If you have ever been camping, you know how important light is when it gets dark and you are making your way to a bathroom. Yes, we are talking about tent camping! Our young family did for a few years. It was a cheaper way for us to take our “party of five” to places within our budget. One of those trips was to Yellowstone National Park. What an incredible trip! The mountains and lake were so pristine and breathe takingly beautiful to see!
But then there was that sign on the road to our campsite. “No soft-sided camping in this area.” Why, because of bears! We went a few miles outside Yellowstone Park to find a great place by a beautiful stream. The sign said, “Not a bear area.” At that time, we had upgraded to a popup tent trailer. This mom felt safe—until I laid my head down to overthink our situation. This thought came to my mind, Bears cannot read, how do THEY know this is not a bear area? So, I kept our Coleman lamp burning the rest of the night. Somehow, I felt that this light in the darkness would keep us all safe. The rest of the family got a good night’s sleep. I kept watch for bears!
The Israelites have been camping for awhile in the dessert wilderness while God is teaching Moses how to lead His People, the Chosen, to walk in God’s ways by His provision. Moses is receiving a “seminary” education on the mountain with God, Himself, for 40 days and 40 nights. So, what is happening to the people while Moses is being schooled? We will get to that later, but for now let us center our thoughts on the construction of the Altar along with the command to keep the lighted lamps burning. See, I’m not the only one who thinks light is important and protects us from the darkness!
Exodus 27, The Message
1-8 “Make an Altar of acacia wood. Make it seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet high. Make horns at each of the four corners. The horns are to be of one piece with the Altar and covered with a veneer of bronze. Make buckets for removing the ashes, along with shovels, basins, forks, and fire pans. Make all these utensils from bronze. Make a grate of bronze mesh and attach bronze rings at each of the four corners. Put the grate under the ledge of the Altar at the halfway point of the Altar. Make acacia wood poles for the Altar and cover them with a veneer of bronze. Insert the poles through the rings on the two sides of the Altar for carrying. Use boards to make the Altar, keeping the interior hollow.
9-11 “Make a Courtyard for The Dwelling. The south side is to be 150 feet long. The hangings for the Courtyard are to be woven from fine twisted linen, with their twenty posts, twenty bronze bases, and fastening hooks and bands of silver. The north side is to be exactly the same.
12-19 “For the west end of the Courtyard you will need seventy-five feet of hangings with their ten posts and bases. Across the seventy-five feet at the front, or east end, you will need twenty-two and a half feet of hangings, with their three posts and bases on one side and the same for the other side. At the door of the Courtyard make a screen thirty feet long woven from blue, purple, and scarlet stuff, with fine twisted linen, embroidered by a craftsman, and hung on its four posts and bases. All the posts around the Courtyard are to be banded with silver, with hooks of silver and bases of bronze. The Courtyard is to be 150 feet long and seventy-five feet wide. The hangings of fine twisted linen set on their bronze bases are to be seven and a half feet high. All the tools used for setting up The Holy Dwelling, including all the pegs in it and the Courtyard, are to be made of bronze.
20-21 “Now, order the Israelites to bring you pure, clear olive oil for light so that the lamps can be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, the area outside the curtain that veils The Testimony, Aaron and his sons will keep this light burning from evening until morning before God. This is to be a permanent practice down through the generations for Israelites.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
The altar was a significant place of sacrifice for sin. Animals without blemish will be sacrificed on this altar to “cover the sins” (atone the sins) of God’s people. Jesus who was perfect, without sin, did that for us, once and for all. There is a significant difference, however. Jesus takes away our repented sins, justifying us, “just as if” we had never sinned. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103) AND God remembers our sins confessed and repented no more! We cannot keep asking God to forgive us for a sin we already confessed as we ask for forgiveness, because He has already forgiven and forgotten that sin! Wow.
Dear Friends, the only “altar” believers have today is Jesus Christ Himself, who bears on His glorified body the wounds of the cross (Luke 24:39; John 20:20; Heb. 13:10). As a holy priesthood, we “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). We present to Him our bodies (Rom. 12:1, 2), our material wealth (Phil. 4:18), praise and good works (Heb. 13:15, 16), and a broken heart (Ps. 51:17).
“Outside—Keep the light burning!” Once we proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives, who is the Light of the world who is in darkness, we must keep His Light in us burning brightly and consistently! His Light in us not only keeps us safe from the wolves among the sheep, but His light in us points to way for others to find their way from darkness to Jesus, the Light of the World! “This is to be a permanent practice down through the generations for Israelites” and for us!
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16, NIV
ONE WAY IN—
There was only one entrance to the enclosure and therefore only one way to get to the altar of God. When God puts up a fence and assigns the way in, nobody has the authority to question it or change it. Jesus claimed to be the only door (John 10:9) and the only way to God (John 14:6), which explains why Peter said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In today’s pluralistic society, many people like to think that every way is acceptable to God, but that attitude leads to death (Matt. 7:13–27).
Our Father God in Heaven,
Thank you for making a Way, the One and Only Way to you possible through you, dear Jesus! I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. Thank you for teaching me the finer points of your story from Genesis, the beginning, to the Revelation of your coming back again with everything in between. I may not understand it all, but I know enough to know I need you every hour with your light burning consistently and forever in me! I’m yours. I’m listening and learning.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen