THE ALTAR AND THOSE WHO WORSHIP THERE
John was also to measure “the altar.” There were two altars in the ancient sanctuary, the bronze altar of sacrifice and the golden altar of incense. Both have to do with the ministry of Jesus—the former with His sacrifice and the latter with His ongoing mediation. Both of these aspects of Jesus’ ministry are greatly misrepresented by the
The bronze altar symbolized the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Many see the death of Jesus as physical torture which Jesus endured because He fell into the hands of wicked sinners, or as punishment which Jesus endured on our behalf for “the original sin of Adam” which God arbitrarily imputed to us, or as a sacrifice by the loving Jesus to appease the wrath of the “angry and offended Father.” But Jesus did not die of torture; He died of a broken heart, experiencing the separation from God that is the natural result of the sin of mankind, which He took upon Himself. And Jesus did not do this to appease an angry God. At the Cross God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were together reaching out to sinful men, women, and children, pleading with them to be reconciled to God and be free of the guilt and separation that is destroying them. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (2 Corinthians 5:19) (John 3:16).
Besides the bronze altar of sacrifice the sanctuary also had the golden altar of incense, which portrays Christ’s ongoing mediation. Jesus did not finish the work of salvation and then go to sit around in heaven waiting for God to finally decide that it was time for Him to return to earth. His cry “it is finished” referred to the perfect sacrifice that He offered which made salvation possible, but it did not signify the end of His work for our salvation. As essential as Christ's death and resurrection were, so essential is Christ’s ministry of mediation in the heavenly sanctuary—“Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,…let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need…He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25).
It is not the human priest who is our mediator—“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). It is not necessary for us to confess to the priest, nor do we receive pardon from him. We do not need to pray to the saints so that they can “more effectively” present our petitions to God. The measuring of the altar will show God’s people in
John was also commanded to measure “Those who worship therein” which refers to His faithful covenant people. In chapter seven John saw those “coming outof the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple”(Revelation 7:14,15). What does a person who has truly washed his robes in Jesus’ blood look like in real life? How does serving Jesus “day and night” translate into human interactions in the real world? The measuring of God’s true Church is the revelation of what it really means to be a Christian.
This threefold revelation of the character of God, the ministry of Jesus and the true children of God will stand in stark contrast to the false picture of God, of Jesus and of the worshipers of the false
 Exodus 37: 25- 38: 7, Exodus 20:24, Revelation 8:3.
 The Jews who killed Jesus were no more (or less) wicked than any other race—they were simply the representatives of humanity who, being sinners, did what any race of sinners would have done.
 “He was given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 7:3,4. See also Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25).