Dwelling in His Presence-Part 3
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Nancy Missler; ©2003|
|Nancy Missler explains that entering God’s presence at the Incense Altar of our hearts is contingent upon the sanctification of our outward man and the purification of our spirit.|
Entering God’s Presence at the Incense Altar
The Golden Altar of Incense was at the heart of the temple and was considered to be the most holy piece of furniture (next to the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat covering in the Holy of Holies). The inscription on the Incense Altar said, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” The Golden Altar sat in the Holy Place just before the veil and, as we said, was called “the Altar before the Lord.” Thus, it was considered to be a part of, or belonging to, the Holy of Holies.
Listen: “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil. And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony….” (Leviticus 16:12-13)
This Golden Altar was a place of worship, communion and fellowship and opened the way to the Holy of Holies where God’s glory dwelt. There were no sacrifices on this altar, only the offering of incense. Incense was the result of a sacrifice already given. “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto My Name, and a pure offering; for My Name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)
It was necessary to keep the fire on this altar continually burning to symbolize uninterrupted communion and worship of God. Thus, because they needed ready and easy access to this altar, they placed it in the Holy Place, as close as they could to the Holy of Holies. The priests had to offer incense three times a day as a fragrant memorial of the presence of God (in the morning, when they trimmed the lamps and at evening). Another reason this altar sat in the Holy Place and not in the Holy of Holies is because the High Priest was only allowed to go into the Holy of Holies once a year, on Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement].
Incense is an aromatic compound that gives forth perfume or a sweet aroma by burning. The essence of the offering was dissolved into vapor and, thus, ascended as a cloud unto God. The perfume cloud symbolized the acceptance of the saint, his high standing and his potential communion with God.
Entering God’s presence at the Incense Altar of our hearts is contingent upon the sanctification of our outward man and the purification of our spirit. Jesus’ blood is what gives us the boldness to enter, but our sanctification is what allows us to experience His presence. The veil has already been rent, and so there is no more barrier hindering our approach to Him. However, again the basis of our fellowship is dependent upon the cutting away of the soulish things in our lives. As Hebrews 10:19 and 22 says, "Let us draw near with a true heart [a cleansed and purified heart] in full assurance of faith… [with] boldness to enter into the holiest…."
- “And He shall sit like a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them like gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3 emphasis added)Jesus has always been before the Lord on our behalf. Romans 8:34 validates this. But now that we have been allowed into the Holy Place, we will be able to experience His presence going before us and giving us peace and rest.
The Place God Meets with Us
The Old Testament precept "Thou shall put it [the incense] before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony… where I will meet with You,” was fulfilled by putting the incense on the Golden Altar. (Exodus 30:6, 36) And, we are enabled to “meet with God” when we bring the hot coals of our wholly burnt lives to the incense altar of our hearts.
One of the reasons why God has us in the sanctification process in the first place is so that He might bring us near to Him. Numbers 16:9 validates this: “Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you [consecrated you] from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself…”
Scripture tells us that “God will bring us near to Him” and “meet with us” at three different places: at the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:22); at the Incense Altar (Exodus 30:6, 36); and at the Brazen Altar (Exodus 29:42).
Therefore, even though we might “feel” abandoned and alone when we are going through our own night seasons, we must remember that God is always in the midst of the fire with us, just like He was with Moses, Jonah, Joseph, and Elijah. And just as He promised never to leave them, so He promises never to forsake us.
An Example: Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael learned early on in her life that closeness and nearness to the Holy Spirit was indispensable in an intimate walk with God. The phrase “grieve not the Holy Spirit” became very important to her, because she never wanted to lose His nearness and His presence.
Amy was appointed as a missionary to Japan and, after that, spent 55 years as a missionary in India. In India, she became aware of an unfolding sense of a “Presence” or a “Listener, as she called Him.” It seemed to her that God was looking for someone to listen and commune with. (As we said earlier, God created us for His pleasure—to dwell in us and to fellowship with us.)
She was called “the lover of children,” because the Jesus in her reached out through her to the children. Children always seem to know the “genuine” article, they know when it’s the real thing and when it’s not. Amy felt Jesus weep for the children she ministered to. She learned to sing to them and they loved her for it.
One of her favorite verses was, "In all things [God and His Spirit shall] have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). The source of her radiant, powerful and overflowing life came from her intimate walk with God and being able to constantly sense His presence.