You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood….And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you. (Exodus 30:1, 6)
As we discussed yesterday, the smoke that arose from the Golden Altar of Incense provided “shelter” for those who entered into His house. Also, according to the Psalmist, that smoke was emblematic of the prayers of God’s people. This is reiterated later in Scripture when we see that the incense offered in the Heavenly Sanctuary is associated with the prayers of the saints:
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:4)
There is another element of this that needs mentioning and that is what happens when God’s people lift up their voice to Him in prayer and in praise. We know that He hears our prayers but do we understand just what that means in terms of having our prayers answered? When David was concerned about whether or not God was going to answer his prayer he wrote these words:
But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed. (Psalm 22:3-5)
The word translated as “enthroned” literally means to “sit upon” inferring that the praises of God’s people goes straight to His Throne. There is, in fact, a hint of this revealed in Revelation when John mentioned that “lightning, thunderings and voices” proceeded from the Throne of God. Here is the point: prayer in conjunction with praise provokes God to act on our behalf. When Jehoshaphat went into battle against three bands of invaders, he had the good sense to put the singers at the head of the column. By the time they arrived at the battlefield, the enemy was destroyed.
Our praise and our prayers are no light thing because we have the assurance that they go directly to the Throne of God and, according to His will and purpose, He acts on our behalf to see that our prayers are answered. Thus, the smoke that ascended from the Altar of Incense not only offered “shelter” for those who entered into the Presence of God but also motivated God to defend and fight for those He sheltered. It is in His Presence that we find hope and security and it is through prayer and praise that we are ushered into His Presence.
Blessings and Shalom,