And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight… (Colossians 1:20-22)
The cross of Christ was foreshadowed throughout the old testament by the altars upon which the sacrifices offered to God were presented. These sacrificial altars give a progressive revelation of the cross of Christ.
Before the law was given by Moses and before there was ever a tabernacle or a temple, the altar of sacrifice served as the place where the Patriarchs worshipped God.
- Noah built an altar (Genesis 8:20)
- Abraham built an altar (Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:4, 22:9)
- Isaac built an altar (Genesis 26:25)
- Jacob built an altar (Genesis 33:20; 35:1,3,7)
When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle so that he could dwell among his people, he commanded that an altar be made with acacia wood and overlaid brass. This altar was known as:
- the Brazen altar
- the altar for burnt offering
- the altar of the Lord
The purpose for the brazen altar was for the sacrifices and offerings which were to be offered as a sweet savor to the Lord. These offerings were as follows:
- the burnt offering
- the meat offering
- the peace offering
- the sin offering
- the trespass offering
Under the Law of Moses, the offering of these sacrifices foreshadowed Christ, and the brazen altar on which they were offered to God foreshadowed the cross. They were to be offered as a sweet fragrance to God and were accepted by him to make atonement.
Throughout the old testament, the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were accepted and not rejected. Those offerings which were rejected did not make atonement.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him (Leviticus 1:4).
And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall NOT be accepted , neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity (Leviticus 7:18).
Rejected sacrifices and offerings did not make atonement. Those which were accepted as a sweet savor did!
The Bible teaches that Jesus gave himself for us as a sweet savor, or sweet fragrance, to God.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. (Ephesians 5:2)
All the sacrifice which were offered on the brazen alter for atonement were to be a sweet savor to foreshadow Christ who God would accept for us as the offering for our sins.
The brazen altar was a type of the cross of Christ and had to be consecrated by the blood of the sin offering before it had any power for service. It had no power to sanctify without the blood. Therefore, it was consecrated to God by the blood of the sin offering before it placed into service.
At the consecration of the priests, Moses killed the sin offering and applied the blood to the horns of the altar to purify it (Exodus 29:12, 36-37; Leviticus 8:15). In scripture, horns are symbolic of power (Habakkuk 3:4). The blood of the sin offering applied to the horns at the time of it’s consecration, was a type of the blood of Christ as the power of the cross.
After the blood was applied to the horns, the remainder of the blood was then poured out at the bottom of the altar to sanctify it so that reconciliation could be made upon it. The blood sanctified the altar making it a a most holy altar.
Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:37)
Most holy is the same language used to describe the inner most part of the tabernacle where the glory of God rested on the mercy seat.
When Jesus died on the cross, the cross was set apart as most holy to God for every man, for it was there that Jesus died as a sacrifice to redeem us with his precious blood.
WE HAVE AN ALTAR, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. (Hebrews 13:10-12)
Because of his blood that was shed upon cross, the cross has the powere to make us holy, unblameable, and unreprovable in God’s sight.