Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: God's Sustainment Of Israel In The Wilderness Wanderings Amid Humanly Hopeless Trials
M. God's Establishment Of The Tabernacle Of Meeting
11. The Altar Of Incense: The Ministry Of Prayer
(Exodus 30:1-10)
  1. Introduction
    1. Many people view prayer as a function that is reserved for formal worship or for times of dire need!
    2. However, from God's perspective, Biblical prayer is very important, a function we should regularly perform as the typology of the tabernacle's altar of incense reveals in Exodus 30:1-10 (as follows):
  2. The Altar Of Incense: The Ministry Of Prayer, Exodus 30:1-10.
    1. Though appearing in the Holy Place where the table of shewbread and candlestick are located, the altar of incense is not introduced in Exodus 25 as were these other articles of furniture, but in Exodus 30:1-10 where worship becomes the main focus, J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible . . ., Vol. I, p. 294.
    2. As such, the altar of incense typifies the believer's ministry of prayer as follows, Exodus 30:1-10:
      1. The altar of incense was made for the purpose of burning only incense upon it, Exodus 30:1, 9.
      2. Incense in Scripture often signifies the prayers of God's people (Psa. 141:2; Lk. 1:9-10; Rev. 8:3), and as the altar of incense was located just outside the veil close to God's presence (Ex. 30:6), it depicts the prayers of God's people that reach Him in heaven like the incense odor that penetrated the veil!
      3. The altar of incense was considered as holy as were the table of shewbread and the ark: like them, it typified Christ's incarnation since it was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold and was carried by staves run through rings attached to the altar, Exodus 30:3-4; 25:12-14, 26-27. The believer thus comes to the Father in prayer through his position in the Lord Jesus Christ, cf. John 14:12-13, 14.
      4. God clarified that the altar of incense was to stand just outside the veil to the Holiest of Holies in front of the ark and its mercy seat where God would meet with the high priest, Ex. 30:6. Thus, God indicated the prayers of His people given in His will would be heard by Him in heaven, cf. 1 John 5:14-15.
      5. The altar of incense was relatively small, only 1 feet square and standing 3 feet tall, Ex. 30:2. Yet, its location just outside the Holiest of Holies close to God's presence showed it was very significant to the Lord, meaning we should always pray as our prayers are important to God, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
      6. Incense was to be offered on the altar of incense each morning and evening in coordination with the servicing of the lamps of the nearby golden lampstand, Exodus 30:7-8. Since we learned in an earlier lesson in this series that the lampstand's light typified God's revelation of Himself through Christ and His written Word, we are taught that prayer is to be made in accord to one's exposure to God's Word:
        1. Believers should pray in accord with God's will as revealed in Scripture, 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15.
        2. Believers should pray in response to the ministry of God's Word in their hearts, expressing various responses of confession of sin, worship, thanksgiving, praise, devotion, etc., Psalm 119:50-52 et al.
        3. As the burning of incense upon the altar of incense coordinated with the servicing of the lampstand, and as the lampstand's servicing morning and evening signified the constant witness of God's truth in His Word, the believer should continually pray in his earthly sojourn, Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17.
      7. The composition of the incense to be offered was unique, Ex. 30:9: equal portions of stacte, onycha, galbanum and pure incense seasoned with salt [to give off a white smoke] were to be used, with the penalty of excommunication for duplicating that mixture for any other use, Ex. 30:34-35, 38; Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 154. This signified prayer was to be made to God alone, and to no other god!
      8. When the high priest entered the Holiest of Holies on the Day of Atonement, some of the blood of the sin offering was to be sprinkled on the altar of incense, Ex. 30:10. This function demonstrated that the believer's access to God in prayer was made available by grace through the cross of Christ, Rom. 5:1-2.
Lesson: The typology of the altar of incense teaches us that God wants us believers to know He longs to receive our prayers as He sits enthroned up in heaven! We are to pray through Christ, and to do so often in accord with and in response to Scripture revelation, and we must pray to God alone as our Lord! God wants us to know that we have this privilege by grace through Christ's work on the cross!

Application: Let us rejoice in the privilege of prayer, and pray often and in accord with God's Word.