The brasen altar and the laver are the 1st of 7 pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle. These 2 pieces are found in the court area whereas the other 5 are in the Tabernacle proper (the holy place and the holy of holies).
The 7 pieces of furniture show the 7 steps of victory in the Christian’ life through Jesus Christ:
1). The Brasen Altar- a picture of the cross (salvation)
2). The Laver- cleansing of sin, confession & forgiveness (separation)
3). The Table of Shewbread- a place of fellowship & feeding (Bible reading)
4). The Candlestick- testimony of believer and illumination of the Holy Spirit (Testimony)
5). The Altar of Incense- prayer and worship
6). The Ark- full surrender of the believer (covenant)
7). The Mercy Seat- complete victory, rest and peace from God.
I). The Brasen Altar: The shadow of the cross. (Ex. 27:1-8)
"…and without shedding of blood is no remission." Heb. 9:22
"No blood, no altar now,
(Poem and picture by Geo C. Needham, 1879)
*Altar means to raise or lift up or
a place of sacrifice. The cross was a "lifted up altar" (Jn 3:14; 12:32).
It was also a place of sacrifice (Heb 9:26; 10:4-12).
A). The Materials:
Shittim wood represents the incorruptible humanity of Jesus Christ.
Brass represents the strength of Christ and his deity that could withstand the judgment of God on sin.
B). The Size and Design:
2). It was 5 cubits square. 5 being the number of death
*It was foursquare. It was
equal on all sides. The salvation of God is equal on all sides for all
3). It had 4 horns on the 4 corners.
*Salvation is open to the
4 corners of the earth (to the Jew first and also to the Greek… Rom 1:16).
C). The 5’s of the Altar: Exodus 27:3
1). Pans: used to carry the ashes
away (Lev. 6:10-11)
5 Animals for sacrifice:
Lamb, Bullock, Goat, Heifer, Turtledove.
Burnt, Meat (or meal), Peace (or
wave), Sin, Trespass
D). Other Details:
This depositing of the ashes speaks of the body of Christ which was sacrificed for our sin and carried to a new tomb (Mt 27:60)
2). The Altar had rings and two staves with which it was to be carried as they moved. The altar representing Calvary must be carried (the gospel) by two staves which are :Jesus’ death and resurrection. Without both it cannot be carried!
3). The fire on this altar was "ever burning" (Lev. 6:12-13). The salvation made possible at Calvary is ever standing ready and waiting for those who would come to it’s fire for forgiveness and atonement.
4). The fire was kindled by God! (Lev. 9:24). Salvation is kindled by God and nothing can be added to it. Remember Nadab and Abihu who offered "strange fire" (Lev 10:1-2).
5). The grate on which the sacrifices were burned was half way down in the altar at the same height as the mercy seat in the holy of holies. This speaks of the equality of Jesus’ sacrifice and the mercy of God.
II). The Laver: Sanctification of the Believer. Ex 30:17-21
"The Laver stands. If earth-defiled,
2). It held water for washing. Scripture teaches that the Word of God is our looking glass (James 1:23-25).
*It was this water that was used to
wash off the dirt and dust of the floor in the tabernacle. We need the
water of the Word to wash us from the defilement of our world. (John 15:3;
17:17; Eph. 5:26; Ps 119:9).
B). Size and Design:
C). The Position of the Laver:
2) This position suggests that cleansing follows the cross and not before. Holy/Holiness is found 84 times in the book of Leviticus. (Rom 12;1-2)
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" 1 Peter 3:21
3). At the Altar man was justified from sin’s penalty, at the Laver man found cleansing from the daily walk on the earth (the tabernacle had no floor). The priests had to constantly wash as we must constantly wash with the water of the Word to keep from being defiled by the world that we must walk in.
"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." Psalm 119:9
John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.