“You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. 2 A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. 3 You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it. 4 And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. 5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:1-8)
The last article in the holy place in the tabernacle is the altar of incense. It was placed just in front of the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies.
Aaron was to burn incense on this altar continuously, day and night.
Incense in the bible signifies prayer, so this altar is a shadow of the intercessory ministry of Jesus. Just as the incense was burned day and night, so the bible reveals that Jesus is constantly praying for us;
he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
What a wonderful thought that Jesus is before the father continually praying for you. He will never let you down.
The incense used was to be a unique blend, only used for God himself (Exodus 30:34-38). In fact anyone trying to replicate it and use it for themselves was to be cut off from the rest of the people. For someone to take and use this fragrance upon themselves would be like them saying that they are acceptable to God in and of themselves. The uniqueness of this fragrant blend speaks to me of the uniqueness of Jesus. No-one else’s prayers or sacrifices were acceptable before God. Jesus has the only fragrance that God finds acceptable;
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
We are to follow Jesus’ example of intercession, to offer prayers, requests and intercessions that are acceptable to God. They are acceptable because we are ‘in’ Christ and part of Him. I will leave you this week with a few verses on the theme of prayer and how it is an acceptable fragrance to God;
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psalm 141:2)
these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. (Revelation 8:3-4)
Let this inspire you to follow Jesus’ example and..pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)