This is part 3 of a series that is based on a warning dream for America that was given to me on October 1, 2019. In the dream, God was warning of at least one impending judgement to come upon our country or, major shaking that would hit the “heart [land]” of America. In the dream, there was only one place of unshakable safety and security available as the storm was approaching: the “altar”. While securely anchoring ourselves to our own personal altars and crying out for mercy, the mega “tornadoes” that completely stripped the landscape, “passed over” us. When I awoke, Psalm 91 was given to me as its template.
What, exactly, did these “altars” in my dream represent, and what was the true meaning of our cries for mercy, causing the tornadoes to “pass over” us? This will be the topic of discussion in this article.
In part 2 under this title, we studied Psalm 91:1. We concluded that all of the promises for protection and deliverance in this Psalm are specifically predicated on “dwelling in the secret place of the most High”. We learned that the “secret place of the most High” is the Holy of Holies, typified in the Tabernacle of Moses, and defined what it means to “dwell” therein. (To review these important details, please go to part 2 in “blogs” under this title).
Now we come to the Altar, which was both the highlight, and the pivotal point of my dream. Here we will learn more of what it means to be a partaker of the promises contained in Psalm 91.
After I had the dream, for weeks I kept hearing in my spirit, “holding onto the horns of the Altar.” This is essentially what we were anchoring ourselves and clinging to for dear life, while crying out for God’s mercy. It took a simple Bible study to discover these “horns” were pertaining to the Brazen Altar.
When coming into the outer court of the Tabernacle, the very first piece of furniture to be encountered was the “Altar of Burnt Offering” or, “the Brazen Altar”. It was made with wood that was covered with bronze– bronze representing judgement of sin. The word, “offering” (the Hebrew word, “Corban”), means “to draw near”. A deeper study of the word implies drawing near with a desire for “intimacy” with God; Not in terms of sexual intimacy, of course, but that of “deeply knowing and being deeply known”. This idea of drawing near to God by means of the Altar was nothing new. Man had once walked with God in an undisturbed, heart to Heart relationship, until he sinned. Thereafter, as early as Genesis, the Altar was presented as a means to draw near to God. It pointed to the Cross, the ultimate Altar of Sacrifice, upon which Jesus died— “By the which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19).
According to the book of Leviticus, there were five types of sacrifices to be offered at the Brazen Alter, some of which required an animal (blood) sacrifice: The burnt offering, the the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering. Often there were combined offerings and sacrifices prescribed for a situation,. The purpose of the offerings and sacrifices were for the worshiper to express their faith and thanks to God, to renew their fellowship with God, to deepen their dedication to God, or to obtain mercy and forgiveness from God.
Importantly, in every case, they were to be offered to God in genuine, heartfelt repentance and sincere commitment, in full dedication of one’s heart and life.
Upon entering the doorway to the outer court of the Tabernacle, the Brazen Altar was the first piece of furniture the worshiper would encounter, showing that the Cross is the only way to intimacy with God (the Holy of Holies) and His blessings. This is because no one can approach a Thrice-Holy God based on their own “righteousness”, called “filthy rags” in Isaiah 64:6. No amount of good works, religious deeds, acts of obedience to God’s laws, or anything else we do, can atone for sin, which dwells within the the heart of every person. Only the shedding of blood—particularly that of Christ-—“atones” for sin, (cleanses, purifies, pardons, frees from sin), which the animal sacrifices symbolized. (Hebrews 9:22)
The four horns of the Altar were doused with the blood of the animal sacrifice, representing the Power of Christ’s Shed Blood held out to the four corners of the earth. “Catching a hold of the horns of the Altar” while pleading for mercy, then, means humbly acknowledging our sins before God, and placing our faith in the Atoning Blood of Christ. This is not a one– time event, however. The Brazen Altar was designed to be carried with the Israelites wherever they journeyed– a picture of “denying our self”, (that is, our will and our own abilities to save our self or to please God), and “carrying our cross daily”. (Matthew 10:38, Romans 6)
We see this principle of “inward cleansing” ensconced in the “Burnt Offering”–meaning, “That which ascends to God”. Unlike the mandatory offerings such as the Sin and Guilt Offerings, the Burnt Offering was specifically a “freewill” offering on the part of the worshiper, albeit it did contain an element of forgiveness of sins. The person was to bring a male bullock without blemish, or a specified lesser expensive animal if not affordable. While the priest bound the animal to the horns of the altar, the worshiper would heavily lay his hand on its head, identifying himself with the animal that stood in his place, and slit its throat. It was as if the worshiper himself had died, yet remained alive to worship God. The symbolism is described in Galatians 2:20:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The priest would then catch the blood in a basin and pour it on the side, and at the base of the Altar, also carefully dousing some of it on the four horns. This was a picture of Jesus nailed to the Cross, His blood streaming down and puddling at the foot of the Cross. It was not a pretty picture. It was meant to illustrate the awfulness of sin and the horrendous Price it would take to take remedy it. The priest would then cut up the animal, being careful to thoroughly wash its legs and inward parts with pure water. The washing of the”inward parts” represented both the worshiper’s sincerity, and the power of Jesus’s Blood to sanctify us on the inside, where sin rules and defiles. Finally, representing complete, wholehearted devotion to God, the priest would then completely burn the animal with fire, along with all of its parts, causing the smoke to ascend to heaven. This was when it was accepted as a “sweet savour unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:9), representing Christ, Who ” loved us and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1).
In effect, Christ’s “Altar of Sacrifice” completely cleanses and sanctifies the one who identifies with His death:
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins…Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will…by the which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.” (Hebrews 10:4,7,10)
“For Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
Amazingly, the word, “bring”, means “to present, to bring near to”— as an offering to God! In other words, WE become the offering! Herein is the true meaning of the Brazen Altar! For God, it really isn’t about the slaughtering of sheep, goats, and bulls, as though He were blood-thirsty:
“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression…? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:6-8)
No! What God is really after, is US! He wants ALL of us, meaning every part of us— inside and out–and nothing less! The “Burnt Offering” He is ultimately interested in, is US! Hence the all- consuming FIRE that burned on the Brazen Altar! The Brazen Altar (the Cross) is about freely offering our self to Him as a living sacrifice— every part of us consumed by God, Who, Himself, IS an All-Consuming Fire! (Hebrews 12:29)
“Walk in love, even as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2)
“To love [God] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
The truth is that, offering one’s spirit, soul and body to God as a living sacrifice, wholly set apart for His Holy Use, is God’s definition of a true worshiper. (Romans 12:1-2) We are, in fact, God’s Temple (dwelling place), filled with His Spirit. Bought with a Price, we are not our own. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Note that, according to Leviticus 6:12-13, the fire that burned on the Brazen Altar, which was initially lit by the hand of God, was never to go out! A “true worshiper” is one who is quite literally, “on fire for God!“
Beyond that, you could call them a genuine Christian. One who has truly entered into the “straight and narrow way” that leads to life everlasting. (Matthew 7:13-14). One who picks up their cross daily and actually follows Jesus as LORD (Matthew 7:21).
Now, I want to zero in on the heart of the worshiper, which was the main message of my dream to America. Again, the worshiper was to offer their gift upon the Altar in genuine, heartfelt humility, repentance, and wholehearted commitment to God. However, this is not always the case!
In Isaiah chapter 1, we read of God’s rebuke to Israel. They had made their burnt offerings, as well as their Solemn Assemblies and Jewish feasts, nothing more than religious rituals! Day after day, they offered their offerings on the Altar (symbolizing the Cross), “drawing close” to Him–verbally, anyway. In all actuality, their hearts couldn’t have been further from Him! There was zero sincerity. No acknowledgement of their personal sins. No godly sorry or heartfelt repentance. Not a trace of fiery dedication of their hearts and lives to God. They continued on with their lives as usual, basically living for themselves. Their offerings, their fasting and their prayers were repulsive to God! He would not receive their burnt offerings and their fake worship! Nor would He answer their prayers, until they repented and dedicated their hearts and lives to Him, as indicated in Isaiah chapter 58.
No wonder, in Joel 2:13, while calling the nation to a Solemn Assembly in response to their nation -wide crisis, God required them to “rend [their] heart and not [their] garments”. He was speaking of genuine, heartfelt acknowledgement of sin, sincere repentance and wholehearted dedication to Him.
Likewise, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, when Solomon consecrated the newly built Jewish Temple to God, the first thing he dedicated was the Brazen Altar, offering thousands of burnt offerings. In other words, proper dedication of the Brazen Altar had to be established before the rest of the Temple could be consecrated. The Altar was the cornerstone of the Temple, so to speak. After God came down with fire, consuming the sacrifices and filling the Temple with His glory, Solomon prayed that God would honor those who pray inside or toward the Temple, which now housed His presence. Afterward, God appeared to Solomon and warned him that He would only hear the prayers of those who properly “humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways.”
God’s requirement hasn’t changed.
In Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells a parable of two men who went to the temple to pray: One, a religious pharisee, and the other, a tax collector. The pharisee stood and prayed “with himself”, bragging about all of his religious deeds, (which he secretly did to receive men’s praise), while thanking God that he wasn’t a sinner– “like the tax collector, for example”. He never once acknowledged the truth about his inward spiritual condition or his need for God’s forgiveness. On the other hand, the tax collector was so aware of and choked up over the guilt of his sinful lifestyle that he couldn’t even look up. He stood pounding his chest, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” In the end, it was the tax collector that went away “justified” (righteous), not the self-righteous pharisee.
This is precisely where Psalm 91 and my husband’s confirmation connect, underscoring God’s main message in the dream: Clinging to the horns of “Brazen Altar” with hearts of humility, honest confession and sorrow unto repentance, without which there can be no wholehearted dedication to God: During the same exact hour that I was dreaming my “Passover” dream, God was speaking loudly to my husband from Psalm 32! Similar to Psalm 91, the verse said,
“For this shall everyone that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.” (Verse 6)
In order to fully understand what is being communicated here, we must look at its context, found in the preceding verses:
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgaveth the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” (verses 1-5)
This Psalm is speaking of the blessedness of having one’s sins forgiven, one’s guilt removed, and enjoying blissful peace with God. This was quoted in Romans 4:6-8 regarding the righteousness of God that is derived, not by works of the law, but by faith in Christ’s Finished Work of the Cross. The Psalm was written by king David, after he had sinned grievously by committing adultery with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant, and having her husband killed. At first, he had tried to cover up what he had done, explaining the word, “guile”, meaning, “Remissness, treachery, deceitfulness, falseness”. David had kept “silent”, meaning “To fabricate, to device in the sense of secrecy, to be deaf and dumb, to conceal.”
Covering up his sins and bearing such guilt, this was a most miserable time in David’s life. A word study on some of the effects David describes here indicates a time of physical and emotional torment, and barren spiritual deadness. Finally, he “acknowledged” his sins– essentially getting completely real with God. This applied sin’s Cure to his heart, as outlined in the Brazen Altar, (the Cross). Then we come to verse 6-7, containing very similar language to that of Psalm 91:
“for this shall everyone that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.”
Psalm 51 was also written by David regarding the same situation, giving us more information. He begins by pleading for God’s mercy, honestly acknowledging his sins of adultery and murder. David knew that God requires one to “draw near” to Him in complete truthfulness: “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”–matching the definition of “intimate”. As Christians today, we may not have committed adultery or murdered anyone…at least outwardly, anyway. If we are honest, within the heart there is often a whole other story of what is going on.
David then cries out for God to wash him thoroughly with “hyssop”, referencing the plant that Israel used to apply the Passover blood in Egypt, and which Moses used to sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the Tabernacle, its contents, and on the people in consecration to God: “For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” (Hebrews 9:18-22) Yet, he was asking for it to be applied to him inwardly, to the source of his problems, beseeching God to create in him a “clean heart and a right spirit”. (vs 7-10)
Finally, having comprehended the true meaning behind burnt offerings and sacrifices, David writes,
“For you desire not sacrifice; else would I give it: You delight not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
What pleases God the most when drawing near to Him, is honesty and contriteness, an integral part of genuine repentance. “Contriteness” means feeling genuinely crushed, even “prostrated to the ground” over our sins, just like the tax collector whom Jesus described in his parable. James was likewise describing this heart condition in James 4:9-10, when writing to a spiritually adulterous and carnally minded church, whose prayers were going unanswered:
“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
In closing, let us also learn a crucial lesson from one who did “flee to catch hold of the horns of the Altar”. In 1 Kings chapters 1-2, David’s son, Adonijah, had committed treason, a crime punishable by death, by trying to usurp the throne of Israel. He got caught. Fearing for his life, he ran to the safest place on earth: the Brazen Altar. Grabbing a hold of those blood-doused horns, he plead for mercy. He was, indeed, pardoned by the king. However, because he neglected to deal contritely with his deep- seated lust for power, allowing it to remain and fester, it eventually lead to his demise.
This teaches us how important it is to follow through with one’s hearty commitment at the “Brazen Altar”, allowing the Holy Fire of God to “thoroughly” purge our inward parts. (Psalm 51:2) This takes immersing ourselves in God’s Holy Light, daily, allowing Him to expose and transform our belief systems, motives and desires. Hence, the next piece of furniture after the Brazen Altar: the Bronze Laver:
This was a wash basin lined with mirrors, wherein the priests would wash their hands and feet before approaching the Holy Place. When they bent over to wash, what would they see? An accurate view of themselves! This piece of furniture symbolizes the “washing of the water of the Word” (Ephesians 5:26). God’s Word acts as a mirror of the soul and spirit (James 1:23), and a “two- edged Sword”, God’s surgical tool that exposes and transforms the deepest thoughts, secrets and motives of the heart (Hebrews 4:12):
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…if we [honestly identify and] confess our sins, he is faithful and just to [both] forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.” (1 John 1:8-9)
The conclusion of the “Brazen Altar”– God’s main message to America–is this: God is calling each one of us, right now, to “draw near unto Him with a true (truthful) heart”. He loves you and me so much, that He literally thinks we are “to die for”. Because people can be stubborn, He has to allow difficult consequences of man’s choice to live independent from Him to occur, in order to bring us to repentance. We can and should pray for God to bring an end to this current plague, and others like it in the future. But, while we are crying out in our “Solemn Assemblies”, whether personal or corporate, let us not neglect the “heart” of the matter.
So, ask yourself, how would you honestly describe your spiritual condition? “On fire for God”? Does your heart burn with the Fire of God’s Spirit? Are you consumed with being used for His Holy Use, crying out daily for the Holy Spirit to purge you to that end? Do your sins drive you to your knees, knowing that they have grieved God’s Heart? Or, have your prayers, your church attendances, your songs of worship, and your Bible readings become mere rituals? Is there something deep within your “inward parts” that you have been secretly concealing from yourself and/or God, or neglecting to fully come to terms with? If so, what is it? These are some questions I have had to honestly ask myself.
In the end, I have found that the All-Consuming Fire of God begins with simple, yet genuine honesty before Him daily — and He takes it from there! By the grace of God, this “inward cleansing” of the Gospel Message has gone so deep within my heart, in fact, that it has even unlocked deep, buried traumatic memories and damaged emotions from my past, while completely transforming them and setting me free from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder! My point? There is absolutely nothing that the Power of the Shed Blood of Christ cannot deliver us from…if we simply come before God with a willingness to be genuinely “openfaced”. (2 Cor. 3:18)
He truly gave us His All, and His All demands our all, nothing less. Let us use this time to “prepare our hearts unto Him” wisely, for the days are quickly growing darker. There simply is no time to waste.
Thank you for joining me. Be looking for part 4, when we will be moving into the heart- changing lessons learned in the “Holy Place”.