We want to take a little journey to and into the mighty Tabernacle of God. Specifically, we will make our way to the Altar of Incense. We follow the pattern laid out in the Torah, the Law of Jehovah God.
- Replica of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness by Petri Paavola
Begin to imagine with me: Picture in your mind how a priest of Israel would move from his bed in the early morning hours. Visualize what he is seeing, and feel the intensity of emotion as he gradually makes his way to the Altar of Incense.
Lots have been cast among the priests, and he has been chosen to burn the incense this particular morning. Since the choice was made by casting lots, sometimes a certain priest would be chosen for this honor only once in a lifetime.
Lying in his bed near the Tabernacle, he begins to wonder about this great honor. Moses and over three million Israelites are still asleep in their tents spread out over the desert floor. He is the one among these millions who has the responsibility of burning the incense. He wakes up as the sun is rising in the east–sitting up in bed, half awake, it dawns on him that this is his morning to go to the Altar of Incense. His pulse races as he stands up from his bed.
And there, laid out at the foot of the bed, are his priestly garments. There sits the breastplate, and as he trims the torch in his tent, all the brilliance of the jewels begin to awaken him even further. He puts on the robe and tunic, the sash, the turban, the breast piece, and the ephod. They are blue, purple, and scarlet in color. The jewels are beautiful. He begins to think about the skillful craftsmanship required for these articles: skills given by God Himself. Embroiderers, metal smiths, jewel cutters — all made and consecrated for this special purpose.
He pulls back the flap of his tent. The cool morning desert air smacks his cheeks. He smells the scent of the burning sacrifice that burns 24 hours a day. He looks out among the tents housing three million people — hears the muffled sounds of babies crying. Torches are spotted here and there throughout the desert camp. He hears the low rustle of camels and sheep. And he begins to think. Why me? Why am I up at this hour — the only one on this day among my people who is privileged to enter into the Holy Place?
And there on the desert floor he sees — yet again — as if it has snowed — fresh manna. God is on time. Manna covers the desert floor.
He hears the shuffling of his feet as he approaches the Tabernacle. The goat skins covering all the tents of this people are black. And there, standing out amidst all of that blackness, is a white linen fence — right in the middle of the camp. God’s Tabernacle. God’s dwelling place among His people.
He moves, clad in his priestly garments, toward the gate, not to the north, nor the south, nor the west, but through the east. And there before him, as he stands at the gate just before dawn,is a 30-foot opening — the Way into the Tabernacle. There he sees four 7 1/2-foot poles: one of blue, one scarlet, one purple, and one white linen. He looks at each tent peg and sees gold tops and poles of acacia wood overlaid with silver.
Suddenly before him is a terrific sight: the largest piece of furniture in the Tabernacle: the Brazen Altar. He can see the heat emanating from the bronze square. There is the scent of death — blood sprinkled over the top and smoke rising heavenward. He looks at all of the consecrated tools set apart for this very purpose. He sees the pots, shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat fork.
There is the fire pan and the sensor. He picks up the sensor, picks up the tongs, fills the sensor with hot coals. He realizes and is reminded of his sinfulness and his lack of qualification to move any further. But he walks a few paces to the laver of cleansing — a large bronze basin. He looks into the water with the light that he has. He washes his hands and his feet, still asking, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this privilege?”
He moves forward to the Holy Place with his sensor, having picked up one half pound of incense. In the Holy Place he looks to the left and sees that the lamp stands in need of oil. He thinks, “ A privilege to see it, let alone having the privilege to add to it.” To his right is the Table of Showbread, and before him is the Altar of Incense — 18 inches by 18 inches by 3 feet high. All alone, he no longer hears the sounds from the people in the camp. He places fresh coals into the sensor; he sprinkles on the incense; he begins to weep, still asking, “Why me?” His nostrils are filled with the sweet fragrance; the Holy Place is filled fresh with the aroma. There’s something pure about it — something clean — pleasing — so special it is unexplainable. He even feels clean. He has been washed, and his conscience is clear. He drops to his knees — right next to the veil that leads into the Holy of Holies — as close as one can get to the Ark of the Covenant without going in. His garments are saturated with the fragrance. He begins to commune with the Lord. Overwhelmed!
Now, let’s look at 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people; that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Wow! Listen to what the Word of God is speaking to us. Literally, you are that priest! I am that priest! We, the redeemed of the Lord — with our perfect spirits within us. We are priests; today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow. We have access to the Holy Place right now. There is no lot casting; we have already been chosen.
Picture yourself in that position — interceding and thanking Jehovah — your God — for His blessings and answers to your prayers — worshiping Him with praise and prayers. You go to the altar of incense, and you are saturated with His holy fragrance. You reach out to spread that glorious aroma of his love to others. The price has already been paid by Jesus, and we have the privilege of releasing this wonderful fragrance of His eternal redemption and total salvation to the entire world.
Why you? Why me? Because we have been chosen — now!
Glory and Shalom!!