The incense altar was positioned directly in front of the veil leading to the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle.
The priests were not allowed to tend to the lamp in the tabernacle unless the incense was burning on the altar. These are joint ministries. God’s light comes with prayer. We shine best before men when our hearts burn most before God.
“Put this altar outside the curtain which hangs in front of the Covenant Box. That is the place where I will meet you. Every morning when Aaron comes to take care of the lamps, he is to burn sweet-smelling incense on it.” (Exo 30:6-7)
The incense in the tabernacle speaks of the prayers of God’s people.
“Receive my prayer as incense, my uplifted hands as an evening sacrifice.” (Psa 141:2)
“Another angel, who had a gold incense container, came and stood at the altar. He was given a lot of incense to add to the prayers of all God’s people and to offer it on the gold altar that stands before the throne. The smoke of the burning incense went up with the prayers of God’s people from the hands of the angel standing before God.” (Rev 8:3-4)
The incense altar was the smallest piece of furniture in the tabernacle. It is not the size or length of our prayers that count.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.” (Jam 5:16 MKJ)
The incense altar of the tabernacle was made of wood and gold, the earthly and the divine.
Christ, fully God and fully man, is always interceding for us at the Father in heaven.
“Who will accuse God’s chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us!” (Rom 8:33-34)
“And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.” (Heb 7:25)
Carrying rings and staves were attached to the incense altar of the tabernacle so that it could be carried.
“Make two gold carrying rings for it and attach them below the border on two sides to hold the poles with which it is to be carried.” (Exo 30:4)
This implies that prayer and intercession aren’t limited to time and space.
“The time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants.” (Joh 4:21,23)
A border or crown around the edge of the incense altar in the tabernacle kept the coals from falling to the ground.
“Cover its top, all four sides, and its projections with pure gold, and put a gold border around it.” (Exo 30:3)
The purpose of the fire is to let the incense rise towards God. Because the coals are kept inside the incense altar, we know that the prayers of Christ will never fail.
“In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. “(Rom 8:26)
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!”
It may be true that there is no need of man when God ordains, but some people think that there is no need of God when man ordains.
King Uzziah was such a man.
“But when King Uzziah became strong, he grew arrogant, and that led to his downfall. He defied the LORD his God by going into the Temple to burn incense on the incense altar.” (2Ch 26:16)
“Uzziah was standing there in the Temple beside the incense altar and was holding an incense burner. He became angry with the priests, and immediately a dreaded skin disease broke out on his forehead.” (2Ch 26:19)
“For the rest of his life King Uzziah was ritually unclean because of his disease. Unable to enter the Temple again, he lived in his own house, relieved of all duties, while his son Jotham governed the country.” (2Ch 26:21)
Intercession is only for priests. In the New Testament, all of God’s children are kings and priests and can, therefore, offer up petitions unto God. Non-believers do not have this right nor even the privilege.
First come to Christ, then He can intercede for you.
Dare to make a difference!
Great things can happen at the hour of prayer when incense is being offered.
At the hour of the afternoon sacrifice the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed. The LORD sent fire down, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones, scorched
the earth and dried up the water in the trench. (1Ki 18:36,38)
The four aspects of Christ’s redemption – His life, His death, His resurrection and His ascension, are symbolized by the four different spices used in the incense altar of the tabernacle.