The Golden Altar of Incense – and a Life that Smells Right

God is calling us to draw near to Him (James 4:8). We can always get closer if we want to. But sometimes, even though we may be baptised in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, meditating on the Word and so forth we seem to be blocked from going further with God. Have you experienced that? In spite of your sincere efforts, some demonic force or strong Adamic nature within seems to be holding us back. Like the thick veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, our own fleshliness seems to be an unbreakable barrier between us and total intimacy with God. 

God can do anything. He is Sovereign and can show Himself to anyone – like He often does with muslims who do not yet acknowledge Him as the Son of God. Regardless of merit, God can take any person into His immediate presence or into heaven if He so chooses. After all, He has paid the price with His blood already. There are people who we may judge in some sense unworthy (who isn’t really?) who have sovereign encounters with God that take them beyond this veil – and they may see heaven, or hell or other things in vision form. I remember a drunkard called Jim who I led to Christ in the late 80s. This man stayed around us for a while and we dealt with him many times. He actually saw Jesus, had visions, and received a call to help other drunkards. He told me about this call on one of our later home meetings,  and would also tell me how we was refusing to obey. Tragically Jim backslid and as far as I know, died and was (I presume) eternally lost. My main point here is that Jesus can show Himself to anyone if He so chooses, regardless of their merit. 

But thankfully there is a way for the rest of us to see Jesus. And I want that. My wife has seen Jesus. At the time of writing, I still have not, but I don’t give up hope. There is the promise of John 14:21 and John 14:23 for example.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21)

There is a way into the Holiest, beyond the veil. I believe that because the Bible says it. But for most of us, people like myself for example, we might have to spend quite some time in the Holy Place before we are ready to actually see God. Spiritual blindness goes on. Pride can still exist. There is still something odious in our lives that displeases the Lord and spoils our life in God’s eyes, and we may not even see it – or be willing to face it.

The Holy Place is the place where we are Baptised in the Holy Spirit, we are devoting ourselves to prayer and meditation on and study of the Word. We can also definitely do some ministry for God and for people if we are acquainted with things in the Holy Place. I have for years.

The Holy place in the Tabernacle had three pieces of furniture. The Candlestick with 7 heads represents praying in the Holy Spirit – and a certain amount of light and revelation comes through that. The Bible says there are “seven spirits of God” in Isaiah 11:2 which are aspects of the Holy Spirit. There is also the table of showbread. Bread represents the Word of God. By meditating on the Word we are strengthening ourselves, receiving revelations that renew our mind and so on. This is vitally important. Praying in the Spirit is not a substitute for this. We need both.

But there is a third piece of furniture. It is the Golden Altar of Incense. 

This Altar was never used to slay animals on, but it was used to offer incense. It was next to the thick veil (flesh) separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. I have heard different interpretations of this Golden Altar. Some say it is worship. Others say it is intercession. I am inclined to believe it is more related to worship (properly understood – see Romans 12:1). The total laying down of one’s will before the Lord in adoration, devotion and surrender.

The Golden Altar was for incense – a place for sweet incense to be offered to God. I believe that our prayers and our songs of worship and our inner surrender to the Lord God work together to be an incense to God.

The blood also had to be sprinkled there too, because nothing we do without the blood of Jesus is acceptable to God.

But be that as it may, we cannot go into the Holiest of All without a great working of divine love in our life which has already been demonstrated to be real in the tests of life. Through all the trials and sufferings, betrayals and rejections and setbacks, we experience crushing. When we can remain sweet even after crushing, then we have the incense we need to enter the holiest of all. When we can praise and worship God with a pure heart (see Matthew 5:8), having a life of divine love that expresses itself in our interactions with others, then we will be able to move into a deeper intimacy with the Lord.

Our lives have to “smell right” before the Lord, so that our intercessions and praises to God in the Holy Place are not defiled by a mixture of something else that is evil and rotten coming from our lives.

We need  to let God work on us so that things like pride, impatience, irritability, lovelessness, selfishness, bitterness do not defile the smell of the incense that we bring before God. While these things linger on – and it is usually in the relationships with people close to us that they will be revealed – we might be able to enter the Holy Place but we won’t get into the Holiest of All.

At times in the Bible there is this message of “Come!” but sometimes together with it the message “You can’t come any closer – at least not as you are.”

I believe God is encouraging us to purge ourselves by the means of grace of all those things which displease Him and give off a bad odour, so that He can finally receive us as friends with whom He can share his heart. It is worth giving all diligence (2 Peter 1:5-7) in developing godly CHARACTER, by cooperating with the Holy Spirit so we can BE READY for the Lord – at all times.

That is the call for these last dark days.

Michael Fackerell


I invite you to build a faith community together with me. Join my social media channels and let’s connect, especially if you want freedom or fullness in Christ.

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