Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Into the Holy Of Holies

Cutaway view of the Tabernacle [1]
The Holy of Holies was a cube shaped room in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the Temples in Jerusalem. It was the inner room of the Holy Place. To get into it, one would have to enter the Tabernacle courtyard, pass the bronze altar, the bronze laver, enter the holy place, pass the showbread and lampstand and altar of incense, enter a special curtain on one side and walk to the other side to finally enter the Holy of Holies. It was a big deal. But only the High Priest (Cohen Ha Gadol) could make that trip, and he could only make it once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

A nation of millions of people, and only one person could enter the Most Holy Place once a year. This is the room that God Himself (YHVH) would speak from. Ex 25:22 "There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel." His earthly throne, the mercy seat over the ark of the covenant, was the only furniture in the room. (By the way, the word for ark used here is Aron, not the same word as Noah's ark, Tibah.) And the High Priest couldn't just stroll in there on Yom Kippur, he had very detailed instructions on clothing, bathing, sacrifices, and other rituals he had to perform just so in order to enter.

It suggests how far from God we are, how difficult it is to approach Him with our own righteousness. Indeed, Israel couldn't even approach Him directly, they needed a High Priest to intervene for them. Is there no other way in? How do we enter that curtain?

There Is Another Way In 

2D Diagram Of The Tabernacle [2]

The Holy Place is a tent within a tent, covered on all sides. But look at what is next to the Holy of Holies, right outside the curtain - the Table of Incense.

The smoke from the incense makes its way past the veil. The formula for this incense is given right in the Bible.

Ex 30:And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight
These ingredients, stacte [3], onycha [4], galbanum [5], and frankincense [6] make "sweet incense" to be burned twice daily in the Tabernacle. The High Priest was responsible for making sure this happened every day.
Ex 30:7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.
Incense is an aroma that God enjoys and wants every day. It bypasses the veil, and the High Priest, and drifts into the Holy of Holies.

Why would anyone care?

Because incense is prayer -- Our prayers. 

Our prayers go straight to God's throne. Directly. It is our way in!
Ps 141:2 May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering
Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand
In other words, "The fragrance of our words wafts through the throne room" John Paul Jackson [7].

Our Prayers Are Like Incense

We have access to the Holy of Holies in heaven because of Christ's death on the cross. This was pictured in a very real sense when He died.
Mk 15:37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.
Mk 15:38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
The Ark visible through the torn veil [8]
Looking out through the torn veil [9]

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus
But we aren't in heaven, we are here. Christ is the High Priest, not any of us. Our way into the Holy of Holies is by our prayers like incense coming before God the Father as a sweet aroma. That's how we enter.

Effective Prayers

Well, effective prayer is a whole topic unto itself. But from the point of view of the Tabernacle of Moses, consider that the incense was a specific formula. And the one who offers the incense must first be clean. And the incense must be offered daily. In terms of our everyday life, here is what Maria Merola [10] said, "Praying the effectual fervent prayer is a lifestyle that is lived out daily...he is after a sincere heart of worship and humility." That's a good place to start.

I never thought of my prayers as being sweet incense, and many days, they aren't sweet incense, more like whining in the Holy Place, but our heavenly Father sees them as sweet incense. Lighting the incense twice a day? Still working on it.


1. http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/tabernacle-of-moses.html
2. https://www.jesuswalk.com/spirit/05_spirit_within.htm
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stacte
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onycha
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galbanum
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
7. http://www.streamsministries.com/resources/discipleship/prayers-like-incense
8. http://doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.com/2011/01/effectual-fervent-prayer-of-righteous.html
9. https://withmeagrepowers.wordpress.com/tag/gospel-of-matthew/
10. http://doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.com/2011/01/effectual-fervent-prayer-of-righteous.html