Added to, December 16-18, 1992
2 Peter 2:17
Now He moves on to the alter, vs. 1-8. This alter stands at the foot of the cross, cut off from the rest of the tabernacle by a curtain. This area of the alter was accessible to the sinner. The Holy place where the candlestick and table were located could only be seen by the priests. Then the holy of hollies containing the ark could only be seen by the high priest and then only once a year.
I would have thought the alter would have been mentioned first right after the Ark, but it wasn't. The basic furniture is given first: The Ark, the Mercy Seat, the Table of Shewbread, the Candlestick, then last of all, the alter.
Notice that the altar is spoken of as a male person. Conclusively, it is a picture of Christ. The altar, as mentioned previously, was a hollow wooden frame covered with brass with a horn on each corner. The hollow frame was filled with earth or stone upon which the sacrifice was burnt; the earlier command to build an altar only of earth or unhewn stone was never rescinded.
Keil identifies the grate of v. 4 (& 38:4) as
a projecting framework or bench running round the four sides of the altar, about half a cubit or a cubit broad, nailed to the walls (of the altar) on the outside, and fastened more firmly to them by copper covering which was common to both. The copper grating was below this bench, and on the outside. The bench rested upon it, or rather it hung from the outer edge of the bench and rested upon the ground, like the inner chest, which surrounded on all four sides, and in which thee were no perforations. It formed with the bench or carcob a projecting footing, which caused the lower half of the altar to look broader than the upper on every side. The priest stood upon this carcob or bench when offering sacrifice, or when placing wood, or doing anything else upon the alter. This explains Aaron's coming down from the alter (Lev 9:22)...
1) this brazen altar was a type of Christ dying to make atonement for the sins of His people. Christ is the sanctifying alter for his people, Jn 17:19. The work of Christ gives His people the right to eat at this altar, Heb 13:10.
2) daily, the priests entered into the holy place and made the "sacrifice of prayers and the fruits of the people's earthly vocation" for the people. This shows us the necessity of daily communion with the Lord and the necessity for someone (Christ, our High Priest) to intercede for the people of God on a regular basis.
3) it was through the medium of the sacrifice offered upon the altar of burnt-offering that His people received the "expiation of their sins, His grace and blessing, and strength to live anew."
4) the people had free access to the dwelling place of the Lord as far as this alter. Here the priest had to take their sacrifice and make their offering (thus approach) before the Lord. The people could not approach any closer to the covenant-God than this alter.
The court of the tabernacle.. This area was open to anyone who wanted to enter. Note that the beauty is scaled back: the most beautiful place was the Most Holy Place with its gold, blue & purple linen, and cheribum; this area of the court was of fine linen, brass and silver.
1) even though the people were God's elect and God dwelt among them, they "could not come directly into the presence of Jehovah until the sin which separates unholy men from the holy God had been atoned for." (Keil) Thus, the altar of brass.
2) The high of the curtain around the court was only 5 cubits, half the height of the tabernacle itself (26:15). The half-high shows us the incompleteness of the court. No matter what an individual might do, the only way he could enter into the completeness of God (the place of God's dwelling) was through the sacrifice.
3) "This court was a type of the church, enclosed and distinguished from the rest of the world, the enclosure supported by pillars, denoting the stability of the church, hung with clean lined, which is said to be the righteousness of saints, Rev. xix.8." (MH)
A) David longed for the court of the tabernacle, Psalms 84:2, 10, My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
4) The OT tabernacle court was quite small: about fifty yards long, and twenty-five yards wide with the tabernacle itself within its enclosure. Consequently, even though it was open to all who desired to enter into it, it could contain only a few worshipers at a time.
A) The people of God enter into these courts with praise and thanksgiving, Psalms 100:4, Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.
5) Christ, through the veil of His flesh, removed every veil of the tabernacle (and wall of the newer temple). Now every man every where, world-wide, has free access to the Father through the work of Christ. In fact, it is now the Father's will that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Timothy 2:8) Furthermore, the church is commanded to enlarge itself world-wide to include the elect everywhere.
A) Thus, the court of the temple, the church, is still restricted to God's elect; only now there is no physical restrictions as to its location as it was before Christ. Any person anywhere who has the desire to enter into his gates with thanksgiving and praise and bless His holy name can do so through the Lord Jesus Christ; in fact, men everywhere are commanded to do just that.
Note v. 19, All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass. Gold or silver would not hold up under the ware and tare of everyday work and service; therefore, these things are of brass.
All its vessels were of copper-brass, which, being allied to the earth in both colour and material, was a symbolical representation of the earthly side of the kingdom of God;' whereas the silver of the capitals of the pillars, and of the hooks and rods which sustained the hangings, as well as the white colour of the byssus-hangings, might point to the holiness of this site for the kingdom of God. On the other hand, in the gilding of the capitals of the pillars at the entrance to the dwelling, and the brass of their socket, we find gold and silver combined, to set forth the union of the court with the sanctuary, i.e. the union of the dwelling-place of Israel with the dwelling-place of its God, which is realized in the kingdom of God. (Keil)
Vs. 20, 21.
Here is the command to keep the candlestick of chapter 26 burning every day from evening to morning before the Lord... forever. It was not to burn during the day when the Lord provided natural light.
1) The candlestick was probably the most beautiful piece of furniture in the tabernacle, with the exception of the throne of God itself, the Ark with its mercy seat. But the candlestick would be utterly useless without being lit and shedding its light. Its beauty would be totally hidden if it did not put off light.
A) thus it is with the child of God. He is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, but unless he puts forth a light, he is less than useless, Mat. 5:15, 16.
2) The people would never see the lamp burning because it was behind the first veil in the Holy Place; it burned in the presence of the Lord and the priest as he went about his duties in the outer chamber, the holy place. Although no one would see its light, the Lord would. Accordingly, it would have been a disaster for the light to go out.
A) the Christian is responsible to shine for the Lord regardless whether anyone sees him or not. The Lord sees him.
3) oil was required to keep the lamp burning; it could not burn on its own no matter how beautiful it was. And not just any oil, but beaten olive oil.
A) obviously, this speaks of the Holy Spirit. The child of God must have the pure oil of the Spirit if he is to put forth a light which is pleasing to the Lord of the covenant.
B) candlesticks, no matter how beautiful, without oil are without light: they promise something they cannot deliver. Observe:
2 Peter 2:17, These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. Jude 12, 13, These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Both Peter and Jude indicate that such a one is not even saved. This would be consistent with the picture of the candlestick because the oil represents the Spirit of God.
Mayor paraphrases Peter's words of vs. 17-19 thusly:
Profession without performance, preaching without doing, are like wells with no water or mists dispersed by the wind. For such men the darkest future is reserved. With their empty boasts they allure through their lusts, by fleshly indulgences, those who were just escaping from the life of heathendom. Promising freedom to others, they are themselves slaves of corruption , since each man is enslaved to that by which he is overcome. (Epistles of Jude and Second Peter, Klock and Klock, pg 205.)
(I am reminded of a flashlight lying on the shelf with dead batteries. It holds a promise but no ability to deliver on the promise.)
C) The oil in the candlestick also speaks of the gifts and grace of the Spirit of God as given to all believers, Note this statement by the wise man: Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift [is like] clouds and wind without rain. (Proverbs 25:14) Every believer was given a gift by the Spirit at their new birth. Thus, when one attempts to work outside of that gift, he is like a cloud without rain. In other words, he too promises something he cannot deliver. (See further: Rom 12; 1 Cor 4; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 4:10.)
Of course, this point also talks about those who falsely believe they are saved and try to operate with a gift which they do not possess.
4) This command for the olive oil is unusual in that the command is given to the children of Israel.. This command is not given to the priests, but to the people; they are told to bring a continual supply of oil for the priest.
A) the people must supply the maintenance in order that the priests could keep the lamp burning. This is an obvious reference to the fact that the church and ministers of the gospel, in order to be a light in the world as a church, must have the support of the covenant people.
5) it was the responsibility of the priests to keep the lamp burning every evening until morning.
A) It is the work of ministers to keep the light burning by the preaching and teaching of the word of God (Thy word is a light...). The minister must enlighten the church, God's tabernacle on earth.
B) furthermore, the priest was to direct the service in the tabernacle, the church, but the priest was not at liberty to direct as he saw fit. He was very strictly bound by the command-word of God.
6) The oil required work which the people were to do (not the priests); it was obtained from beaten olives, not pressed. The highest quality of oil flows out by itself when olives are beaten.
This is a statute for ever... Never for a moment can we let up on our sacrifice of praise and prayer to the Lord.