From the end of Exodus chapter 24 through chapter 26, the Lord called Moses up the mountain and laid out the exact plans for the Tabernacle. The Lord was the architect, and Moses and the people would build it as the Lord commanded. We’ve already witnessed the design of the Holy of Holies which was to house the Ark where God would dwell and speak to Israel. Outside that room was the Holy Place where the golden lampstand and the table for the bread stood. Then we looked at the Tabernacle itself with its outer court where the people could come and worship. At the entrance gate of the Tabernacle, the very first thing the people would see as they entered the outer court, was the bronze altar. No one could enter the Tabernacle without first encountering the bronze altar!
Although the Tabernacle was the place of meeting between God and His people, still the sins of the people kept them from the presence of the Lord. Everyone, priest and people alike, could not come without first making atonement for their sin. Leviticus 1:3-9 tells us the way atonement was made. “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces… on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.”
The problem with fulfilling this prescribed offering of a male animal without blemish was that it had to be repeated every single time anyone entered the Lord’s presence. But such would not always be the case, as these things – the bronze altar, sacrifice, blood atonement – ultimately point to the once-for-all sacrifice for sin in Christ alone!