A Brief Study of the Tabernacle

By Ellsworth A. Archer

Chapter 3


Ex. 27:1-8; Lev. 17:11; Deut. 12:23; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19.

     Upon entering the court, the first object to be seen was the large brazen altar, or the altar of sin offering. This altar was a square, five cubits (71 feet) long, five cubits (7A feet) broad, and three cubits (41 feet) high. It was made of acacia wood, overlaid with brass, and on the top was a brass grate. At each corner of the altar was a horn of acacia wood, -also overlaid with brass. The animals to be sacrificed for the sin-offering were fastened to these horns and blood was sprinkled on them "at the consecration of the priests, and the sacrifice of the sin-offering." A ledge led up too the altar as the law forbade steps. (Ex. 20:26.) On twos sides of the altar were staves with which to carry it when the tabernacle was moved. These were made of shittim wood, overlaid with brass, and they passed through bras,-,s rings. The pans and shovels for removing the ashes, the basins for the blood of the sacrifices, and the flesh hooks for handling the flesh, were all of brass.

     One general rile applied to all the sacrifices, namely, they were to be offered on this altar where the fire was burning constantly. It is said that the fire was kindled by God himself, (Lee-v, 9:24), but it was the duty of the priests to keep it burning. This applies to us spiritually, for the Lord starts the fire of salvation in our hearts, but we must add the fuel to keep it going. We must " Work out own Salvation with fear and trembling."

     Then, too, the altar was ever blood stained, and was always open to arm Hebrew who wished to approach it. It was accessible to all, the high and low, the rich and poor. All classes of people could come to the altar. Thus Christ is always ready Ac receive a penitent soul. His atonement was made for the sins of the whole world, sufficient for all, but effectual only for those who believe and accept Him.

     The altar was riot ornamental to look upon. "It was," as one has said, "rude and unpretentious, and ghastly looking." It must of necessity be strong, in order to bear the sacrifices and tine ire that was constantly upon it, so it was made of brass. It was for service and not for looks. It was the place of suffering and blood shed, and bore the marks of sin the blood was the most important part in connection with the altar, and not only of the altar but of the entire tabernacle. In fact, it is the scarlet thread that runs through all the types, and throughout the entire Bible. Every victim that was ever offered on this altar pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God.

The Alter of Burnt Offering

     Space would not permit the mentioning of all the places where the blood is spoken of in the Bible, but we will consider a few of the outstanding instances. The first that comes to mind is when the blood was sprinkled on the door posts and lintels of the homes of the Israelites, that the destroying angel might see it, and leave those homes unharmed on that night when he passed over Egypt bringing death to the first born.

     And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Gen. 12:13.)

     All mankind was doomed to death, but Christ made redemption possible by the shedding of His blood.

Chiefest of sinners, Jesus can save,

As he has promised, so he will do;

Oh, sinner, hasten, let Jesus in,

Then he will pass, will pass over you.

     Again, we read that the blood was sprinkled on the leper when he was cleansed. The blood of a dove was sprinkled on his ear, his hand, and his foot. This was a token that he was cleansed.

     Sin is the worst form of leprosy, but the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse the leprosy of sin and make the vilest sinner clean and pure. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7.)

     When the priests were dedicated, blood was put on their right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, signifying that their entire body was set apart for the service of Jehovah. So the blood of Christ sets us apart for His service our ears to hear his voice, our hands to perform His service, our feet to walk in His ways. The vessels, too, which were used in the service of the tabernacle, were sprinkled with blood.

     And again, we find the blood on the most precious piece of furniture in the tabernacle-on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, where the cherubim rested and where dwelt the Shekinah, the presence of God. (The word Shekinah is not found in the Scriptures, but it is an ancient Jewish term referring to the presence of Jehovah which dwelt above the cherubim.) The blood was brought into the Most Holy Place by the high priest, and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, where it remained, constantly pleading for the people.

     Christ, our High Priest, has presented His blood to the Father, as the price of redeemed man, and it is pleading for us. This is the living blood, the blood of Christ, or the life of Christ. "The life is in the blood." It has only been within the last few centuries that scientists decided that the life was in the blood, but about 3500 years ago Moses said, "the blood is the life." (Deut. 12:23.) That is why Christ emphasizes it so much.

     Sometimes, in order to save life, it becomes necessary to transfuse blood from one person to another. Blood is a most costly fluid, and it frequently happens that people are not able to pay the price required for the transfusion of blood. In such a case the doctor or friends try to get some one to volunteer to give blood. Many have consented to do this, and as a result lives have been saved.

     Jesus Christ gave His blood, without money and without price, that we, who would otherwise die, might live eternally. Human transfusion of blood may save life or it may fail; but the blood of Jesus, if applied to the heart, transfused into the life, NEVER fails.

Oh, what compassion, oh, boundless love!

Jesus hath power, Jesus is true,

All who believe are safe from the storm,

Oh, He will pass, will pass over you.

     The blood of the old sacrifices, if left in vessels and not used at once, would coagulate and become impure. But the blood of Jesus Christ never becomes stale. It is just as fresh, just as pure, and just as powerful as when it was first shed on Calvary. It is just as efficacious and will cleanse just as thoroughly as it ever did.

     In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Eph. 1:7)

     Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18, 79.)