After seeing the high revelation and the deep meaning of the golden incense altar, the “heart” of the tabernacle in the most holy sense, we now want to see more concerning the other altar, the altar of burnt offering. The incense altar is in the tabernacle, while the altar of burnt offering is in the outer court; these two altars are connected and linked in a most wonderful way, and their connection has everything to do with God’s economy.
The incense altar is in the Holy Place, very close to the Holy of Holies, while the altar of burnt offerings (also called, the bronze altar), is in the outer court. The Holy Place is in the heavenlies and in our spirit – and this is where the incense altar is; the altar of the burnt offering is located in the outer court, which is a picture of the earth.
The incense altar is the interceding Christ, and the altar of burnt offering is the crucified Christ. The incense altar is where Christ in His virtues as the sweet incense is offered to God for our acceptance, and at the bronze altar we have the dying, crucified Christ who was judged at the cross for our redemption.
These two altars are like two ends of one thing. Compared to the incense altar and its significance, the altar of the burnt offering may not seem so deep, but actually, this altar is extremely difficult to understand; the only way to properly apprehend and understand the spiritual significance of the altar of burnt offering is to see how it relates to us from the standpoint of the spiritual experience.
We need to get into the mystery of Christ’s redemption to see how wonderful and how mysterious redemption is. Even though the Bible clearly speaks of Christ’s redemption, in general Christianity after centuries of degradation and fall, the cross of Christ is exalted and yet made superficial and even superstitious.
We need to be rescued from any influence of religion and delivered from any natural concepts so that we may come to see Christ’s redemption under the Lord’s revelation in His holy word.
The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Incense Altar are for Carrying out God’s Economy
The two altars – the altar of burnt offering and the golden incense altar – are for the carrying out of God’s economy (see Exo. 27:1-8; 30:1-10; Heb. 13:10; 9:4; Rev. 8:3). They are indispensable and critical for the out working of God’s eternal economy.
God’s work in the universe today is to complete His economy, and in His economy God desires to have an enlarged, universal, divine-human incorporation – He wants us to be in Him and He to be in us so that we may be joined, united, mingled, and incorporated with the Triune God as the enlarged divine-human incorporation of God on earth (see John 14:20).
God’s economy is to gain a mingling of God with man that would be the enlarged universal divine-human incorporation, where God dwells in man and man dwells in God; this is the mutual abode of God with man in the universe as the church today, the kingdom in the next age, and the New Jerusalem in eternity future.
The three of the Divine Trinity are an incorporation by coinhering mutually and by working together as one. This means that the three of the Divine Trinity are an incorporation by what They are and by what They do. This is the beginning of the universal incorporation, an incorporation which started with God Himself. God’s intention is that all the believers of Christ would be incorporated into His incorporation to be an enlarged incorporation. This enlarged incorporation is unveiled in John 14:16-20. May the Lord open our eyes to see that the Triune God, who is Himself an incorporation, has incorporated all the believers of Christ into His unique, universal incorporation. (Witness Lee, The Issue of Christ Being Glorified by the Father with the Divine Glory, p. 26)
How does God obtain this divine-human incorporation? It is by the two altars, by His coming and our going. God Himself is in the Holy of Holies, at the golden incense altar, but at one point in time He came out of the tabernacle through incarnation to reach man (in the outer court), and He went to the cross (the altar of burnt offering).
On His side, God was embodied in Christ, coming out of His glory into humanity to dwell with man on earth; He came among fallen sinners to gain men for Himself. God came out of eternity, out of His glory, out of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, to gain us and bring us back to Himself into the Holy of Holies!
In Christ, God lived a perfect human life and had as His destination the cross: He wanted to get to the cross where He can redeem man, purchase man, and bring man back to Himself so that He may save man, regenerated him, transform him, and glorify him, thus uniting, mingling, and incorporating the Triune God with man.
On His side, God came out of the tabernacle from the incense altar to the outer court, even to the altar of burnt offering, the cross; on our side, we start at the cross – it all begins here for us, for it is at the cross that we are saved, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and brought back to God.
From the cross of Christ we advance to the laver (the washing of the life-giving Spirit) back into the Holy Place to enjoy God as our food (the table of the bread of the presence) under the shining of His light (the lampstand) to reach the incense altar and then the ark, where God is!
Hallelujah, the Lord Jesus went to the cross with the intention that we, fallen sinners, might be brought back to Himself in the place where He dwells (John 14:3, 10-11, 20; 17:21, 24)! He wants to bring us back to God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, before the ark of the testimony on the propitiation place – He wants to bring us back into God, so that our home would be God Himself and we would become His home! Hallelujah!
Thank You Lord for coming out of the tabernacle, out of the Holy of Holies where the incense altar is, to come to the earth as a Man and go to the cross, the altar of burnt offering, to redeem us and bring us back into God, back to the Holy of Holies! Lord, thank You for Your death on the cross to redeem us, bring us back to God, and reconcile us with God. Lord, bring us all the way to into God so that we may become Your home and You would be our home: a mutual dwelling place for God and man! Hallelujah, God became man to make man God in life and nature for God’s corporate expression and for His dwelling with man!
The Altar of Burnt Offering: Judicial Redemption; the Incense Altar: Organic Salvation
God’s complete salvation is composed of Christ’s judicial redemption and His organic salvation. The two altars are very much related to God’s complete salvation: the altar of burnt offering speaks of God’s judicial redemption, while the incense altar is related to God’s organic salvation.
In Rom. 1-4 we see the aspect of the judicial redemption in God’s complete salvation, while in the remaining twelve chapters we see God’s organic salvation. On the one hand, at the altar of burnt offering Christ has redeemed us, washed away our sins, reconciled us to God, and brought us back to God – this is all on the judicial side, laying the foundation for God’s organic salvation.
On the other hand, in His heavenly ministry Christ is now interceding for us at the incense altar so that we may be saved much more in His life, now that we are reconciled (see Rom. 5:10). He is able to save us to the uttermost since He lives always to interceded (Heb. 7:25). The footnote in the Recovery Version on Rom. 5:10 is quite enlightening on this matter,
Paul shows us that we are saved because we have been redeemed, justified, and reconciled to God. However, we have not yet been saved to the extent of being sanctified, transformed, and conformed to the image of God’s Son. Redemption, justification, and reconciliation, which are accomplished outside of us by the death of Christ, redeem us objectively; sanctification, transformation, and conformation, which are accomplished within us by the working of Christ’s life, save us subjectively. Objective redemption redeems us positionally from condemnation and eternal punishment; subjective salvation saves us dispositionally from our old man, our self, and our natural life. (Rom. 5:10, footnote 2, Recovery Version)
Christ offered Himself as the unique sacrifice in the unique outer court to redeem us; this was done on earth. The altar of burnt offering is related to God’s judicial redemption accomplished by Christ in His earthly ministry (see Rom. 5:10a; 8:3; Heb. 9:14; 7:27; 10:10).
The golden incense altar is related to God’s organic salvation, which is carried out in the divine and mystical realm by Christ in His heavenly ministry (see Rom. 5:10b; 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24).
Hallelujah, the interceding Christ is both in the heavens interceding on our behalf so that we may be saved to the uttermost, and He is in our spirit to operate and move in us to carry out His organic salvation within us day by day! Praise the Lord!
It is so wonderful to see how these two altars join heavens with earth, God with man, and it is here that His economy is carried out and His full salvation is realized.
Thank You Lord for offering Yourself as a Substitute to bear our sin in Your body on the tree; You suffered God’s righteous judgement on our behalf, and we are saved by simply believing into You! Lord, thank You for living always to intercede for us and save us organically much more in Your life! Amen, Lord, we praise You for being in our spirit to operate, move, and carry out Your organic salvation within us day by day! Lord, save us much more in Your life, now that we have been reconciled to You through Your death!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, brother Minoru Chen’s sharing in the message for this week, and Life-study of Exodus, msg. 104 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (3), week 6 (week 30), The Altar of Burnt Offering.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic to strengthen this burden:
# This unique truth the whole Bible unveils: / Our God has put on humanity; / Both God and man, as the Scripture reveals; / Hallelujah unto eternity. / Praise the Lord for Christ’s humanity! / It’s central to God’s economy / To produce a divine-human incorporation / Which consummates the New Jerusalem. (Song on the goal of God’s economy)
# Propitiation made by the blood, / Jesus’ redemption bought us for God! / No condemnation, justification! / We have peace toward God! / Now we’re rejoicing, standing in grace, / Oh hallelujah! Sin is erased! / God, in us flowing, in our hearts growing, / We are saved in His life! (Hymns #1131)
# At Thy burnt-offering altar, Lord, / And at Thine incense altar blest, / Even the sparrow finds a home, / And swallow there prepares her nest. (Hymns #851)
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