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Intro: When God gave His plans for the construction of the Tabernacle, He filled the place with various articles that were absolutely rich with spiritual symbolism. Jesus can be seen in the Tabernacle in every piece of it. The Brazen Altar speaks of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for sinners. The veil reminds us that there was a gulf between God and man that was dissolved at the cross by Jesus. The Golden Candlestick reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and that He came to lead men out of darkness. Even the coverings of the Tabernacle point to the Lord Jesus Christ. The same is true with the Golden Altar Of Incense that we have read about tonight. In this piece of furniture, the Lord is seen in His ministry as our Great High Priest. The One who makes intercession for His people before the throne of His Father in Heaven, Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34.

While this Altar is filled with great symbolism concerning the Lord, there are also some lessons for God's people. In these verses, we are shown some truths about our prayer lives and about praying in general. Since it is my conviction, and hopefully yours by now, that the Lord wants us to be more consistent in our praying, I feel that we would do well to look at the Golden Altar Of Incense and what it teaches us about praying. Let's do that this evening and learn from this ancient piece of Tabernacle furniture.


A. There were only 2 materials used in the manufacture of the Altar of Incense: Wood and Gold. Wood, in the Bible, speaks of humanity and Gold, speaks of Deity. Therefore, it is easy to see that this speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only Person who has ever perfectly combined humanity and deity in one body - John 1:1; 14. He is the God-Man! However, while He was on the earth, His glorious nature was hidden under His humanity. Only when He was on the Mount of Transfiguration did His glory burst forth - Matt. 17:1-2. While He was here, men saw the wood, so to speak, Isa. 53:2. But, notice that this Altar has the gold on the outside. This points to Jesus as He is now! He is enthroned in Heaven at the Father's right hand. If you could see Him tonight, He would still have His human body, but it would be covered by His glory. Therefore, this altar, in it's materials, speaks of the Person of Jesus, our heavenly Intercessor.

B. While these materials speak about the glorified Lord, they also have application to you and me tonight. At our best, we are never more than sinners saved by grace. However, when we come to know the Lord Jesus by faith, we are made partakers of the "divine nature", 2 Pet. 1:4. That is, God Himself dwells in the heart of every believer and grants us access to the Father through prayer. Prayer is the domain of the redeemed - Psa. 66:18.

C. When our humanity is covered by the divine blood of Jesus, we are given the right to call on the Lord's Name. A right which we did not possess prior to that event! Does God hear the prayers of the lost? Not in the sense of hearing in order to answer. Therefore, no lost person can gain access to the throne of grace. It is only for the redeemed through our Intercessor, the Lord Jesus! Only when our humanity become swallowed up in His deity do we have access to Him in prayer.

I. The Materials Of The Altar


A. The Size And Shape

1. 1 Cubit On A Side - One speaks of unity. When we come before the Lord in prayer, we are brought together. We are made one when our will lines up with His will. Prayer brings us into His presence and unites us as nothing else can.

2. Square - This speaks of equality. Nobody has more access to God that you do. If you are saved and your sins are confessed, you have as much right to approach the Lord as anyone who has ever lived, Heb. 4:16.

3. 2 Cubits High - At 2 cubits high, the Altar of Incense was taller than any other piece of furniture in the Tabernacle. This speaks of Jesus being exalted above all the world. However, it also reminds us that no one stands taller than when they are engaged in prayer. In the church, preachers, teachers, singers and leaders often the most recognition for what goes on at the House of God. However, if there is to be credit rendered, it must go to those who are actively engaged in prayer for the work of God. When the rewards are handed out at the Judgment Seat Of Christ, many with big names and high profiles will have to step aside for those who wrestled in prayer for the souls of men and for the Kingdom of God.

4. In terms of size, the Altar of Incense was the smallest of all the other pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle. However, while it was small in size, it was great in its importance. The work carried out here was a vital part of their service to the Lord. So it is with prayer. You see, in praying, it isn't the eloquence of prayer, nor the length of prayer that makes a difference, it the heart behind the praying! When we call on the Lord out of a heart of faith, we literally possess the power to move mountains - Matt. 17:20. It isn't how long you pray, or how loud, it all comes down to the content and the heart behind the praying.

(Ill. When Simon Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water, he lacked faith and began to sink. His prayer to the Lord wasn't long, only 3 words, but it was effective and it accomplished what he wished for it to - Matt. 14:30. A man named Jabez prayed a short prayer that God also honored - 1 Chron. 4:10.)

B. The Symbolism In The Altar

1. Horns - There was one golden horn on each of the four corners of the Altar. Horns in the Bible are often symbolic of power and strength. These speak of the power of prayer to go into the four corners of the world. From right here where we are tonight, we can literally touch a world for the glory of God. There is no limit to what we can accomplish through prayer, except those limits we place on prayer through our own faithlessness and prayerlessness - Matt. 18:19.

(Ill. In ourselves, we may be weak and seemingly ineffective. However, when we fall on our knees before a mighty God, we become a forth to be reckoned with. When the saints are on praying ground, the devils of Hell tremble before us. There is power in a saint who is in contact with the God of Heaven.)

2. Crown - This piece of furniture had a crown that went around the top. It was there to prevent the incense from falling to the floor. This speaks of the fact that none of our praying is in vain. God may not answer in your time or in your way, but He will hear you and He will answer you in a way that glorifies Him and is the best for you. None of you prayers, if prayed from a righteous heart of faith, will ever fall to the ground - Jer. 33:3; Isa. 65:24.

3. Rings And Staves - These were fastened to the Altar so that when Israel broke camp and moved, the Altar could be carried to the new location and there resume its function before the Lord. The idea here is that the Altar of prayer was ever near. This speaks of prayer to us. Prayer is as near to us as the breath in our lungs or the thoughts of our heads. We can pray anywhere, anytime and about anything. Pray is always acceptable to the Lord.

(Ill. Many are concerned about posture in prayer. I believe that God is more concerned with the posture of the heart than He is with the posture of the body. I believe that He longs for those who call on Him to have hearts free from sin and hearts that are humble in His presence. Oh, we should never be too lazy to bow before Him on our knees when we can, but there are times when that is impractical. Such as when driving, or when crippled or when unable to bow. The whole issue is that men need to pray and pray consistently and continually before his presence - Luke 18:1; 1 Thes. 5:17; Rom. 12:12.)

I. The Materials Of The Altar

II. The Manufacture Of The Altar


A. The Placement Of The Altar - It was to be placed against the veil of the Tabernacle. Behind the veil, unseen by human eyes, was the Mercy Seat, where the blood offerings were placed on the Day of Atonement. There was something else In this little room behind the veil, called the Holy of Holies. The Shekinah Glory of the presence of God dwelt there. The only access to the glory of God was through the veil. In a sense, Jesus is the veil. It is through Him alone that we access to the riches of God through prayer - John 14:13-14; John 15:16; John 16:23-24; 26. The Lord Jesus is the only access that have into the hidden riches and glories of the Lord - 1 Tim. 2:5.

(Ill. Think of prayer like you would of a wall outlet. When we take a plug and place it into the wall outlet, we are able to tap into the hidden resources inside the wall. When we take the plug of prayer in the hand of faith and use it properly, we find that prayer does change things and that there is great potential in praying o the Lord. It is not accident that the Altar of Incense was placed just outside the Veil.)

B. The Prayers Upon The Altar - Prayer is represented by the incense that Aaron was to take and place there. Notice how this ministry was to be carried out.

1. Continual - Every morning and every evening, Aaron was to place fresh incense upon the Altar so that a continuous smoke rose up before the Lord in Heaven. Our praying is to follow the same fashion. We are to be in an attitude of prayer before the Lord constantly. (Ill. Col. 4:2; Psa. 55:16-17; Eph. 6:18)

2. Consecrated - The priests were forbidden from offering anything but incense upon this altar. It was consecrated for one thin and one thing only: to glorify the Lord God. So it is with prayer. We have no right to pray out of pretense or selfishness. Our motive must be to offer prayers that are pleasing, honoring and according to the revealed will of God. These are the only prayers that He will ever answer!

3. Clean - Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Aaron was to take blood from the atonement offering and he was to sprinkle it on this altar. This reminds us that when we approach God there are 2 things that we need to be sure of if we expect Him to hear and to answer.

a. That we are saved - James 5:16

b. That we are clean in His sight - Psa. 66:18

Conc: We serve a big God! He is able to do things that literally boggle the mind! After all, look back at all that He has done through the ages. Creation, salvation, resurrection, His Word, etc. Then, think for a minute about prayers He has answered for others. Abraham interceded for Sodom and God listened. Jacob interceded for Israel at Penial and God listened. Israel cried out to God from Egypt and God listened. All through the Bible, God has proven over and over His willingness and ability to hear and answer pray. All He is looking for this evening is a people who believe Him enough to call on His name in faith and who will believe that He will do what He has said He will do. Are you among that number this evening? If so, then we should take what we have learned from the Golden Altar Of Incense and use it to strengthen our prayer lives before the Lord. Is you prayer life all that it should be?

Sermon By Alan Carr


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