In Exodus 30, God is laying out the framework for the altar. The specificity of such plans always astounds me. But I shouldn’t be surprised. As we are His altar, His temple, He has a specific framework for us as well. He longs to see us set apart, burnished, shining, cleansed, that we might be prepared to do His will.
He loves us. He wouldn’t be so exact if He didn’t have a plan.
In verses 7-8 of that same chapter, He specifies exactly the role that Aaron was to play in the burning of incense.
God has a role for me too. He has a plan and a purpose and a calling. For me to seek that out, to settle for anything less makes my life less, and His glory clinks off of me rather than glowing brightly as He designed.
When I am safe in the calling of His will, I will not need to worry about His glory, His shine, or whether others can see Him in me. Just like the pregnant woman glows without doing anything of her own accord, we glow when we allow this thing growing inside us, this amazing thing called the Holy Spirit, to do what He does. Stop fighting it. The glow will come.
Even in heartache, the glow will come.
Even in tiredness, the glow will come.
“When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” –Exodus 30:8
There shall be. Not maybe, not could be. There shall be. There shall be incense burning. Before the Lord. Throughout my generations.
“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in Heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them.” –Revelation 8:1-6
Our prayers are mixed with incense before the throne of God. The incense is added by another entity. We simply must pray.
It works out nicely, don’t you think? If I am to be in the will of God, I must be asking Him about it, engaging with Him, letting go of my thoughts and engaging only with His. Prayer becomes essential in my life. And those prayers are mixed with incense before the throne of God.
When I am in His will, the incense will come, regardless of my attempts. If I eat a ton of garlic on a regular basis, soon, everyone will know without ever being told, for the aroma will literally seep out of my pores. Such it is with prayer.
And those prayers, that incense, all intermingle with the actions from the throne. One may not spur another, or it might; those are God’s dealings. What I do know is that my prayers intermingle with sweet incense before the throne as God throws down the gauntlet on the world.
His will is carried out, His actions are taken, and the angels prepare for battle while incense and prayers raise up before the throne. We cannot know the order of appearance, we can know the throne room is active, and we can be part of that.
God’s people pray, the incense is there, His actions are taken. We have no responsibility to do anything but pray. The rest will come.
The same is true for the Word of God, the will of God, and the heart of God.
photo by Andrejs Pidjass