Bible Reading – Exodus 27
Exodus 27:1 KJV
And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.
“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.”
(From the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”)
The altar in the court of the tabernacle was a very prominent structure, standing nearly as tall as an average adult Jew and being even longer than that on each side. The size, material, location, and activity of the altar would have made it most magnetic to the gaze. And I cannot help but believe that it was placed so to be both a daily reminder of the horrific price of sin as well as the incredible mercy of God.
Each day, and many hours of the day, the Children of israel would have been witnesses of the slaying and sacrificing if animals, an incredibly graphic scene. It would have been a terrible sight, but it also would have been a precious sight reminding them of the mercy of God. Never would they get too distant or go for very long without seeing the sacrifice. They were kept ever near this daily, cautionary and precious reminder.
For our edification, the hymn writer wrote this modern reminder in the hymn, “Near the Cross”
“Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain—
Free to all, a healing stream—
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and Mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.”