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Good Morning.

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)

Considering that the altar of incense was situated before the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, it is curious that it is first mentioned here. The other furnishings as well as the priestly garments were introduced much earlier and only now do we see God describe this piece of furniture — why? Perhaps it is because its purpose was much different than the other furnishings. The Sanctuary allowed for God’s desire to dwell among the people possible but, at the same time, posed a problem that had to be resolved — He is holy and they were not.

Their carnal tendencies presented a potential danger for them if they approached God in the improper manner. The sudden death of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron who presented “strange fire,” serves as evidence of this fact. The Golden Altar of Incense provided a means to “shelter” them from this potential danger. In other words, the smoke created by offering the incense was considered to be similar to the thick dark cloud that enshrouded Mount Sinai –- it was there for Israel’s benefit. This covering of smoke was provided for them each morning when the priests cleaned the lamps and arranged the wicks of the menorah and in the evening when the lamps were kindled.

As for what this means to us, the psalmist reveals something very important when he says, “Let my prayer be set before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2) Our prayers not only provide a means of communication and intimacy between us and our Creator, but many times our prayers and petitions shield us from danger. When we come before Him with a contrite heart and offer up our prayers, the stage is set for blessed fellowship with the Almighty.

Coupling this with the lifting of hands in an act of worship provokes God to consider and act upon our petitions. It is needful, then, that we may prayer and praise a daily part of our lives — not out of religious obligation — but as the proper way to enter into the presence of our King. May you feel His Presence working in your life today and know that, as you lift up holy hands to honor Him, He is receiving your prayers and petitions.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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