Summary: This series of 6 messages looks at the design of the tabernacle as a template for drawing near to God. The first step is salvation as seen by the altar of sacrifice.
DRAWING NEAR - THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE
A small boy was flying a kite one April afternoon when a low drifting cloud encircled the kite and hid it from view. A man passing by asked the little boy what he was doing with that string in his hand. "I'm flying my kite," the child responded. The man, looking up and seeing only the cloud said, "I don't see a kite up there anywhere." The little boy replied, "I don't see it either, but I know it's up there because every once in a while there's a tug on my string." Though often appearing foolish to a sophisticated world, I still cling to God and keep looking up... and ever once in a while... I feel a tug!
The children of Israel had been redeemed from Egypt and God was forming them into a nation. He established His covenant with them and now wanted to show them how to walk in it. God communicated in a way that they could see and understand - the result is the tabernacle.
Exodus 25:8 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.
The Tabernacle is theology in a physical form. It was initiated by God for a purpose. It’s design was to be a physical representation of a deeper spiritual path. The Tabernacle was designed around 3 levels: the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. There were 6 articles which were made to furnish the tabernacle. In the outer court was the Brazen Altar (or altar for burnt offerings) and the Laver (or washbasin). In the holy place was the Candlestick (or Lampstand), the Table of Shewbread (or table of loaves) and the Altar of Incense. In the holy of holies was the Ark of the Covenant. Each of the different pieces of furniture in the tabernacle represents a different step in approaching God.
Today I want us to look at the first piece and the first step towards God’s presence which was the Brazen Altar.
Ex. 27:1 "Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. 2 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.
The first step in approaching God is dealing with that which separates us from Him. It is dealing with the issue of sin. At the Altar sin was atoned for. Located in the courtyard of the tabernacle, the altar was where the priest would sacrifice the animals and sprinkle the blood on behalf of the people. Symbolically, a transfer would take place. The priest would lay his hands on the animal and transfer the sin of the people into the animal and then kill it – destroying the sin.
Heb 10:1 The law is a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves
Of course this substitution was metaphorical and not actual. Heb 10:4 says killing an animal cannot take away your sin. The alter pointed to the cross and the sacrifice that Jesus would make for us. Jesus was the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Even before the tabernacle the idea of substitution had been seen in Abraham offering his son Isaac on an altar. Instead of Isaac, a sheep was offered as a substitute. God gave his Son Jesus as our substitute.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The first and most basic step in approaching God is giving your life to Him and asking Christ to be your substitute. I know for most of you that this message is one that you have heard many times before. This is very basic stuff. However, I have learned that it is important to regularly go over the basics.
When I was a youth pastor I had given many presentations of the gospel but at one evangelistic rally one of our youth went forward to receive Christ. Afterwards he asked me “why didn’t you tell me this stuff before” even though I had gone over the exact same thing many times. So just in case someone has not got it yet let’s review the basic message using Romans 6:23 as our guide:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1. The WAGES
A wage is something that is earned. It is a payment for services rendered. Think about what it would be like the next time you went into work to get paid the boss told you that he had decided not to pay you for your last month. You would demand your pay because you had earned that money! Our salary is what we earn for services rendered. It is what is owed to us.