Exodus 27:1-8 (ESV)
“You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.”
This is the bronze altar, which Exodus 38 calls the altar of burnt offering – not to be confused with the altar of incense described in Exodus 30. This altar will be outside the tabernacle, in the courtyard that will be described in the next passage. (See also Exodus 40:6.)
The altar has a bronze grating to hold the fire that’s not unlike the charcoal grates in barbeque grills. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. The altar is accompanied by ash pots and other fireplace tools. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. Bronze is appropriate here because its melting temperature is well above a thousand degrees.
Experts disagree on the details of what this altar looked like. Modern depictions vary.
But as with the other furnishings, Moses didn’t have to figure this out from the specifications; he got to see exactly what it should look like. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.
The exact designs of the tabernacle and its furnishings are lost to history. That’s probably intentional, given man’s propensity for idolatry. Idolatry runs deep in the human psyche.
Think not? Just read the slobbering fawning that accompanies any description of Carroll Shelby’s cars.
People tend to focus on people things; it’s how we’re wired. Ask the LORD to help us shed our tendency to give people and things superstar status, and instead to help us keep our focus on Him.
That’s one of those prayers we could say every day for the rest of our lives.
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