Reading through the Bible together
As the sanctuary represented the plan of salvation, every piece of furniture had significance and symbolism. The altar of burnt offering with the blood that was shed from sacrifices represented the gospel truth of the atonement for sin through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross (Isa 53:4-7; Eph 1:5-7). It stood at the entrance to the tabernacle representing the need of the sinner to be cleansed from sin before entering into worship before the presence of God. The horns of the altar represented strength and power. David referred to “the horns of my salvation” (2 Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2). Altars with horns have been found in various pagan contexts among Philistine and Canaanite temples. In these cases, the altars were much smaller and were made of a single carved stone most likely used for incense burning.
The olive oil for the menorah, the seven-branched candlestick, was to be beaten and pounded with a mortar which produced clear and pure oil not achievable with a mill stone. The olive oil represented the purity of the Holy Spirit (Zech 4:2-6). The lamps were to burn continuously, representing the “true light” and “light of men,” Jesus Christ (John 1:4-9). The Israelites were to be an extension of His light to the world. They were to be the guardians of God’s Word which was “to be a lamp unto your feet” (Ps 119:105). We, too, today have been given that privileged position to share God’s Word with the world around us. Are we sharing that gospel message or are we keeping it to ourselves? Jesus desires that we spread His message of life to illuminate a dying world.
Southern Adventist University