December 13, 2022
“You are to construct an altar of acacia wood.”
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“You are to construct an altar of acacia wood.” Exodus 27:1
The Orthodox (non-Messianic) Jewish Rabbis have explained the symbolism of the altar by forming an anagram from each of the four letters spelling the Hebrew word: “Mizbe’ah.” Since few of you read Hebrew, and I don’t know how to make my computer type Hebrew letters, you’ll just have to trust me! Here’s the English translation:
FORGIVENESS: Sin separates us from God. The altar was the channel whereby the Israelites could seek reconciliation with God.
MERIT: Gratitude, humility, and contrition found their outlet on the altar. By approaching the Lord through virtues, life was ennobled, and “merit” acquired.
BLESSING: By remaining faithful to the teachings centered around the altar, man receives the Lord’s blessing and becomes a blessing to his fellow men.
LIFE: The altar points the way to everlasting life. It directs one’s worship to things that abide forever: righteousness, holiness, and God’s Word.
For men to perpetuate forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life, it was necessary for them to sacrifice prescribed things at prescribed times in a prescribed manner. Problem: The atonement diminished over time. You were only covered until the time for the next sacrifice.
Interestingly, these days, neither of the two tabernacle altars exists. They were replaced by the altars Solomon built for the Temple, and those Solomonic altars have been missing since the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. So, how are one’s sins atoned for today?
We receive forgiveness, merit, blessing, and life when we trust in Messiah, Jesus. Plus, we have the added bonus: His atoning sacrifice lasts FOREVER.
“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have the right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy of holies by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Messiah also suffered outside the gate so He may sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. For here we do not have an enduring city; instead, we seek the one to come. Therefore through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that profess His name. Don’t neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” Hebrews 13:10-16