Exodus 30:7 And Aaron shall burn incense of perfume on it (the altar of incense) morning by morning; when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it. And when Aaron sets up the lamps between the evenings he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the face of Jehovah for your generations.
I noticed recently a passage from Luke about the priests still continuing to observe that command from Sinai to burn incense twice a day. Luke 1:9 According to the custom of the priests, entering into the Holy Place of the Lord, it was Zacharias’ lot to burn incense. And all the multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. The sweet odor was still being presented before the omnipotent God, according to the command conveyed to Moses many years earlier (see above).
Twice a day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, corresponding to nine o’clock a.m. and three o’clock p.m., Aaron’s descendants burned incense in God’s Temple. In our own fellowship, you will find occasional references to “the incense hour,” for example in Warrior Songs No. 184. I noticed in the Luke passage that a multitude of people were on site, praying in the Temple court as the incense was offered. There were devoted people in Jerusalem that day when Zacharias spoke with the angel Gabriel inside the Temple.
Later, from Acts we see that on another occasion there were also devoted people, including Peter and John, in the Temple court that afternoon at the ninth hour, or three p.m. By the time the apostles got inside, they had a new companion who was leaping about and praising God for healing! I expect that that unrehearsed praise smelled as good in heaven as did the incense.
The Sabbath is a wonderful time to stand firm for people who need help and to praise God for help already delivered, particularly the praising part. Prayer at the hours of prayer each day is a powerful cooperation with God’s plans for our time and place.
And there’s more! Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood on the altar, having a golden censer. And many incenses were given to him, that he should give them with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incenses went up with the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the angel before God. This peek into heaven shows that the incense altar there gets a mixture of incense and “the prayers of the saints” to produce a sweet smell before God’s throne. I don’t know if this is a one-time offering or a regular occasion, but all we who pray can expect that we are contributing to this amazing storing up of incense.
By all means let’s talk to our Heavenly Father on the Sabbath. Rejoice in the good. Bask in every warm expression of His love. And continue praying for the needs both far and near until we see His face with joy.
Scripture references are from the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible