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Altar of Incense

Words of Faith Final

Altar of Incense
Words of Faith 2-23-2023
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2023
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Exodus 30
[1] "Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. [2] It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high--its horns of one piece with it. [3] Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it. [4] Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding--two on opposite sides--to hold the poles used to carry it. [5] Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. [6] Put the altar in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the Testimony--before the atonement cover that is over the Testimony--where I will meet with you. [7] "Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. [8] He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the LORD for the generations to come. [9] Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. [10] Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the LORD."

We have already heard about the furnishings for The Tabernacle, also called the Tent of Meeting. There was one more altar to be constructed. The Altar of Incense is mentioned here rather than in Chapter 25 because it is associated with the incense described here.
This was a small altar, by comparison, just 18 inches square and 3 feet high. It had horns similar to the Altar of Burnt Offering described in Chapter 27. Identical to the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Bread of the Presence, and the large Altar of Burnt Offering, this altar had poles set with gold rings for when it was carried.
This small altar would be placed in front of the curtain leading to the most holy place. It was very close to the Ark of the Testimony or Ark of the Covenant inside the Holy of Holies. This altar was considered part of the most holy place (Hebrews 9:3-4) even though there was a curtain of separation. On the Day of Atonement, the priest took incense from this altar into the most holy place (Leviticus 16:12-13).
Aaron was instructed to burn incense on this altar twice daily when he attended to the lamps on the lampstand. The ingredients for this mixture of incense are given in a few more verses (34-38). This is the duty that Zechariah, the father of John the baptizer, was fulfilling as a priest in Luke 1:10. "And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside." The assigned priest would lift the people's prayers as they waited outside, hoping to hear a word from the Lord.
What is this all about? During these acts of worship, the burning of incense served as a visual image during prayer. This created a symbolic picture of prayers rising up to God. One of the Psalms of David declares, "O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:1-2).
There are many references in Scripture to the prayers of the faithful being a fragrant offering before God. Incense provided a literal picture of those moments of worship.
So, do we need to burn incense as a part of our daily quiet time? Jesus clearly has called us away from repetitive rituals, but incense burning could be a helpful tool. Some churches use incense in public worship as a symbol indicating the presence of God and the prayers lifted to Him.
The primary point for us may be to set apart a holy place and time in our lives to lift prayer before God without distraction. We must remember that as believers, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The worship of Almighty God occurs within us and cannot be taken away from us.
Later, as God reveals truths about the end time, the Apostle John will bring to us images that include incense. "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Revelation 5:8). "Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand (Revelation 8:3-4).
So do you have an altar of incense? A place and time set apart for your prayers to rise before the Lord?

O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. In Jesus' Name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2023
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2023 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.