With golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints… Revelation 5:8
The full setting is the golden altar which John the Revelator glimpsed when the door into heaven was opened for him (4:1). The symbolism is fully brought home to the believer in Leviticus 4:7. “And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD which is in the tent of meeting….” Moses had been instructed to make that altar and its horns of acacia wood, but have it all overlaid with pure gold. The horns symbolized the power of the Atonement effected by the shed blood. The gold prevented it from seeping into the wood and taking on its corruption.
The incense used in the offering – from a root word meaning to draw near – was the work of a gifted and specially appointed perfumer. He mixed equal amounts of ground fragrant spices and pure frankincense, then added salt to obtain a “pure and sacred” product. The salt symbolized permanence and incorruption to reflect the “everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD“ on behalf of His people. Exodus 30:34-38 stresses God’s demand for holiness attached to every aspect of “incense burning.” He would be permanently incensed – burning with anger – if the perfumer used the sacred formula to produce the fragrance for someone’s private enjoyment. The flagrant violator of God’s holiness benchmark was to “be cut off from His people.” (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: Germaine Monteil created a chypre floral fragrance in 1935, the year I was born. My dear husband bought it for me as “Royal Secret” and I loved wearing the perfume discreetly . I just learned now that “chypre” means “woody” and I’ll leave it at that, hoping I’ve shown enough class so you won’t call me a “stinker.” Some women reek because they douse themselves with their stuff, and some repel with things they say. How about me, “I don’t like the saying ‘prayer works’”? And when it doesn’t, is it because someone hasn’t prayed “hard” enough? That beats “hardly praying,” but it seems a refresher course on prayer would be helpful to the seeming cynic or critic. Prayer is common to every kind of religion, but only a living God can define it as the very essence of personal relationship. No one models “drawing near” to Him better than Moses, so named by Pharaoh’s daughter because she “drew” him out of the water. He grew up to be the “friend” of God who spoke with Him “face to face.” The Bible devotes TWO chapters to how God created the universe, but FIFTY to the tabernacle, more than to any other single subject in Scripture. It was to teach the infant nation Israel how to enter the presence of the Holy One. The “Tent of the Meeting” was set up one year to the day from when Israel came out of Egypt. Concerning the builders, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel...I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft…And…I have appointed with him Oholiab…and I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…” (Exodus 31:1-11). God does command prayer, but are we to learn something new?