Peter 1:19.

The whole concept of blood sacrifices is quite disturbing to the 20th century western mind-set. Some explanation may help to understand God’s perspective in the Bible. In Ezekiel 18:4, God says, “all souls are Mine. The soul that sins shall die”.

The penalty of sin is death, Romans 6:23. Sin was defined by the law, the ‘Torah’, the first five books of the Bible. The righteous requirement of the law was without pity, Deuteronomy 19:21.

This then is the legal position, we belong to God, He made us and we are His by right. But we have done our own thing, lived our own life without God, we have sinned. We always try and make out that our sinfulness is not so bad.

However, in God’s eyes everything matters, every last little thing. Since we have robbed our lives back for ourselves from God to Whom we really belong, we have sinned.

According to the righteous requirement of the law, we should die for our sin. However, there is a provision, “the life of the flesh (of a burnt offering or sacrifice) is in the blood, and I have given it you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul,” Leviticus 17:8 / Leviticus 17:11.

So, either you must die, or the offering can die in your place, a life for a life. If the offering dies, then, through its life-blood, there is atonement for your soul, at-one-ment, restoration to the God to Whom you belong, Leviticus 1:4.

After its blood was poured out, the burnt offering was entirely consumed by burning, the only products being ashes and aroma. The ashes were removed from the camp to a “clean place,” Leviticus 6:8-13. The burning offering was a pleasing, sweet aroma to God, Leviticus 1:9 / Leviticus 1:13 / Leviticus 1:17, to make the person accepted before God and forgiven, Leviticus 1:3-4.

In Ephesians 5:2, Paul shows us clearly that the burnt offering was an exact picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, who “loved us and gave Himself up for us” on the cross, “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma”.

Psalm 22 describes graphically and prophetically the utterances of Jesus from the cross as God lays upon Him the sins of the entire world, Psalm 22:1, and the agony of being crucified, Psalm 22:14. Then follows the heat of the fire of death, Psalm 22:14-15, the burnt offering. In His final gasp, the offering is complete and Jesus cries “It is finished!”, John 19:30. “He has done it!” Psalm 22:31.

The final part of the fulfilment, the carrying of the ashes to a ‘clean place’, came as Jesus’ dead body was taken down from the cross, John 19:41-42. John, an eye-witness to all this, wrote “he who has seen bears testimony, true testimony, so that you also may believe,” John 19:35.

When we were at the Door of the Outer Court we heard the words of Jesus “I am the Door; if any man enters through Me he shall be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture,” John 10:9.

Jesus is not only the Door, He also tells us “I am the Good Shepherd,” John 10:11, to help us to enter through the Door. Furthermore, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” John 10:11, so Jesus is the offering at the Burnt Offering Altar as soon as we get through the Door.

This is the good news of the Burnt Offering Altar, whether we are Jew or Gentile, we are all under God’s judgement because of our evil thinking, speaking and doing. However, the Lord Jesus, “Who did no sin, neither was there any deceit found in His mouth,” 1 Peter 2:22, became the offering slaughtered in our place.

By believing in His death, “carrying up our sins in His body onto the tree,” 1 Peter 2:24, we can be made acceptable to God, restored to the Shepherd and to His flock, 1 Peter 2:25. Then we can enter into His courts with praise and thanksgiving, Psalm 100:3-4.

A lamb was burnt at the Burnt Offering Altar every morning and every evening, Exodus 29:38-42. Learn to come to this altar every day to confess your sins to God and to remember, ‘by offering thanks and praise, Hebrews 13:15, that the Lord Jesus died in your place to forgive you and to cleanse you from all sin by His blood, 1 John 1:7-9 / Hebrews 8:12 / Hebrews 9:14, so that you might live not for yourself but to Him, 2 Corinthians 5:15.

The Burnt Offering Altar and the Laver form a combined experience of Christ.

Curtains Of The Outer Court

‘Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. “The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases. “For the entrance to the courtyard, provide a curtain twenty cubits long, of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer—with four posts and four bases. All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases. The courtyard shall be a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide, with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits high, and with bronze bases. All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.’ Exodus 27:9-19

If you had suddenly come across the children of Israel in the desert wilderness, you would have seen a sprawling camp of over two million people, probably not unlike the refugee camps in Rwanda, though perhaps more orderly.

The tents were probably black and brown, set in contrast with the sandy and rocky colours of the desert. In the centre of their camp, you would see the white linen curtains of the Tabernacle’s Outer Court, approximately 46 metres long, 150 feet), 23 metres wide, 75 feet, and 2.3 metres tall, 7.5 feet.

It was so noticeable against the surrounding rather drab colours of the camp and wilderness. It was impossible to see inside the Tabernacle from the camp outside, the tall, white, fine twined linen curtains made a separation between the outside world and the beauty that was contained in the Tabernacle.

In the Bible, white linen signifies righteousness, Revelation 19:8. God in His nature is right and just. He therefore expects us, His created people, to act rightly and justly, this is what righteousness means. Psalm 92:15 tells us the Lord is upright and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Psalm 45:7 predicts that the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, will love righteousness and hate wickedness. Because God is righteous, we find that the Levites, who God called to be priests to serve Him in the Tabernacle, were instructed to wear fine white linen garments, Exodus 28:39-43.

Likewise, in the New Testament, Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the “wife of the Lamb”, the bride of Christ, who is seen clothed in fine white linen.

The “wife of the Lamb” is a corporate bride, composed of all those people who have accepted God’s saving invitation to be joined to Him at this marriage feast and have prepared themselves, as seen by their garments, they are all dressed in fine white linen, as were the priests of the Tabernacle, Revelation 19:8 informs us that the fine linen is their righteous acts.

By way of contrast, in Isaiah 64:6 we read that all our “righteousness’s” are like filthy rags and that our sins have blown us right off course from God’s righteousness. Therefore, our sins have separated us from God, Isaiah 59:2.

Just as Adam’s sin caused him to be separated from God and the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:23-24, so we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Therefore, the white linen curtains of the Outer Court remind us that we are separated from God, due to our sins, because He is righteous.

The fine white linen curtains of the Outer Court were supported by pillars, at least 56 of them. The pillars were set in base sockets of bronze and capped with silver capitals. The bronze base sockets symbolise God’s judgement on those who sin against Him, as seen in Numbers 16:29-39 / Numbers 21:4-9.

In Numbers 21, the children of Israel murmured against God. In judgement on their sin, God sent serpents into the camp to bite the children of Israel and many of them died. As Moses prayed for the people, God told him to make a bronze serpent and to put it on a pole. Anyone who looked on the bronze serpent would not perish.

In his Gospel, John shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the reality of the bronze serpent lifted up from the earth. As the crucified Son of Man, He bore God’s righteous judgement for us, so that ‘whoever believes in Him will not perish for ever but be saved from God’s judgement and receive eternal life,’ John 3:14-17.

The capitals on top of the pillars were made from silver, symbolising the ransom price God placed on each of the children of Israel, Exodus 30:11-16.

God desires to redeem people, not to condemn them, but to satisfy His righteousness a price must be paid. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, the price paid was thirty pieces of silver, Matthew 26:15 / Zechariah 11:12-13.

Exodus 12:1-13:16 shows the other side of redemption, the way to redeem the life of the first-born son was by the sacrifice of a lamb at Passover. God sacrificed His only Son, Jesus the Lamb of God, John 1:29, at Calvary, as the final Passover Lamb, 1 Corinthians 5:7, during the Feast of Passover in 33 AD, in order to redeem mankind, that is to buy us back from sin and all its effects, Romans 5:6 / Romans 5:18.

When we see the white curtains of the Outer Court, we are reminded that our sins have separated us from God, Isaiah 59:2 / Romans 3:23. When we read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see His compassion and love to people and we also see His condemnation of hypocrisy and sin, John 8:10-11.

We see in Jesus Christ a man who loves righteousness and hates lawlessness, Hebrews 1:9, the Son of God in whom God the Father delights, Matthew 17:5, the Son who is the bright shining of God’s glory and the express image of God’s righteous person, Hebrews 1:3.

Just like the curtains of the Outer Court, the righteousness of Christ is supported by His judgement of sin and capped by His desire to redeem us, to bring us, the unrighteous ones, back to God, 1 Peter 3:18. The good news is that although we start off outside the Tabernacle, separated from God, there is a way into the Outer Court, a Door, colourful and welcoming, beckoning us to come inside.

The Outer Court

The Outer Court itself was open to all Israelites to worship. Those who had been redeemed were allowed to enter.

Tabernacle Sanctuary

The structure of the Tabernacle Sanctuary building was made from wooden Boards overlaid with gold.

There were two rooms.

1. The first room, on the East side, right, was called the Holy Place, the priests would enter the Sanctuary via the Entrance Door curtain on the East side, far right, the room contained.

A. The Showbread Table, inside at top.

B. The Lampstand, inside at bottom.

C. The Golden Incense Altar, middle.

The Veil, middle, left of centre, separated the Holy Place from the inner room.

2. The inner room, to the West, left, was called the Holy of Holies, where only one man, the High Priest, once per year was permitted entry, this was where God’s presence and glory resided over the Ark of the Covenant.

Almost nothing of the gold-covered Boards was ever visible from the Outer Court, because there were four large coverings over the Sanctuary. A thick outer covering, a red covering, a grey covering and an embroidered covering.

The Door To The Outer Court

The Door of the Outer Court was a large curtain, made of fine linen, coloured in blue, purple, red and white. The curtain was supported by wooden pillars that were based in brass sockets, with silver capitals, just like the other pillars of the Outer Court curtain.

The door curtain was fastened to the pillars with gold hooks. Each of the colours has a significance.

Blue indicates heavenly and godly, “Behold your God,” Isaiah 40:9, pointing to John’s gospel, where doubting Thomas eventually says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” John 20:28.

Purple signifies kingship, “Behold your King,” Zechariah 9:9, pointing to Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus, the descendant of King David, Matthew 1:1, declares after rising from the dead, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to Me,” Matthew 28:18.

Red signifies blood, “Behold My servant,” Isaiah 52:13 / Isaiah 53:5, pointing to Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus says He “came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45.

White signifies purity and a right humanity, “Behold the man,” Zechariah 6:12, pointing to Luke’s Gospel, where Pilate says of Jesus “Behold, I have found not one fault in this man,” Luke 23:4 / Luke 23:14.

These four colours are woven together to become the complete Door, just as the four gospels combine to give a complete picture of Jesus. Jesus Christ is pure and righteous, kingly and godly, and this is how He as a man can be our ransom, the Door for us to enter into God’s presence in the Tabernacle.

Jesus said, “I am the Door; if any man enters through Me he shall be saved”, John 10:9, and “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to [God] the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.

This claim by Jesus is unique and exclusive, but just look at Jesus’ life and His conduct, He was surrounded by all kinds of people with all sorts of histories and conditions and motives, yet Simon Peter, one of His closest disciples, could later say of Him, “He did no sin, neither was there any deceit found in His mouth,” 1 Peter 2:22.

Peter had seen Jesus in all sorts of situations with all manner of people, from religious leaders to the lowest prostitutes, publicans and tax collectors, yet he wrote “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of that One’s majesty,” 2 Peter 1:16.

The Door of the Outer Court is the only way in, inviting and attractive. The Door speaks of both the compassion and the kingliness of Jesus, His nature as both God and a genuine man, Son of God and son of man, woven together as a beautiful tapestry of “the appearing to man of the kindness and love of our Saviour God,” Titus 3:4.

Jesus said, “I am the Door; if any man enters through Me he shall be saved,” John 10:9. Do take a good look at the Door, then enter in through the Door. Once you are inside the Tabernacle, you will discover so much about what Jesus meant by “be saved” and how this can come about in your experience, beginning at the Burnt Offering Altar and the Laver.

‘Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.’ Exodus 27:20-21

The pure oil was beaten from olives that were picked just before ripening. The oil lamps were to be burning every night, which burning probably symbolized that God’s presence would never leave Israel, Leviticus 24:1-3 / Exodus 30:8 / 1 Samuel 3:3.

Go To Exodus 28


"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me"