Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. Revelation 8:3.
Today your LORD (יהוה) God (אלהים) says:
In Heaven before Me there is a golden altar of incense and upon it are the prayers of the redeemed. Revelation 8:3. This should not surprise you for I taught you of this altar when I brought My redeemed people out of Egypt and gave the instructions to Moses for My dwelling place to journey with them to the Promised Land. Exodus 30:1-10. And I told him to construct the tabernacle and everything in it exactly according to the plans I gave him on Mt. Sinai.
“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them, according to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” Exodus 25:8-9. And I repeat it again, “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:40. And then I tell you why in the letter to the Hebrews, these things “serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” Hebrews 8:5.
The Tabernacle demonstrated the plan of redemption—from the bronze altar and the sin offering to the washing of the water of the laver and on to the inner court with its golden lampstand on the southside, the table of the bread of the presence on the northside, and the golden altar of incense at the entrance before the Ark of the Testimony behind the veil in the Holy of Holies. The path from the blood to the water to the Spirit. And in Heaven, looking down at the end to the beginning the Spirit, the water, and the blood give the testimony.
The bronze altar showed the judgment for sin satisfied, the laver was the regeneration in baptism by the water and the Spirit and the washing of the water of the Word that would renew your mind, and then you could enter the inner court where the bread of the presence on the northside represented the true Bread come down from Heaven bringing My presence in My Son, and the golden lampstand on the southside (the world) showing Jesus the Light of the world, as Jesus, as the fulfilment of the High Priest leads you into the Holy of Holies to come with confidence to receive mercy and find grace just when you need it. He has brought you into My presence to hear My voice forever. But I have not yet told you about the golden altar of incense placed at the entrance of the Holy of Holies.
This exquisitely crafted altar was a precious part of the tabernacle and then of the temple Solomon built on the same pattern as given Moses and that I reaffirmed and gave the plans for a larger and permanent structure to David that are the shadow of its heavenly counterpart. Upon this altar all covered in gold only fragrant incense was to be offered, and only in the sacred formula I imparted to Moses. No strange incense was to be offered and none of the animal sacrifices were to be done upon it or drink offerings poured out upon it. Every evening and every morning, at the time of the offering of an unblemished lamb, unleavened bread, and a hin of wine, the High Priest was to light incense upon it and keep incense continually burning upon it. He could only enter into the Holy of Holies in a cloud of incense.
But before we go on, let us go back to when I first gave Moses the plans for this mysterious altar that was only for burning incense and was the furnishing nearest to the Ark of the Covenant which signified My presence among My people. As I gave Moses the plans in My heart for the dwelling place and all its furnishings I told him:
“Moreover, you shall make an altar as a place for burning incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. Its length shall be a cubit, and its width a cubit, it shall be square, and its height shall be two cubits; its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and its sides all around, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding all around for it. You shall make two gold rings for it under its molding; you shall make them on its two side walls—on opposite sides—and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. You shall put this altar in front of the veil that is near the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is over the ark of the testimony, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year; he shall make atonement on it with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once a year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.” Exodus 30:1-10.
And then I gave Moses the ingredients for the incense that was to burn perpetually before Me. I told Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you. The incense which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves; it shall be holy to you for the Lord. Whoever shall make any like it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people.” Exodus 30:34-38.
And when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies for atoning for the people, he was to take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. He put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense covered the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he would die. Leviticus 16:12-13.
David would later sing, “May my prayer come as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” Psalm 141:2. He knew prayer was like incense before Me. So the only way into the Holy of Holies was in a cloud of prayer with the blood of the Lamb to sprinkle upon the mercy seat, and from there I would speak.
This altar was precious to Me, I required that incense be burned upon it perpetually throughout their generations. I have done this in Heaven before My throne.
In his visit to Heaven while on the Island of Patmos, My beloved John saw the golden altar of incense before My throne, and he writes, “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the believers on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” Revelation 8:2-5.
Do you recall that as Paul and Silas lay chained to the floor in the prison in Philippi praying and singing hymns of praise unto Me that suddenly an earthquake hit that prison that caused no damage or harm other than opening all the gates and making all chains fall off the prisoners? Their prayers upon the golden altar before Me filled the censor the angel threw to the earth in response and an earthquake followed. The same as the believers gathered in one accord and prayed for Me to stretch out My hand in healings, signs, wonders and miracles in Jesus Name as they boldly proclaimed My Word and the whole place shook. Answered from the golden altar of incense.
I often spoke in the Old Covenant of the importance of the incense. Moses sang of the honor I had given the Levites as priests of My sanctuary, “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, And Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar.” And the fragrant incense was so sacred to Me that two of Aaron’s sons suffered instant death for offering strange (profance) fire on My altar.
Solomon grieved Me deeply by turning to other gods, those of his foreign wives, and building them altars where he burned incense to them with his wives.
Incense is a way of honoring your God. You are to burn it to Me alone. And that is your prayer. It is to be addressed to Me alone and be continually burning on the golden incense altar in Heaven. And you do it upon earth by praying without ceasing. For you now are My temple, a temple of My Spirit, and your prayers are set upon that altar in Heaven before Me and the angels add incense to them.
Why was this small piece of furnishing, a small square cubicle of acacia wood covered in gold with four horns at its corners and just space for the burning of incense so important to Me? Why would the priest die if he did not cover the mercy seat with a cloud of incense when he entered My presence? Why is it so carefully manned by angels before My throne in Heaven? What is the significance?
It is the one piece of furnishing in the entire tabernacle where pure fragrant thanksgiving was lifted up to Me from the redeemed. “Let the redeemed of the LORD, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, say, ‘Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.’” Psalm 107:1-2.
It was not a place to atone for sin, it was not a place to wash away uncleanness, it was not a place of Me giving out light or feeding you with the bread of life, it was the place where you offered your appreciation and gratitude to Me. The place of the fragrance of prayer from lips cleansed from sin and ready to converse with Me in the very Holy of Holies.
“Through Jesus then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15. You offer thanks to Me through your great High Priest Jesus, the High Priest of your profession (homologia), and He puts your prayers upon the golden altar of incense as He enters the Holy of Holies on your behalf, but He ushers you in with Him in that cloud of fragrant thanksgiving. You enter My gates with thanksgiving and My courts with hymns of praise, and then you bow down in worship in the Holy of Holies to hear My voice.
Now, please consider your prayers. Are they fragrant with thanksgiving, sacred trust and love, filled with joyful praise? Are you “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the redeemed in Light. For He rescued you from the domain of darkness, and translated you to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give constant thanks, such is My Will for you in Christ Jesus your Lord. And that all goes on the golden altar of incense.
I love you. Your prayers are like fragrant incense before Me. I love to hear your voice and see your face, for you are lovely and your voice to Me is sweet.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.