Lord God, to know you is life itself. Inform me now from your Word, transform, me now by your Spirit.
Read EXODUS 30:22–38
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels[a] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels[b] of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin[c] of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.
30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32 Do not pour it on anyone else’s body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.’”
34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”
- Exodus 30:23 That is, about 12 1/2 pounds or about 5.8 kilograms; also in verse 24
- Exodus 30:23 That is, about 6 1/4 pounds or about 2.9 kilograms
- Exodus 30:24 That is, probably about 1 gallon or about 3.8 liters
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.’1
In today’s reading we cover the second half of what might be described as an ancient ‘multi-sensory worship manual’ and the featured sense is that of smell. Candidly, the smell of perfume in church is distracting to me. Why do they have to wear so much of that stuff? In the tent of meeting, however, the perfumer was an important member of the worship team and strong aromas were a noticeable feature of the service. Why?
We find two answers in the text. The first is the recipe and instructions for making the anointing oil and incense, both of which would have created a powerful smell. On a practical level, perhaps the extravagant perfume would counteract the smells of animal sacrifice, but a second and more significant theme emerges when we consider the following words woven into the chapter: consecrate, sacred, holy. The strong perfume signaled the holiness of God and therefore the reason for worshipping him. By engaging the sense of smell, God was providing the worshippers with an unforgettable reminder of that fact.
There’s even more going on here, however, because anointing oil (vs 25,31) was also a symbol of a person receiving the Holy Spirit.2 In our church after someone is baptized, the priest anoints their forehead with oil and says, ‘You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever’. When our children and grandchildren were small enough to hold in my arms, I’d sometimes look them in the eyes and mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross as a way of reminding their little hearts who they really belong to and who loves them most of all. For the Israelites, the anointing oil and perfume were two more reminders that their Heavenly Father wanted to meet with them (v 36).
In prayer, imagine you are still a child and your Heavenly Father is holding you. Imagine him looking you in the eyes, smiling and holding you even closer.
Patient Father, empower me to pray to you. Lord, teach me to pray so my prayers are pleasing to you.
1 Eph 5:2 2 See 1 Sam 16:13
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