Exodus 30:1-10 (ESV)
“You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations. You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.”
Since this altar doesn’t have to handle a lot of heat, it can be made of wood covered in gold. This golden altar of incense is closer to the ark than the other furnishings in the tabernacle and is thus most holy. Depictions of its design are more consistent than those of the bronze altar – though not perfectly consistent.
Verse nine specifically warns against offering unauthorized incense on it. This portends the death of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.
But what about their incense was unauthorized? The proper incense will be specified in verse 34.
The LORD said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), – Exodus 30:34 (ESV)
This passage specifies the proper times for worship, which could also be what Nadab and Abihu violated.
Worshipping God is what we were created for, but we can’t just do whatever feels good. What do we know about how He wants to be worshipped?
A lot. Passages like this one instruct us. God wouldn’t leave us in the dark on something this critical.
This is important stuff – stuff we should study. Unfortunately, proper worship often doesn’t get enough attention. Here’s a worthy reference,
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: