Summary: Sermon about the brazen altar. According to Hebrews 13:10 Christ is our altar.
"Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God".
There is much unscriptural terminology used in evangelical circles. For example, people often talk about an “altar rail”, the area below the pulpit at the front of the church. Other people talk about an “altar call”, the appeal made by the preacher for people to come to the front to have their spiritual need met. These terms should not be used. Christianity knows nothing of altars in churches. We have one Altar and that is Christ. We have communion tables, yes, but not altars. False religions like Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, Neo-Paganism and Roman Catholicism have altars.
The altar we are considering in this message is the brazen altar where animals were sacrificed.
1. WHEN THE ALTAR WAS BUILT
The Jews who returned from captivity in Babylon built the altar first, before they had built anything else. They built it even before they had built the temple. What is the spiritual lesson? The blood is of the utmost importance. The exiles could not worship the Lord any other way. Neither can we today. The holy God of heaven can only be approached through the precious blood of Christ shed at Calvary.
a) The Lord demands an altar - Judges 6:25,26.
b) The law commands an altar - Exodus 20:24-26.
2. WHO THE ALTAR WAS A PICTURE OF
Hebrews 13:10 "We have an altar...Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate...By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name". Christ is our Altar.
a) The materials of the altar - Shittim wood (Christ’s humanity) covered with bronze. Bronze is fire resistant. Christ had to endure the fire of God’s wrath.
b) The measurements of the altar - 7 feet 6 inches long and broad, perfectly square, reminding us of heaven, the foursquare city, which can only be accessed via Calvary’s altar. 4 feet 6 inches high, not as tall as an average man, making it possible for the priests to look upon it; every time we read of the cross we are doing the same, in essence.
c) The mercies of the altar - Joab and Adonijah found refuge by holding on to the horns, which was one of the places the blood had to be sprinkled.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
3. WHAT THE ALTAR WAS USED FOR
a) Burnt offerings - These were completely burnt, they were all for God. Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service".
b) Freewill offerings - These were voluntary, offered out of thankfulness.
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With power upon my heart.