In Message 151 of the Life-Study of Exodus a deep concept is revealed: “With the tabernacle and the outer court there are two altars: the altar of burnt offering and the golden altar of incense. The incense altar in the tabernacle is for prayer, and the altar of burnt offering in the outer court is for offering sacrifices.”
While these facts may seem basic and familiar to scores of Christians, upon further study a deeper meaning of these two altars is brought to light: as a believer we may experience the path from the first altar to second altar, particularly focusing our experience on the incense altar.
When we offer a sin or trespass offering at the altar in the outer court, surely this is prayer. In fact such experiences in which prayer is offered to Christ as the crucified One who shed His blood for our redemption are mandatory. However, even though this kind of prayer is necessary, it is shallow and falls short of the purpose of prayer with regard to God’s desire and need. As believers, we must never remain in the outer court, but rather advance into the tabernacle, which in our experience is God Himself.
The reason that prayer at the first altar may be considered shallow is because the primary focus at this altar is our self or our situation. In contrast, one who prays at the second altar is focused on Christ and consequently His Body. For such a person, Christ is everything. In order to arrive at the second altar, we must pass through dealings with the cross, the showbread table, the lampstand, and the ark. Those who take this path and pass through all of these dealings become ashes, signifying that their being has been brought to nothing, by the time they arrive at the incense altar.
Seeking Christians today must be desperate to move from the first altar to the second. Far too many are content with the burnt offering experience and remain natural, “Christ-less,” and whole rather than choosing to take the pathway to the incense altar to be burned to ashes so that they may be filled with Christ and His desire. May God lead many to experience Galatians 2:20 and be brought onward through death and into resurrection to offer intercessory prayers at the incense altar.