Day 32: Exodus 29-30; Matthew 22:1-22

“You are to place the altar in front of the curtain by the ark of the testimony—in front of the mercy seat that is over the testimony—where I will meet with you. Aaron must burn fragrant incense on it; he must burn it every morning when he tends the lamps." (Exodus 30:6-7, CSB).

"Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand." (Revelation 8:3-4, CSB)

Everything about Israel's worship had significance. The detail may sometimes feel tedious, but our readings today serve as a reminder that what God placed visually before the people on earth is representative of our heavenly hope and in heaven, so on earth. You noticed, I am sure, the placement of the incense altar before the curtain that hid the Ark of the Covenant, and in particular, the mercy seat. The 'once a year' (v.10) was related to the annual visit to the mercy seat by the high priest on the Day of Atonement. Though separated from the mercy seat, the incense was offered daily, its aroma wafting back into that most holy place. The visit once a year, the incense offered daily.

On the cross, that curtain was torn top to bottom and the mercy seat exposed (Matthew 27:51). By Jesus, our Great High Priest we now have the opportunity of entering that most holy place at any time and always for intimate communion with our Holy God Who is also our Abba Father (Hebrews 4:14-16). He hears our prayers!

The 'as in heaven, so on earth' revelation shows just how profound are those prayers offered at 'any time and always'...they constantly rise from the heavenly incense altar before the throne of God. No prayer is insignificant and not one is discarded. Indeed, they are a sacrifice of faith offered to God Who is deeply in love with us and greatly concerned about the heart of our prayers offered up to Him. Thank God for this gift of prayer! Thank God that He listens to His praying children with love and receives us with grace and mercy! It is no wonder God tells Moses: "The altar is especially holy to the LORD (v.10)."  
Photo by Daniel Thürler on Unsplash
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