The Golden Incense Altar


Read Exodus 30:1-10.

The Golden Incense Altar was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It was situated just in front of the Veil, the curtain which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. It was square: half a metre by half a metre wide, and one metre high.

The priest had to burn incense at this altar in the morning and at twilight, Exodus 30:7-8, as a perpetual fragrance before the Lord. The burning incense signifies prayer and points us to the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, John 17 and Mark 14:32-42. Read Psalm 141:2 / Revelation 5:8.

Similar to the Showbread Table, the Golden Incense Altar had a golden crown around the top of it. This signifies ‘Jesus, crowned with glory and honour’. Hebrews 2:9.

However, because the Golden Incense Altar is the place of prayer, the crown and the prayer together give us a hint of a kingly priesthood.

This thought is developed in the Book of Hebrews: the Messiah, ‘Jesus Christ has become a priest according to the order of Melchizedek’. Psalm 110:1 and Hebrews 7

He can sympathize with us as our great High Priest, Hebrews 4:15 and He is able to minister His supply of mercy and grace to us as the King of righteousness and King of peace. Hebrews 2. See also Hebrews 7:25 / Hebrews 4:16 / Genesis 14:18.

Prayer is very important in the daily life of all believers in the Lord. Daniel 6:10 / Matthew 6:5-13. We should pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, using all kinds of prayers and petitions with thanksgiving, praying at every time in the Spirit, watching and persevering in prayer not just for ourselves but for all our brothers and sisters, Ephesians 6:18.

Prayer is becoming increasingly important, especially as the battle intensifies and the utterance of the gospel becomes harder. Ephesians 6:19.

However, when our prayer is genuinely at the Golden Incense Altar, the Lord causes much incense to be added to our prayer. That incense rises back to Him as we pray according to His will, and the results are dramatic. Revelation 8:3-4.

The Tabernacle is the house of God, His dwelling place, Exodus 25:8-9 and a foreshadow of both Christ and the Church. Colossians 2:9 / 1 Timothy 3:15 / Ephesians 2:21-22.

It is God’s desire that His house should ‘be a house of prayer for all nations’. Isaiah 56:7. For us to pray at the Golden Incense Altar, blood must first be applied, Leviticus 4:7, the blood of the Sin Offering. Then the incense must be prepared with genuine acknowledgements and experiences of the Son’s Name, His purity, holiness, subjection, faith and dependence on God the Father. Then ‘whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give it to you; ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full’. John 16:23-24

One of the ingredients of the incense was salt, to make our prayer neither sentimental nor formal. We should pray at every time in the Spirit, Ephesians 6:18 in the Son’s Name. This will be a sweet incense to God the Father.

Jesus’ ministry was not just healing and teaching people; it was also a service to God the Father in His living and in praying, Mark 1:32-35.

The night before He chose His twelve disciples, Jesus spent the whole night in the ‘prayer of God’, Luke 6:12.

His admonition

‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’ and His observation regarding praying that ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. Matthew 26:41, so obviously comes from One who is qualified to comment. Hebrews 2:14 / Hebrews 2:18.

In His prayer in John 17, Jesus utters such meaningful requests, with such adoration of the Father, acknowledging His own position as a man and that of the Father as Giver of all authority, John 17:2, as Holy Father, John 17:11, as Righteous Father, John 17:25. This prayer is no ‘last night’ performance; it is rather the continuation of a life of the previous prayer, as indicated by the phrase ‘Father, the hour has now come’. John 17:1

Here in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is at the Golden Incense Altar, on the night before the Veil, that is His flesh, Hebrews 10:20 will be torn from top to bottom, by God His Father. Matthew 27:46 / Matthew 27:51.

Jesus’ prayer is for eternal life for all those the Father has given to Him. Jesus is like the high priest in the Tabernacle, bearing the names of the disciples, and those who will believe through their word, John 17:20 on His heart, the Breastplate.

His prayer is that the Father will

1. Keep the disciples, guarding them all in the Father’s own holy name, in unbroken oneness, as the Father and the Son are one. John 17:6-12.

2. Sanctify them in His word of truth, setting the disciples apart to the Father as Jesus Himself had been set apart to the Father, for their impact in the world with the gospel, that generations of believers may be one, one in Them, the Father and the Son. John 17:13-21.

3. Send the glory of the Son, John 1:14 and John 17:1 to the believers, that they may be perfected in oneness, so that the world may see the love of the Father for His only begotten Son and also the Father’s love for His many children. John 1:18 / John 1:12-13 and John 3:5-6 and John 20:17. John 17:22-26.

This is the prayer for eternal life, ‘that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’ John 17:3. Jesus said ‘I come that they may have life and have it abundantly’ John 10:10.

Eternal life is simply to know the Father and the Son and their oneness, truly, for eternity. This is Jesus’ prayer for eternal life; may it also be ours.

Such a fragrance of incense exudes from this deep prayer by the great High Priest for all those in the House of God! Let us also come to the Golden Incense Altar and thence boldly through the Veil to the throne of grace (the Ark of the Covenant), that we may find the mercy and obtain the grace He has prayed for us in this great time of need! Hebrews 3:6 / Hebrews 4:14-16.



"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."