Monthly Archives: June 2017

Reflective Offerings

living-tabenacles

This is the tenth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

Our previous article discussed the altar of incense.  Closely connected with that altar is the altar of burnt offering, also called the brazen altar. This altar was reserved for sacrifices and was overlaid with bronze instead of gold.  Bronze is symbolic of judgment.  Without the temporary sacrifice of the burnt offerings and the permanent sacrifice of Yeshua, human prayers (symbolized by incense) would not be acceptable to YHVH.

Using acacia wood, construct a square altar 7 feet wide, 7 feet long, and 4 feet high. Make horns for each of its four corners so that the horns and altar are all one piece. Overlay the altar with bronze. Make ash buckets, shovels, basins, meat forks, and firepans, all of bronze. Make a bronze grating for it, and attach four bronze rings at its four corners. Install the grating halfway down the side of the altar, under the ledge. For carrying the altar, make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. Insert the poles through the rings on the two sides of the altar. The altar must be hollow, made from planks. Build it just as you were shown on the mountain (Ex 27:1-8).

The Hebrew word for altar is mizbeach (Strong’s Concordance Hebrew 4196). In Arabic, it means “place of slaughter”.  The bronze altar was placed in the courtyard of the tabernacle and was used for burning sacrifices.  There were several different types of sacrifices made on this altar which are listed below with a brief explanation of each[1].

Burnt Offering:  Sometimes called the whole burnt offering because the whole animal (except for its hide which was given to the priest) was consumed in the fire on the altar.  The Hebrew word is olah (meaning “ascending”).  This entire sacrifice was for YHVH alone and had to be made before other sacrifices would be accepted by YHVH. Burnt offerings dealt with the sinful nature of people and were offered twice daily (morning and evening) with additional offerings to be made on Sabbaths, new moons and feast days and other special occasions.  Burnt offerings were offered before other offerings could be made.

Grain Offering:  Flour and oil were offered to express gratitude to YHVH.  A small portion was burned on the altar and the rest was reserved for the priests.  A drink offering (wine) was poured out on top as a symbol of joy.

Peace Offering:  This offering was optional and ended in a meal that could be shared by the priests and the individuals offering it.  The sacrifices needed to be eaten within two days.  There were three main reasons for peace offerings:

  • Thanksgiving offering for a specific blessing from YHVH (Lev. 7:12-13)
  • Wave offering where the priest’s portion was waved before YHVH (Lev. 7:30-31)
  • Votive offering for a vow or a simple voluntary act of worship (Lev. 7:16-17)

Sin (or purification) Offering for unintentional sin (Lev 4:2-3) in order to cleanse the Tabernacle from human defilement.

Guilt (reparation) Offering:  A ram was offered after confession of the sin.  If YHVH’s sacred property was unintentionally damaged, reparation was to be made (plus an additional twenty percent) (Lev 5:16)

What can we learn from the offerings made in the Tabernacle?  How do they relate to Yeshua and to us?

  • Sin always results in death even if it is unintentional. Atonement is always necessary.  Yeshua is our Atonement.  Only through Yeshua can we approach YHVH and have a relationship with Him.
  • While some of the offerings were to atone for sin, others were voluntary gifts meant to bless YHVH, just as He blesses us abundantly.
  • The animals to be offered were young (usually one year old) and without blemish, thus representing Yeshua who was sacrificed in His prime and who was sinless. We are always to come to YHVH in Yeshua’s name and covered by His blood.
  • The best or the choicest of the herds or other offerings were to be used, for YHVH has offered to us nothing less than His own Son, Yeshua.
  • Burnt offerings were an abomination if the people did not forsake their sins (Is 1:11-15). We can ask for forgiveness and plead the blood of Yeshua over ourselves, but true repentance (teshuva meaning a complete turnaround) only is acceptable to YHVH.
  • Hosea 6:6 states “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice. And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”  Our primary goal must be always to deepen our relationship with YHVH (Mic 6:6-8).
  •  Burnt offerings were not just for the Israelites, but for all humans. Burnt offerings started long before the time of Moses.  For example, upon exiting from the Ark, Noah offered burnt offerings to YHVH, using some of the clean animals he had taken with him (Gen 8:20).  The basis of YHVH’s covenant with Noah was not because of Noah’s goodness, but rather his sacrifice.
  • Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a whole burnt offering (Gen 22:2 NLT).  Abraham was willing to sacrifice his long-awaited only son if YHVH requested it even though Abraham had been promised many descendants through Isaac.   Man had sinned and only through the sacrificial death of a righteous man could mankind be saved.  YHVH did not allow Abraham to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided His own Son to be the sacrifice.

In Hebrews 10:12 Paul states, “But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand”.  Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the sacrificial system has been suspended.  However, several passages of Scripture indicate that sacrifices will be resumed during Yeshua’s millennial reign (Is 56:6-8, Zech 14:16, Jer 33:15-18, Mal 3:3-4).  Why?  There are numerous proposed explanations and much speculation.  We know that YHVH will dwell with us during this time. Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord  “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people.  I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you (Zech 2:10-13). We also know that YHVH’s throne is surrounded by fire (Dan 7:9) and that not even the slightest impurity can be in His presence.  The millennial kingdom will be a time of refinement and perfection until we are ready for the new heaven and new earth.  At that time speculation will die away as the mystery of the renewed sacrifices unfolds.  We will then more fully understand how the sacrificial offerings enable us to reflect YHVH’s glory back to Him.

[1] OFFERINGS IN LEVITICUS–WHAT THEY WERE AND WHY THEY MATTERED.  Wayne Stiles, https://www.waynestiles.com/offerings-in-leviticus-what-they-were-and-why-they-mattered/.

Reflections of Incense

living-tabenaclesThis is the ninth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

As we continue our study of the Tabernacle, we come across a relatively small altar that holds a powerful significance in our relationship with YHVH.  The altar of incense was square with each side measuring 1.5 feet and was three feet high.  It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Four horns protruded from the four corners of the altar.  The altar of incense, also called the Golden Altar, (mizbach hazahav in Numbers 4:11), stood just outside the Holy of Holies.  A special mixture of incense, reserved exclusively for YHVH, was burned on this altar every morning and every evening, thus sending up a continual waft of pleasant odor to YHVH.

The incense altar was the place where YHVH met with Moshe.  Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.  (Ex. 30:6 NLT).  

On Yom Kippur the incense was burned atop the Ark of the Covenant.  The high priest would fold back the curtain concealing the Most Holy Place, put the censer with the burning coals on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, then throw the two handfuls of incense into the censer.  This was the only day and time that any one (and then only the high priest) was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, thus foreshadowing the work of our High Priest that would permanently  rend the separating curtain.

What does the incense altar represent in the spiritual realm?  It symbolizes our prayers to YHVH (Is 56:7, Ps. 141:2).  The fragrant incense also represents the prayers of Yeshua, who makes continuous intercession on our behalf (John 17:1-26, Rom 8:34) as our High Priest.  The continuous rise of the burning incense reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).

The daily burning of incense corresponded with the lighting of the menorah.  Scripture indicates that the incense was to be burned at the same time the menorah was to be cleaned and relit (Ex 30:7-8).  According to the Talmud five of the lamps on the menorah would be cleaned, then the incense would be burned before the other two lamps were cleaned.  The menorah and the Golden Altar seem to be interconnected.  If we understand that the menorah represents the light of Yeshua, then Yeshua’s light in us results in worship, praise and petitions to our Father.

In order to burn the incense, fire was taken from the brazen altar (which will be discussed in the next article) and transferred to the altar of incense (Lev 16:12-13), thus symbolizing that the fire of Yeshua’s sacrifice becomes the fire of blessing.  The horns of the golden altar were sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the Israelites (Lev 4:7, 16:18). “Just as the horns on the brazen altar represent the power of Christ’s blood to forgive sins, the horns on golden altar signify the power of His blood in prayer as we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness.”  (The Altar of Incense, the-tabernacle-place.com).  We come to Father in prayer only through Yeshua, cleansed from our sin by His blood and wearing His righteousness, for we have nothing of value to offer on our own.

Before Yeshua’s death on the cross, a heavy curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle, illustrating the separation from YHVH that sin had caused.  That veil has now been torn, so that there is no longer any separation, just as there is no separation in the heavenly Tabernacle.

The heavy curtain illustrates YHVH’s eagerness to be near His people.  He would come to them despite the barrier of sin using a curtain until reconciliation would be accomplished through Yeshua’s precious sacrifice.  The horns on the corners of the incense altar represent power, the power of prayer and intercession in this case.  Now that the curtain has been torn, YHVH not only meets with our representative (Moshe, Yeshua), but with each of us individually.

When we are offended by others, we tend to withdraw from them.  Our Father, on the other hand,  seeks all the more to be reconciled and united with us.  We are to forgive those who offend us, love them and always seek union with them if we desire to do as our heavenly Father does.  Are there curtains of separation that need to be torn down in our lives?

We, as living tabernacles, have the privilege of offering the continuous incense of our prayers and intercessions, even prayers for our enemies (Matt 5:44).  Just as the incense was a special mixture reserved solely for YHVH, our worship and prayers too must be reserved for our Father.  We are not to worship or pray to any foreign gods.  To whom are you offering your incense?