By Denzil Holman
I recall my visit to the country church as if it were yester¬day though it has been years ago now. I was sitting near the front of the sanctuary where the ministers were sitting and waiting for the service to begin when I saw the young cou¬ple come in and sit on the front row. There were possibly several hundred people present, but those folks caught my attention and I was so blessed by their enthusiasm. I don’t know how long they had been living for God, but I don’t think they were new converts. They were just country peo¬ple dressed in clean but inexpensive apparel. He looked like someone who would work outside on a farm or similar type of work. She was dressed like a farm wife in simple, plain, but neat and clean clothing. From their facial expressions and enthusiasm, I could surmise that they were thoroughly in love with Jesus. I’ve seen people who had to be pumped and primed to worship, but that couple exuded excitement and spontaneity that blessed me. From their expressions I surmised that service was a highlight of their lives and they were so thrilled to be there. Oh, the simplicity of worship that I witnessed that night!
After a perfect work at the brazen altar of repentance, the priests went to the laver of water to wash, a type of our water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins. He was then ready to go into the Holy Place where the seven golden candlesticks were, representing the Spirit of God, and the table of shewbread which represented the bread of life, the Word of God. There was also the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place, which represents our approach to God through prayer.
The psalmist declared that prayer was like incense when he said: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2).
God commanded the priests to burn incense at the altar of incense every morning and evening. The fire on the altar burned continually, which was a type of our need to pray without ceasing or live constantly in an attitude of praise and worship. The incense was made up equally of four parts of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. The Israel¬ites were forbidden by God to use that same composition for personal use in perfume. It was holy unto the Lord. We are to worship the Lord only and not give His praise to other gods or things.
After we have repented of our sins and been baptized in Jesus’ name, we can approach God with a pure and clean heart. It can be compared to the priest’s going into the Holy Place. Nothing in that room reminded him of the world out¬side. All of the furniture was pure gold that represented purity and the curtains had shut out the world, and he was shut in with God. We get in this state when we shut our¬selves in with God in a secret place of prayer:
I recall a song that was sung years ago in worship to God about being in our secret prayer closet:
“Shut in with God in a secret place; there in the Spirit beholding His face. Gaining new power to run in this race; I love to be shut in with God.”
This place of worship and praise is made possible by the perfect work at the altar of repentance. We die to sin in re¬pentance and present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God. It is acceptable unto God and we can come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer because our heart no longer con¬demns us with our guilty load of sins.