Tabernacle | Devotion 4: Reflection
Pastor Gareth Volz

In the first eight verses of Exodus chapter 38, we are told about the construction of the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Bronze Laver – two important items in the courtyard of the Tabernacle of God. Back in Exodus chapter 36, God gave Moses instructions on how to build His Tabernacle. Moses relayed these instructions to the people. While some gave materials required by God for His dwelling place, others were given skills to build what God mandated.

We are told in Exodus 36:2 that God put skill in the mind of Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, a craftsman whose heart was stirred to heed the call to build God’s Tabernacle. In Exodus chapter 38, we are told how he built the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Bronze Laver to God’s specifications. These two items were very important in the worship of God, and a study of them reminds us of what we need to do before we can truly worship our God.

I want to first look at the Altar of Burnt Offering. He made the altar out of acacia wood and covered in with bronze (verses 1-2); he made all the utensils for the altar out of bronze (verse 3); he built the grating for the altar out of bronze (verse 4); and he built rings and poles of acacia wood covered with bronze to be used in transporting the altar when the people moved from place to place (verses 5-7). Then he built a laver (basin) out of bronze, and its stand was also made out of bronze (verse 8).

A cursory reading of this passage may seem monotonous. Why did God go into such detail in describing these two pieces of bronze in the courtyard of His Tabernacle? I believe it is because they teach us some important lessons of how we need to prepare to worship our Holy, Righteous God.

First of all, before a priest could enter the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant, he had to offer a sacrifice for the sins he and the people had committed, and this sacrifice was made on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The priest did not offer any animal, but a lamb or dove without blemish. Sacrifice cost something because God cannot be in the presence of sin – He is holy. It cost the lamb or the dove its life. It cost Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, His life to pay the penalty for your sin and mine. Once the sacrifice had been offered, the priest could enter the presence of our Holy God. We can enter the presence of our Holy God because Jesus was our sacrifice.

Yet there was still one more thing the priest had to do before he could enter the Holy of Holies and worship and fellowship with God; he had to cleanse himself at the Bronze Laver. If you and I are to enter God’s presence in worship and have fellowship with Him, we must have a clean lifestyle. The sacrifice of Christ meant that we were no longer slaves to sin, but we must choose each day to live in a way that pleases God. Only then can we truly have fellowship with Him and worship Him in a way that brings glory to His name.

Preparation for true worship requires sacrifice and cleansing. Jesus provided our sacrifice. The Laver in the tabernacle was made to reflect the image of the priest as he washed. We need to reflect on our character, our lifestyle, and see what changes we need to make so we can offer our God in proper worship and have fellowship with Him. This should be a daily occurrence in the life of the believer. We need to prepare ourselves to offer God the worship He deserves.

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