Understanding The Bible
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W. W. Rugh,
Bible Institute of Philadelphia
40 Page Printed Devotional Guide
1st Edition 1912
The Golden Altar.
34-38. That His priests might worship Him acceptably, Jehovah commanded
Moses to make an Altar to burn incense upon.
It was made of shittim wood, a cubit long, a cubit wide, and two cubits high, and overlaid with pure gold.
A crown of gold, and four horns adorned the top of the Altar. Upon the horns, once a year, the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sin-offering.
The position of the Altar before the Veil makes it before the Ark, or throne of God, now that the Veil is rent. Rev. 8:3.
Perpetual incense was burned upon the Golden Altar by the high priest, but no strange incense, nor burnt-offering, nor meal-offering, nor drink-offering, was to be offered upon it.
A covering of blue and badgers' skins protected the Altar and its vessels on the march. Num. 4:11, 12.
How simple, yet how necessary was every piece of furniture in Jehovah's Sanctuary. A Candlestick for light, a Table for food, and an Altar for worship. What a pattern for every home where He dwells today! Alas, how many profess His name who have not an Altar for worshipping the Lord.
For us, the typical application of the Golden Altar, and the incense offered upon it, is made very plain in His word.
The Altar overlaid with gold and crowned with gold, is clearly a type of our blessed Lord, now crowned with glory and honor. Hebrews 2:9.
David understood the symbolical meaning of the incense, for he wrote: -- "Let my prayer be set forth as the incense before thee." Psalms 141:2.
The Holy Spirit very sweetly uses type and anti-type in Luke 1:10;
Rev. 5:8; 8:4.
The Altar represents the glorious person of Christ, and the offering of the perpetual incense by the high priest typifies His ever living Intercession in our behalf, as our holy High Priest. Hebrews 7:25-28.
A cloud of incense must cover the Mercy-seat on the great day of atonement, before the high priest, as the representative of Israel, could acceptably sprinkle the blood upon the Mercy-seat. Leviticus 16:12-15.
Before Christ, our High Priest, entered with His own blood into the presence of God for us. He covered the Mercy-seat with the cloud of incense, by His intercessory prayer of John 17. Surely types are as exact as mathematics.
The blood on the horns tells us that Christ's intercessory work has power before God, because He gave Himself for our sins according to the will of God. Galatians 1:4.
His plea has power before God for us, because our High Priest is "holy, harmless, undented, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, offered Himself for our sins, and as a Son, perfected forever-more, He was appointed a High Priest by the oath of God." Hebrews 7:26-28.
Though Israel, as a nation and as individuals, were accepted in the acceptance of their offerings, yet the high priestly ministry was necessary that their acceptance might be maintained before God, and that the people might realize the same in their heart experience.
Our faithful and merciful High Priest ever lives to maintain us in our standing before God, and to bring our state up to our standing, or to help us to realize experimentally what we are positionally before our Father. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25.
Just as the offering up of the sacrifices on the Brazen Altar pointed to Christ and His work on Calvary, so the high priestly ministry at the Golden Altar symbolized the ministry of our great High Priest before God in heaven. Hebrews 9:26, 24.
Christ, as our Advocate, picks us up, and restores our fellowship with our Father and Himself, if we stumble and fall. 1 John 2:1, 2.
But Christ, as our Intercessor, ever lives to keep us "in the name" of the Father, or to maintain our standing as children of God, John 17:9-11; to keep us out of the evil in the world, John 17:14-16; to sanctify us by His word, John 17:17-19; to give us one mind and heart as witness of Him, John 17:20, 21; Philippians 2:4; 4:2; to perfect us in love for one another, as one in Him, that the world may know that the Father loves us as He loves His only begotten Son, John 17:22, 23; to bring us into the realization of our position in Christ in glory, John 17:24; and to reveal the Father's love to us that we might have the same love for Christ that our Father has. John 17:26.
The power of His unceasing intercession is enjoyed only as we live, by faith in the Spirit, in fellowship with Him where He is. 1 John 1:7.
Associated with the high priest, in his holy ministry of intercession, was a family of priests, who burned incense before Jehovah. Leviticus 10:1; Luke 1:8, 9.
How wonderful is the privilege His grace has given to every believer today, that, as holy and royal priests, we may approach boldly the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Hebrews 4:15, 16.
The highest and holiest service to which God has called any of His redeemed ones, is the priestly ministry of intercession, in fellowship with our great High Priest. But this is a service which God has for every blood bought, blood washed believer. Revelation 1:6.
He called some to be apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; some, pastors; and some, teachers. But, praise His name, He has called every child of His to come into His holy presence as a priest. Ephesians 4:11.
As priests, we have nothing to do with maintaining the standing of believers, for our position before God is altogether the result of the finished work of Christ, and is unchanged because of what Jesus is, and is doing for us. But, oh how graciously God hears and answers our prayers in behalf of other believers that they may realize the blessings God has given us in Christ. Ephesians 1:16-19; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-17.
As we live in the heavenlies with Christ, clad with the whole armor of God, He will use us in a world-wide ministry as priests. Ephesians 6:18.
The ministry of prayer is most important in the sight of God, for He waits upon the prayers of His people for the fulfillment of His purposes in every age. The "silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" is God waiting for the prayers of His saints, to which is added the "much incense" of Christ, as the "angel priest." Revelation 8:1-5.
God waits upon the prayers of His people for two reasons at least. First, because He has called every one saved by grace, to be co-laborers with Christ, as well as joint heirs. 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:17. Second, God works according to our faith, and does whatever we ask, as far as our requests are in harmony with His will. 1 John 3:21, 22; 5:14, 15.
This holy service as priests is not acceptable before God, unless rendered in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the incense was not acceptable, if offered with strange, or common fire. It must be burned with a live coal from off the Brazen Altar, a fire kindled by the Lord and typical of the Holy Spirit. Leviticus 9:24; 10:1, 2; 16:12; Romans 8:26, 27. The Lord does not use us in any service, unless we are yielded to Him and filled with His Holy Spirit, and prayers that are 'said' and 'read,' in the energy of the flesh, are no more acceptable to God than the incense of Nadab and Abihu.
The sweet spices, with frankincense typify the kind of prayers that are acceptable before God and effectual in behalf of men. They are the fervent heart cries, which overflow from hearts in touch with the heart of our Father, and our Lord, in the fullness of the Spirit. James 5:16. To the three sweet spices was added the frankincense, which is typical of the acceptableness of Christ's blessed person and work. Ephesians 5:2. Therefore, in the Spirit, as priests, we come into the presence of our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus. John 16:22, 23; Colossians 3:17.
By W. W. RUGH, Associate
Dean, Bible Institute of Pennsylvania
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