Read Exodus 27
The Altar of Burnt Offering
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.3 Make all its utensils of bronze—its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans.4 Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. 5 Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar. 6 Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze. 7 The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8 Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.
9 “Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, 10 with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 11 The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts.
12 “The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. 13 On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. 14 Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, 15 and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases.
16 “For the entrance to the courtyard, provide a curtain twenty cubits long, of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer—with four posts and four bases. 17 All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases. 18 The courtyard shall be a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide, with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits high, and with bronze bases. 19 All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.
Oil for the Lampstand
20 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.
At first reading, it’s easy to think this chapter is another set of instructions or rules to follow, but it’s actually so much more than that. The guidelines for sacrifices and the instructions for the construction of the courtyard have something in common: they both explain how to get closer to God. In fact, the Hebrew word for sacrifice (korban) comes from the Hebrew word for “close” (karov).
Any intentional relationship requires a certain level of sacrifice. Maintaining friendships, marriages, and parenting relationships all require you to give up something in order to grow closer together. The sacrificial system that’s discussed in Exodus was a way for the Israelites to grow closer to God. It was the way they had to atone for their sins and restore their relationship with God. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we no longer have to sacrifice animals each time we sin, but our relationship with God should still require sacrifice on our ends. Our time, our money, our gifts, and abilities should all be held open-handed as we think about what it means to live sacrificially.
The courtyard was another opportunity for the Israelites to get as close to God as they could. Keep in mind, only the priests were allowed to go inside the tabernacle. The rest of the people would have only been allowed access to the courtyard and that would have to suffice. Think about how different that is for us now! Because of the Holy Spirit, we have access to God at any and all times.
It’s hard to fully appreciate where we are today without understanding where we have been. Understanding these parts of Exodus should help us appreciate the gospel and the sacrifice of Jesus all the more. We can stop and pray directly to God at any time. We have the Spirit of God living inside of us. We aren’t merely relegated to the courtyard anymore!
What did this chapter teach you about God? What verses stuck out to you?
In what areas of your life do you feel like you consistently make sacrifices to be closer to God?
Do you take it for granted that we have access to God? How should your life look different if you understand how powerful that idea is?
Did You Know?
To this day, synagogues throughout the world have a constantly-burning light, known as an “eternal lamp” or “eternal light,” that takes the place of the regularly-kindled lamps in the Tabernacle.