Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]


CHAPTER III

THE TABERNACLE AND ITS FURNITURE

(Exodus 25—27, 30, 35—38, 40)

The Golden Altar
((Exod. 30:1-10)

  The golden altar, though not so large as the brazen altar, was more precious, being made of shittim wood but overlaid with gold. It was one cubit, or eighteen inches, square and two cubits, or three feet, high. Like the brazen altar, it had horns fashioned on the four corners of it. Around the edge of the top was a crown, and two golden rings on the sides held gold covered bars as a means of carrying it. This beautiful little altar was located in the holy place near the second veil, before the ark, which was just beyond the veil. It was midway between the north and south sides of the tabernacle. It is described as the "altar to burn incense upon," because this was its chief use. Each morning when the priest trimmed the lamps, and again when he lighted them, specially prepared holy incense was burned there in worship to Jehovah. Similar aromatic substances were not uncommonly employed by Orientals in offerings of tributary homage as marks of honor to kings. The Magi brought such an offering of frankincense to the infant Jesus in worshiping him as King of the Jews.

  There was a close connection between this altar and the brazen altar. Live coals of fire were brought from it to the golden altar, on which the incense was burned (Lev. 16:12). That fire had been divinely sent from God (Lev. 9:24). Nadab and Abihu profanely offered incense with other or strange fire and died as a result (Lev 10:1). Also [52] the blood of the sin offering was smeared upon the horns of the golden altar once each year, on the great day of atonement. And, too, in every sin offering for the priests or for the whole congregation collectively some of the blood from the brazen altar was brought and applied to these gold covered horns (Lev. 4:7, 18).

the golden altar

  Typical Meaning of the Golden Altar.—As the golden altar had two uses, we need not be surprised to find an antitypical meaning of each of those uses. The significance of the offering of incense is clearly brought out both in the Old and in the New Testament. "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense" (Psa. 141:2). "The four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials [bowls, or censers], full of odors [marg., incense], which are the prayers of saints" (Rev. 5:8). (See also Isa. 6: 3, 4; and Luke 1:10) What a beautiful symbol is the fragrant odor of this sweet incense ascending there before the Lord! How pleasing to him must be the devotion of loving hearts, the devout feelings of faithful worshipers, [53] the praises of his people, the reaching out of the souls of the redeemed for blessed communion with him! All this is prayer in the broadest sense. We no longer offer incense, but "let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Heb. 13:15).

  This incense altar was "before the Lord." Though the veil intervened, yet it is constantly described as being connected with the ark and the mercy seat. In Heb. 9:4 it is stated that the holiest room "had the golden censer," which was doubtless the incense altar. Therefore when we pray today we come into God's holy presence, before the throne of grace, the mercy seat. There we give pleasure to the loving heart of a kind Creator by sincere hearts' devotion. And as the incense was offered continually, "a perpetual incense,' that is, each morning and evening always, so we are admonished to "pray without ceasing," to be "instant [constant] in prayer," to be "praying always " "I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Psa. 34:1).

  The blood on the horns of the golden altar also shadowed forth some of the good things that God has now provided for us. Like the brazen altar and the laver, it was directly between the entrance to the court and the ark of God; signifying that it was one of the means by which the sinner came to God Those who have had their hearts "sprinkled from an evil conscience" (at the brazen altar), and have had their "bodies washed with pure water" (at the laver), the writer to the Hebrews exhorts, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:19 22). It is clear from this that the blood of Jesus gives entrance through the veil into the holiest, as we have already shown that the sacrificial blood at the brazen altar gives admittance through the first veil into the holy place. Also we have shown that this holiest place is typical of entire sanctification. A very definite proof of this is that the atoning blood was put on the horns of the golden altar only [54] for those who had been admitted to the holy place—the priests, as individuals, or for the whole congregation, whose representatives, the priests, were admitted (see Lev. 4:7, 18). The blood of the sin offering for "one of the common people" was smeared on the horns of the brazen altar out in the court (Lev. 4:30). How remarkably did God in these ancient symbols predict the minute details of the process of our salvation. But it may be objected that the priests did not gain entrance to the holiest by this blood on the horns of the golden altar. This was because "the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (Heb. 9:8). Likewise the common people were not admitted into the holy place by the blood of their sin offering on the horns of the brazen altar. But as the sinner is now admitted into the holy place of the church by the atoning blood of Jesus, so also those who have already entered it are now admitted into the holiest by the same blood on the horns of the golden altar. [55]

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The Church of God!
Justification, Sanctification, Unity
Carmichael, California USA

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Pastor, Bill Cornelison, Church Telephone (916) 482-7128


Last updated January 1, 1998
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