THE ALTAR OF GOLD IN THE HOLY PLACE
This was the place where incense was burned; sacrifice of any kind was forbidden and only incense could be offered here. The altar was made of Acacia wood, overlaid with gold. It measured, 1 1/2 feet long x 1 1/2 feet wide x 3 feet high and it speaks of Jesus.
Incense is the symbol of prayer and praise in Scripture:
“And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin] prostrated themselves before the Lamb. Each was holding a harp (lute or guitar), and they had golden bowls full of incense (fragrant spices and gums for burning), which are the prayers of God’s people (the saints)” (Revelation 5:8—Amplified Bible).
“And another angel came and stood over the altar. He had a golden censer, and he was given very much incense, that he might mingle it with the prayers of all people of God upon the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense (the perfume) arose in the presence of God, with the prayers of the people of God from the hand of the angel” (Revelation 8:3, 4).
Dianne and I purchased a Candle Burning Lamp with a candle within a jar. When we were visiting family in Texas last year, are bedroom had this device next to our bed. The smell was so refreshing, and we had to find and purchase one. Not only were we delighted, we gave one each to our daughters at Christmas. When the light is turned on, the wax begins to melt, without a flame and the perfume fills the air in the room. Now, when I turn on the light, I am reminded of “the smoke of the incense (the perfume) arose” and the prayers that are lifting up in the presence of God.
David cried in Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before You, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
After the close of the Old Testament cannon, heaven was silent for about four hundred years. Then the silence was broken by the intrusion of an angel’s presence:
“Now while on duty, serving as priest before God in the order of his division, As was the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And all the throng of people were praying outside [in the court] at the hour of incense [burning]” (Luke 1:8-10).
God initiated a new dispensation at the altar of incense (the Altar of Gold) while people were in the outer court in prayer.
First of all, the altar of gold is a figure of Jesus, our great intercessor. The altar was where Aaron, the great high priest, ministered. And Aaron’s ministering before the altar is a figure of Christ, our High Priest in heaven.
“NOW THE main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic [God] in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1).
JESUS IN THE HEAVENS TODAY; Praying for His own.
The 17th Chapter of the Gospel of John is a sample of the prayer that Jesus offers for His own; it’s the Lord’s prayer. In this prayer, Jesus prays for the children of God:
“I am praying for them. I am not praying (requesting) for the world [non-believers], but for those You have given Me, for they belong to You” (John 17:9—I added the brackets for the emphasis only). The writer of The Letter to the Hebrews made this further outstanding comment:
“Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to Good through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25–NAS).
THE TWO ARTICLES OF FURNITURE
There were two specific pieces of furniture that spoke of Christ’s work in heaven for us who are believers in Jesus.
1. The Laver of Bronze.
2. The Altar of Gold.
The instructions for both are given in the great worship chapter of your Bible. The laver speaks of His work in cleansing His own in preparation for worship. The altar of gold speaks of His interceding work while He protects and perfects us.
“Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead. Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?” (Romans 8:34–Amplified version).
CONTRASTS OF THE TWO ALTARS
I want to show you what I uncovered in my detective investigation this week which sheds some light on this subject:
1. The Altar of Gold: God dealt with the saint.
2. The altar of brass: God dealt with the sinner.
3. The Altar of Gold: speaks of heaven.
4. The Altar of brass: speaks of the earth.
5. The Altar of Gold: Has to do with holiness.
6. The Altar of brass: Has to do with sin.
7. The Altar of Gold, as a figure: Represented what Jesus does for us in heaven.
4. The Altar of brass, as a figure: Represented what Jesus did on earth.
THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS CATALOGUE OF TABERNACLE FURNITURE
When the writer of Hebrews catalogue the articles of furniture of the Tabernacle in the ninth chapter, it included the altar of gold with the furniture in the Holy of Holies. Now I am not going to try to settle that mute problem, but it is suggestive.
Now that the veil has been removed, the believers can come with boldness to the throne of grace because we are in Christ Jesus. He has a position in the very presence of God. So, my thinking and others too is, the Altar of Gold belongs in both places. In the Holy of Holies, suggesting the intercessory work of Jesus for us. And in the Holy Place, suggesting our part in worship; the place where we pray and praise His Holy Name.
The basis of our prayers is not of ourselves; God doesn’t hear and heed our prayers because of who we are, but because Jesus is who He is! This is seen in the altar of gold. Not a bloody altar, since all sacrifices were forbidden here. It was however, consecrated with blood once a year at The Day of Atonement.
The death of Jesus on the cross is the basis of the prayers of the believing; our prayers are accepted because…
“[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).
When Jesus was here on earth, a voice out of heaven said, “This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!” (Matt. 3:17). Jesus is the only One who pleases God; and God is pleased to hear the prayers of His own only in Jesus. Positionally, to pray in Jesus’ Name means to present all His merit, worth and work; as grounds for acceptance; the instrumental cause for answered prayer (Hebrews 13:15).
A FINAL WORD ABOUT “THE ALTAR OF GOLD”
Aaron was instructed to offer “a perpetual incense” upon the altar(Exodus 30:8). This reminds me of the male-diction of Paul’s to the Thessalonians: “Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Again, “strange or unholy incense” was forbidden to be offered (Exodus 30:9). Also, the formula for this incense was not to be duplicated.
The “unholy incense” speaks of any attempt to worship God contrary to His Word. Duplication is equally as bad; it speaks of trying to please man while trying to serve God at the same time. Dead ritual and lifeless liturgy in the church is an abomination to God; it produces spiritual deadening to mankind.
ACCESSORIES IN WORSHIP
What do I mean by “accessories”? Accessories to worship that are calculated or manipulating, to draw crowds, is to give man the impression that they are worshiping God; when in fact they are not! It will kill TRUE WORSHIP and appeal merely to the natural man. If you disagree or agree, leave your comments at the end of this blog.
The next blog will discuss the Veil that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. “Torn From Top to Bottom“.
The WORD Detective