For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

27:1.  “And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.”


This was the Brazen Altar located just inside the Tabernacle courtyard.  It is another type of Christ, and it’s being of wood overlaid with brass, the metal which is the biblical symbol of judgment, portrays Him as the One who became man, and who has himself borne the judgment due to us.  Its being the first article of furniture encountered by the approaching worshipper reminds us that there could be no way of approach for us had not the Lord Jesus Christ himself been willing to take our guilty place at Calvary, bearing the judgment due to us, and dying to expiate all our sins.


Since five is the number of responsibility; and since length speaks of the duration of one’s life; and breadth, of the character of the life, the truth being declared in the dimensions of the altar is that Christ has assumed responsibility for all our sin, and every moment of His life here on earth was for the purpose of making complete atonement for the sins of all who are willing to trust Him as Savior and Lord.


The five cubits of breadth tell us that the great purpose of His life was to glorify the Father, and redeem believing men; while the height of the altar, three cubits, portrays the fact that the guarantee of God’s acceptance of every sinner who will trust Christ as Savior is assured by His resurrection, as it is written, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Romans 4:25.  The Lord’s resurrection is the guarantee of God’s justification of every sinner who trusts in Christ as his Savior.  See 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain,” see also verses 15-17.  “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept,” verse 20.


27:2.  “And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.”


The horns were of wood overlaid with brass, one protruding from each corner of the altar; and since a horn is a biblical symbol of power, what is being portrayed here is the universality of Christ’s dominion as Son of man: it embraces the four corners of the earth, see John 5:22-23, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father who has sent him.”


27:3.  “And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.”


The thought of judgment continues to be emphasized in connection with the brazen altar, for all these implements of brass point to the judgment that was symbolically presented in the burning of the sacrifices, each animal immolated being a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ who would fulfill the types by His own sin-atoning death at Calvary.


27:4.  “And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.”


27:5.  “And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.”


Scholars disagree as to the exact position of this grate, and the means by which it was suspended, but the most widely held view seems to be that depicted in Ridout’s Lectures on the Tabernacle, where the ring on each corner of the net protruded through an opening half way up on each of two opposite sides of the altar, being held in place by a stave running through these two rings on each side.


The typological picture seems to be of the heart of Christ set steadfastly on doing His Father’s will, and permitting nothing to turn Him aside from the fulfillment of that purpose, as it is written, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he shuld be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,” Luke 9:51.


The four brazen rings may also represent the four Gospel’s.


27:6.  “And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.”


27:7.  “And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.”


For the spiritual significance of the staves see comments on 25:30, paragraph 14.


27:8.  “Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.”


Its being made “hollow with boards,” rather than as a solid block, may have been to emphasize that it was merely a type: a type of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming into the world in human form, for wood is used in Scripture to represent humanity.  He became man in order that He might die in man’s stead, for as God He could not die.


“... as it was shewed thee in the mount.”  This previously given pattern is an OT declaration of the truth that the Lord’s incarnation was foretold repeatedly in the types and symbols of the OT scriptures.


27:9.  “And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:”


Since the south is the scriptural direction associated with faith, this beginning of the pattern with the south side seems to be to emphasize the imperative of faith as a prerequisite to the understanding of the Bible’s symbolic language.  As discussed already, apart from obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, there can be no understanding of biblical typology.


The fine twined linen, as always in Scripture, speaks of righteousness, and in the present instance, of the sinless perfection of Christ; and inasmuch as length speaks of the duration of life, it represents the whole of the Lord’s earthly life.  The hundred cubits, factorizing to 10 multiplied by 10, points to His perfect obedience to His Father’s will, for ten is the biblical number of Divine government, as expressed for example in the The Ten Commandments.


That curtained wall however, speaks also of the righteousness of Christ which clothes every believer; and inasmuch as it was that which first met the eye of those who approached, it teaches the truth that we are responsible to display His righteousness in our daily lives.  God would have men see Christ in us, for the Church, His bride, is described in Revelation 19:8 where it is written concerning those who comprise that mystical bride, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”


27:10.  “And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.”


Since those twenty pillars were an integral part of the wall of the Tabernacle they also represent Christ, and also His Church.  First as a type of Him, they portray Him in their number twenty, which whether factorized as 2 multiplied by 10, point to Him as the perfect Man under the dominion of the Father; or 4 multiplied by 5, depict Him as manifesting under testing that He fulfilled perfectly His responsibility as man in relation to God.


Their being of brass, and standing on sockets of brass, the metal that speaks of judgment, declares that His obedience extended all the way to death, for He took our sins upon Him, and died in our guilty stead, bearing the judgment due to us, thus laying a basis of perfect righteousness on which God can come out to repentant believing sinners, pardoning all their sins, and bestowing His gift of eternal life.


The hooks of the pillars, and their fillets (rods), both being of silver however, set them before us as types of redeemed men - silver being the emblem of redemption.  Believers are those whose judgment Christ has borne, and who are therefore redeemed from every claim of God’s violated law, the silver hooks and fillets (rods) of the pillars resting on brazen sockets, representing them as being redeemed and therefore beyond all judgment: the judgment is under them, i.e., behind them, God’s assurance being that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” Romans 8:1.


27:11.  “And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.”


The north is the direction that speaks of intelligence, the context indicating whether it is intelligence working in harmony with God or against Him; and here it refers to the intelligence which is the partner of faith, for the more we study Scripture the more it becomes clear that faith and intelligence are spiritual Siamese twins.  It is the height of folly to dismiss God’s Word as a thing of little worth.  It is the fool who says in his heart that there is no God, see Psalm 14:1.


27:12.  “And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.”


The west side was the back of the Tabernacle, and it is instructive to consider that throughout Scripture a movement westward speaks of approach to God, as a movement eastward portrays departure from Him, note e.g., that when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden they went eastward, see Genesis 3:24, as did also Cain, see Genesis 4:16.  It is significant too that the entrance to the Tabernacle was on the east side: God graciously placed the way of return where man in his rebellion had departed, thus making it easy for him to return.  The type was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth where rebel man was, He by His vicarious death becoming the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which man could return to God, and be eternally blessed.


Fifty, a multiple of five, the number of responsibility; and ten the number of Divine government, combine to declare the truth that that western wall of the Tabernacle is a symbolic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who as the last Adam, perfectly fulfilled man’s responsibility to God, so that all who trust Him as Savior and Lord may return to God to enjoy even richer blessing than that forfeited by the rebellion of the first Adam.


27:13.  “And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.”


The width of the east side, where the way of approach to God began, declares in its width of fifty cubits that man is responsible to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, if he would enter heaven.


27:14.  “The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.”


27:15.  “And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and the sockets three.”


The factors of these dimensions are three multiplied by five, the three speaking of resurrection; and the five of responsibility, the lesson symbolically taught in this being that those who would hope to enter heaven, God’s dwelling place, are responsible to have experienced here on earth a resurrection out of spiritual death by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


The reference to the two sides of the gate points to the fact that in the OT age as in the New, the only way for men to enter heaven has been, and still is, to trust Christ as Savior.


27:16.  “And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.”


See comments on 26:31 relative to the spiritual significance of the blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine twined lined.


The four pillars seem to represent the four Gospels, which as already noted, present Christ as the King in Matthew; as the perfect Man in Luke; as the perfect servant in Mark; and as the Son of God in John.


27:17.  “All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.”


Since silver is the biblical emblem of redemption; and brass of judgment; and “filleted with silver” is generally understood to mean that the pillars were joined together with silver or silver-plated rods, and since the pillars represent believers, the lesson being taught is that all believers stand on the common ground of having been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.  Their standing on sockets of brass, the emblem of judgment, declares that judgment for the believer is past, Christ having borne his judgment at Calvary.


27:18.  “The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.”


Since five and ten are the factors common to both 50 and 100, and since five speaks of responsibility; and ten of Divine government; and since fine linen represents the righteousness of saints, the truth being declared here continues to be that that wall of the court represents believers responsible to display the righteousness of Christ in their daily lives; and since brass represents judgment, these brazen sockets announce the truth that for the believer judgment is past, Christ having borne it at Calvary.


27:19.  “All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.”


“pins” is a general term which includes nails, stakes, pegs, tent-pegs, etc.


The fact that all of these items were of brass declares symbolically that every activity of the believer’s life is under the scrutiny of God, and is ultimately subject to His assessment of its eternal worth, as it is written, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Corinthians 5:10.


27:20.  “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.”


As has been discussed already, the beating of the olives to obtain the oil may represent the “beating” of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, apart from which the Holy Spirit could not have come.


Olive oil is one of the biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit; and light is a scriptural synonym for witness or testimony.  The only way to maintain an undimmed lamp of testimony is to live so as not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit.  He is quenched when we refuse to do what He commands; and grieved when we do what He has forbidden.


27:21.  “In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.”


The “testimony” was the name for the Ten Commandments inscribed on the two tablets kept in the Ark.


The keeping of the ritual “from evening to morning” rather than “from morning to evening,” follows the pattern used in Genesis 1 relative to the six days in which God renovated the earth, and the lesson is the same: God always moves from darkness to light, as in the Gospel He calls upon men to come out of nature’s darkness into the light of eternal spiritual life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, He Himself declaring, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” John 8:12.  In contrast, the terrible fate of those who die in unbelief is that they will dwell for ever “in the blackness of darkness,” Jude 13.

[Exodus 28]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough