Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.CHAPTER 30 The Altar of Incense and the Worshippers
1. The altar (Exodus 30:1-10)
2. The atonement money (Exodus 30:11-16)
3. The brazen laver and the unction of the Spirit (Exodus 30:22-33)
4. The incense (Exodus 30:34-38)
This is a beautiful chapter, filled with blessed lessons. We have before us instructions concerning true, priestly worship. The brazen altar was of shittim wood, but this altar is of shittim wood covered with pure gold. The altar of brass tells of the work of Christ on the cross when judgment fell upon Him. There we learn in faith that our sins and guilt were fully met. The golden altar typifies Christ as entered into heaven. He is an altar there likewise, a place of sacrifice, but not a bleeding sacrifice. As believers we are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:5). “By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips confessing His name.” The altar of incense stands for this true, heavenly worship. There is a warning not to offer strange incense. In Leviticus (10:1-3) the additional warning is against strange fire. Strange incense is that kind of worship which is called ritualistic; a mere outward form, which puts a man in the place of leader in worship. Strange fire is a soulical, emotional worship, which is destitute of the Holy Spirit, who alone gives power to worship.
And those who come as true worshippers must be redeemed. This is seen in Exodus 30:11-16. Here is a confession of the fact that all are lost, all on equal footing, and all need redemption.
The brazen laver is mentioned next. This was for the washing of the hands and feet, symbolical of the washing of water by the Word, the cleansing from daily defilement. This is so blessedly illustrated in the washing of the feet of the disciples by our Lord. We must be cleansed, self-judged and self-denied, separated from evil, if we are to be true worshippers before the altar of incense. No real communion with God is possible save on the ground of personal holiness. Later we shall find that the laver was made of the looking-glasses of the assembling women (Exodus 38:8). The Word of God is the true looking-glass where we see ourselves as we are, and then go to Him who is our laver for cleansing.
The holy anointing oil is the type of the Holy Spirit. He is needed for worship in the Spirit. A closer examination of the principal spices and their possible meaning, we must pass over. Notice that this oil was not to be poured upon man’s flesh, “neither shall ye make any other like it” (Exodus 30:32-33). “The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The flesh is so corrupt that the Holy Spirit can have nothing to do with it. And how much the Spirit and His real work is counterfeited in these days.
The ingredients of the incense are also given. It is typical of the wonderful fragrance Christ is to God. His life on earth, His obedience, His death on the cross, His presence in Glory, all He is and all He does are of unspeakable fragrance and value to God.