As the Lord describes the tabernacle beginning in Exodus 25, he moves from the Most Holy Place outward, beginning with the holiest item in the Most Holy Place, the Ark of the Covenant. Once the furnishings are described, the tabernacle itself is addressed in chapter twenty-six and finally, in twenty-seven, we move outside the tabernacle to the courtyard and most holy item there, the altar.
As you make this move, notice that the items of each place become less and less precious (from gold to bronze), symbolizing the distance from the Lord.
The altar itself was to have “horns” on its corners, perhaps symbolic of the animals that were to be offered there. The altar was a small city of refuge, a place where the innocent might come for safety until guilt or innocence might be sorted out (1 Kings 1:50).
Almost as an after-thought, there is mention of a “night light” to burn in the Holy Place, just outside the curtain to the Lord’s presence. Light, standing for truth, justice, and the presence of God, was to always be visible as one approached his dwelling, and the priests were to make sure that light always shined in the darkness. No matter how dark the night, Israel always knew the light of His presence would be there for them, as it continues to be for us.