The Altar of Burnt Offering (2)
Speaker: Reverend Philip Lee
Service: Moriah, 2nd Service
Date: June 14, 2020
The Base of the altar of burnt offering
In the last hour, we examined the height of the altar of burnt offering and learned that there are 25 steps that lead up to the altar of burnt offering. And finally, we learned that the altar of burnt offering is made up of 3 ledges or levels including the “base” (Ezek 43:13). The base of the altar of burnt offering is at the very bottom. The word “base” in Hebrew is גָּב (gab) meaning “eyebrow,” and it’s the foundation for the altar of burnt offering so that the altar can stand on the ground. The dimensions of the base are as follows: The height is 1 cubit and it is buried underground. The phrase “the base shall be a cubit” is referring to the portion of the “base” that is buried underground. The area that sticks out of the ground is also 1 cubit high and 1 cubit wide (Ezek 43:13). Secondly, there is an edge “lip” or gutter that is a half cubit which is 26.6 cm. This is also called one “span.” Therefor,e the “gutter” is 0.5 cubits (1 span). In Hebrew, “gutter” is שָׂפָה (saphah) which also refers to our body part, the “lip” (Ezek 43:13).
The large ledge (lower ledge) of the altar of burnt offering
The word "ledge" in the original Hebrew language is עֲזָרָה (azarah) meaning "enclosure." The height of this first ledge or lower ledge is 2 cubits high. On top of the lower ledge is a border and the width is 1 cubit all around and its height and width are 16 cubits each. Although the Bible does not specifically mention 16 cubits for the lower ledge, we can calculate the lower ledge’s dimensions by using the dimensions from the top-level or “hearth” which is 12 by 12 cubits, a perfect square with a width of 1 cubit (Ezek 43:15-17). The larger ledge is 14 by 14 cubits on all four sides plus 1 cubit width on each side which totals 16 cubits. (Ezek 43:17). Thus, the first ledge or larger ledge is 16 x 16 cubits, the second ledge or middle ledge is 14 by 14 cubits, and the top-level or altar hearth is 12 cubits long x 12 cubits wide (Ezek 43:16).
The middle ledge
The middle ledge is 14 cubits long, 14 cubits wide, and 4 cubits high; the rim around the middle ledge is 1 cubit wide (Ezek 13:14). When we look at the original Hebrew language in Ezekiel 43:14, it states, “From the “smaller” ledge to the larger ledge shall be 4 cubits.” We saw earlier that the word “ledge” is עֲזָרָה (azarah). Also, the word “smaller” in Hebrew is קָטָן (qatan), meaning “smaller” while the word “larger” in Hebrew is גָּדוֹל (gadol) meaning “largest" or "higher.” Thus, we can say, "From a smaller azarah to the larger azarah shall be 4 cubits." Therefore, in Ezekiel 43:13, the Bible is referring to the distance between the smaller and larger azarah which is 4 cubits. So between the larger ledge and the smaller ledge, the height is 4 cubits and only the two bottom ledges are called azarah.
The top-level or third level (the altar hearth)
The height of the top-level or “altar hearth” is 4 cubits with the length and width being 12 x 12 cubits (Ezek 43:15). The phrase, “The ledge shall be fourteen cubits long by fourteen wide,” is referring to the next lower ledge or middle level (Ezek 43:17). Also, the ledge or lower ledge which is 16 x 16 has the same name, azarah. Thus, both the first and second ledges use the word azarah, but for the very top-level, the word “hearth (אֲרִאֵיל, ariel) is used. Hearth, as we know, is a “fire holding” area. On this top-level, there are four horns extended on each corner of the hearth, and it is here where the animals are placed and cut into pieces and consumed in fire.
God gave instructions to the prophet Ezekiel on how to offer burnt offerings and where to sprinkle the blood on the altar. The blood was to be sprinkled on the four horns and the four corners of the ledge and on the border round about (Ezek 43:20). The “ledge” is referring to the middle ledge, which is the level right before the altar hearth. The efficacy of the blood is to cleanse the altar (Ezek 43:20).
Secondly, the blood has an atoning function. The word “atone” is כָּפַר (kaphar), meaning" to atone," "cover," or "payment,” for God will make payment and cover the multitude of our sins (Acts 20:28). So as we can see, the blood is placed on the four horns on the top level (hearth) where the dimensions are 12 by 12 and on the middle ledge where the dimensions are 14 by 14. The number 14 is 7 +7 which means the atonement of Jesus Christ is complete and perfect demonstrating that there is no sin that the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse (Eph 1:7; 1 John 1:7-9).
Finally, the last offering that is to be given on the altar of burnt offering is the offering of “peace.” There are a series of offerings, but the very last is the peace offering. Therefore, those who worship God must always conclude with peace. Thus, the “period(.)” of our worship is peace (Ezek 43:27). Thus, the outcome of our lives is peace (Rom 3:25). Jesus sacrificed his life as a propitiation of our sins as a peace offering (1 John 2:2; 4:10). This means we must live a life of peace; in other words, a life of the cross. When we give up our lives, we can share the Word of God and there can be friendship, reconciliation, and alliance. However, without sacrifice, there cannot be friendship or alliance or reconciliation. We must choose to sacrifice for the purpose of alliance, friendship, and peace so that we can truly become the church that is acceptable to our God.