The Brazen Altar
In the scriptures there is a very strong correlation between the subject
of judgment or justification and the metal, brass. What is known in the
scriptures as the brazen altar illustrates this point.
The brazen altar was
made up of both shittim wood and brass. It was 5 cubits by 5 cubits and
it was four-square: Ex. 27:1, 2 "And thou shalt make an altar of shittim
wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be
foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. And thou shalt
make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be
of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass."
The burnt offering
of animal sacrifice was burned on the altar: Ex. 29:18 "And thou shalt
burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD:
it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD."
The altar had a fire
burning on it continually: Lev. 6:12 "And the fire upon the altar shall
be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn
wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it;
and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall
ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
The brazen altar is
a shadow of the covenant work of Jesus Christ. First, the altar
consisted of two materials. One was organic: shittim wood. The other was
inorganic: brass. Likewise, Jesus Christ has two natures: he has the
nature of deity as the Son of God; he has the nature of humanity as the
son of man (born of the virgin Mary). As deity he has an eternal nature
much like inorganic metals such as brass are extremely long lasting. In
contrast, the nature of organic matter such as shittim wood generally
has a short life span. Moreover, like the elect children of God,
Christ's humanity died, but in the resurrection he lives forevermore. So
the elect family of God in their humanity die, but in the resurrection
we shall live forevermore.
Next, the brazen
altar was five cubits long and five cubits wide. The number five, in the
scriptures, is associated with the subject of death. This association is
extremely extensive throughout the scriptures. A central part of the
covenant work of Jesus Christ consists of his death upon the cross.
Moreover, the brazen
altar was three cubits high. The number three, in the scriptures, is
associated with the three, yet one, Godhead. This association is also
extremely extensive throughout the scriptures. We read concerning the
Godhead in Christ: Col. 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the
foursquare, is associated with the covenant work of God. This is
manifest in the covenant of redemption. We read about the terms of the
covenant of redemption in Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow, he
also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he
might be the firstborn among many brethren.Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also
justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." God chose a
people in Christ before the foundation of the world to be his people:
Eph. 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of
the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:"
Based on that choice of a people to be God's covenant people God does
four things for those people all of which are equally extensive in that
all four things are done for each and everyone of those covenant people:
he predestinates them to be conformed to the image of his son; he calls
them; he justified them; and he glorifies them. Thus, this covenant work
The burnt offering
of animal sacrifice was burned upon the brazen altar. Similarly, the
sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ was burned (fire = God's judgment)
upon the covenant of redemption. That Christ's sacrifice was a covenant
work is abundantly clear in the scriptures:
Matt. 1:21 "And she
shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he
shall save his people from their sins.'
2. John 6:37-39 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from
heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And
this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath
given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last
3. Heb. 10:29 "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be
thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath
counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an
unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
4. Heb. 12:24 "And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the
blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
5. Heb. 13:20 "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead
our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of
the everlasting covenant,"
6. Matt. 26:28 "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed
for many for the remission of sins."
7. Mark 14:24 "And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new
testament, which is shed for many."
8. Luke 22:20 "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is
the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
9. 1 Cor. 11:25 "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had
supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye,
as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
The altar had a fire burning on it continually. Fire is a symbol of
God's judgment. The fact that the fire was burning continually indicates
the altar is a symbol of an eternal judgment. The altar also was the
site of the burning of the animal sacrifice. Thus, the animal sacrifice
was a symbol of what was required to satisfy God's eternal judgment of
sin. Jesus is said to be the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of
the elect world:
1. John 1:29 "The
next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of
God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
2. John 1:36 "And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the
Lamb of God!"
3. Rev. 5:6 "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of
the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had
been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven
Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."
At the cross of Calvary Christ was made to be sin for the elect family
of God: 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no
sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Moreover,
Christ suffered and satisfied God's wrathful judgment of sin on behalf
of the elect:
1. Is. 53:10, 11
"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when
thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he
shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in
his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be
satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for
he shall bear their iniquities."
2. Rom 5:19 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so
by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
3. Heb. 10:14 "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that
4. Gal. 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being
made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth
on a tree:"
5. 1 Pet. 1:18, 19 "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:"
6. Rev. 5:9 "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take
the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast
redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation;"
In conclusion, it is abundantly clear that the brazen altar is a shadow
of the covenant work of redemption (justification of the elect) of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the scriptures there is a strong correlation between the subject of
judgment or justification and the biblical use of the metal, brass.
This correlation is
made manifest in the case of the 250 men who questioned and rebelled
against the authority and position that God had given to Moses and
Aaron: Num. 16:1-3 "Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the
son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son
of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with
certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the
assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered
themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them,
Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every
one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up
yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?"
At the direction of
God, Moses told the men to take censers and the Lord would show who are
his and who is holy: Num. 16:4-7 "And when Moses heard it, he fell upon
his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even
to morrow the LORD will show who are his, and who is holy; and will
cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he
cause to come near unto him. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all
his company; And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the
LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose,
he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi."
Korah and all that
company spoke presumptuously against the authority and gifts that God
had given to Moses and Aaron. God himself would show forth judgment
concerning who he had given gifts and authority to: Num. 16:8-11 "And
Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: Seemeth it but
a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from
the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the
service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the
congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to
him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the
priesthood also? For which cause both thou and all thy company are
gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur
against him?" While Korah and the company of 250 murmured against Moses
and Aaron, there murmurings were truly against God questioning his
wisdom in only calling Moses as a prophet and Aaron as the priest.
God gave judgment
against Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their families as the earth opened
up and they and all that were with them and all their possessions went
down into the pit and the earth closed again. Next, fire came down from
heaven and consumed the 250 men that offered incense. Their censers were
brazen censers and God's judgment rested upon them for their murmuring
and questioning of the authority that God had given to Moses and Aaron.
In the scriptures
there is a very strong correlation between the subject of judgment or
justification and the biblical use of the metal, brass. This is clearly
illustrated to us in the story of the serpent of brass. This story is
told to us in Num. 21:5-9 "And the people spake against God, and against
Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the
wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our
soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among
the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we
have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that
he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And
the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a
pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he
looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put
it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any
man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
The people of Israel
had sinned against God in that they spoke against God and against Moses.
God sent fiery serpents amongst them and whoever was bitten by one of
the serpents died. Moses interceded on behalf of the people and God told
Moses to make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole. Then whoever was
bitten of a serpent and looked upon the serpent of brass lived. The Lord
explained to us the meaning of this in John 3:14-15: "And as Moses
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be
lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
In the scriptures,
the serpent is associated with sin. When a person is convicted of sin in
his heart he sees himself under the law of sin and death and sees
himself worthy of everlasting damnation. He is like the Israelites who
had been bitten of fiery serpents. He has a death sentence. God provided
for the Israelites who were bitten of serpents and placed a serpent upon
a pole that they could look upon and live. Likewise, in the experiences
of God's elect children, when they have been born of the Spirit of God
and have the laws of God written in their hearts and minds, they
experience the conviction of sins in the courtrooms of their hearts and
minds. God has provided for them that they may see that Jesus died on
the cross to redeem them from their sins. Thus when they look upon what
Jesus has done for them, they see themselves delivered from the
conviction of sin and no longer carry the burden of sin-guiltiness. They
see themselves delivered from eternal damnation to eternal life by the
atoning blood of Christ.
The brazen serpent
upon a pole was a figure of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. We ask
ourselves, "How can a brazen serpent represent Christ?" The answer is
that since brass is associated with judgment or justification so Christ
came to bear the judgment for our sins and justified us upon the tree of
the cross. Moreover, the serpent is associated with sins, so Christ was
according to 2 Cor. 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who
knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Thus, the serpent represented Christ on the cross in that Christ was
made to be sin (serpent) for us.
Moreover, the brazen
serpent was placed upon a pole for the benefit of the children of
Israel. It was not for anyone else's benefit. Likewise, Christ died on
the cross of Calvary for the benefit of the elect children of God. He
did not die for the non-elect. It is the elect who see themselves
convicted of sin that by faith look upon what Jesus did for them and
rejoice in that they have been given eternal life and delivered from