The Altar of Intents
In my opinion, there are few things more frustrating than grammatical errors. The correct usage of the forms of “your” and “their” seem to be declining faster than wintertime temperatures. I am sure that at first glance at the title of this article, all of the biblically educated cringed at the seemingly atrocious mistake. Fear not, well-informed ones- this- like all things God-given was done with purpose.
The Altar of Incense as read in Exodus 30: 1-6 was located before the veil in the first portion of the sanctuary or tent of meeting. It was a cubit square and two cubits high and intricately detailed with gold and beautiful materials. This altar was sacred and handling it wrong or not respecting it could have resulted in death.
Incense is something that is burned for the fragrant smell it produces. It was used in Biblical times in the offering of sacrifices that were pleasing to the Lord.
In those days, so much work went into God’s presence. Even after the proper steps were taken and rules were followed, still, only the High Priest was able to enter the Holiest of Holies. Aside from these specific altars located inside the tabernacles, altars in general, and what was brought to them were not something to play with.
One afternoon I was sitting on the porch by the lake. I had been praying and earnestly seeking God. As I peered over the lake something caught my eye. It was a small fire pit that we often used during family get-togethers. Earlier that day I had been reading about the tabernacle and all of the details that went into each and every portion and room.
Intent is a word that sounds a lot like incense and it was the word that came to me as I read through a particular scripture one day. Sometimes we can go through all the right procedures and protocols but our intentions are not pleasing. Oftentimes, if we are honest, our intentions actually have a way of being self-gratifying and selfish rather than something the Lord would be pleased with.
During my backyard reading that day, I came across 2 Samuel 2:24 and was moved to tears.
“But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”
The king knew what he was seeking was going to cost him something and that the high price could not compare to the reward.
Altars are places we are called to lay things down before God. It is where we are supposed to bring our best, even when we feel our worst. Altars are not always fancy and ornate like some religions create them to be. Many times they are tear-stained and messy.
Even altars outside the tabernacle were bloody and inconvenient. Is it possible that we take the altars in our lives for granted sometimes? Too often we forget that coming before the Lord is sacred and still as holy as it was 2,000 years ago.
Yes, the veil has been torn and the ultimate sacrifice has been made but we still must tread carefully around the consecrated. In some ways, we have become a generation that has built altars of convenience and self-intentions rather than offering up what is good and pleasing to God. He deserves our best, not whatever we have left.
It could come at a high price. You may have to sacrifice your own hopes and dreams and best-laid plans but I promise you it will be worth it.
Abraham had to be willing to lay down his most cherished earthly possession on an altar- his own son. In this obedience, God saw his true devotion to Him and he was blessed beyond measure. David would not settle for the lesser things and chose to pay a high price for his threshing floor.
Anything worth having comes at a great cost. As the old saying goes “you get what you pay for.”
You were brought with the greatest price when the Savior of the world laid down His own life for you.
His intents were to save you. What is God calling you to lay down on the altar today?
Rachel Skirvin is a lover of travel, nachos and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She just recently married her best friend and together they are serving at The Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.