Incense, Incense, Incense – what is the purpose of incense? Did God just want to create a list of laws so tedious in his tabernacle that it was cumbersome to approach him? Was it just busy work for the priests? Or does the incense burned morning and evening give us a picture of Christ?
Incense is to be offered with many of the sacrifices and particularly with the great sacrifice on the day of atonement. Leviticus tells us,
He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die. (Leviticus 16:12-13)
The incense served as a shield, or sorts to protect a priest’s life as he entered into God’s presence. In Revelation, we are told that heavenly temple worship contains incense and that the incense is the prayers of the saints.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)
But what about our prayers actually allow us to enter into the presence of God. Surely it is nothing more than the very prayers of Christ who keep us safe and secure from the wrath of God.
Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
The prayers of Jesus are symbolized in the very incense of the tabernacle worship service. Day and night he intercedes along with the Holy Spirit so that each believer may freely enter into God’s presence, shrouded in the requests of Christ which are ever heard and answered by the Heavenly Father.
Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, (John 11:41b-42a)
So pray with boldness, pray freely, ask for great things in your spiritual life and the lives of those you know, God stands ready to answer, not because of your prayers but because of Christ’s prayers for you.