The Altar of Burnt Offering

Many years ago, a young mother was making her way on foot across the hills of South Wales, carrying her infant son. A blinding blizzard overtook the pair, and the mother never reached her destination. Searchers found her lifeless body, with the baby snuggled beneath her, warm and … More


In giving instructions about the tabernacle God progressed from within to the courtyard outside the tabernacle. A large altar of acacia wood covered with brass rested outside (vv. 1-8). It was about seven feet square and almost five feet high which was large enough to burn the sacrifice of bulls, sheep and other animals. This altar of burnt offering was the first thing the Israelites saw as they entered the tabernacle courtyard. This brazen altar had grates of brass and it functioned much like a modern day barbecue pit. Sacrifices were constantly made here and this vivid scene constantly reminded the people that they could only come to God by means of the sacrifice. It was the only way their sins could be forgiven and taken away. The same is true today in New Testament teaching as the death of Christ did not cover the sins for all mankind but only for those who by faith put their complete trust in Him.

The court of the tabernacle was a large open area approximately 150’ by 75’ and surrounded the tent itself (vv. 9-19). This area was enclosed by a fence of hanging curtains. Inside this enclosure the animals were slaughtered and sacrificed as the priests carried on their duties. This was provided only for God’s chosen people. Had it been designed for the wilderness-tribes also, everything would have been placed outside the tabernacles court; but it was not.

To supply the light in the tabernacle was the lamp stand with its seven lamps which required a continual provision of olive oil (vv. 20-21). The Israelites were to provide this oil continually so the priests could help keep the lamps burning.


As stated above the only way that sins could be forgiven and taken away during this time period was for animals to be sacrificed on the altar. From this time on there was no need for any animal sacrifice as the greatest sacrifice was made by Jesus as He died that I might be saved.

Exodus 27:1-21 (English Standard Version)

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