Tag Archives: altar

Reflections of Incense

living-tabenaclesThis is the ninth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

As we continue our study of the Tabernacle, we come across a relatively small altar that holds a powerful significance in our relationship with YHVH.  The altar of incense was square with each side measuring 1.5 feet and was three feet high.  It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Four horns protruded from the four corners of the altar.  The altar of incense, also called the Golden Altar, (mizbach hazahav in Numbers 4:11), stood just outside the Holy of Holies.  A special mixture of incense, reserved exclusively for YHVH, was burned on this altar every morning and every evening, thus sending up a continual waft of pleasant odor to YHVH.

The incense altar was the place where YHVH met with Moshe.  Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.  (Ex. 30:6 NLT).  

On Yom Kippur the incense was burned atop the Ark of the Covenant.  The high priest would fold back the curtain concealing the Most Holy Place, put the censer with the burning coals on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, then throw the two handfuls of incense into the censer.  This was the only day and time that any one (and then only the high priest) was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, thus foreshadowing the work of our High Priest that would permanently  rend the separating curtain.

What does the incense altar represent in the spiritual realm?  It symbolizes our prayers to YHVH (Is 56:7, Ps. 141:2).  The fragrant incense also represents the prayers of Yeshua, who makes continuous intercession on our behalf (John 17:1-26, Rom 8:34) as our High Priest.  The continuous rise of the burning incense reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).

The daily burning of incense corresponded with the lighting of the menorah.  Scripture indicates that the incense was to be burned at the same time the menorah was to be cleaned and relit (Ex 30:7-8).  According to the Talmud five of the lamps on the menorah would be cleaned, then the incense would be burned before the other two lamps were cleaned.  The menorah and the Golden Altar seem to be interconnected.  If we understand that the menorah represents the light of Yeshua, then Yeshua’s light in us results in worship, praise and petitions to our Father.

In order to burn the incense, fire was taken from the brazen altar (which will be discussed in the next article) and transferred to the altar of incense (Lev 16:12-13), thus symbolizing that the fire of Yeshua’s sacrifice becomes the fire of blessing.  The horns of the golden altar were sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the Israelites (Lev 4:7, 16:18). “Just as the horns on the brazen altar represent the power of Christ’s blood to forgive sins, the horns on golden altar signify the power of His blood in prayer as we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness.”  (The Altar of Incense, the-tabernacle-place.com).  We come to Father in prayer only through Yeshua, cleansed from our sin by His blood and wearing His righteousness, for we have nothing of value to offer on our own.

Before Yeshua’s death on the cross, a heavy curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle, illustrating the separation from YHVH that sin had caused.  That veil has now been torn, so that there is no longer any separation, just as there is no separation in the heavenly Tabernacle.

The heavy curtain illustrates YHVH’s eagerness to be near His people.  He would come to them despite the barrier of sin using a curtain until reconciliation would be accomplished through Yeshua’s precious sacrifice.  The horns on the corners of the incense altar represent power, the power of prayer and intercession in this case.  Now that the curtain has been torn, YHVH not only meets with our representative (Moshe, Yeshua), but with each of us individually.

When we are offended by others, we tend to withdraw from them.  Our Father, on the other hand,  seeks all the more to be reconciled and united with us.  We are to forgive those who offend us, love them and always seek union with them if we desire to do as our heavenly Father does.  Are there curtains of separation that need to be torn down in our lives?

We, as living tabernacles, have the privilege of offering the continuous incense of our prayers and intercessions, even prayers for our enemies (Matt 5:44).  Just as the incense was a special mixture reserved solely for YHVH, our worship and prayers too must be reserved for our Father.  We are not to worship or pray to any foreign gods.  To whom are you offering your incense?

Metal Reflections

living-tabenacles

This is the beginning of a new series (Living Tabernacles) where we will study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  However, it is more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, for each of us is now a tabernacle of YHVH.   There will be two posts each month for this series.

The building of the Tabernacle involved participation on the part of the Israelites from the beginning.  YHVH showed Moshe the building plans and a heavenly model so that he would understand exactly what needed to be done (Exodus 25:9, Heb 8:5).  Then YHVH gave Moshe a list of items needed for the Tabernacle.  Moshe was instructed to share the list with the Israelites.  They were to take from their possessions in order to have the necessary building materials.  Where did they get the materials in the first place?  From YHVH Himself.  Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow (James 1:17).   Since the Israelites gave of their own possessions and, later on, their time and talents, they had a significant stake in the Tabernacle and in the worship of YHVH.

The list that YHVH gave to the Israelites was as follows:

  • gold, silver, and bronze;
  • blue, purple, and scarlet thread;
  • fine linen and goat hair for cloth;
  • tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather;
  • acacia wood;
  • olive oil for the lamps;
  • spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;
  • onyx stones and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece.

Every item on the list points not only to Yeshua, but to us who are seeking to become like Yeshua.  Each listed item symbolizes a characteristic of Yeshua and, by extension, should symbolize a characteristic of His followers.  What can we learn from this list?

In this first article we will examine gold, silver and bronze.  Gold and silver are precious metals and, for the Tabernacle, had to be “pure” (Exodus 25:11) and “refined” (1 Chronicles 28:18).  YHVH refines us through fiery trials so that we may be purified.  “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand (Dan 12:10). Gold is symbolic of YHVH’s kingship, glory and holiness and we are meant to reflect His glory and holiness.  Gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements.  When the blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant (made of pure gold), the gold did not tarnish.  When we are sprinkled with adversity, it should not discolor or corrode us.

Silver signifies redemption, which means to purchase back at a cost. Yeshua paid the highest price to redeem us.  The Hebrew word for silver is ‘kesef,’ meaning a very strong desire. According to Strong’s Concordance, the root for this Hebrew word is:

H3700 – כּסף – kâsaph – kaw-saf’ – A primitive root; properly to become pale, that is, (by implication) to pine after; also to fear: – [have] desire, be greedy, long, sore.

Generally, when we purchase something at a steep cost, we expect to possess something of substantial value.  Yeshua “pined after” us so much that He was willing to lay down His life in order to get us back.  Do we pine after Yeshua to the extent that we are willing to lay down our lives in order to follow Him?

Many scripture passages tie bronze to sin and judgment.  The bronze Sea where the priests were to wash was constructed so that they could see their reflections in order to ensure that they did not miss any dirt.  Scripture and Yeshua (the living Torah) are our “bronze Sea” where we can examine ourselves in order to remove any stains or blemishes.  For it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be declared righteous (Rom 2:13). For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror— 24 for once he looks at himself and goes away, he immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect Torah, the Torah that gives freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts—he shall be blessed in what he does (James 1:23-25)

The bronze altar signifies that YHVH is willing to take our judgment upon Himself, but only if we are willing to repent of our sins.  In the case of King Zedekiah who was not willing to repent, we see that he was carried off to Babylon in bronze shackles (2 Kings 25:i7).  If we are not willing to repent of our sins, we will have to deal with YHVH’s judgment ourselves.

Just as the Israelites offered treasures, time and talent to build a Tabernacle for YHVH, each of us must do the same as we prepare ourselves as fitting tabernacles for YHVH.  We will continue our study of the significance of the elements in the next article in this series entitled Living Tabernacles.

Each of us is now a tabernacle for YHVH.  Yeshua replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them (John 14:23).  The materials for the Tabernacle were costly and of the finest quality.  What does your tabernacle look like?  How are the gold, silver, and bronze reflected in your tabernacle?