October 13, 2020

The Incense
Exodus 30:34-38
The incense was burned on the golden altar in the Holy Place of the temple. On the Day of Atonement it was carried in a golden censer into the immediate presence of God in the Holy of Hollies just beyond the temple veil. It had four ingredients. They were blended together in the order in which they are listed—stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. Incense is a symbol of prayer, ascending to God in a fragrant cloud from the golden altar. It is hard for us to pray, so the Holy Spirit helps us and even makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:26—27). His instructions regarding the incense are a step in this direction,
The stacte suggests patience in prayer. The Greek word stacte translates a Hebrew word that literally means “to drop’ or ‘to distill.” The thought seems to be “to distill as the dew.” Dew is distilled secretly, in stillness and in silence. It takes time for dew to form. That is the first ingredient of prayer—patience. We must take time to pray. We must be still.
The onycha suggests penitence in prayer. The Hebrew word is thought to refer to a perfumed mollusk, which had to be crushed to yield its fragrance. This suggests to us that we should be crushed by the enormity of our sins. We might well be overwhelmed by our sins, by their constant repetition and by their continuing reign. Repentance is what we need, penitence in prayer.
The galbanum suggests praise in prayer. The word comes from a root meaning “to be fat, or fertile,” possibly referring to the sap—the life, strength, and virility of the tree, the pith and heart of the plant. Galbanum added strength and vitality to the other ingredients of the holy incense, It is the rising sap that brings out the leaves and the flower and the fruit of the plant. It is praise that brings life into our prayers.
Praise is the most important part of prayer, closely akin to worship.
The frankincense suggests petition in prayer. Frankincense is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible. It was one of the things the wise men brought to the infant Jesus. The word comes from a root meaning “to be white.” It comes from the same root as the word “Lebanon —”the white mountain, referring to the snow that crowns the mountain range’s brow. If there is one thing that must mark our petitions, it is purity! God says if we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us (Ps. 66:18). We ask and receive not because we ask amiss to consume it on our lusts (James 4:3).
The gum from which frankincense was derived comes from a plant in which the number five predominates. It bears five petals and ten stamens. The fruit is five-sided, and there are five species of the plant. In Scripture the number five is associated, with grace. The frankincense reminds us that our prayer ascends to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) Incidentally, frankincense comes from a tree that grows on bare, inhospitable rock. This reminds us that prayer draws its strength from Christ,
the Rock of Ages.
There was one other ingredient in the incense – Salt (“salted” is translated “tempered together” in the KJV)Salt suggests pungency in prayer. How dull prayer meetings often become. If our speech is to be seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6) how much more our prayers.  Surely we should give as much attention to making our prayers interesting as we do to making our conversation interesting. It is s bad enough to be a bore in general speech. It is well nigh criminal to bore people with our uninspired, insipid, repetitious prayers. Surely it is time we came with the disciples of the Lord Jesus and say to Him. “Lord, teach us to pray.”
100 Devotions for Leaders – 2008 by John Phillips – Published by Regal Publications Grand Rapids, Michigan
Pastor Lee’s Thoughts: When you begin to dissect the temple of the Lord and see the applications of what each article represents it is amazing to learn how they all are associated with our relationship with the Lord. Here the incense is a direct result of the importance of prayer in our lives. May we discipline ourselves to have an everyday intimate relationship with our Lord through prayer!

Leave a Reply