The Place of the Golden Altar

Brother Lipscomb: Where was the God-appointed place for the golden altar of incense — in the holy place or the most holy? Breth­ren are on both sides. Please give reasons for apparent discrepancies in the Bible on this.

The place appointed for the altar of incense, or the golden altar, was in the holy place, beside the veil that leads into the most holy. The most holy was the dwelling place of God. The incense arising from the altar without the most holy passed through the veil and entered the most holy as incense to God. In Ex. 30:6-7 the order is given: “And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices: every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it.” In Ex. 40: 26-27 he repeats the statement that he placed them as he was commanded: “And he put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil: and he burnt thereon incense of sweet spices; as Jehovah commanded Moses.” Because the incense arising from this altar reached God in the most holy place, it is sometimes spoken of as though it belonged to the most holy place. It was placed in the holy place beside the veil that enters the most holy, that the incense might, like the prayers of the saints, pass through the veil to the presence of God.

A perversion of one of these figures is seen in the pictures intended to represent the cherubim — a couple of winged women squatting with their faces opposite each other. If one will read the description of the cherubim as given in 1 Kings 6:23-28 and 2 Chron. 3:10-14, he will find that they were images ten feet high, reaching the ceiling above, the wings extended, touching each other in the cen­ter and the walls on each side. They looked toward each other. I used to know a Methodist preacher who insisted that Methodists should keep up the primitive and approved style of kneeling in prayer. In kneeling, many of them squatted to keep their knees out of the dirt. This preacher got to see who kneeled and who squatted, and reproved the latter as following a custom nowhere approved by God.

David Lipscomb

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