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In Exodus 30, God instructs Moses on building the Altar of Incense.

The Altar of Incense was to be made of wood and gold and it was where the priests were to burn incense every morning and every evening when the lamps were tended to.  It sat in front of the veil which divided the Holy of holies where the Arc of the Covenant and God’s presence was from the sanctuary.

This altar, along with its daily requirements, was a symbol to point us to prayer and intercession.  The lamps symbolized the Word.  These together, tended every morning and every night, show us a great example of diligence and duty in our relationship with God.  Luke 1:10 sites an example of the people of God praying at the time of burning incense on this golden altar. Matthew Henry says it this way:

“When the priest was burning incense, the people were praying, to signify that prayer is the true incense.  This incense was offered daily, it was a perpetual incense; for we must pray always, that is, we must keep up stated times for prayer every day, morning and evening, at least, and never omit it, but thus pray without ceasing.  The lamps were dressed or lighted at the same time that the incense was burnt, to teach us that the reading of the scriptures (which are our light and lamp) is a part of our daily work, and should ordinarily accompany our prayers and praises.” 

The priest was to make atonement on this altar once a year only and nothing unauthorized was to be offered on it.  The Brazen Altar was where the daily animal sacrifices were to be made.  It symbolized Christ, the lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world by dying in our place.  The Golden Altar of Incense was where the pleasing aroma was to be offered to God.  It symbolized Christ’s sufficient work on the cross and the pleasure of His Father.

“As by the offerings on the brazen altar satisfaction was made for what had been done displeasing to God, so, by the offering on this, what they did well was, as it were, recommended to the divine acceptance; for our two great concerns with God are to be acquitted from guilt and accepted as righteous in his sight.” Matthew Henry

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