“The Tabernacle its construction and furnishings”, Part 13

“The Horns of the Altar”

In the May 1880 Watch Tower—before the publication of Tabernacle Shadows— Bro. Russell wrote
concerning the horns of this altar:

The horns are typical of the power of the altar; their being covered with the blood seems to
say that none can fully appreciate the power of this altar of sacrifice without recognizing the
blood. The horns of the altar reaching in every direction—north, south, east and west—so God’
s power to all men is unlimited: but he chooses to cover all the power with the blood of
atonement
.” (R96:1)

In
Tabernacle Shadows he later declared that the altar represented “Christ’s Ransom Sacrifice
(
T22); for was it not the place where the sacrifice which typically represented the man Christ Jesus was
offered to satisfy Justice, and thus bring in atonement? (
Notes on the Tabernacle”, Page 119)

“The
horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering were in themselves symbols of power; yet this power came
by way of the blood which first sanctified it
.”
















And he (Aaron, the High Priest) shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD, and make
atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the
goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around, then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on
it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it
(sanctify it, set it apart) from the
uncleanness of the children of Israel
.” (Lev 16:18, 19)

The Scriptures set forth the fact that one guilty of a sin against his fellowman, when in danger of being
apprehended, might flee for asylum to the altar—take hold of its horns, and find a safe refuge there. (
1
Kings 1:50; 2:28
) In the case of Adonijah, one of the sons of David, he had sinned against his king
(Solomon) and might have suffered death at his hands. But he fled to the Altar of Burnt Offering, took
hold of its horns, and the avenger could not touch him there. However, he could not remain there
forever. He now felt sorry for what he had done, and was truly repentant; yet he dared not leave the
altar until Solomon had declared that he would not slay him. So King Solomon promised him on one
condition, that he (Adonijah) show himself to be a worthy man. On this condition or covenant, Adonijah
was released. When subsequently he broke his promise (breaking the covenant), Solomon had him put
to death. (
1 Kings 2:23–25)

There is an allegorical lesson to be derived from this account.
We too, have an altar, the power of
which stems from the blood of Christ Jesus
that sanctified it. We too, had sinned against our King,
who could justly have destroyed us. But we fled to the altar and found sanctuary, an asylum, a refuge,
there. Our faith in the precious blood, justified us—made us free as it were;
but only on one condition
could we continue to be free and that was that we
(bind” ourselves in covenant arrangement, Psa
50:5
) with our King, thereafter to walk “worthily.” Having entered into this covenant we are safe
from the “
avenger.” But should the time ever come when we would break that covenant by profaning
the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified—outraging the Spirit of grace (
Heb 10:29)—we
would then fall directly into the hands of the “
avenger” and be put to death—the Second Death!
(
Notes on the Tabernacle”, Page 129,130)

In
R101:1 Brother Mann states:

The Altar had four horns to which the victims could be tied that were to be sacrificed, and to
which persons in danger of being slain might flee for safety. (
Psa 118:27; 1 Kings 2:28). These
evidently pointed to Christ as our Refuge, and to his abundance of power and grace to all who should
come to him.”

In regards to what brother Mann states in the foregoing (the highlighted part) a little further
clarification seems to be in order here especially as this particular statement has been found on various
sites dealing with the Tabernacle and its furnishings, and without any further elaboration may have led
some to the wrong conclusions.

First of all it should be understood that the offerings offered upon the Altar (the burnt-offerings, and
peace-offerings), were all offered as “
freewill-offerings” (Lev 1:3), they were neither compulsorily nor
forced upon any.

“Burnt-offerings and peace-offerings were free-will offerings (Lev. 19:5; 22:18–29); whereas sin-
offerings and trespass-offerings were mandatory.
Thus did Jehovah God indicate that the offerings
of the antitypical priesthood upon His altar were to be of their own voluntary free-will
.

Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the
womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. The Lord has sworn and will not relent; you are
a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (
Pas 110:3, 4)

Note that Jesus could not be asked of the heavenly Father for either a sacrifice (sin-offering) or offering
(burnt-offering),
under the claims of justice, for he himself was sinless and had not violated the law in
any way, thus it was left up to him to chose of his own free-will to become our ransom, our propitiation
(atoning sacrifice).

As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep…
therefore my Father loves me
(all the more) because I lay down my life (even though I have the
right to)
take it (back) again. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself, I have
power
(the right under the laws of justice) to lay it down, and I have power (the right) to take it
again…
” But it is my wish to do the Father’s will, “Behold I have come in the volume of the book it
is written of me, to do your will, O God
.” (See John 10:15-18; Psa. 40:6, 7; Heb. 10:6, 7) Nor
should it be any different with the antitypical under-priesthood: their consecrations too should be of
their own voluntary free will.

And it is such sacrifices (the “
better sacrifice”—Heb 9:23) that constitute the “bread” (“food”—Lev
21:17, 21 margin
) of Jehovah God upon which He “feeds” thus making this altar the table of the
LORD
. (Mal 1:7, 12)

“This day Christians delight to consecrate to the worship of God. Not as servants obeying a command,
for God has no where commanded it, but as sons of God might celebrate the laying of the corner stone
of creation, “
When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy”. It
is a willing service, a free-will offering
, which as under-priests, (1 Peter 1:15), we render as our
reasonable service
.” (The Early Writings of Charles Taze Russell, Page 24)

So then in what way were the sacrifices bound upon the altar, as alluded to in Psa 118:27?

God is the LORD and he has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the
altar
.” (Psa 118:27)

God is the LORD and he has given us light”, light in respects to the truth, but here more
specifically in respects to “
the acceptable time” in which he is willing to accept sacrifices upon his
altar. (
2 Cor 6:2)

There were no live sacrifices placed upon the typical altar, they were all slain first previous to their
being placed upon the altar, and in most cases cut into pieces before being placed upon the altar, so
why the need to tie the victim to the horns of the altar?

In the Tabernacle picture two goats were taken from the congregation of the children of Israel
and presented at the door of the Tabernacle
(the “First Vail”, typifying the first born taken from
amongst the world),
it was here that the animals were tied (the willing entered into covenant
arrangement with the Lord, binding themselves by means of a “
covenant of sacrifice”, Psa 50:5)
hence forth their little all was counted in as a part of the one sacrifice given by our Lord, they became
joint-sacrifices with the Lord.

The cup of blessing with which we bless, is it not the common union or joint participation we
share in the blood of Christ
(in his sacrifice), “the fellowship of his sufferings”, “filling up that
which remains of the afflictions of Christ
Phil 3:10; Col 1:24; 1 Cor 10:16

It is in this sense of the word as joint sacrifices with our Lord, under covenant agreement with our
Father that we being
bound by the cords of love both for our Lord and for the poor creation are
afforded the great honor and privilege to be counted in with his sacrifice, to be joined with him upon
the altar (as was typified by the “
Lords goat”). Our worthiness to share in this great honor however is
not of ourselves but comes by way of the blood of the sacrifice which preceded ours.
Our little all, our
voluntary gift in which we have consecrated
(sacrificed), the Lord has placed upon the altar as a
part of his own,
the blood sprinkled upon the altar and placed upon the horns sanctifying the
altar which in turn sanctifies our gift, our sacrifice, making it holy and acceptable to God
(Matt
23:19; Rom 12:1
).   

So you see there were no actual animals (sacrifices) literally tied to the horns of the altar, this
was merely an allegorical statement typifying the binding of the individual consecrated child of God
into covenant arrangement with the LORD to be sacrificed upon the LORD’s altar as a member of the
body of Christ.


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