The altar of burnt offerings. (1-8) The court of the tabernacle. (9-19) The oil for the lamps. (20,21)
Verses 1-8 In the court before the tabernacle, where the people attended, was an altar, to which they must bring their sacrifices, and on which their priests must offer them to God. It was of wood overlaid with brass. A grate of brass was let into the hollow of the altar, about the middle of which the fire was kept, and the sacrifice burnt. It was made of net-work like a sieve, and hung hollow, that the ashes might fall through. This brazen altar was a type of Christ dying to make atonement for our sins. The wood had been consumed by the fire from heaven, if it had not been secured by the brass: nor could the human nature of Christ have borne the wrath of God, if it had not been supported by Divine power.
Verses 9-19 The tabernacle was enclosed in a court, about sixty yards long and thirty broad, formed by curtains hung upon brazen pillars, fixed in brazen sockets. Within this enclosure the priests and Levites offered the sacrifices, and thither the Jewish people were admitted. These distinctions represented the difference between the visible nominal church, and the true spiritual church, which alone has access to God, and communion with him.
Verses 20-21 The pure oil signified the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which all believers receive from Christ, the good Olive, and without which our light cannot shine before men. The priests were to light the lamps, and tend them. It is the work of ministers, by preaching and expounding the Scriptures, which are as a lamp, to enlighten the church, God's tabernacle upon earth. Blessed be God, this light is not now confined to the Jewish tabernacle, but is a light to lighten the gentiles, and for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
Exodus 27:1-21 . ALTAR FOR BURNT OFFERING.
1, 2. altar of shittim wood--The dimensions of this altar which was placed at the entrance of the sanctuary were nearly three yards square, and a yard and a half in height. Under the wooden frame of this chest-like altar the inside was hollow, and each corner was to be terminated by "horns"--angular projections, perpendicular or oblique, in the form of horns. The animals to be sacrificed were bound to these ( Psalms 118:27 ), and part of the blood was applied to them.
3. shovels--fire shovels for scraping together any of the scattered ashes.
basons--for receiving the blood of the sacrifice to be sprinkled on the people.
fleshhooks--curved, three-pronged forks ( 1 Samuel 2:13 1 Samuel 2:14 ).
fire-pans--A large sort of vessel, wherein the sacred fire which came down from heaven ( Leviticus 9:24 ) was kept burning, while they cleaned the altar and the grate from the coals and ashes, and while the altar was carried from one place to another in the wilderness [PATRICK, SPENCER, LE CLERC].
4. a grate of network of brass--sunk latticework to support the fire.
four brazen rings--by which the grating might be lifted and taken away as occasion required from the body of the altar.
5. put it under the compass of the altar beneath--that is, the grating in which they were carried to a clean place ( Leviticus 4:12 ).
6, 7. staves . . . rings--Those rings were placed at the side through which the poles were inserted on occasions of removal.
9-19. the court of the tabernacle--The enclosure in which the edifice stood was a rectangular court, extending rather more than fifty yards in length and half that space in breadth, and the enclosing parapet was about three yards or half the height of the tabernacle. That parapet consisted of a connected series of curtains, made of fine twined linen yarn, woven into a kind of network, so that the people could see through; but that large curtain which overhung the entrance was of a different texture, being embroidered and dyed with variegated colors, and it was furnished with cords for pulling it up or drawing it aside when the priests had occasion to enter. The curtains of this enclosure were supported on sixty brazen pillars which stood on pedestals of the same metal, but their capitals and fillets were of silver, and the hooks on which they were suspended were of silver also.
19. pins--were designed to hold down the curtains at the bottom, lest the wind should waft them aside.
20, 21. pure oil olive beaten--that is, such as runs from the olives when bruised and without the application of fire.
for the light . . . Aaron and his sons--were to take charge of lighting it in all time coming.
21. shall order it from evening to morning--The tabernacle having no windows, the lamps required to be lighted during the day. JOSEPHUS says that in his time only three were lighted; but his were degenerate times, and there is no Scripture authority for this limitation. But although the priests were obliged from necessity to light them by day, they might have let them go out at night had it not been for this express ordinance.