Incense Is Beaten Small
By Lalith Mendis
"Take unto you sweet spices...and you shall make it a perfume...tempered together, pure and holy: and you shall beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with you: it shall be unto you most holy" (Ex. 30:34-36).
Incense is beaten small; so must the praying Christian be. The more powdered the incense is, the greater the cloud of smoke and the intensity of the sweet odor. Thus a praying Christian will count increasingly for the kingdom when he is beaten small.
We need to be beaten small in our pride, ambition, self-will, esteem about past achievement and our spiritual abilities. Unbroken chunks in our self cause acid smoke in God’s nose and in the nose of others! It is easy for a man to pray when he is a nobody. He then casts himself on the Lord in prayer. "In honor preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10) is sweet incense to the Lord.
The servant of God who is beaten small will glory in his infirmities. His testimony will be that God’s strength is perfected in his weakness.
Man beaten small cannot be a stumbling block to another. He is so small no one will trip over him.
The Song of Songs speaks of the bride as a spice garden (Song. 4:12-16). The Word of God speaks of Jesus’ life as a sweet smelling sacrifice (Eph. 5:2). Jesus’ life laid on Calvary is history’s sweetest, most effective altar of incense. His life was the golden censer that held up the atoning incense to the Father’s face (Num. 16:46-50).
We are exhorted to be the sweet odor of life to those who are saved (2 Cor. 2:14). Our prayers are to be sweet incense (Psa. 141:2; Rev. 8:3-4). As supplication of praying saints ascends to the throne, God begins to speak His purpose to an individual or to a nation as He spoke to Aaron through the cloud of incense (Lev. 16:2,12-13).
Sweet incense like prayer is the sacrifice acceptable to God that would arise from a broken and contrite spirit (Psa. 51:17). Offering incense was especially the holy duty of the tribe of Levi (Deut. 33:10).
Perhaps the most remarkable narrative that includes incense is Aaron with his golden censer standing between the dead and the living in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. In Numbers 16:46-47 it must be noted that the offering of incense was considered an atonement. Thus are we called to intercede and to lay down our life in intercession when death is to be averted.
Aaron offered incense in his golden censer. Incense burnt continually upon the golden altar of incense. Incense was mixed with anointing oil, indicating that anointing and prayer went together. The bread of the Presence in the Holy Place was sprinkled with incense indicating that the Word of God was effective only with the unction of prayer (Lev. 24:5-7).
Benefit of Being Beaten Incense
The broken heart releases hurts and bitterness fast and absorbs Christ’s goodness quickly, as it is immersed in Christ’s goodness. Consider an unbroken absorbent material. This would absorb a dye sooner if cast into the solution in broken pieces. Broken pieces of meat absorb the sauce sooner than the entire chunk of meat.
The broken man has only one response to all the challenges he meets. He will become incense upon the altar. This is why God works mightily for those who wait for Him. He shows Himself strong on behalf of such people. The altar of incense is found in the Holy Place and such a person’s life will be mostly spent in the Holy Place before the Lord. Three such great lives were David Brainerd, Amy Carmichael and Praying Hyde. Hebrews 11:33-34 was true for them:
"...Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."
The prayer altar is a lonely place. There is no one to applaud you. Your Father in heaven who sees in secrecy will reward you in public.
The incense of praise and prayer can ascend only if the fire is burning. Fire upon either altar cannot go out (Lev. 6:13).
The brazen altar of burnt offering stands for visible ministry while the golden altar of incense depicts the invisible prayer ministry of the closed closet. Many pursue the former to the detriment of the latter. Many seem to prefer the exhibitive altar even if lasting fruit is meager. Such are play actors. It is the incense that kept the cloud of the mercy seat and the most Holy Place. Without the cloud, the rituals will not have divine sanction.
The altar of brokenness is erected when I become conscious of the Lord’s might and faithfulness as against my frailty and waywardness.