Let’s return to the west side of the picture. We are going to learn about the bronze utensils used at the altar of sacrifice, also known as the altar of burnt offering. The King James Version uses the word “brass” to describe the utensils, as well as the overlay of the altar. Also, the two mountains in Zechariah 6:1 are called “mountains of brass.” In the New International Version, the word “bronze” is used in all these examples. Brass (or bronze) often symbolizes God’s judgment. For example, sin was judged on the altar of sacrifice. And the Lord’s feet were “like bronze glowing in a furnace” when He appeared to the beloved disciple (Revelation 1:15). This represents His judgment of the churches.
The first utensils listed in Exodus 27:3 are bronze pots (or pans, KJV) to remove ashes. Bronze shovels were also used to help clear away ashes from the altar. The priest in the picture below looks like he may have a shovel in his hands.
Bronze basons (KJV), which are better known as basins or sprinkling bowls, were needed to receive the blood from the sacrifice. Exodus 24:6 tells us that “Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar.”
The bronze mountain near the center of the picture, I believe, represents the bronze basin from the altar of sacrifice. Notice how blood and water flow from the Lord's side, and then it pours into the basin. We could even take it one step further and say that it is overflowing. In Psalm 23:5, King David says, "My cup runneth over" (KJV).
*Please read the blog about the altar of sacrifice for further understanding.
The “whirlwind,” which I likened to a flame, may also represent the Lord’s blood flowing down to earth. In Isaiah 66:1, the Lord says, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” The violet-blue sky may represent Heaven’s floor. In Revelation 15:2, the beloved disciple describes “a sea of glass glowing with fire.” Simply put, the violet-blue could be the sea of glass, while the pink and white on our right is glowing with fire.
When Jesus met with His disciples for the Passover meal, He took a cup, gave thanks, and then gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28). Every time we take communion, we remember what the Lord (the Lamb) has done for us (Luke 22:19). And one day He will drink it anew with us in His Father’s kingdom, probably at the wedding of the Lamb (Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:7).
The thought of the wedding feast and communion make me think of a husband and wife. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of creation. In Genesis 2:21, God causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep. While he is sleeping, God takes one of Adam’s ribs from his side and then closes up the flesh. He then makes Eve from the rib and brings her to Adam (v. 22). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes a letter to the church in Ephesus. He compares a husband and wife to Jesus and the church. Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25). A husband is supposed to lay down his life for his wife. And a wife should submit to his leadership (vv. 22-24). Of course, all should be done in love. God’s plan is for us to walk side by side, to take care of one another, to help one another, and to love one another. The rib from Adam’s side demonstrates the relationship of walking together.
My husband, Kirk, reminded me of Noah’s ark the other day. The Lord said, “Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks” (Genesis 6:16). It was through this door that Noah, his family, and all the animals entered the ark (vv. 13-16). Then the Lord shut them in. Do you happen to see the pattern? First, we have the Lord with blood and water pouring out from His side for His church. Then, we have a rib taken from Adam’s side to make Eve. Finally, we see a door in the side of the ark where Noah, his family, and all the animals find safety from the storm.
The prophet Zechariah tells us that a terrible time is coming in Jerusalem, for there will be destruction and brutality (Zechariah 14:1-2). The Lord, however, will return to fight for His people (vv. 3-4). Verse 5 says, “You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel.” The King James Version calls it “A’-zal.” People have tried to figure out where this place is located. It could be Wadi Yasul, but I am going to share my humble guess. I think it is a place in the Lord’s side. Just as He gave Noah and his group a way of escape by entering the ark through a side door, so God’s people will be given a way of escape by fleeing to the Lord’s side. In fact, the word “Azal” may mean “near to,” “beside,” or “very near.” It is there that we are protected from judgment. The bronze basin represents judgment until it is filled with His blood. Now, in light of redemption, it represents mercy towards sinful man. Colossians 3:12 uses the phrase “bowels of mercies” (KJV). In the picture, we can see the Lord’s bowels. The word “bowels” is often described as “pity,” “tenderness,” and “compassion.” King David says, “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9).
Judgment will come to those who did not enter the holy place the way the Lord designed. They tried to reach God and Heaven a different way. Perhaps they never even tried to find Him. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Only a few people and animals entered Noah’s ark that day. The door was wide open, but only a few embraced the Lord’s plan. “Noah [however] did everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).
The next utensils in Exodus 27:3 are the bronze meat forks (or fleshhooks, KJV). They had three prongs and were used to arrange the pieces of the sacrifice on the altar. I don’t have an image to show you. I do, however, have a story that may help us understand the bigger picture.
First Chronicles 21:1 tells us that “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census….” When David had all the fighting men counted, God saw that it was evil, so He punished Israel (vv. 5-7). David felt guilty about what he had done, so he said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing” (v. 8). I would like to stop here for a moment. First of all, a leader may allow his people to take the blame for his mistakes at times. David, however, was willing to take the punishment. In verse 17, he says, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.” Here we see the heart of God. In fact, God calls David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). As the shepherd of Israel, King David wants to protect the people, the sheep, God’s sheep. Granted, it was his sin that caused the plague. But he loved the people and didn’t want to see them suffer. Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, took it one step further. He was without sin. He lived life perfectly, and yet He received the punishment for our sin. Now that is love!
At one point, "David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem" (1 Chronicles 21:16). Interestingly enough, in the second picture I discovered an angel with a sword in its sheath. The angel is wearing a purple robe. His wings extend to the side. Since Kirk is a pilot, he pointed out the placement of the wings. They look like the wings of a plane or a bird. In this case, the angel is likely landing on the mountain.
The angel is very tall in comparison to the people on the right.
Some people believe that Jesus appears as the angel of the Lord at times in the Old Testament. I do not have enough knowledge in this area to even try to guess. I find it interesting, though, that the Prophet Zechariah describes the Lord coming to fight against the nations on behalf of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:3). It says that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, and it will split in two (v. 4).
You may wonder where I am going with this story. Well, I hope to sum it up for you. The angel of the Lord ordered the Prophet Gad to tell David to build an altar (1 Chronicles 21:18). It was to be built on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Therefore, King David purchased the site from him for six hundred shekels of gold (v. 25). David then built an altar to the Lord, and he sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings (v. 26). Verse 27 says, “Then the Lord spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.” This, of course, suggests that the angel is separate from the Lord. David then said that the house of the Lord and the altar of burnt offering for Israel would be there (22:1). The future temple of Israel would be built on the threshing floor. This was the place for threshing wheat (21:20). The word “thresh” means “to separate grain from (a plant), typically with a flail or by the action of a revolving mechanism.” Jesus’ body was beaten, blow after blow, much like the threshing of wheat. The stripes, the fleshhooks, that He suffered on our behalf provide healing for our sins (Isaiah 53:5, KJV). That is certainly a sobering thought.
The last utensils in our study are the bronze firepans (Exodus 27:3). These were either snuffdishes or censers. They were probably used to carry embers from the altar of sacrifice to the altar of incense (Leviticus 16:12). As we continue through the tabernacle, we will learn more about the altar of incense. First, however, we need to stop at the tree of life. As we get a glimpse of the tree, it will help us better understand eternity.
*Please see pages 167-175 in Looking Glass, The City God Loves. You can read it on the "Looking Glass" page in Chapter Eight, Tree of Life.
Copyright © 2016 Heidi Rabe