The brazen altar represented believing in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. All of us who believe in the Savior have entered the courtyard and come this far. In the New Testament, these are represented by the 500 who watched Jesus ascend or by the 3000 who came to faith on Pentecost. Although they may have come further, we know they came this far.
The bronze basin, where Aaron and his sons were cleansed and consecrated, or set apart, for service, represented we who have pressed deeper into relationship and surrendered our lives to serve God. Although we may have a vocation that is not specifically related to ministry, we view our entire lives as ministry. Our lives have been consecrated to God, just as Aaron's was. The 70 who Jesus consecrated and sent out, two by two, as harvesters to share the Good News represent this level of intimacy.
The next stop in the tabernacle was for those who entered the sanctuary outside the Holy of Holies, where the bread of the presence, the lampstand, and the altar of incense were placed. We are those who fellowship with Jesus. Beyond serving Him, we draw near in an intimacy of constant abiding presence. We follow Him wherever He leads. The twelve disciples enjoyed this 24/7 presence during Jesus ministry.
Finally, those who enter into the Holy of Holies, like the three disciples who saw Jesus transfigured in all His glory, are those who lay aside everything else. These are willing to follow Him even in HIs sufferings. There is a unique and inexplicable bond enjoyed when we cling to Christ through intense suffering. Though none would seek a life of suffering, do we press in when life gets hard or turn away? Sadly, those who turn from Him in anger and bitterness because of the pain of this life stop short of experiencing the joy and intimacy that comes when we allow Him to bind our wounds and heal us in the Holy of Holies.
As believers, God gives us the freedom to remain in the courtyard or to serve Him as one set apart. But He beckons us deeper. We can choose to enter into fellowship with Him and enjoy His presence and daily leading in our lives. But He draws us still closer. He calls us to enter through the veil torn when He hung on the cross and lay aside everything, counting it all rubbish as Paul did, for the sake of knowing Him more.
Phil. 3:8-10 "8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."