In looking of the matter of the three aspects of the tabernacle in the Scriptures we cannot overlook Psa. 84, where we see the psalmist’s desire and love for the tabernacles of God; he even likens himself as a sparrow and a swallow finding refuge and making their nest at the two altars – the altar of burnt offering and the incense altar.
In the second verse of Psa. 84 we see the psalmist’s longing and even fainting to be in God’s tabernacles, showing us to what extent the psalmist loved God’s tabernacles; this love was matured through many trials.
The inner feeling of the psalmist was that he longed for God’s tabernacles to the point of fainting; he was crying out to the living God. In our experience, do we love the church to the point of fainting in longing for it?
When we experience the spiritual reality of the tabernacle with all its furnishings we will appreciate, long for, and even faint for God’s tabernacles, the local churches. Our God is faithful – He’s faithful not to “give us things” but all the more to take things away from us, that is, to take away anything that replaces Him so that we may be emptied of everything to receive only God as our gain.
God wants to lead us into the full enjoyment of the all-inclusive Christ as our everything, so that He may have a recovery purely and wholly of the person of Christ. For this, He may take us through experiences of stripping and dealing, so that anything that replaces Him and His place in us may be stripped away and we would give Christ the preeminence.
May we be those who see the secret revelation concerning the enjoyment of Christ as the incarnated Triune God in Psa. 84, and may we enjoy Christ and take Him as our everything, experiencing Him as all the furnishings in the tabernacle so that we may be incorporated into the tabernacle and thus become the testimony of Christ. Amen!
Going forward in our experience of Christ as seen in Psa. 84, here’s a footnote that really helps us understand and enjoy this matter more:
[The two altars in Psalm 84:3 are] the bronze altar for the sacrifices and the golden altar of incense. The two altars signify the leading consummations of the work of the incarnated Triune God, who is Christ as the embodiment of God for His increase. The mentioning of these two altars together in Exodus 40:5-6 indicates that they are closely related in our spiritual experience. At the bronze altar, a type of the cross of Christ, our problems before God are solved through the crucified Christ as the sacrifices. This qualifies us to enter into the tabernacle, a type of Christ as the incarnated and enterable Triune God, and to contact God at the incense altar. At the golden altar of incense in front of the Holy of Holies…, the resurrected Christ in His ascension is the incense for us to be accepted by God in peace. Through our prayer at the incense altar we enter into the Holy of Holies—our spirit (Heb. 10:19)—where we experience Christ as the Ark of the Testimony with its contents. Through such an experience of Christ we are incorporated into the tabernacle, the incarnated Triune God, to become a part of the corporate Christ (1 Cor. 12:12) as God’s testimony for His manifestation. (Psa. 84:3, footnote 1, Recovery Version Bible)
Taking Refuge at the Bronze Altar, the Cross of Christ, and “Laying” our Young here
In Psa. 84:3 the focus is the two altars: the bronze altar (the altar of burnt offering where the priests offered sacrifices) and the golden altar (the incense altar where incense is offered to God for His acceptance). It is at these two altars that the sparrow finds a home and the swallow finds a nest for herself.
These two altars are mentioned together, and they depict the leading consummations of the work of the Triune God. At the bronze altar – which is a type of the cross of Christ – our problems are solved through the crucified Christ as the sacrifices, and we are qualified to enter into the tabernacle – Christ Himself.
At the cross all our problems are solved, and it is here that all our spiritual experiences begin. For our enjoyment of the incarnated Triune God as the reality of the tabernacle we have to begin at the bronze altar, at the cross of Christ.
Every morning we need to come to the altar; it is here that we can offer Christ to God as our peace-offering and our burnt offering, and all condemnations are removed so that we may be at peace with God.
Every morning we need to come to the Lord and confess our sins, apply Christ and experience Him as our sin offering, trespass offering, and burnt offering which replace us before God to solve all our problems. Thank the Lord for our Savior Jesus Christ who shed His blood to redeem us!
Every day we need to come to Him and confess our sins, allowing His blood to cleanse us and His cross to operate in us. We need to be like the swallow, finding our nest at the cross, taking refuge in the cross.
The enemy may chase us with his condemnation, but we can run to the cross and take it as our refuge, for it is here that Christ has taken care of all our problems! Spiritually speaking, at the “nest” of the cross we should “lay” our young, our spiritual children; by preaching the gospel and bringing sinners to the cross of Christ, we lay our young here.
Before we contact the cross we are sinners, but after we and those we preach the gospel to contact the cross, we become young children in the Lord, believers in Christ, and we are qualified to enter into the tabernacle and offer prayer to God at the incense altar.
Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to die for us on the cross and solve all our problems through Your sacrifice. We come to the cross to find our refuge here; here we run from Satan’s condemnation and from all our problems. We offer You, Lord Jesus Christ, as our sin offering, trespass offering, and burnt offering, to God to be in peace with Him. Thank You we can come to the altar of burnt offering, the cross, and confess our sins, have the blood applied to us, and have an entrance into the full enjoyment and experience of Christ!
Finding our Home at the Incense Altar and Offering Christ as the Incense to God
After we confess our sins and escape all our troubles at the cross, the reality of the bronze altar, we are qualified and even encouraged by the Lord to come forward to the second altar, the golden altar, where we can contact Christ in the heavens and offer Him to God as incense.
At the bronze altar we meet the crucified Christ and hide in the cross, and at the golden altar we enjoy the ascended Christ and we offer Him to God. In His ascension Christ becomes our acceptance; no matter how good we think we are, we are not acceptable to God apart from Christ.
At the golden incense altar of incense in front of the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:4), the resurrected Christ in His ascension is the incense for us to be accepted by God in peace. Through our prayer at the incense altar, we enter into the Holy of Holies – our mingled spirit (Heb. 10:19) – where we experience Christ as the Ark of the Testimony with its contents.
Our experience at the bronze altar leads us to experiencing Christ at the incense altar, in our spirit in the Holy of Holies.
The golden incense altar is positioned in front of the veil that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, but from many verses in the Bible we can see that its function was very much related to and in the Holy of Holies (see Exo. 40:5; Heb. 9:4; 1 Kings 6:22; Exo. 26:35; Lev. 16:14-20; 30:10).
From experience, to pray is to enter into the Holy of Holies at the throne of grace; the veil has been rent and removed, and now we have a clear entrance into the Holy of Holies to pray at the incense altar, touching the throne of grace.
We need to come forward to God through Jesus Christ, first by taking refuge at the cross (the reality of the altar of burnt offering) and then by offering Christ as the incense to God in prayer (the reality of the golden incense altar), finding our refuge and home in God so that we may be incorporated into God by experiencing Him.
Through these two altars we as God’s redeemed – the “sparrows” and “swallows” – can find a nest as our refuge and a home with God in rest (see Psa. 90:1; 91:1). The cross of Christ – typified by the bronze altar – is our nest, our refuge, where we are saved from our troubles and where we lay our young, that is, produce new believers through the preaching of the gospel.
When we experience the resurrected Christ in His ascension – typified by the golden altar of incense – we are accepted by God in such a Christ and we find a home, a place of rest, in the house of God. Hallelujah!
Lord, we come forward to the Holy of Holies, having an entrance into it by Your blood and through Your flesh which was rent on the cross. We come forward to our spirit, where the practical Holy of Holies is, to enjoy and offer Christ as the incense to God for our acceptance to Him and for His satisfaction. Thank You Lord for the crucified Christ in whom we can take refuge and for the ascended Christ whom we can offer to God for His acceptance and satisfaction. Bring us on in our experience of You to find our refuge and our home at the two altars, in the church!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and Life-study of the Psalms, pp. 371-373 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 40 / msg. 4, The Three Tabernacles.
- Hymns on this topic:
# At Thy burnt-offering altar, Lord, / And at Thine incense altar blest, / Even the sparrow finds a home, / And swallow there prepares her nest. / Men, as the sparrow, frail and small, / When living in Thy house find rest, / Relying on the altar’s blood, / Enjoying there the incense blest. (Hymns #851)
# The altar of burnt offering / In God’s economy, / Is Christ, the bronzed acacia wood, / Judged in humanity. / The altar of burnt offering / The cross of Christ displays, / One person—Christ; one way—the cross— / Encompass all God’s ways. / The altar of burnt offering’s / Where precious blood was shed; / The blood of Jesus is our plea / As forward we are led. / The altar of burnt offering / Is meeting God’s demand, / God’s righteousness and holiness / Are our eternal stand. (Song on the 2 altars, stanza 1)
# Come forward to the Holiest; / With God, in oneness, pray; / The precious blood’s applied again, / God’s economic way. / Anointing oil applied upon / Both altars clearly shows: / The move of God’s eternal grace / Between two altars flows. / The fire from heaven, which came down / To burn the offered Son, / Becomes the fire to incense burn, / As fragrance to God’s throne; / The sweetness we experience / Through Christ’s inclusive death, / Is sweetness unto God through our / Ascending, praying breath. (Song on the 2 altars, stanza 2)
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