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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Adventists and the Children of Israel

Brother Sewell: As one of our sisters has turned Adventist and has some of the members bothered, I would like a full explanation of the following passages of scripture: Ex. 31: 16, 17; Matt. 5: 19; Rom. 14: 5, 6. Who are meant by the “children of Israel” in the passage first named? What “commandments” is Jesus speaking of in the second passage?

The children of Israel were the Jewish people, the posterity of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. In this particular passage it meant the children of Israel that had come out of Egypt under Moses as their leader.

The Sabbath day, as one of the Ten Commandments, had but recently been given to the Jewish people. The verses you mention show that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews only. The Gentile world never had any share in it. In the first of Genesis, where the seventh day is first mentioned, it says that God rested that day. He had finished the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh. But he did not require men to rest on that day then. To show that the Sabbath belonged to the Jews only, the passage you name uses this language: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” These verses show beyond a peradventure that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews, and to them only; and when it says it would be a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel forever, the “forever” means to the end of the Jewish covenant, the law of Moses, which really did end. Hence, when Jesus died on the cross, the law of Moses, the Jewish covenant, was taken out of the way, and with it the Sabbath day. This is shown in the following passage: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. 2:14.) The word handwriting especially takes in the Ten Commandments, as they were the handwriting of God, and the Sabbath day was the fourth command of the ten. Therefore the Sabbath day was, without any doubt, done away.

In verse 16 of the same chapter Paul says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” This shows that the whole affair of the law was done away, Sabbath day and all. Hence the seventh-day claim is without foundation. The seventh-day Sabbath never did belong to the Gentiles, and it was taken from the Jews when Jesus died; and so it is out of date entirely now, as is the whole of the law of Moses. Matt. 5:19 simply has reference to the commands of the law of Moses, which law was still in force when Christ used that language; but when he died on the cross, some three years later, the law was taken away.

The other passage (Rom. 14:5, 6) has reference either to the Jewish Christians, who wanted to keep up the holy days of the law, such as the Sabbath day, or it refers to some sort of superstition among Gentile Christians there, either one of which would cause confusion and division without profit, and they better not have divisions over the opinions of men. All ideas of holy days, then, except the first day of the week, were merely the opinions of men not involving any divine authority. There is not a particle of divine authority to keep the seventh-day Sabbath since the abolition of the old covenant and the establishment of the new.