The significance of the Brazen (or Bronze) Altar is huge. This post will be followed up by two
more on the Brazen Altar, in order to attempt to cover as much as possible its incredible importance and typology.
Firstly the word “altar” means “slaughter place”, “high” or “lifted up”.
The Materials and Measurements of the Altar
In Exodus 27:1-8 God tells Moses how to make the altar:
““You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide—the altar shall be square—and its height shall be three cubits. 2 You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. 3 Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4 You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5 You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar. 6 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. 7 The poles shall be put in the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar to bear it. 8 You shall make it hollow with boards; as it was shown you on the mountain, so shall they make it.”
(The material used in both the Brazen altar and the Brazen laver was either brass or bronze, but more likely bronze because it was discovered much earlier than brass. Bronze and brass are a very similar metal, both made from copper. Bronze is made from a mixture of copper and tin and is a hard, non-corrosive metal.)
In Jesus and the Tabernacle Materials we looked at the materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle. We saw that each material was deliberate and represented something important.
Looking at the Bronze Altar, we see it was made from acacia wood overlaid with bronze:
- Bronze/Brass : Representing Judgment against sin
- Acacia wood : Representing the incorruptible humanity of Christ
God gave Moses the exact measurements for everything in the tabernacle. Nothing was left to chance or Moses’ own decision. God specified that the Altar was to be 5×5 cubits wide and long. It was to be 3 cubits high. It had 4 horns, one on each corner.
5 is the number of grace, the number of atonement
3 is the number of the Godhead (ie, the trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).
4 is the number of earth (the 4 seasons, the 4 winds, the 4 corners of the earth) and the creation
Summary: It is clear that from the materials used in the Altar and its measurements we can see that the Altar represents:
- God’s judgment against sin
- Sacrificial atonement
- Christ’s incorruptible human nature
- The Godhead/trinity
- The whole earth
As noted earlier the word “altar” means “slaughter place”, “high” or “lifted up”.
Jesus Himself said :
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up…” John 3:14
And “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” John 12:32, 33
When Jesus was crucified He was the offering for sin upon God’s appointed altar – He was lifted up from the earth upon the cross.
The next post will cover:
- The significance of blood
- The offerings of the Brazen altar