«Shemot (Exodus) 30:1 states, You are to make an altar on which to burn incense; make it of acacia-wood”. In our parashah we see that Adonai ...»
Do you have an energetic prayer life or an apathetic one? This may be a reality check for many of us. Do we have a working prayer life? Or, is it kindof broken? Have we made it a priority in our life to establish a prayer schedule that insures we have a regular and active prayer life, or do we just pray every once and a while for a few seconds here and there, if we happen to get around to it? You see, God wants us to have a “energeo” prayer life, a prayer life that is regular and active. This is part of a Torah pursuant life and one we just can’t ignore if we claim to be living a life of Torah. It really is essential to a successful Torah based life.
Otherwise, we will be just trying to keep Torah on our own, apart from God. And, that my friends and family, is a recipe for disaster.
The Torah lays the ground-work for what a Torah based prayer life should look like. Shemot (Exodus) 30:7-8 teaches us the following about the altar of incense; “Aharon will burn fragrant incense on it as a pleasing aroma every morning; he is to burn it when he prepares the lamps.
Aharon is also to burn it when he lights the lamps at dusk; this is the regular burning of incense before HaShem through all your generations”.
There are a few things to notice in our passage. The incense was to be offered every morning and every evening. In Judaism today, these are known as the “shacharit” or morning offerings and the “ma’ariv” or evening offerings. In the second Temple era, the incense service occurred simultaneously with the recitation of the Amidah prayer. In Judaism today, the Shema, Amidah, and various other prayers are offered during these times. Each morning men dawn their tallits and tefillin as they begin their day in spiritually elevated holiness in connection with the Heavenly Altar Of Incense. Our passage in Shemot (Exo.) 30:8 says, “this is the regular burning of incense”. The Hebrew word for “regular” here is “tamid” also meaning, “continual or constant”. Could this be what Sha’ul (Paul) meant when he stated in 1Thessolians 5:17; “Pray regularly”, or in some versions “Pray without ceasing”? We are supposed to have a regular prayer life, and it is supposed to be in accordance with Adonai’s Torah. At a minimum, every morning and evening we are to come before Adonai in holy prayer. Although, not directly connected to the altar of incense, there also was the minchah offering that took place and today is known as the afternoon or “minchah” prayer time. We see mention of this special prayer time in Acts 3:1 where it says, “One afternoon at three o'clock, the hour of minchah prayers, as Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple…”.
These various times are appointed times all throughout the day where we can commune with our Heavenly Father. So, in a sense they are daily “moedim”, or appointed times that Adonai seeks to meet with us. Just as the Shabbat and yearly moedim and festivals of Adonai are…they are God-given sanctuaries in time for us to meet with Him. We just need to make the time, set a holy schedule each day, and let the rest of life revolve around these times. It really is that simple. We just need to trust God for the rest. Trust Him, He can handle it. We need to make Him the priority and not the demands of the Olam Hazeh (this present world).
As they say, don’t knock it until you try it. We are creatures of habit and whether we think we need it or not, we need ritual in our life. Otherwise, if we don’t set these regular and continual appointments with God, we often don’t find the time and we quickly find that our days slip by too quickly before we do anything about it. We need ritual, and God knows it, and that is why we see so much of it in the Torah. And, it is up to us to be sincere and put our own kavanah (meaning, intent) and heart into these things.
Shemot (Exodus) 30:7 says the following in connection with the regular incense that is offered every morning and evening. Adonai says that it is a, “fragrant incense” that is “a pleasing aroma”. This is a special fragrance and aroma that has miraculous properties. Our prayer not only can be effective in our immediate vicinity, but they can also have a far reach and can effect the world in wonderful ways. The Sages suggested that part of the miraculous properties of the incense that came from the altar was that its reach was far reaching as its fragrance was said to have reached from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) as far as Yericho (Jericho) and that it even stretched as far as Shiloh were the Mishkan (Tabernacle) had been during the days of Eli. B.Yoma 39b states, “The goats in Yericho used to sneeze because of the odor of the incense. The women in Yericho did not have to perfume themselves because of the odor of the incense. The bride in Yerushalayim did not have to perfume herself because of the odor of the incense. Rabbi Yosi bar Diglai said, “My father had goats on the mountains of Mikwar and they use to sneeze because of the odor of the incense.” Rabbi Chiyya bar Abin said in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah, “An old man told me, ‘Once I walked towards Shiloh and I could smell the fragrance of the incense coming from its walls.’” When we spend regular time with Adonai in prayer, we also spend time with His Anointed One, HaMashiach, The Messiah Yeshua. When we spend time with Him we begin to take on a wonderful and pleasing aroma about us when we come before the Father. And, we bring this fragrant incense and pleasing aroma into the world, which has miraculous and healing properties, leading to “tikkun olam”, the fixing of the world. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 tells us, “But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life…”
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