Tag Archives: forgiveness

Reflections of Incense

living-tabenaclesThis is the ninth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

As we continue our study of the Tabernacle, we come across a relatively small altar that holds a powerful significance in our relationship with YHVH.  The altar of incense was square with each side measuring 1.5 feet and was three feet high.  It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Four horns protruded from the four corners of the altar.  The altar of incense, also called the Golden Altar, (mizbach hazahav in Numbers 4:11), stood just outside the Holy of Holies.  A special mixture of incense, reserved exclusively for YHVH, was burned on this altar every morning and every evening, thus sending up a continual waft of pleasant odor to YHVH.

The incense altar was the place where YHVH met with Moshe.  Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.  (Ex. 30:6 NLT).  

On Yom Kippur the incense was burned atop the Ark of the Covenant.  The high priest would fold back the curtain concealing the Most Holy Place, put the censer with the burning coals on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, then throw the two handfuls of incense into the censer.  This was the only day and time that any one (and then only the high priest) was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, thus foreshadowing the work of our High Priest that would permanently  rend the separating curtain.

What does the incense altar represent in the spiritual realm?  It symbolizes our prayers to YHVH (Is 56:7, Ps. 141:2).  The fragrant incense also represents the prayers of Yeshua, who makes continuous intercession on our behalf (John 17:1-26, Rom 8:34) as our High Priest.  The continuous rise of the burning incense reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).

The daily burning of incense corresponded with the lighting of the menorah.  Scripture indicates that the incense was to be burned at the same time the menorah was to be cleaned and relit (Ex 30:7-8).  According to the Talmud five of the lamps on the menorah would be cleaned, then the incense would be burned before the other two lamps were cleaned.  The menorah and the Golden Altar seem to be interconnected.  If we understand that the menorah represents the light of Yeshua, then Yeshua’s light in us results in worship, praise and petitions to our Father.

In order to burn the incense, fire was taken from the brazen altar (which will be discussed in the next article) and transferred to the altar of incense (Lev 16:12-13), thus symbolizing that the fire of Yeshua’s sacrifice becomes the fire of blessing.  The horns of the golden altar were sprinkled with blood from the animal sacrifice to cleanse and purify it from the sins of the Israelites (Lev 4:7, 16:18). “Just as the horns on the brazen altar represent the power of Christ’s blood to forgive sins, the horns on golden altar signify the power of His blood in prayer as we confess our sins and ask for His forgiveness.”  (The Altar of Incense, the-tabernacle-place.com).  We come to Father in prayer only through Yeshua, cleansed from our sin by His blood and wearing His righteousness, for we have nothing of value to offer on our own.

Before Yeshua’s death on the cross, a heavy curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle, illustrating the separation from YHVH that sin had caused.  That veil has now been torn, so that there is no longer any separation, just as there is no separation in the heavenly Tabernacle.

The heavy curtain illustrates YHVH’s eagerness to be near His people.  He would come to them despite the barrier of sin using a curtain until reconciliation would be accomplished through Yeshua’s precious sacrifice.  The horns on the corners of the incense altar represent power, the power of prayer and intercession in this case.  Now that the curtain has been torn, YHVH not only meets with our representative (Moshe, Yeshua), but with each of us individually.

When we are offended by others, we tend to withdraw from them.  Our Father, on the other hand,  seeks all the more to be reconciled and united with us.  We are to forgive those who offend us, love them and always seek union with them if we desire to do as our heavenly Father does.  Are there curtains of separation that need to be torn down in our lives?

We, as living tabernacles, have the privilege of offering the continuous incense of our prayers and intercessions, even prayers for our enemies (Matt 5:44).  Just as the incense was a special mixture reserved solely for YHVH, our worship and prayers too must be reserved for our Father.  We are not to worship or pray to any foreign gods.  To whom are you offering your incense?

Repairing Reflections

weapons-of-our-warfareThere is great temptation these days to succumb to fear and anxiety.  Yet, Scripture tells us repeatedly not to fear.   Isaiah 35:4,  John 14:27, Joshua 1:9 and Matthew 6:34, are just a handful of examples of YHVH’s teaching on fear. We know that YHVH does not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).  So when trouble seems to loom ahead or is already in our midst, how do we combat those anxious thoughts and feelings that arise?

Our tendency is to tackle the job in the physical realm.  This is a mistake.  Even though our problems are in the physical realm, their source is from the spiritual realm.  The following analogy may help to better illustrate.   Athletes regularly review videos of past games in order to discover what works well and what skills or strategies still need to be honed.  Even though the video reflects what happened during the game, the problems cannot be fixed by editing the video.  Our physical realm is a video or mirror image of what is happening behind the scenes, that is the spiritual realm (Heb 8:5, 1 Cor 13:12).  In order to make effective changes in the physical realm, we have to address the issues in the spiritual realm.

For decades, perhaps centuries, many people have tried to solve the Middle East crisis on the physical level.  There have been numerous treaties, division of land, wars, and discussions.  None of these attempts has been able to resolve the conflicts.  YHVH shows us how He handles the situation.  Prime candidates for terror are experiencing life-changing dreams or visions of Yeshua.  Once these individuals discover Yeshua, their lives are transformed.  Instead of attacking their enemies, they are praying for the salvation and welfare of their enemies!  YHVH is battling in the spiritual realm to resolve terrorism and His work produces everlasting results.

Yeshua came to the earth the first time and demonstrated by signs and wonders in the physical realm that He is the Messiah.  His followers were disappointed and even disillusioned to discover that He did not mean to physically attack the Romans, the physical enemies of that time.   Instead, Yeshua attacked a much more dangerous enemy in the spiritual realm and wrought for all humans a much greater triumph with eternal implications.

Many of Yeshua’s followers today realize that the true battleground is in the spiritual realm and are now publicly engaged in intercession , worship, repentance and reconciliation with others.  In July, evangelical Christians gathered around the Washington Monument to seek YHVH’s help in breaking racism.* Breaking Christian News recently reported that 1,000  “Native American Indian tribes from the United States and Canada collectively forgave the U.S. government for breaking treaties with their ancestors during a public ceremony on the National Mall.”**  There is great power in forgiving others and releasing them from debt.  “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matt 6:12).

A number of us have experienced the power of forgiveness on a more personal level.  We have discovered that when we truly forgive individuals who have hurt us, amazing things happen.  People who were estranged from us contact us seeking reconciliation.  All we did was take our case to YHVH and tell Him that we forgave and released the person(s) from any debt owed to us.  We did not disclose to anyone, not even the individuals we forgave, that we had taken such a step.  Within a short time the physical realm reflected changes made in the spiritual realm.

When Yeshua returns, His job will be to complete the reconciliation and restoration that we have been addressing (Acts 3:21 NLT).   Our adversary and any one cooperating with him want us to be divided and at odds with each other (John 10:10).  Yeshua said that we would be known by our love for one another.  We certainly want Yeshua to recognize us as His own when He returns. Judging or arguing with others stems from fear.  Yeshua said that He would only recognize those who were reaching out in love to others.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt 3:43-44).   Does Yeshua recognize you as one of His sheep?

*   Rees, Steve.  ‘God break racism!’ Evangelicals on D.C. Mall pray for hope and reconciliation, The   Washington Post, July 16, 2016

** Zauzmer, Julie, An Kirkland and Michelle Boorstein.  “Must Read!  Native Americans are ‘Spiritual Sleeping Giants Awakened’ after Incredible Prophetic Act in Washington:  “May Go Down as One of the Most Important Days in American History,” Breaking Christian News,  Oct. 27, 2016, http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=19576


The Overlooked Sin

no one comes to the Father

The Jews had an opportunity to accept their Messiah or reject Him at His first coming. While many Jews accepted Yeshua as their kinsmen Redeemer and King, the majority did not. Over the centuries, many peoples have hated and persecuted the Jews, citing the rejection and crucifixion of Yeshua as “justification.” Many people smugly criticize the Jews and yet are guilty of the same sin.

The same challenge is presented to each of us. Do we accept Yeshua as our Redeemer and King? Have we asked for forgiveness of our sins and invited Yeshua to be King over us?

Jewish leaders resented Yeshua’s criticism of their man-made traditions and their hypocrisy. They wanted to do things their own way (Luke 6:1-12; Luke 7:29-30). They refused the help they so desperately needed.   Some people today say that belief in God is for weak people, not recognizing that they, too, are weak people who very much need a Savior. They believe that they are capable of running their own lives and sometimes the lives of others without Yeshua’s help.

Jewish people were looking for a leader who would save them from physical oppression (John 6:14-15). They didn’t realize that the spiritual oppression Yeshua overcame is far more serious and is also the root cause of the physical oppression. Many people today are focused solely on the physical realm, unaware or misunderstanding the spiritual realm. We can choose to renounce our subjection to Satan and embrace the salvation offered by Yeshua, but it is a choice that each of us must make in order to enter the Kingdom of YHVH.

Jewish people believed that being born Jewish was sufficient or that following the traditions and rituals established by men would secure them a place with YHVH.

Many people today believe that it is enough to be a “basically good person” or to belong to a particular denomination or congregation. Many people do not recognize their own sins, especially the most glaring one, the sin of rejecting Yeshua as their Redeemer (Luke 5:32).

Yeshua died a gruesome, violent death to pay the penalty for our sins and to ransom us from the grip of the evil one. Do we honestly believe that we can ignore Yeshua’s redemptive work and make our own way into the Kingdom of YHVH? If this were true, then Yeshua’s work would have been a waste of time and effort. Do you honestly assume that YHVH made the agonizing decision to send His precious Son to be slaughtered on our behalf, but is now willing to overlook our rejection of His beloved Son and His hard-earned gift of salvation?

Do not be deceived. No matter how “good” you are and no matter how exemplary your life has been, you have absolutely nothing to offer that can save you from eternal damnation. You are like a drowning person who has been thrown a precious Lifeline. However, it is necessary to seize and cling to this Lifeline in order to be acceptable to YHVH.