Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
When we read the record concerning the altar of the burnt offering in 27:1-8, it seems that there is not much for us to say regarding the altar. However, as I was considering this matter, I realized that, in principle, there must be something very important here, because the altar is a type of the cross of Christ.
In the New Testament the cross is not revealed in a way which corresponds to our natural, human understanding. If the cross were presented in this way, probably one of the main writers in the New Testament—Paul, John, or Peter— would have given us a lengthy definition of the significance of Christ’s cross. From the human point of view, we sense the need for this kind of definition. But such a definition cannot be found in the New Testament. In the New Testament the revelation concerning the cross is given piecemeal; that is, various parts of the revelation, like the pieces of a puzzle, are found here and there throughout the New Testament. For example, there is something about the cross in Galatians 2:20, and something else in John 12:24, 1 Peter 2:24, and Hebrews 2:14.
Many of the verses related to the cross are understood by Christians in a superficial way. For instance, 1 Peter 2:24 says, “Who Himself carried up our sins in His body onto the tree, in order that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose bruise you were healed.” Preachers often quote the first part of this verse, pointing out that Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree. But they may not go on to consider the deeper matters covered in this verse.
Neither in the Old Testament typology nor in the New Testament revelation is the cross described in a detailed way. There must be a reason for this lack of detail concerning the cross of Christ.
A very significant point in the record in Exodus 27 concerning the altar is the four rings. At first I thought that there might have been two sets of rings, one inside the wall of the altar and the other outside. As we have seen, the grating is inside the wall. However, the four rings, which would have to be outside the wall, were at the four corners of the grating. Thus, it is possible to think that there were two sets of rings: the first set at the ends of the grating inside the wall, and the second set outside the wall for the two poles. This might be a possibility, if the only record concerning the altar were that found in 27:1-8. But 38:5 and 7 clearly say, “And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves....And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the altar, to bear it withal.” In light of these verses, we cannot hold the concept that there were two sets of rings, one inside the altar and the other outside. There must have been only one set of rings. These rings were at the four ends of the grating inside the wall, but they nevertheless were outside so that the two poles could be put into them.
Even now, I do not know how to explain this. The Scripture does not tell us how the rings could be attached to the grating and yet still be on the outside of the altar. But as I considered this matter, the light began to shine, and then the revelation in the New Testament concerning the relationship between Christ’s redemption and the eternal Spirit began to open up. Concerning this relationship, the New Testament has some important things to say.
In the four Gospels we have a picture of the grating. If we would understand the grating, we need to understand the Gospels. Do you know what is presented to us in the four Gospels? The Gospels present a redemptive grating, a grating where redemption was accomplished.
Then in the book of Acts we have the Spirit as the four rings. Acts 1:8 says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the remotest part of the earth.” The four rings are for reaching the four corners of the earth.
Then in the Epistles we have the definition of these four rings. According to Hebrews 9:14, Christ offered Himself to God and accomplished redemption through the eternal Spirit. By means of this eternal Spirit the redemption accomplished by Christ will be brought to the ends of the earth. By this we see that almost the entire New Testament is needed to define the grating with the four rings.
To repeat, the grating is presented in the Gospels; the connection of the four rings to the grating is seen in Acts; and in all the following Epistles we have a definition of the four rings. For example, 1 Corinthians 15:45 reveals that Christ became a life-giving Spirit. In the Epistles we see the Spirit through whom Christ accomplished the all-inclusive redemption.
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