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A Perpetual Incense (by Larry Shelly)

July 1, 2013



“You shall make an altar to burn incense on . . . .” (Ex. 30:1)  Of acacia wood overlaid with gold, a cubit square and two high, it stood before the mercy seat, separated from it by the veil—an ornate, woven linen hanging of blue, purple, and scarlet with cherubim images worked within it.  The priests, both morning and evening, burned the specially prepared incense upon the altar, the smoke rising before the presence of Jehovah Himself. 


The common people from afar might catch a glimpse of the smoke of the incense rising above the golden stand and before the majestic background.  Perhaps a breeze might waft the uncommon, sweet aroma toward the assembled worshippers and imprint upon a deep subconscious God’s early design of religious experience.


         Merely a relic of a long extinguished religion?  Not exactly.  The patterns of the old foretold the new.  God’s eternal plan, carried upon and within the sensuous tabernacle experience, fully inaugurated in the new covenant, remembers in spiritual reality the pictures of the old.


         The Christians’ incense is prayer, carried into the presence of Jehovah, no veil intervening. (Rev. 5:8; 8:3f.)  When the scripture of the new covenant advises, “Pray without ceasing,” perhaps behind the command lies the practice of the old:  “ . . . he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” (Ex. 30:8b)


         Upon rising in the morning, prayer, undoubtedly a worthy practice for the Christian, greets his Maker and petitions from Him help and presence for the day ahead.  At end of day, before retiring for the night, again following the priestly schedule, a Christian’s prayer, rising before the throne, may thank Him, praise Him, and lay before Him concerns of life’s segment now past.


         May it ever be that throughout our generations the incense never ceases.


                                           Larry A. Shelley   

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