Exodus 29:1, Hallow. Heb. qadash meaning “to dedicate, consecrate, set-apart, observe as holy, to be treated as sacred or majestic.”
Exodus 29:12, Horns of the altar. The four horns of the altar of sacrifice was the place where the blood of atonement was sprinkled (also Lev 4:4, 17, 18, 25, 30, 34; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18).
But there’s more. Horn is the Hebrew word qeren meaning “horn, hill or ray.” This word is used to describe the rays of light rays emanating from the face of Moses after his encounter with YHVH (Exod 34:29) and the horns of an animal (Ps 69:31). In ancient cultures, the horn was a metaphor for physical strength or spiritual power (Deut 33:17; 2 Sam 22:3; Ps 18:2). Elsewhere, YHVH is referred to as man’s “horn of salvation” meaning he is the strength of our salvation. The Hebrew word for salvation is yesha meaning “deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, victory, prosperity.” The root of yesha is the verb yasha meaning “to save, to deliver, to give victory.” Not only is YHVH called our “horn of salvation” in the Tanakh, but this designation is applied to Yeshua as well in the Testimony of Yeshua (Luke 1:69). Interestingly, Yeshua is a derivative of the Hebrew name Yehoshua (or Joshua), which also derives from yasha.
It should be evident from this quick study that the horns of the altar are a picture of Yeshua, who is the horn or strength of our salvation and who shed his blood for our sins on the altar of the cross.
This being the case, why then are there four horns on the altar? This is likely symbolic of the four attributes of Yeshua, even as the four colors of cloth used throughout the tabernacle prophetically symbolize the same thing. Crimson speaks to Yeshua’s humanity, purple to his kingship, blue to his divinity, and white to his sinlessness or righteousness.
Additionally, the Jewish sages view the four horns as symbolizing the four corners of the earth, for, in Hebraic thought, the earth is nothing more than a large altar dedicated to Elohim. (See The ArtScroll Tehilim/Psalms commentary on this verse and notes at Ps 118:27.)
More importantly, the horns on the four corners of the altar prophetically and symbolically point to the fact that Yeshua’s blood poured out at the cross saves all humans (from the four corners of the earth who would trust in him) from their sins.
Exodus 29:13, 17, (also Lev 1:9 cp. Matt 23:26; 2 Cor 7:1) Entrails/inwards…legs. In the process of cleansing the animal to be sacrificed, there are two lessons here for us. First, Yeshua was perfect, totally clean and spotless Lamb of Elohim sacrificed for the sins of man. Second, the saints are to become living sacrifices (Rom 12:1–2). This means we are to be like Yeshua—totally clean on both the inside and outside. Yeshua rebuked the religious hypocrites of his day for being like whited sepulchres and for being like cups that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside (Matt 23:26–27). As the sacrifice was laid on the alter (Exod 29:18), and as Yeshua went to the altar of the cross, so we must lay our lives down as a living sacrifice as well.
Exodus 29:14, On the alter…outside the camp. Part of the bull was burnt on the altar and part of it was burnt outside the camp as a sin offering. This is another two-part prophetic portrayal of Yeshua’s sin-atoning death. He shed his blood inside the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans by scourging (John 19:1), and outside the city walls where he was actually crucified (Heb 13:13–12).
Exodus 29:27, Heave or raised offering. Heb. terumah meaning “offering, contribution” and is from the root word rum meaning “raise high or lift up.” The terumah offering included those things donated to construct the tabernacle (Exod 25:2–3), the half-shekel atonement money (Exod 30:13), the tithe of the tithes the Levites gave to the priests (Num 18:25–32), the offering of war booty (Num 31:29), an offering of a cake that was made from the first fruits of the grain harvested in land of Israel (Num 15:20). The officiating priest was to give the choice part of the sacrificed animal (the thigh or shoulder) as a terumah to YHVH (Lev 10:14–15) along with a portion of the accompanying grain offering (Lev 7:14).
Exodus 29:38–42, In the morning…at twilight. (See also Lev 1:1–17 and Num 28:1–15.) Heb. erev meaning “twilight or between the evenings.” According to Alfred Edersheim, the morning sacrifice was offered at 9 AM and the evening sacrifice was offered at approximately 6 PM, since Israel is closer to the equator making the day and night portions on average closer to twelve hours each (The Temple–Its Ministry and Service, p. 108, by Alfred Edersheim). He then goes on the show that by the time of Yeshua, the Jews had changed the time of the evening sacrifice, so that it commenced earlier. By this time, the lamb was killed at about 2:30 PM with the pieces being laid on the altar about 3:30 PM. The whole evening sacrifice service would last until about 4:00 PM (ibid., pp 108–109).
The Twice Daily Sacrifices and the Saints Daily Devotions
This twice daily offering was known as the continual burnt offering (Heb. olah tamiyd), and was offered at the door of the tabernacle (verse 42). This sacrificial offering has great spiritual implications for the serious disciple of Yeshua and relates to his or her daily life.
The word continual (Heb. tamiyd) in verse 38 means “continually.” The Hebrew word for burnt offering is olah meaning “ascent, stairway or steps,” and derives from the basic Hebrew verb, alah, meaning “to go up, climb or ascend.” In this offering, the fire consumes the entire animal, and the word olah refers to the smoke of this whole burnt offering ascending to heaven, which is a “sweet aroma” to YHVH (verse 41).
The olah was an offering or gift (Lev 1:2, Heb. qorban)to YHVH and could be a bull, goat, ram, turtle dove or a pigeon as long as it was a perfect specimen without defect (Lev 1). If an Israelite sinned, he could bring this gift-offering to the door of the tabernacle where he would place his hands upon the head of the animal, after which the priests would slaughter it, and sprinkle its blood around the altar of sacrifice just inside the door of the tabernacle (Lev 1:2, 4, 5). The meat was then prepared and arranged on the altar and entirely burnt (Lev 1:6–17). When the sinner laid his hands on the animal, it was as if he were transferring his sins onto the innocent, blemish-free animal, where upon YHVH accepted it as an atonement for the person’s sin (Lev 1:4).
The writer of Hebrews clearly teaches that this offering (along with all the other offerings in the sacrificial system) pointed to Yeshua, our Great High Priest, whose atoning death on the cross fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Levitical, sacrificial system (Heb 4:14–5:7; 7:1–10:18).
Besides the obvious antetypes pointing to Yeshua’s death on the cross, what else can we learn from the olah tamiyd offering rituals? What are the spiritual implications and the lessons to be learned for the redeemed believer living in the twenty-first century? Matthew Henry in his commentary on Numbers 28:1–8 sums it up very nicely:
The particular law of the daily sacrifice, a lamb in the morning and a lamb in the evening, which, for the constancy of it as duly as the day came, is called a continual burnt-offering (v. 3), which intimates that when we are bidden to pray always, and to pray without ceasing, it is intended that at least every morning and every evening we offer up our solemn prayers and praises to [Elohim]. (emphasis added)
This olah tamiyd sacrifice was connected to the rising and setting of the sun as implied by the words of the psalmist (Ps 113:3). At the same time, the priest was to burn incense on the incense altar (Exod 30:7–8) as part of the olah tamiyd sacrifice.
The biblical writers foresaw a time coming when either there would be no tabernacle or temple in which to offer the sacrifices and incense, or the designated place of worship would be inaccessible to the Israelite. In this situation, Hosea admonishes sinful Israel to return to YHVH and to offer up the sacrifices (lit. the calves or young bulls) of our lips, while expecting Elohim to graciously receive them and take away their iniquity (Hos 14:2). Paul embraced this idea when he admonished the saints to become as “living sacrifices…unto Eohim” (Rom 12:2). In John’s vision of heaven, he sees the prayers of the saints as being like sweet smelling incense before the throne of the Almighty One (Rev 5:8; 8:3). Not only does YHVH view the prayers of the righteous as incense, but their praises of him as a sacrifice or a thanksgiving offering as well (Jer 33:11; Heb 13:15). The psalmist goes on to connect the dots between the olah tamiyd sacrifice, incense, prayer and praise when he writes,
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Ps 141:2)
How is the non-priest to offer incense before the YHVH? This is done through prayer and worship as the prophet Malachi indicates:
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering, for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith YHVH of Hosts. (Mal 1:11)
The Torah prohibits offering sacrifices anywhere YHVH has not placed his name. What’s more, Yeshua has fulfilled the sacrificial system by his death on the cross once and for all, and has become our Great High Priest. So how then do the nations offer up sacrifices in every place as Malachi prophesies except by prayer and praise? The same is true, of course, for redeemed believers who are now part of Yeshua’s royal priesthood as Peter testifies:
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yeshua the Messiah. (1 Pet 2:5)
However, since there is no longer either a temple or a Levitical priesthood, yet the saints are called priest of Yeshua (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), how shall we as the saints of the Most High fulfill our priestly duties if not by serving our Master Yeshua through our twice daily prayer and praise?
Exodus 29:42, Where I will meet you. After discussing the continual burnt offerings that are a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross, YHVH promises to meet with the children of Israel at the door of the tabernacle, and then in verse 43 he promises to dwell among them. Consider the spiritual and prophetic implications of these symbols (the door, the tabernacle, the burnt offering, YHVH speaking to and dwelling with his people, the consecrating of Aaron and his sons) and how they relate to the individual believers walk today.
Exodus 30:1–10, Altar to burn incense.The golden incense altar was constructed of acacia wood covered in gold and was situated in front of the veil leading into the holy of holies (the most set-apart place) halfway between the menorah and the table of showbread. Like the table of showbread, it had a golden crown around the top of it, which points to Yeshua being the head of the body of believers. The priest burned incense on the altar twice daily, in the morning and the evening. Scripture reveals that incense represents the prayers of the saints rising up to heaven before the throne of Elohim (Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8), which in the tabernacle is pictured by the mercy seat in the most set-apart place or oracle (d’veer). The altar of incense was a place of deep prayer, praise, worship and intercession and speaks directly to the intimate twice daily prayer life and devotions of the born-again believer before the throne of the Father in heaven.
The Altar of Incense in More Detail
At the altar of incense, preparation was made to enter the most set-apart place (holy of holies). This altar was located just opposite the veil of the kodesh hakodashim (holy of holies) where the high priest offered up incense to the Father in heaven. This was the place of ultimate worship, prayer and intercession just before entering into the most intimate place of all: the d’veer (oracle)or kodesh hakodashim. Only a very thin veil exists between the altar and the kodesh hakodashim where the abode of YHVH’s actual manifest presence was. It was on the altar of incense that the high priest made atonement once a year with the blood of the sin offering (Exod 30:10). The blood was sprinkled on this altar seven times. This occurred on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur; Lev 16:18–19).
This altar was also constructed of acacia wood overlaid in gold. The high priest burned incense on this altar in the morning when he would clean the menorah, and in afternoon when he would light the menorah (Exod 30:6–8). This pictures the prayers of the saints going up to heaven (Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8) and suggests that it is pleasing to the Father that believers be praying, communing with him or otherwise attempting to bond with him twice daily: morning and afternoon.
The incense was comprised of sweet spices, with pure frankincense, stacte or balsamic resin, onycha and galbanum (Exod 30:34–38). According to Jewish tradition, there were eleven spices used in the incense. Galbanum has a foul aroma to remind us that everyone’s prayers were allowed to be uttered—even those of sinners.
This altar was higher than the other implements in the set-apartplace, since prayer, worship and intercession is our highest calling and act of service to YHVH. We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18). YHVH’s house was to be known as a “house of prayer for all people” (Isa 56:7).