The Tabernacle its construction and furnishings”, Part 33

“The Golden Incense Altar”

As we had stated in our previous post the “Golden Incense Altar” was positioned within the “Holy
immediately before the Second vail as the Scriptures so imply.

And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy
seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you
.” (Exod 30:6)

This however in no way would detract from
the possible thought implied by the Apostle in Heb 9:1-4
that although the Altar of Incense was placed in the “
Holy” it really belonged to (or was a part of) the
Most Holy”.

“The base area of the Incense Altar was 1 x 1 cubit (Exod 30:2; 37:25), or one square cubit. The base
area of the Most Holy was 10 x 10 cubits, or 100 square cubits externally. By dividing the Most Holy’s
area (100) by that of the Incense Altar (1), the quotient is 100 which is Jesus’ number. May this not be
mute testimony that the Incense Altar, despite the fact that it stood in the Holy of the Tabernacle, really
belonged to the Most Holy even as it was suggested concerning the Temple of old when it was declared,
the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.” (1 Kings 6:22, Standard and RSV; See
also Rev 8:3
) Notes on the Tabernacle”, Pages 185,186

In regards to the Altar,

Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn
incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight
(in the evening) he shall likewise burn
incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations
.” (Exod 30:7,

What was this incense which was burned upon the Golden Altar? What was it composed of? And what
was the significance of its being burned upon the altar day and night perpetually and most especially on
the Day of Atonement?

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte and onycha and
galbanum; these sweet spices, with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: And
thou shall make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together,
pure and holy: And thou shall beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in
the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
And as for the perfume which thou shall make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the
composition thereof; it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Whosoever shall make like unto
that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from the people
.” (Exod 30:34–38)

Stacte (Hebrew, nataph, a fragrant gum, myrrh) symbolizing faith

Onycha (the operculum of a shell fish or pulverized shell of a mollusk) symbolizing love

Galbanum (a gum resin) symbolizing obedience

Frankincense (a gum resin) symbolizing praise

This incense was offered by the High Priest in connection with his own sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself, and shall make
for himself (that is his body, the Church), and for his house (the household of faith, the
Levites typical of the Great Company class
), and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is
for himself. And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the
LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he
shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover
the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not
.” (Lev 16:11–13)

The termincenseis applicable in two different ways or senses: 1) To the incense (i.e., the
spices themselves), a symbol of the perfect humanity of Jesus;
2) To the sweet fragrance
arising as a perfume upon the incense’s contact with the coals of fire, a symbol of that
obedience which Jesus rendered unto Jehovah under the most trying of circumstances
.” “That
offering of the incense by the priest in the Holy represents to us the light in which our heavenly Father
viewed his Son and his offering of himself in the trials and difficulties of his life during the three and a half
years of his consecration. As a whole it was sweet incense to the Lord, a fragrant incense, holy and

“Israel’s High Priests of old had no right of access into the Most Holy where the “shekinah glory”
represented the presence of Jehovah unless they had first caused the sweet incense to prepare the way
in advance for them. (
Lev 16:12, 13) Nor can we, the members of the “royal priesthood,” either
in our prayers or ultimately by way of the “second vail,” find acceptable access without the
“sweet incense” of faith, love, obedience and praise (T120) having preceded us, preparing the
into the Holiest of All—into His glorious presence.

Incense in biblical symbolism has a double significance. It may represent 1) the prayers (Psa
) of the saints (Rev 5:8), and also 2) that which make those prayers acceptable (Rev 8:4).
Both of these, however, are comprehended in the life which is a prayer—i.e., the life in which the heart’s
sincere desires to do always those things which please the Father
(John 8:29) is ever (perpetually)
being manifested. Such a life will continually be yielding—and this more particularly under the heat of
trials, a sweet savor unto the Lord. So was it with Jesus whose life was so much a prayer that it was not
even necessary for him to express his heart’s desire in formulated words, for God could read his own
will—Jesus’ sanctification, in the faith, love, obedience and praise of his beloved Son. (
John 11:38–42)
Notes on the Tabernacle”, Page 188

A text directly connected with our subject, as is evident from its context, yet one more
frequently misapplied, misunderstood, than perhaps any other in the Bible, reads
as follows,

And as it is appointed unto men [Aaron and his successors, who were merely types of the High Priest
of the new creation]
once to die [typically, as represented in the animal slain], and after this [following
as a result of those sacrifices]
the judgment [of God, approving or disapproving of the sacrifice], so
Christ was once offered
[never will it be repeated] to bear the sins of many [`every man’]; and
unto them that look for him he shall appear the second time, without sin
[neither blemished by
the sins borne, nor to repeat the sin-offering, but]
unto salvation’ —to give the everlasting life to all
who desire it upon God’s conditions of faith and obedience
.—Heb 9:27,28.” (T87)

“Moreover, since the typical Priest represented the `
body’ as well as the `head’ of the antitypical Priest,
the Christ,
it follows that each member of the Church likewise must pass this `judgment’—that
although many have been called none will be chosen as finally acceptable `
members’ of the Christ Body,
branches of the Vine, except as they shall be `
over-comers’—faithful unto death. (Rev 3:21)” T89

“Both the incense and the blood had to do with the satisfaction of justice. We read that the incense
must cover the Mercy-Seat. (
Lev 16:13) In other words, unless the incense had gone forth the high
priest would not have lived. This shows that unless our Lord had rendered up his human life satisfactorily
he would have forfeited his right to life. In consecration he had agreed to this and had surrendered his
earthly life-rights. If he proved faithful to his engagement, he would receive a higher life beyond the veil.
So the satisfaction of justice, represented in type by the incense preceding the high priest
beyond the veil, would be a satisfaction for himself and would testify that he had faithfully
fulfilled the required conditions

But as for the satisfaction of the sins of the church and of the world, this is accomplished
not by the incense, but by the blood.” (R4868)

It should be remembered that only the priest was authorized to approach this Altar to offer the incense
to the Lord. “
You shall not offer strange incense on it…” (Exod 30:9) One of Judah’s kings—
Uzziah— undertook it (
2 Chron 26:16) and was punished with leprosy (Verse 20). Notes on the
”, Page 187

“As King Uzziah knew of the Divine arrangement, that his prayers as incense could be offered to the
Almighty on the `
Golden Altar’ only by the priest, so those who now have come to a realization of the
fact that Jesus is the great antitypical Priest through whom communication with the Father has been
opened up would come under condemnation should they intrude into the Divine presence in prayer,
otherwise than as provided in the Divine arrangement, as King Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for his
presumption and pride. Leprosy, scripturally considered, is a type of sin. Uzziah’s experiences, therefore,
signify typically, that whoever would approach God aside from his ordained Priest, having knowledge of
the impropriety, would come under Divine sentence as a willful sinner. The penalty would be in proportion
to the degree of enlightenment previously enjoyed.” (

Likewise two of Aaron’s sons who offered
profane fire before the LORD, died (Lev 16:1)

And the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the
Holy Place
(the Most Holy) inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, least he die;
for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat
.” (Exod 16:2)

There is only one means of access to the Father and that is through and by means of the access
granted us through our Lord Jesus Christ and the blood shed in our behalf, and this access is
only granted to those who have entered into covenant relationship with the Father on this the great
antitypical Atonement Day. (
2 Cor 6:2)

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