Altar

John 4

When God’s remnant people returned to Jerusalem to restore the divine testimony, they were spiritually intelligent enough to realize that their first act of obedience to Jehovah was to give priority to the building of the altar. The altar was their ground of acceptance by God (see Ezra 3:3). This was followed by the building of the Temple (see Ezra 5:16). Later, they built the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:6). 

This was the divinely prescribed order:

    - The altar and its worship.

    - The Temple with its regulated service.

    - The building of the walls, which was their testimony and witness to the world around.

This divine order did not change when the Church commenced at Pentecost. The believers followed it and prospered, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper was the center of their testimony. In this, they acknowledged, first of all, the death of Christ as the ground of their acceptance by God. Secondly, they used the Remembrance Feast, as an opportunity to worship God. In this unique gathering, they acknowledged the blessed truth of the oneness of the Body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Thirdly, they broke out of Jerusalem, and took the Gospel to the regions beyond.

It is not coincidental that the early brethren were led to give priority to the Lord’s Supper in their gatherings. This was followed by the building of the “House of God” in the restoration of divine truths, long buried in the decay of professing Christendom. These spiritual exercises were followed by evangelical and missionary testimony throughout the world. Who can deny that their obedience to divine principles was greatly honored by God? 

 

Some Notes on John 4:20-24

The Furniture of the Outer Court

Exodus 27:1-8, Exodus 38:1-5, Exodus 30:17-21, and Exodus 38:8

Introduction

There were two pieces of furniture in the outer court: the brazen altar and the brazen laver. The brazen altar was twice the height of the ark. When we think of an altar, we think of worship and sacrifice. An altar is a place of humiliation and submission for the Israelite. The altar provides the ministry of reconciliation.

This is what happened when we came to the Cross for salvation. We were humbled as sinners and we submitted to the Lamb of God, then we received salvation. We threw ourselves on the mercy of God. The atonement not only saves us, but also glorifies God. Immediately after our conversion, we hungered for spiritual food – God’s holy Word, which would equate with the laver. When the priests had sacrificed to God, their next appointment was the brazen laver. They could not serve apart from using the laver. The laver suggests separation and sanctification. 

 

The Brazen Altar

The altar reminds us of Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood.” There was no entrance to God’s presence except by blood. In this age, there is no entrance into the presence of God except through the sacrifice and blood of Christ. With this truth in view, it is significant that the altar was built foursquare. This suggests its sufficiency for Israel as they encamped on its four sides. In an even greater degree, it depicts the sacrifice of Christ, on the altar of the Cross, as sufficient to meet the need of the world. In virtue of this glorious truth, the risen triumphant Lord could say to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” 

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Introduction

Jehovah of old walked in Eden and held communion with Adam. He visited the patriarchs, the fathers of the nation, but He never had a home on earth until the Tabernacle was erected in the midst of His redeemed people.

    - The Human Intention, Exodus 15:2 - “I will prepare Him an habitation” said the people.

    - The Divine Request, Exodus 25:8 - “Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” said Jehovah.

     

The Tabernacle

Three questions might be asked regarding this Tabernacle: (1) What is a Tabernacle? (2) Why was the Tabernacle built? And (3) How was the Tabernacle constructed? 

    1. The Tabernacle was the Place of the Divine Presence. When the tabernacle was finished, the glory of Jehovah so filled the sacred enclosure that Moses, the mediator, could not enter (Exodus 40:35).

    2. The Tabernacle was to meet a Divine Purpose. Moses didn’t build a tabernacle and then invite God to come into it. Instead, it was God who conceived the plan and instructed Moses on how it was to be built, for He desired to dwell among His redeemed and chosen people.

    3. The Tabernacle was constructed according to a Divine Pattern. “Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee on the mount,” (See Exodus 25:40). It was because these things had a spiritual meaning that they were to be made according to a heavenly pattern.

The Altar of Incense

Exodus 30:1-10, Psalm 141:2, Revelation 8:3-4

The Significance of the Altar

The Altar Typifies Prayer - It was small, but large enough to serve its purpose. Note that it is not the long prayer that avails much, but the prayer of faith. We are not heard for our vain repetitions, but “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

The Altar is a Type of Christ - Christ is the one through whom our prayers and praises ascend to God. Note His high priestly office (see Hebrews 8:1 and Hebrews 7:25). We have a high priest seated at the right hand of God. He is able to save to the uttermost –saying He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

 

The Components of the Altar

The altar was made of wood overlaid with gold. It was 1½ ft. by 1½ ft. by 3 ft. high. As previously stated the material speaks of the Lord’s humanity and deity.

There were horns situated at each of the four corners – similar to the brazen altar. The horns on the brazen altar spoke of the “power in the blood,” while these horns speak of the “power of prayer” and Christ Himself. They were sprinkled with blood from the brazen altar once a year on the Day of Atonement. God never forgets the suffering His Son endured for us. “One thousand years as one day […].” We must never forget the efficacy of the blood of Christ. To verify that the horns speak of Christ, see Luke 1:69. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, said, “God hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”

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