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The Altar of Incense
This chapter shows the objects needed to approach God as a priest. It starts with the altar of incense. The altar of incense is the second altar. It is in the holy place, just before the veil. The first altar, the altar of burnt offering, is in the court. The altar of burnt offering is of bronze, the altar of incense is of gold. Bronze speaks of the righteousness of God, gold speaks of the glory of God.
The incense represents prayer and worship (Psalms 141:2; Revelation 5:8). The altar is a picture of the Lord Jesus. He brings our incense, which are our prayers and worship, to God (Revelation 8:3-Numbers :), making it pleasing to God. That the altar is placed “in front of the mercy seat” is also a reminder of the Lord Jesus as the Advocate to the Father: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one” (1 John 2:1).
The dimensions of the altar of incense are smaller than those of the altar of burnt offering. The altar of burnt offering is there for all people: everyone can be saved on the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus. The altar of incense is only for those who have been saved, who can approach as priests with worship to God.
The poles indicate that it is a service that takes place in the wilderness. We may enter the sanctuary in spirit, while our feet are still on earth.
The sacrifice of incense is directly linked to the lighting of the lamps by Aaron. This speaks of the fact that Divine light is needed to worship God. We need to know how He wants us to worship Him (John 4:24). There should be nothing from ourselves, nothing from our own thoughts. God wants to hear from us about His Son what He sees in Him. In His Word He revealed His thoughts about His Son (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). Through His Spirit we may see this too.
The Contribution at the Census
The contribution at the census shows for whose benefit the priestly service is performed: a redeemed people. At the census, every person comes personally before God’s face. This means judgment because man is a sinner. But that judgment overlooks those for whom it has been paid.
This is not about blood, but about money. Blood speaks of reconciliation. Money is paid as a recognition of the right God has to everyone, here especially in connection with the sanctuary.
With this contribution, the amount is the same for everyone. The poor and the rich pay the same amount. There is no regard of the person with God (Acts 10:34 Job 34:19). Every child of God must be aware of God’s full right over him, whether he has recently repented or has known the Lord for some time, whether he knows much or little of the Lord Jesus (Proverbs 22:2).
David once took a census of the people. After the census, a plague has come upon the people. The cause is that he wanted to know the strength of his people for himself. He has forgotten the contribution that expresses the recognition of God’s right over His people (1 Chronicles 21:1-Hosea :).
The laver shows on what condition the priestly service is to be performed. This cleansing is not about cleansing the sinner. In the laver only the hands and feet are washed, while the sinner has to be washed completely. This has already happened to the priest (Exodus 29:4). This is about the daily cleansing, about the fact that we are defiled daily because of our walk through the world.
There are four cleansings of the believer:
1. The worst form of defilement is because of a sin we have committed in our lives. Cleansing of this is done by a sin offering (Leviticus 4:1-Habakkuk :). We must confess that sin, and again realize – that is, see and acknowledge – that the Lord Jesus had to die for that sin.
2. The second defilement is caused by contact with death. Numbers 19 indicates how to become cleansed from this (Numbers 19:1-Song of Solomon :). This is the case when we go through the world and see or hear things that defile our minds. Then we need cleansing water. By reading God’s Word we become pure.
3. The third form is self-examination in the light of God’s Word before we enter the holy place to do priestly service. We see that in the laver.
4. The fourth form has to do with an even higher form of fellowship, that with the Father and the Son. There is no picture of this in the Old Testament. For this we see the Lord Jesus engaged in John 13 (John 13:1-1 Kings :) to give His own part with Him (John 13:8).
No dimensions are given of the laver. This indicates that there is no limit to God’s ability and patience to cleanse.
The Holy Anointing Oil
The holy anointing oil represents the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). The different spices symbolize the glories of Christ. These glories become manifest in believers who use the gift of grace they have received from the Spirit. Where the Holy Spirit works in and among the believers, it will spread a precious fragrance (Psalms 133:2). Where He works, the glory of Christ is revealed.
All utensils of the tabernacle are only used after they have been anointed. Everything in the service for God has value only if it happens as a work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing can come to God that does not come from Him (1 Chronicles 29:14) and in what comes to Him, Christ must be present (John 5:23). In our service, the glory of Christ must become visible in every element of it.
Only that which is sanctified to God may be anointed with this oil. People who have no life from God can give the impression that they are in the service of God. There may also be elements in a service to God that appear to have been anointed, but are not. We recognize those people who seem to serve God for example in liberal theologians and those elements for example in preaching universalism, meaning that all people and even the devil will be saved at last. This is evil in the eyes of God. It may have no place in the service to God and must be eradicated.
The Holy Incense
The anointing oil is for the service, the incense is directly for God. It is the added value to the sacrifices. That is why the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is so pleasing to God because He has brought it. The glory of His Person made the sacrifice so perfectly pleasing.
Everything with Him is perfectly balanced, “of each” there shall be “an equal part”. He shows perfect love where it is needed and perfect holiness where it is needed. God wants us to remind Him of this.
We can only look at Him ‘in part’. Our knowing is partial, i.e. in parts or piece by piece (1 Corinthians 13:12). We have to look at each part separately and we are not able to know everything to its full extent. Only God sees all parts in their perfect coherence: nobody knows the Son but the Father (Matthew 11:27). But we can enjoy it. If we sacrifice this incense to God, if we tell Him about the perfection of His Son, we also smell the glory of it.
Just as with the anointing oil the LORD forbids man to make anything from it for himself. It is holy to the LORD, which means that it is only for Him. In him who wants to shine himself with what he has seen of the Lord Jesus, sin will manifest itself. Such a person must be put away from among the believers (1 Corinthians 5:13).
A picture of this we see in what happened with king Uzzia. He wants to sacrifice incense against the explicit commandment of the LORD. Then leprosy breaks out on his forehead and he is driven out of the temple (2 Chronicles 26:16-Ecclesiastes :). Counterfeiting in the service to God sets His rights and desires aside. He cannot let this happen unpunished.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Exodus 30". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany