Summary: Everything God does has a purpose. When He gave Moses instruction on the construction of the altar there was a divine purpose in the methods and materials.
It is important to note that God gave direction for the construction of this altar. So,we can conclude there a was a divine reason for the materials used in it’s construction.
Everything God does has a reason attached to it. Let’s look and see what God would have us learn about the Altar of Incense.
This altar is also called the golden altar in Numbers 39:38. It is different from the altar of burnt offerings, in that there were no sacrifices made upon it.
The Altar Of Incense Sybolizes Prayer.
(1) The Materials Used In It’s Construction.
(a) Made Of Acacia Wood. The acacia wood was incorruptible, solid, without hollowness.It is said that even submerged in water the acacia wood will not rot.It is durable.For our prayers to be effective they must come from hearts that are solid without hollowness.
(b) The Altar was overlaid with pure gold.
The materials used in the construction of this Altar cost more than the Altar of Burnt offerings.
The gold speaks of the purity.
(Psalm 66:18) "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."
Genuine prayer that will touch the heart of God must come from a sinless heart.
(c) This altar could not be made of just any old material found laying around. A piece of drift wood was not good enough, some old rocks that had been discarded from a field were not acceptable.
(d) Neither can we come to God in prayer with insincere hearts, hearts full of sin, or a heart full of unbelief.
(Heb.10:22)"Let us draw near with a true heart."
(2) The Position Of the Altar:
(a) God Said, " And Thou shalt place it before the vail." (verse 6).
The position of the altar no doubt was to enhance it’s importance among the temple furnishings.
(b) It was placed in the Court between the altar of burnt-offerings and the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, and was separated from the Holy of Holies by a great veil. The veils signified the distance between man and God, His inaccessibility.
Notice that when the priest ministered his face would be turned toward the mercy-seat, though he knew it was there, he could not see it with his natural eye.
(c) This taught the people of Israel to offer the incense of prayer toward God’s throne above, though invisible to the human eye at the time it is still real and present to the eye of faith.
(d) It is by prayer that we enter in to the PRESENCE of a merciful God. "Before the mercy-seat which is over the testimony."
(e) It is by prayer that we enter into the PROMISES God has given to us. "By the ark of the testimony."
(f) It is by Prayer, that we become PARTAKERS of the promises.
By prayer,whatever is in the covenant becomes ours.
Prayer brings us into the fellowship with God, into the presence of God.By prayer we become partakers of of all God offers, we can obtain mercy and grace daily. Praise God!
(3) The Sweet Incense
(a) Is suggestive of the sweetness of prayer.
Not only is prayer sweet to our God, but it is sweet to us as well. To know that when we pray, praise, or pour our hearts to God, our prayers are being heard and answered is sweet.
(b) (See Rev.8:3-4).Our prayers become a fragrant perfume to the golden censers.
(4) The Offering of Incense was Accompanied by the Lighting Of the Lamps. (Verse 7&8).
(a) This suggests to us that we get light from our prayers.
(b) The Word of God is a lamp us to guide our footsteps, but we can only gain that light when we pray.(James 1:5-7).
(5) The Horns of the Altar (verse 2-10).
(a) Remind Us of the Power of Prayer.
(b) Horns are symbols of Power, and from the altar of God comes power to make us more than a conqueror.
(c) Power to help us in times of temptation.
(d) Our prayers are not only sweet, they are full of power.
(e) When we say, "Let us pray" we must remember, when we pray with a pure heart, offering no strange incense (verse 9), and resting upon the atoning power of Christ (verse 10)’ God will show us His glory, He will bless us with His gifts, and will fill us with His power.