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Altar of Incense
Exodus 30:1, 7-10
1 "You shall make an altar to burn incense on; you shall make it of acacia wood.
7 "Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it.
8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.
9 You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.
10 And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD."
Incense represents prayer
2 Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
If the first priority of the Priest is the presence of God then the second is prayer.
From the Holy of Holies outward!
37 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the LORD.
38 Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people."
Prayer should never be primarily approached for selfish reasons.
The Old Testament priest did not light the incense for himself primarily but for the people. This is a call to the New Testament priesthood to a selfless prayer life.
We benefit from prayer but that should not be our primary motivator!
Hezekiah’s life is an illustration of this principle.
2 Chronicles 29:1-2
1 Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.
2 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD
2 Kings 18:4
4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it.
2 Chronicles 29:3-7, 10-11
3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.
4 Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square,
5 and said to them: "Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.
6 For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the LORD our God; they have forsaken Him, have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and turned their backs on Him.
7 They have also shut up the doors of the vestibule, put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel.
10 "Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.
11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense."
2 Chronicles 30:18-19
18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone
19 who prepares his heart to seek God.
2 Chronicles 31:1, 21
1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars—from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh—until they had utterly destroyed them all.
21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.
2 Chronicles 32:24-25
24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign.
25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Kings 20:16-19
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD:
17 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD.
18 'And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' "
19 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?"
2 Kings 21:6
6 Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
Hezekiah failed to finish strong. It’s not about how you start but how you finish!
He started as a man of prayer and finished as a man of selfish pride!
He failed the next generation. A life that leaves a lasting legacy is a life that prays.
As New Testament priests, as Christians, we are called to a life of selflessness!
How do we become men and women of prayer? We Ask!!!
We are called to a life of presence, selfless prayer, called to feed the sheep, called to shine our light, called to wash one another, called to offer our lives as living sacrifices and to bring people into the presence of God through the door.