February 6 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 28-30 and Psalms 36
Today I want to spend a minute in Chapter 30 where five sanctuary items are described: – the altar of incense and the incense to be burned on it – the atonement money – the washbasin and the anointing oil.
The Old Testament “altar” always speaks of a place that is set aside for worship – either for God or some man-made god. The incense used at God’s altar was a one-of-a-kind concoction that the priests were instructed to burn during worship. In our own lives and “Altar Experience” may involve shutting ourselves away in a place for prayer and meditation but this is not always the case. Some think of “the altar” as a place near the front of a Church where people go when they really need God’s attention. What is more likely, however is that “the altar” has to do with a regular prayer or worship time set aside for the Lord. If you’re like me, you find yourself reading and praying at all different times of the day or night but then setting aside special extended times just to be intimate with God and get instruction from the Holy Spirit. This is my altar – it’s the act of blocking out the business of life so that I can focus on what matters – staying constantly on fire for God and keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. The “incense” that we use in prayer is a very carefully prepared concoction as well. There is no other incense like it – it requires the ingredients of humility, thankfulness, praise, worship, supplications, and holiness all marinaded in a generous portion of the Word of God.
The atonement money in the old covenant was very symbolic of being “counted” or “numbered” for God and being consecrated to Him. No one can be more “atoned for” than the other because in God’s economy, we all consecrate ourselves in the same way and it costs us all the same – everything we have – but usually He only asks for 10% or so. This too must be done on a regular basis.
The basin for washing has to do with repenting and being clean before we can really worship. This happens initially in baptism but it must also happen on a moment-by-moment basis – each time the Holy Spirit reveals sin in our lives. Did you ever wonder about all the traditional creeds by which churches entered into ”worship” – these approaches all included repentance! They formalized this concept and made sure that when the church got together, repentance was included in their approach to God.
The anointing oil too was made in a very special way. It was to be used on the head (not the body) of the priest each time he entered into worship. The head of the body houses the soul (mind, will and emotions) of a person. There is only one way for the soul to be ready to worship God. Jesus said those who worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth. Think about it – we desperately need the anointing of the Holy Spirit if we are to learn how to truly worship God. Don’t ever be shy about praying in the Spirit when you worship – it stirs the anointing of God and allows you freedom in your worship – (just don’t be so loud as to distract others from their worship). This is the act of having anointing oil poured on our heads.
1. Can you think of other “modern day” applications that can be taken from Moses’ Tabernacle?
2. Comment further on how these Temple objects relate to your life.