The Tabernacle, The Altar of Incense, Doing It Godís Way, Part 6 - Lesson 32
We have spent much time discussing the third piece of furniture, the Altar of Incense, located in the Holy Place.
The Altar of Incense as was the Ark of the Covenant, the table of showbread and the candlestick was designed to be transportable for God knew that He was to lead the children of Israel on a long pilgrimage.
So therefore much of Godís instruction concerning the tabernacle was in regard to its portability, for even in this, much was taught as to what status the Israelites and as a matter of fact the church is to see themselves in.
For we are to see ourselves only as pilgrims for this present Earth is not our home for this conclusion is what comes from a mind that is based on faith.
It is an Abrahamic mind for Abraham, who is the father of faith:
Hebrews 11:10, ÖÖÖ..looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
God today is shaking the foundations of this earth and it should, in us, cause the desire to look for a city which has true foundations, to be a strong desire.
It ought to awaken our pilgrim status.
So as were all parts of the tabernacle, the Altar of Incense was built to be transported,
And there was a God given exclusive procedure for this so in the wilderness wanderings all the articles were covered with their appointed coverings.
God does nothing in a casual way but everything he does he does to teach us about the Godhead and even in the appointment of that which covered the tabernacle parts he teaches.
If you observed the travel of these articles in the wilderness you would observe as it were bundles being carried on the shoulders of four men through the use of staves.
The human eye, observing the vast congregation of traveling Jews would only behold these "bundles" which would not at all be attractive to the natural man.
The beauty of all these things under the bundles would only be seen when they were arranged in the tabernacle in accordance with Godís instruction.
They were not to be seen except by certain individuals appointed to keep them functional and in their proper place so that Godís plan of redemption would be clearly seen.
It was a very precise and orderly process, very exclusive.
It was to be without any contribution from the imaginations of men, therefore no strange fire nor strange incense, and no fancy or brand new carts or vehicles were to be introduced for transporting.
No efficiency measures, no introduction of new technology was permitted.
God was not surveying men for the ideas of men for He had a very important message to communicate even in the travel of his people in the wilderness.
Now the transport of the Altar of Incense is described in:
Numbers 4:11, And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgersí skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
Again we see a beautiful picture of the Godhead in these coverings.
The covering of blue, as in the blue of the sky, points to the Lord from heaven.
The badgers' skin, as we have spoken of before speaks of the Word being made flesh among us, in the person of Jesus the Son.
Now certainly there was beauty in the Altar of Incense when it was in the Holy Place but when it was in the world, traveling the wilderness it was covered in badgersí skin.
There was no beauty in the badgersí skin and this is what is spoken of in Isaiah 53 where we are told: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
In other words Godís Son was not sent to attract to himself followers on the basis of beauty, or outward appearance and when he traveled the dusty roads of Palestine he traveled as did the Altar of Incense covered by badgersí skins.
In the Holy Place He reveals His beauty but in the world, only His children can see His beauty for His beauty is a Heavenly beauty only revealed in Holiness by faith.
Satanís world operates on the economy of outward beauty, and promotes an inclusiveness even in this, but God only attracts followers on the basis of faith in His exclusive Word which will bring the inner beauty that pleases God.
Now the Altar of Incense was the source of the incense that was taken into the Most Holy Place on the one day of the year that the High Priest brought in the Atonement blood to sprinkle on the Mercy Seat.
The Altar or table of Incense was not brought into the Most Holy Place but a vessel called the golden censer, referred to in Hebrews 9:4, was filled with incense and brought in by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
Though the writer of Hebrews does not specifically say that the golden censer was from the incense altar, he does state that it was in the Most Holy Place before the ark, which corresponds to the ritual of the Day of Atonement when sweet incense was burned before the ark.
So each piece of furniture showed its importance by its function.
The Altar of Incense speaking of the intercessory work of Christ, the table of showbread speaking of Christ as the sustainer of life, and the candlestick, speaking of Christ as the Light of the world.
This illustrates that it was not the item, which was important, but what its use spoke of.
The candlestick without oil would be useless, the table of showbread without bread would illustrate nothing, and likewise, the altar of incense without incense would be meaningless as well.
Now all of the items in the tabernacle were related in function for all are connected together in the worship of Jehovah and corporately they give us a picture of Christís total work.
One harmonious relationship is displayed when we look at what takes place concerning the daily burnt offering and the Altar of incense.
Many of the activities of the priestís work were associated with the same time of day, morning and evening.
There was the daily burnt offering (Num. 28:3-4),
the replenishing of oil for the candlestick (Lev. 24:3),
the burning of incense at the incense altar (Exod. 30:7-8),
and the removal of the ashes from the brazen altar to a clean place outside the camp (Lev. 6:8-12).
Numbers 28:3-4, And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering.  The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even;
Leviticus 24:3, Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.
Exodus 30:7-8, And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.  And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
Leviticus 6:8-12, And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,  Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.  And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.  And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.  And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.
These activities involved every furnishing of the outer court and the holy place twice daily.
The responsibility for these tasks belonged to the priests, whose activities reveal a clear picture of their significance.
Several priests were involved with performing these duties.
There were three areas of work:
1. At the Holy Place
2. At the Brazen Altar
3. Outside the Camp where the ashes were disposed of.
This would necessitate at least three priests if the work in these areas was to be done simultaneously.
If it was not simultaneous; the probable order would have been carrying the ashes outside the camp, making the offerings, followed by ministering in the holy place.
The removal of the ashes from the brazen altar was not an insignificant task.
The wood used to burn the evening burnt offering, and any other offerings afterwards, was only ashes in the ash pans under the grate by morning.
A priest would remove these pans from under the altar and then change into other garments before carrying them out to the ash pile outside the camp.
Leviticus 6:11, And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.
Although the ashes were taken outside the camp, this removal was not insignificant (Heb. 13:11-12).
This was evidence of Godís satisfaction with the animal offered.
This was also the site where the sin offerings for the high priest and congregation were taken to be burnt as told us in Lev. 4:12, 21), which is typical of Christ who was taken outside the gates of Jerusalem to suffer the penalty for our sins.
Hebrews 13:11-12, For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
This whole picture presented in the New Testament was previously pictured in the Old Testament where we are told in Lev. 4:12,21 of the bullock that was slain and carried without the camp to be burned
Leviticus 4:12,21, Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt. 21 And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn him as he burned the first bullock: it is a sin offering for the congregation.
Many of the priests works were called perpetual and continual.
The daily burnt offering, except for the one in Numbers 29:6, was called the continual burnt offering.
The fire on the brazen altar was perpetual for it was never to go out. (Lev. 6:13)
The candlestick was to burn continually (Lev. 24:2).
The showbread was called "continual bread," (Num. 24:7) because it was always before the Lord, and the incense was to burn perpetually (Ex. 30:8).
This is indicative of their importance in the priestsí ministry typifying Christís work which is indeed perpetual and continual.
The morning daily burnt offering, a continual offering, consisted of a lamb along with its meat and drink offering.
The burnt offering was the only offering made on a daily basis. (Ex. 29:38-42), the others being only as the need arose.
The meat and drink offerings were offered to denote the priestís continual consecration to God and therefore typified Christís continual consecration.
The burnt offering, which typified total consecration, could best typify Christís complete and total surrender to God for us: thus, all His ministries were described as continual.
For the morning daily burnt offering, the priest would take an unblemished lamb to the north side of the altar, and there lay his hands on its head while making a confession of continual service and dedication to God.
Then, he would cut its throat and catch its blood in a brazen bowl.
After washing at the laver, he would sprinkle the blood on the brazen altar.
Next, he would butcher the animal, keeping the skin for himself.
The head and fat were laid on the fire of the brazen altar, but the legs and inwards were first washed at the laver as were the priestsí hands and feet before he took them to the brazen altar.
The meat and drink offerings were then offered and salt was strewn over all the sacrifices.
According to Leviticus 6:23 the whole meat offering was burnt and not just a small portion.
Leviticus 6:23, For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.
The priest would then take a brass censer full of coals from the brazen altar to the laver to wash again.
Then he would enter the holy place.
Since the candlestick had its own golden censer, the coals were probably transferred to it.
He would then trim the wicks and replenish the oil of the candlestick, re-lighting each lamp with the coals from the brazen altar.
He next placed incense in the censer on top of the incense altar.
Since the only place spoons, the vessels for holding the incense, are mentioned is at the table of showbread, the priest would stop there to get the sweet incense and light it with the coals from the brazen altar.
These morning and evening priestly duties each beautifully portray the continual ministry of Christ as our true priest.
The continual burnt offering speaks to us of Christís COMPLETE and CONTINUAL service to God for us.
In the meat offering and its drink offering we see Christ in His service to man.
The fire consumed the offering, changing it to smoke and ashes.
Ashes were the evidence of the finished work, and the smoke was a witness of Godís satisfaction with Christ, it being called a sweet savor.
The washing at the laver was necessary to portray Christís sinlessness, which made it possible for him to ascend to heaven.
His heavenly ministries portrayed in the holy place by its three furnishings were all linked to the offerings at the brazen altar.
It was his vicarious life and death portrayed in the sacrifices at the brazen altar that rendered his other ministries effectual for the believer.
Thus, the coals were taken from the brazen altar into the holy place to light the candlestick and incense.
Only those who went to the brazen altar in acknowledgement of Godís provision received the benefit of the priestsí ministry in the holy place.
Likewise, today, we must go to Calvary before we can receive Christ as our advocate, as well as bountiful provisions, promises, and blessings that a loving God is willing to bestow on His people.
It all centers on the CROSS of Christ Ė the place of sacrifice.