Exo 30: "Further details of the tabernacle furnishings are now
provided together with further instructions. The altar of incense was near the
Most Holy, and represented the daily rising of the prayers of the people. This
is described in vv 1-10. It was an altar, as prayers are in the form of a
sacrificial offering to Yahweh, based upon the offering of the Messiah. Notice
that Aaron was to dress the lamps when he burns incense on the altar (v 7). This
taught the need for a combination of the Word (the lamps) and prayer (incense).
Both are necessary because the Word reflects the Voice of God to us, and Prayer
is the Voice of ourselves speaking back to the Father. Atonement was required
for the altar annually, to teach the need to hallow the divine work from the
uncleanness of the children of Israel. Similarly the Christ altar required
cleansing (Joh 16:24; 17:19), to make prayers efficacious. When the High Priest
sinned in his official capacity or when the congregation sinned through
inadvertence, blood was placed on the horns (Lev 4:3,21). Then the ch outlined
the law concerning the ransom of souls (vv 11-16), the laver (vv 17-21), and the
holy anointing oil (vv 22-33). In all cases specific and important laws were
given to instruct the people in the holiness of Yahweh, and the need to come
before Him in an appropriate and proper manner" (GEM).
"Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense" (Exo
"Morning and evening, incense was burnt on this altar.
Plainly, incense symbolizes prayer: Psa 141:2: "Let my prayer be set forth
before you as incense" (cp Rev 5:8-10; Luk 1:10). The incense was ignited by
coals from the altar of burnt offering. Thus, the two altars are connected --
teaching us that acceptable prayer must be offered to God through Jesus Christ
"The incense... is 'the prayer of saints' (Rev 5:8; 8:4). It
is a daily obligation: a daily benefit -- a pleasure of God and an advantage to
His people. I have known men argue against its necessity. They say, 'God knows,
without being told.' This is true, but is not a good reason for the neglect of
prayer, in view of the great help it is to us in gendering the habit of
expansion of mind towards God, in view of the pleasure it affords to God, and in
view of its inculcation by this Mosaic lesson. 'The Lord taketh not pleasure in
fools.' 'He taketh pleasure in the righteous.' 'The prayer of the righteous is
his delight.' All these things are testified; and it was shown in unmistakable
parable when the high priest every morning put sweet-smelling incense in his
censer on the fire taken from the altar, and waved his censer before the Lord in
the holy place" (LM 193).
ITS HORNS OF ONE PIECE: Suggesting cherubim figures on
its faces (winged oxen?).
TOP: More lit, the "roof".
SIDES: More lit, the "walls".
MOLDING: "Crown" (KJV), the battlement, or parapet,
encircling the "roof" of the "house". Purpose: to keep incense from falling off
(cp law of parapet on roofs, Deu 22:8). One reason to be on roof: to pray (ie
Peter in Act 10:9). Thus the altar of incense is equated with a house, and the
incense on the top with individuals engaged in prayer!
THE POLES USED TO CARRY IT: Thus the incense altar was
portable -- teaching that prayer is acceptable in all places (Mal 1:11; Joh
EVERY MORNING: Manna given (Exo 16:21). Fire on the
altar (Lev 6:12). Incense offered (here). Praise offered (1Ch 23:30). Service
offered (1Ch 9:27). Sacrifice presented (2Ch 2:4; 13:11). God visits (Job 7:18).
God is their arm (Isa 33:2). His compassions new (Lam 3:23). The Philistines
present themselves (1Sa 17:16). God silences the wicked (Psa 101:8). Judgment
(Zep 3:5). Administer justice (Jer 21:12).
DO NOT OFFER... ANY OTHER INCENSE: Other types of
incense would be peculiar to worship of other gods. This incense must be made
according to the formula of vv 34-38.
Those already consecrated as priests washed hands and feet
daily, before engaging in their ordinary duties in holy place. Repr cleansing
agent of word of God (Eph 5:26: "washing" = "laver" in Greek): Psa 119:9; Joh
15:3. There is a constant need, to "wash" every day our "hands" (work) and
BRONZE BASIN... FOR WASHING: Made of polished mirrors
of tabernacle women (Exo 38:8).
Laver was almost certainly circular, as was temple laver (1Ki
ALTAR: Sym prayer through Christ: Heb 13:10; Rev
Vv 23,24: Holy anointing oil: Of Christ, the bridegroom: "Your
name is as ointment poured forth": Song 1:3; Psa 133:2; Joh 12:3;
FINE: "Rosh"; translated "head" (Psa 23:5), "excellent"
(Psa 141:5). Ref to Christ, the great high priest and perfect
MYRRH: "Drop, distill": here, the free-flowing kind,
exudes voluntarily from tree. Myrrh is bitter, yet purifying, soothing,
cleansing. Ref bitterness of death, sacrifice: Joh 1:36; 3:14-16; 12:32,33; Eph
CINNAMON: "Stand upright". "Sweet odors" of Est 2:12,
related to purification. Cp Song 4:12-16. Ref upright character of Christ (cp
Song 7:7,8, upright palm).
FRAGRANT CANE: "Calamus" (AV). "Aromatic reed cane",
used of a shaft with hollow center, expressing inner thoughts: the sweet inner
CASSIA: "Cleave, stoop down" (5:9). Humility of Christ:
2Co 8:9; Phi 2:5-8; Psa 110:7. "Cleave to": ie Rth 1:14. Christ always cleaved
THE WORK OF A PERFUMER: AV has "the art of the
apothecary". "When God told the children of Israel to make an holy anointing oil
He gave them the recipe, yet He said it was to be made after the art of the
apothecary. In spite of the fact that the exact ingredients and the exact
amounts of each were Divinely specified, it still required the art of the
apothecary to blend it into the holy anointing oil. The art of a man was used to
"Those of us who are not cooks know that it takes more than
just the recipe to make a cake. We can follow it to the letter and our creation
will be nothing in comparison to the cake that mother used to make from the same
recipe. The art of the cook is important to the making of a delicious
"So it is in our work in God's vineyard, He wants us to use
our art, our skill in ministering to the saints; and if we do this faithfully...
The truth does not turn out peas in a pod. God wants us to develop our
individualities, our skills, our arts for Him. God does not want uniformity but
unity. The four Gospels all show the personalities of the writers while telling
us the story of the life of Christ. Each was true, but each revealed the life of
Jesus after the art of the writer. These men were devoted to a life of service
to God and yet Peter and John were as different as day and night. Each loved the
Lord, and Jesus loved them both. Each served God with his whole heart, but their
approaches to things were entirely different. We need to remember that God made
each of us different, and He did not make a mistake when He made us"
ON MEN'S BODIES: "Upon ordinary men" (cp v
Here we have the spices that are used to make up the incense
for the altar, which should burn perpetually (v 8) throughout their generations.
It had to be the right incense as any other was classed as strange incense (v
GUM RESIN: "Stacte" (AV) is from a root meaning "to
distil," and it has been by some interpreted as distilled myrrh. Others regard
it as the gum of the storax tree, or rather shrub, the Styrax officinale.
ONYCHA: The claw or nail of the strombus or wing-shell,
a univalve common in the Red Sea.
GALBANUM: A gum, probably from the Galbanum officinale.
PURE FRANKINCENSE: An odorous resin imported from
Arabia (Isa 60:6, Jer 6:20) yet also growing in Palestine (Song 4:14).
This special formula was never to be used for ordinary