Once you have washed in the brazen laver, it is time to be purified at the brazen altar. This is the second stage of our outer court step in God’s pattern of prayer. The brazen altar is where you let go of your will and embrace everything the Lord wants to do in your life.
Let’s review: You have entered prayer through the gate of Jesus Christ with thanksgiving and praise for what He has done. You have drawn near to God by moving through every distraction in the outer court. You have submitted to the “washing of the Word” at the brazen laver, and now you know exactly what “manner of person” you are. The transformation has begun. You have come through “the way”” (the gate), but you are still in the outer court realm of prayer. You have reached the “truth” level for your personal life, but your prayer experience isn’t fully matured; you still have to be broken before the Lord.
What is an altar? The word “altar” in the Hebrew means “a slaughter place”. In the Greek, it’s called “a place of sacrifice”. The brazen altar is the place where natural earthly things that hinder your walk with God are consumed by the fire of God. It’s the place where you become a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-3). Everything within you that does not line up with God’s perfect will comes to an end at the brazen altar. They are set on fire and consumed in the Spirit.
What does it mean to be set on fire and consumed in the Spirit? This describes what it feels like after you become committed to a life of prayer, when the Lord allows you to be confronted with certain situations that will become the very trying of your faith. You must always remember that once you confess and declare that you believe the works of Christ and what He has done in your life, then every work of the Lord in your life shall be tried by fired (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
For example, gold jewelry is forged by being placed in the fire. The goldsmith’s purpose for doing this is to draw the impurities and black tar particles to the surface. Then he pulls the gold out of the fire, scrapes off the impurities and foreign particles, and puts it back into the fire. He does this repeatedly until he’s gotten to the deepest interior of the lump of gold. During this process, everything that would cause this piece of jewelry not to shine, not to be declared as costly pure gold, is burned out so that the value of the gold increases. God is doing the same purifying work in our lives. When we allow God to put us “in the fire” we are cooperating with everything He is doing in us. We are releasing every impurity that would hinder us from becoming a most valuable resource to Him and to His work. When these impurities are burned out of us, nothing in prayer can be hindered – because the forging process strengthens us to carry the weight in the Spirit. This makes us valuable instruments in His hands, not shallow believers.
God gave Moses very specific instructions for the construction of the altar in Exodus 27:1-8. The altar was to be “five cubits square and three cubits high” Five is the number of grace and three represents the Godhead. When you go to the brazen altar, you are submitting to (proving) the work of the Godhead – and you will be transformed through His Word. Jesus has already perfected the fire, meaning He has already tempered the flame to facilitate each and every person that will enter. No two people go through the same trial. No one goes through the same fire. God tempers the flame so that it only burns up what He cannot use. It will not consume the part of you that He desires to use. Though the fire gets rid of the bad elements, it allows “that which remains” and “that which is good” to be formed and shaped until it adheres completely to His image.
God gave specific measurements for the altar. “Make horns for it on its four corner; they shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots to take away its ashes, and shovels, basins, forks and firepans; make all its utensils of bronze. Also make for it a grate, a network of bronze; and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall put it under the ledge of the altar, so that the net will extend halfway down the altar. And make the poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood overlaid with bronze. The poles shall be put through the rings on the two sides of the altar, with which to carry it. You shall make [the altar] hollow with slabs or planks; as shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.”
The brazen altar was made out of wood and then overlaid in bronze. Wood represents humanity, and whenever humanity is involved, there are limitations. Bronze symbolizes judgment, so the brazen altar is where God atoned for the limitations of man through the shedding of blood. (Isaiah 53:5-7) As you approach the altar of sacrifice, your ability to hold fast to your confession will be tested. When you die to the flesh in prayer, the laver and altar enable you to rise up in the Spirit and walk into the holy place. Sacrifice always comes before service. Put yourself on the brazen altar and God will lead you to the second and third realms in prayer. You won’t carry thoughts, ways and ideas to His throne – you will receive divine knowledge and revelation from Him as to how you should pray. That is why you must go beyond outer court prayer.
The brazen altar was three cubits high, which symbolized the Godhead. It also matched the height of the Ark of the Covenant, which rests behind the veil in the most holy place. The base of the ark was two and a half cubits, but it extended to three cubits when they mounted the cherubim on top of the cover. I believe this indicates that the glory of God will be equal to the sacrifice you make on the brazen altar. If there’s no communion with God at the altar, you won’t have a match or connection in the most holy place. To be effective in prayer, your sacrifice must measure up to the level of glory you want to experience with God in intercession. Too many believers want great power with little or no sacrifice. The danger comes when you think you are operating in the light of God, but in reality you are still functioning in natural light. In the outer court, in natural light, daylight ends and night comes. That means sometimes you are able to see your way, and sometimes you cant. In the third realm, the light is supernatural. It always shines because it comes from the glory of God.
The original flame that lit the brazen altar came directly from heaven! The Chumash states that the fire “went into the Holy of Holies and from there it went out to the Golden Altar and then to the Outer Altar, causing the incense and the sacrificial parts to go up in smoke. Do you see the pattern? In his first service for Israel, Aaron performed the sacrifices according to the pattern of prayer revealed to Moses. He followed Gods pattern and the Glory of God was revealed to all the people. After this “day of obedience”, the priests were instructed that the “fire upon the altar shall be kept burning on it’ it shall not be allowed to go out (Lev 6:12). Each morning they were to burn wood on it and make a sacrifice. From that day forward, wood, which represent humanity, kept the fire burning. God requires us to lay ourselves on the brazen altar every day and say, “whatever doesnt please you, Lord, burn it up. Consume my will, desires, emotions – anything that doesn’t line up with Your will”. We are the wood that keeps God’s fire burning on the altar.
Even still, God doesn’t expect you to sacrifice without His help. He provided for you by putting four horns on the corners of the brazen altar – which represent salvation, strength, and power! So when you lay on the altar of sacrifice, you receive salvation, strength, and power from Him to do His will. Why? Your flesh is being consumed in the fire of God, so it can’t hinder your prayer. When you go into the holy place, you will be fully matured in prayer.
When the fire of purification is consuming your flesh (meaning when you are being challenged to walk in right standing with God in the midst of temptation), you must remember your salvation. You must go back to the four works of Christ and learn to praise Him in the fire. This also ties in to the four horns on the altar. The number four represent the earth and its elements – the four winds and the four corners of the earth. So Christ’s power to help you in prayer is unlimited! It extends to all four corners of the earth.
Jesus completed the pattern of prayer to help in time of need. His sacrifice was great and can’t be ignored – we must embrace it. We must be willing to go into the purifying fire of God with faith that Christ will help us.
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