Notes from a Woman’s Heart – Week 6

Summary notes from Week 6 of A Woman’s Heart ~ God’s Dwelling Place

This past week we moved further into the Holy Place and studied the second altar within the tabernacle: the golden altar of incense. Positioned in front of the heavy veil, the altar of incense was the site where the priests made atonement for Israel’s sin once every year with the blood from the sin offering (Exodus 30:10). While there was no “sacrifice” made on the altar of incense per se, the same word for altar (in Hebrew: “mizbeah”) is used for both the bronze altar and the altar of incense. Why? Because the only fire used for the altar of incense was from the bronze altar — whose coals had on them the blood of the sacrifice. Any other fire was “strange fire.”

The smoke of the incense burning on the altar represented prayers being offered up to God. The apostle John was given a vision of the altar of incense that exists in the heavenly kingdom where an angel “was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God…” (Revelation 8:3). The Scriptures tell us that it is Christ who lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25), presenting our prayers, petitions, and praise to God while sitting at His right hand.

Luke 1: 5-25 tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were righteous and blameless before God but had no children. Zechariah travels to Herod’s temple to serve his priestly duties as well as complete the special task of offering the yearly sacrifice on the altar of incense. There he is met by the angel Gabriel who proclaims that Zechariah’s prayer has been heard and Elizabeth would bear for them a son. We do not know if this was Zechariah’s prayer at the moment, or a prayer from years ago. But we are assured that God hears and answers prayer, although the answer may be realized much later in the future. In fact, the name Zechariah means “the Lord remembers.”

Jesus tells us that God always hears our prayers (John 11:42). The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) and encourages us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

May we be encouraged to build a powerful and effective prayer life! And may we be confident that our intimacy with God will grow immensely as we approach Him knowing “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18.)

Viewer Guide answers (pages 134 & 135 of your study book):

  • sacrifice
  • prayer
  1. blamelessness; have no
  2. Gabriel
  3. afraid, prayer, heard
  4. Lord, done this for me
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