The Altar of Incense Shows up Seven Times in Revelation. This altar is seven times noted (6:9; 8:3 twice; 8:5; 9:13; 14:18 and 16:7) in heaven; and is not an altar of burnt offering. Jesus was offered once and there are no animal sacrifices in heaven needed.
So the only other altar is the altar of incense. This altar is found in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Books of Moses (Exod. 30:1-10; Lev. 16:12; Num. 16:46) just in front of the Holy of Holies, the tiny room of God’s presence over the Ark of the Covenant.
This altar was a hollow, rectangular box, covered with gold, standing 3 feet high and a foot and a half square. Along the top of this Incense Altar was a small rail fence to hold burning coals from tumbling off as the priests came to offer burnt incense as a fragrant wrapping around the offered sacrifices.
Because the incense was offered before the first sacrifice and after the last, it is almost as if the offerings of the people were sent to God tied with the fragrant ribbons of perfumed incense smoke.
In the Old Testament, we saw last time the altar of incense in Exodus 30:1-10, shows the priority of prayer. Prayer (symbolized by the smoke rising from the golden incense altar), was closest to the Holy of Holies. In other words, prayer was what brought us closest to God.
But, the fire that burned the incense to make in smoke came from the coals taken off the brazen altar where the sacrifices for sin were burnt. So prayer is based on the sacrifice of Christ. Prayers can be made because Christ opened the way. Prayers rise before the very Throne of God. Prayer offers us immediate and constant access to Him at all and at any time.
In Luke 1:9-11 we meet Zacharias, father of John the Baptist as he tended the altar of incense. In Exodus 30 we find the detailed specifications of all each priest had to do twice a day. The time usually allocated for that rekindling of the coals, and refilling the incense spread on the coals was 30 minutes.
The altar of incense was closest to the Holy of Holies. It was the place that God specified as closest to Him. That altar was the one spot a priest could go at any time and be closest possible to God. The fire was to never go out, just like our prayers are never to cease.
Prayer Connects Us to the Throne of God