The Roughness of the Altar
““As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the Lord and they are holy; and they shall be for a sign to the sons of Israel.” So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers which the men who were burned had offered, and they hammered them out as a plating for the altar, as a reminder to the sons of Israel that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the Lord; so that he will not become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had spoken to him through Moses.” (Numbers 16:38–40, NASB95)
When Korah and Company entered into rebellion against Moses, the Lord responded by having the earth open up its mouth and swallowed them. But this would long be forgotten by the Jews without a permanent reminder at the place of worship. Since Korah’s rebellion had to do with the Aaronic priesthood, it was only appropriate that the reminder be placed in the area of the Tabernacle/Temple where these priests would work. God instructed that the censers which Korah used in their sin were to be beaten down and used as bronze plating for the altar. This altar, once smooth, would now have a rough exterior. The roughness of this exterior was “a reminder to the sons of Israel, that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the Lord.” That is, each time a layman had any ideas about a mutiny against the priesthood, the roughness of the altar was to serve as a reminder of the punishment that would come their way if this was ignored.
In the New Testament, it seems that even Annas the High Priest, who was politically appointed and not a descendent of Aaron, understood this truth. You may remember that it was Zechariah who came before the Lord to burn incense. I believe that Zechariah was the end of the line for the Aaronic priesthood. However, God answered his prayer and gave him a son, John the Baptist. John, as the final priest of the Aaronic order, ordained Jesus, the priests of the order of Melchizedek, for a new and eternal ministry. Indeed, “the old order has passed away.”
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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