Temple Incense Altar
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Temple Incense Altar (Revelation 8.3-4)

"Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God's people, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God's people, went up before God from the angel's hand." (Revelation 8.3-4)✞

Burning Coals

The Golden Altar of IncenseAn angel in Revelation is seen standing at the Temple incense altar. The altar in Revelation frequently appears in the picture of heaven for example in Revelation 6.9 "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and testimony they had maintained." The incense altar stood before the Holy Place in the Temple of Solomon. It was made of gold, was eighteen inches square and three feet tall and at each corner it had horns. It was covered over with gold plate, and round it was a little railing, like a miniature balustrade, to keep the burning coals from rolling off. The altar in Revelation cannot be the altar of burnt-offering, for there can be no animal sacrifice in Heaven, it must be "the incense altar." According to Leviticus 16.12 "He (Aaron) 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." Numbers 16.46 adds, "Then Moses said to Aaron, 'Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.'"

Incense Before and After

Priest and Incense AltarIn the Solomon Temple, incense was burned and offered before the first and after the last sacrifices of the day. It was as if the offerings of the people went up to God wrapped in an envelope of perfumed incense. Here we have the idea that prayer is a sacrifice to God. "The prayers of the saints" are offered on the altar and, like all other sacrifices, they are surrounded with the perfume of the incense as they rise to God. A person may have no other sacrifice to offer to God, but at all times he or she can submit their prayers and there are always angelic hands waiting to bring them to God.

"Temple Incense Altar"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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