Exodus Chapter 30, Verses 1-6
:1 “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. 2 A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the
sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. 4 And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. 5 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And thou shalt put it
before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.”
The children of Israel were to make an additional altar besides the brazen altar that was before the tabernacle. This was an incense altar on which the High Priest would burn incense. The altar was to be foursquare:
The term, "four square," implies precision. For something to be four square the four sides must all be the exact same length and the four corners must be exactly 90 degrees. The works and buildings of man are almost never that precise. The most precise instruments and machine measurements have some tolerances.
This is the third time in the scriptures we read of things that were to be four square.
The first time is in Ex. 27:1, "And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad; the altar shall be four square: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. This brazen altar was where the burnt offering was made. There was to be a continual fire burning in the brazen altar and the lamb or other sacrifice was to be burnt on this brazen altar. Of
course this ceremony typifies the sufferings of Jesus on the cross for his elect people.
The second time four square appears is in Ex. 28:15, 16, "And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work Foursquare it shall be being doubled" This breastplate of judgment was worn next to the heart of the high priest when he went into the holy place. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were inscribed on twelve stones that were
arranged in rows on the breastplate of judgment. Thus the high priest bore the names of the children of Israel upon his heart in the breastplate of judgment when he went into the holy place for a memorial before the Lord continually. This typifies the Lord Jesus Christ bearing the elect family of God in his heart when he entered heaven itself offering his own blood for their sins and this offering being accepted of
The third time four square is mentioned is in Ex. 30:1, 2, "And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon of shittim wood shalt thou make it. A cubit shall be the length thereof and a cubit the breath thereof; four square shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be the same." It was upon this golden incense
altar that the high priest burned incense when he went into the holy place. According to Rev. 8:3, 4 this ceremony pointed to the intercessory work of Jesus Christ interceding on behalf of the elect family of God; "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before
the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." This harmonizes with Rom. 8:34, 35 where we are assured that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God making intercessions for all the elect.
Next, the incense altar was to be made of shittim wood and was to be overlaid with pure gold. The shittim wood is a destructible material whereas the gold is an indestructible material. Thus, the incense altar would be symbolic of one who had both a mortal nature and an immortal nature. The incense altar would be symbolic of the person of Jesus Christ as he walked upon the earth.
Moreover the incense altar had a golden crown, which points us to Christ and his reigning as king of the kingdom of God and of his victorious triumph over the enemies of his elect people; sin, death, hell, grave, and Satan.
The incense altar had rings in which staves were inserted in order to carry the incense altar. Man’s hands were not to come upon the incense altar as it pointed us to the perfect and solitary work of Jesus Christ in redeeming his people from their hands. That it was carried by means of two rings points us to the principle that the purpose of the gospel is to exalt Jesus Christ and
what he had done for his people in redeeming them from their sins.
“And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.” The placement of the incense altar teaches us that the Lord meets with his people based on his covenant work as testified by the ark of the testimony and by his mercy as testified by the mercy
seat and through his intercessory work as testified by the incense altar.