Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The deepest type of the types in the Old Testament may be the incense altar in Exodus 30. If we consider this type even superficially, we shall see that it is related to prayer. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament incense offered to God signifies our prayer to Him. Therefore, in our reading of the Bible, we can realize that the golden altar of incense must in some way be related to prayer.
If we consider this matter in a deeper way, we shall see that actually the incense altar does not refer to our prayer. Rather, it refers to the prayer of Christ, for the altar itself is a type of the Person of Christ. It is not a type of Christ’s prayer. The incense altar typifies Christ the Person, not His prayer. It signifies Christ praying, Christ interceding.
The individual Christ after His resurrection, and especially after His ascension, has become corporate. Thus, today before God not only is the individual Christ interceding, but the corporate Christ, the Head with the Body, is interceding as well. Christ the Head is interceding in the heavens, and the church the Body is interceding on earth. The intercessor, therefore, is not merely Christ Himself, but is Christ with His Body. If we realize this, we shall see that what is signified by the incense altar is something very deep.
If you consult the diagram printed in message one hundred forty-seven, you will see that the incense altar was located inside the tabernacle. The first altar, the altar of burnt offering, however, was outside the tabernacle, in the outer court. The significance of the incense altar is deeper than that of the altar of burnt offering. As we have pointed out, the tabernacle signifies clearly and definitely God Himself into whom we may enter. Furthermore, since the incense altar is in the tabernacle, whoever would pray at the incense altar must be inside the tabernacle. The concept here is deep. This is the reason we say that the significance of the incense altar is profound. In this message we shall try to cover some of the details related to the depths of the significance of this altar.
With the tabernacle and the outer court there are two altars: the altar of burnt offering and the golden altar of incense. The incense altar in the tabernacle is for prayer, and the altar of burnt offering in the outer court is for offering sacrifices.
Suppose a sinner came to offer a sin offering or a trespass offering at the altar in the outer court. Would not such a person pray? Yes, he surely would pray. However, that kind of prayer, the prayer at the altar in the outer court, is shallow, for it is offered outside of God. It is not the prayer offered in God. Today many Christians know only to pray this kind of shallow prayer. They know only to pray on the basis of the blood of Christ shed on the cross. Not many believers know how to pray the kind of prayer that is offered at the incense altar.
The primary condition or requirement for praying at the first altar is that we offer Christ as our substitute, either as the sin offering for our sin or as the trespass offering for our trespasses. This means that we pray by Him as the crucified One who shed His blood for our redemption. If our prayer goes no farther than this, we can pray to God, but we do not pray in God. To pray to God is one thing, but to pray in God is something much deeper. This is a very important matter that we all need to see.
I hope that in this message we shall see something deeper, something experiential. I do not want to consider the incense altar merely in a doctrinal way. This message is not simply a Bible study on Exodus 30. Therefore, I hope that the Lord will show us something deeper related to the golden altar of incense.
When I was young, I attended the Southern Baptist Church, the Chinese Presbyterian Church, and the Brethren assembly. During the years I went to those places, I heard many prayers that concluded with the words, “through the precious blood of the Lord Jesus.” But I do not remember ever hearing a prayer ending with the words, “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Those prayers were offered at the altar in the outer court, not at the incense altar, because those who prayed in that way were rather shallow in their prayer life. They had not entered into the deeper life or the inner life. To pray through the blood of Christ at the cross is shallow, but to pray at the incense altar is deep.
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