“Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. 2 It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high—its horns of one piece with it. 3 Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it. 4 Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding—two on each of the opposite sides—to hold the poles used to carry it. 5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law—before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law—where I will meet with you.
7 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. 9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:1-10
This altar was called the golden altar (Numbers 4:11). This altar served a practical purpose: to cover over the harsh smell of the burnt offerings that the priests performed.
Consider the odor you have from any food you burn on the stove or in the oven. The smell of animal flesh burning must have been unbearable day after day.
No animal or offering was to be burnt sacrificed on the golden altar, and the priests sprinkled blood on it only once a year.
We see a vivid illustration of this golden altar in the Book of Revelation.
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 in front of 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
Our prayers matter. You know this, and I know this, but we need to be reminded often. It’s easy to get discouraged and burdened in these troubled times.
As I write this, the economy is tanking, churches have closed their doors for a few weeks, restaurants and businesses are being closed down by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are becoming more and more fearful.
The people we know need to know we’re praying for them and for the situation at large. They need to “feel” our prayers now more than ever.
It’s not wasted time or effort, or an exercise in futility.
It’s petitioning the only God who is in absolute control of the entire situation. There is a massive spiritual awakening occurring within our borders and around the world.
But there is also a spiritual war being waged against Believers as well. (Closing down churches and relegating them to online worship is very much a spiritual battle).
We need to fill up that angel’s golden censer with our prayers in the next few days and weeks.