Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Some readers of the Bible may think that the altar of the burnt offering was a table or stand on which the offerings were placed, some kind of box with the sacrifices placed on top. Actually, the altar was somewhat like a shell. It had four sides and a grating in the middle, but no top or bottom. We know from Exodus 27 that the altar was five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high. Exodus 27:4-7 speaks of the grating, the rings, and the poles. If the grating with the four rings and the two poles which were placed in the rings were removed from the altar, the altar would be an empty shell, an empty box. Years ago, I paid attention to this “box”; yet I have no memory concerning the grating, the rings, and the poles. It seems that these three things did not impress me very much. Whenever I thought about the altar of the burnt offering, I would picture a shell, a box. The grating, the rings, and the poles, however, are the contents of the altar. Furthermore, these things are the reality, strength, and power of the altar. The power, strength, and reality of the altar depend on the contents of the altar.
We have pointed out that the grating is located at half the height of the altar and reaches from one side to the other. The grating must have been heavy and strong. Otherwise it could not have borne the weight of the wood and the sacrifices. It must have been made with bronze and thus able to withstand the heat.
Let us consider the picture portrayed by this type and ask what it signifies. Within the shell of the altar there was a grating, a network, and upon this grating were the wood and the sacrifices which were burned. As the offerings and the wood burned, the ashes fell down to the ground, but the smoke ascended as a sweet savor to God for His satisfaction. Thus, the sweet savor was for God’s satisfaction, and the ashes were a proof that the offering had been accepted by God. When God smelled the sweet fragrance, He was satisfied and pleased. When the one who presented the sacrifice saw the ashes, his conscience could be at rest, for the ashes were proof that the sacrifice had been accepted by God and that the one who presented it had been forgiven. The grating was related to both the fragrance and the ashes. The fragrance was above the grating, and the ashes were below it.
The grating signifies more than just the redemption of Christ. According to the Bible, Christ and His redemption cannot be separated. Christ Himself is our redemption. Redemption is not merely a matter—it is also a Person. Yes, the grating does signify the redemption of Christ. However, it actually signifies the redeeming Christ. The grating is a type of Christ in His redemption.
To understand how the grating typifies the redeeming Christ, it would be helpful to compare the grating to the propitiation-cover on the ark. According to Romans 3:25, the propitiation-cover is Christ Himself. Propitiation is not merely an action accomplished by Christ; propitiation is Christ. The One who accomplished propitiation is Himself the propitiation-cover. The cover of the ark is a Person— Christ—in His accomplishment of propitiation. In the same principle, the grating signifies Christ, the Redeemer, in His redemption; that is, it signifies Christ Himself in His redemptive work.
We have seen that the ashes were evidence, a proof, a confirmation, that one’s sacrifice had been acceptable to God and that his sin or sins had been forgiven. As a result, God enjoyed the savor of Christ’s redemption, and the offerer enjoyed peace.
It is important to see that the grating was not at the bottom of the altar or at the top. On the contrary, it was in the middle, halfway between the top and the bottom. This indicates that the judgment of God upon Christ was an inward matter and not only an outward one. Christ bore the judgment of God not only upon His shoulders; He also bore it within His heart. Psalm 22:14, which speaks of the sufferings of Christ on the cross, says, “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” This indicates that when Christ suffered the judgment of God, He suffered this judgment not only outwardly, but also inwardly. This is the significance of the grating being within the altar and in the middle of it, neither at the top nor the bottom. Christ’s suffering of God’s righteous judgment was an internal matter and not only an external one.
We do not have the utterance adequate to speak of Christ, His cross, and His redemption. We are short of understanding, and we lack the ability to speak adequately concerning what we do understand. Therefore, we are thankful for the picture afforded by the altar of the burnt offering. This picture reveals details that are not clearly mentioned in the New Testament.
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