The Golden Altar of Incense
Aaron had been thinking about feeding on Christ at the Table of Shewbread so much that by now he had become quite a chewer of the cud. There had not been a day these days that he had not been looking into the Bible and finding the things the Lord had been teaching him. He remembered the twelve loaves of bread representing perfection of the feeding on the Word. He also remembered the tree of life in the book of Revelation, which bare twelve manner of fruits, representing the sons of God bringing forth God’s nature. The thing that caught most of his interest though, were the twelve tribes of Israel carrying twelve basic natures of God, through which God manifests life to humanity.
Aaron’s desire since the last conversation he had with the Lord had been about becoming the bread, which is broken for a dying world. Jesus said that when Aaron becomes like Him, he would become the bread. Therefore, he knew that he had to eat the bread at the Table of Shewbread in order to become the bread. And so Aaron had been eating. This time the Lord has taken Aaron to the next step in the Tabernacle – the Golden Altar of Incense. Aaron found himself in the Holy Place standing in front of the altar, which was all made out of gold. He had seen it before but this time it seemed as if he was looking at it from a new perspective. “I see,” he thought to himself, “it’s because the Lord is giving me a new revelation.”
“Aaron,” the Lord commanded, “go and measure the Altar of Incense.”
Aaron was excited to do so. He noticed that it had very different measurements than the Brazen Altar in the Outer Court. He wondered what the measurements were and what they all meant. He took a measuring stick and walked around the altar. He found the altar to be one cubit wide and one cubit broad. He realized that it makes a square of the number one and learned that it represents God. Then, two cubits in height showed the witnesses of God, the Spirit and the Word.
“Aaron,” the Lord said, “you can see the altar is made out of gold, can’t you?”
“Yes, Lord,” Aaron responded.
“It looks golden but it is actually made out of wood and only covered with gold. Do you still remember what wood and gold represent?”
“Oh, yes,” was Aaron’s quick answer. “Wood shows humanity and gold is the pure nature of God. Gold here then covers humanity. I would say that it is the same with the Altar of Incense as with the boards of the Tabernacle – no flesh can be seen, only God.”
The Lord smiled. He was very pleased with His young friend and how well he had been learning.
“But Lord,” Aaron continued, “why is there only one crown here? There were two crowns on the Table of Shewbread.”
“Well, Aaron, I will let you figure it out yourself. What did the crowns on the Table of Shewbread represent?”
“The one up meant that it was a place of kingship and the one down meant suffering and tribulation. Does it mean that the crown on the Altar of Incense is a symbol of victory and there is no suffering with it?”
“Yes, it is, Aaron,” the Lord replied. “It is a victory of the believer coming into kingship. In this instance, the tribulation is past and the pure essence of the soul is about to be offered to God. This step brings people into becoming kings and priests of God.”
Aaron understood this very well. He really wanted to be king and priest as it was promised to those who walk with Jesus.
The Lord had yet more to say, “There is another thing you can see at this altar, Aaron, and that is the two golden rings. They symbolize that the believer has reached the stage of being married (that is why they look like rings) and becoming one with both the Spirit and the Word.”
Aaron also wanted to know what the four horns of the altar were for. The Lord explained to him that they signify force and compulsion. This shows that before one can enter into the Holy of Holies, there is one last compulsory act, complete submission to the will of the heavenly Father. The horns signify the absolute necessity of the soul being offered.
“Lord,” Aaron asked, “what does it actually mean to offer my soul at the Altar of Incense?”
The Lord was ready to answer Aaron’s question. He also knew how to explain it so that Aaron would understand. “You see, Aaron,” He said, “when the incense is burned on the altar, the man’s soul nature is being consumed to bring the highest glory to Me. When you first offered yourself to Me at the Brazen Altar, you had nothing presentable. It was only dung, skin, bowels, etc., like the animals in the old times. Now the nature of your soul has been partly changed and the four wild beasts of your soul (eagle, lion, ox, and man) have been partially tamed. On the other hand, My nature has begun to manifest itself within you. At this point, you are asked to surrender all your soul’s goodness to Me. All soulishness must die. This is the place where you give up all you are and all you have—even those things that I have given to you, for example the gifts.”
Aaron wondered whether it meant that he wouldn’t use the gifts any more but immediately the understanding came that it was not the case. Just that everything must be used only to the glory of God.
“There is one thing I want you to remember, Aaron,” the Lord continued. “After all you have gone through in the whole Tabernacle, the Altar of Incense will show how serious your walk was. You see, if your walk with Me is only half-hearted, it will be seen at the Golden Altar. The Golden Altar will verify the genuiness of your walk. It is written, By their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:16, 20).”
Aaron was in deep thought as the Lord went on, “You have to understand, My dear friend, people can be born again, they can get immersed in water, from time to time bring a vision during the church meeting or speak in tongues, they can always have their Bible with them and occasionally help others, too. Yet if their soul is not being changed and, for example, they still have anger in them and their mind, their desires, their emotions, and their will are not becoming My mind, My desires, My emotions, and My will, then it is not possible for them to enter in to the Holy of Holies. It is not sufficient just to get to the Golden Altar. It is like going to a wedding, yet you don’t have the right clothes on, and so you will be thrown out as it happened to the man in Matthew 22:11-14.”
Aaron remembered the story very well. He had just read it in the Bible a couple of days ago. The Lord was about to tell him another story.
“Aaron, do you remember the story in the Bible about Nadab and Abihu from the Old Testament?” He asked. When Aaron responded positively, the Lord continued, “They decided to take their own fire before Me, didn’t they? I said to the children of Israel that there should be no other fire used in the Tabernacle but the one from the Outer Court altar of sacrifice which I Myself lighted. Nadab and Abihu took their own fire, went through the Outer Court, lighted the lamps on the lampstand in the Holy Place, changed bread on the Table of Shewbread and thought, ‘Wonderful, it works. No problem.’ All was okay until they came to the Golden Altar. Their entire offering blew up against them and they died. They didn’t sanctify Me as I said they should have. It says in Leviticus 10:3, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”
Aaron thought that the place of the Golden Altar was really a fearful place but he knew that if he loved the Lord with his whole heart, the Lord would see to it that his sacrifice was accepted.
“Aaron,” the Lord urged His young friend, “tell My people that the place of the Altar of Incense is the place where the church prepares to enter into the Holy of Holies and taste of the abundance of union with Me. Here carnality suffers a mortal blow. In the time of Moses, the high priest had to burn the incense on the altar every morning and every evening. Then, he would take it in to the Holy of Holies once a year and burn incense before the Ark of the Covenant to fill the Holy of Holies with smoke. You see, when he entered into the Outer Court, he died to sin. When he entered into the Holy Place, he died to self. Now he is about to enter into the Holy of Holies and he has to die to his soul. He has to give up everything. The man is no more. Only Christ is seen in the Holy of Holies.”
Aaron was ready to chew this cud well. He wanted to go and tell the people all the Lord had shown him, but he also wanted to make sure he learned his lesson well.
Answer the following questions to see how well you understood this chapter:
1. What is the Altar of Incense made out of? Can you remember what the materials mean?
2. What are the measurements of the Altar of Incense and what do the numbers represent?
3. What is the crown on the Altar of Incense a symbol of?
4. What do the horns and rings represent?
5. Why did Nadab and Abihu die at the Altar of Incense?
6. What is the purpose of the Altar of Incense in the life of a believer as well as the church?
P. S. If you want to read about the Golden Altar of Incense in the Bible, turn to Exodus 30:1-10.
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