Summary: #13 in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness Series. Getting ready to beyond the veil requires that we pass by the Golden Altar of Incense in Prayer. God wants us to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Lesson 13 – Prayer is the Key
Tabernacle in the Wilderness Series
The Altar of Incense
By Pastor Jim May
There were two altars in the Tabernacle of Moses, the Brazen Altar and the Golden Altar of Incense. The Brazen Altar was for the Burnt Offering and was located in the Outer Court before the Door of the Tabernacle. The Golden Altar of Incense was for burning Incense and was positioned in the Holy Place before the veil.
Incense was burned upon the Golden Altar as it was placed upon hot coals from the Brazen Altar that were carried in and placed there for that purpose. The rising of the smoke of the incense, as well as its pleasing odor that filled the room, is representative of the prayer and intercession before God.
Since this is a Golden Altar, then it can represent both the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man”, and it can also represent the intercessory work of our Lord as our Advocate before the Father in Heaven.
We can see Jesus as our Advocate, who has fulfilled the Law, and who is pleading our case before the Father in Heaven in 1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"
We can also see the altar and the incense in Revelation where John describes the scene like this.
Revelation 8:2-6, "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
Incense begins on the altar with a man acting as a priest, and then burns and rises upwards unto God. The prayers that come from our hearts, as God’s people, a royal priesthood, rises to God in that manner. In that same fashion, the prayers of the man, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, are offered up on our behalf as well.
Hebrews 7:25 says, Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit unto us is also witnessed though this Altar of Incense. We are told that HE makes intercession for US according to the will of God in Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
At this Golden Altar of Incense we can see prayer in operation in many ways as the prayers of the saints arise; as the intercessory prayer of our Savior, Jesus Christ rises; and in the ministry of intercession by the Holy Spirit on behalf of God’s people.
Let us read about this Golden Altar of Incense and what God told Moses to build.
Exodus 30:1-10, "And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD."