Monday, May 02, 2011

Sweet Smell


"The the Lord said to Moses, 
          Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and gal banum,sweet spices with pure frankincense...
          and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy." Ex. 30

I went on a side tangent while working on my bible study. Incense. It's widely used in Buddhism and initially it seemed strange to me that God would have such specific requirements for incense in Israel's worship. First He tells them to use these rich spices and then gives extremely detailed instruction on how to make the incense: use all parts equally, beat some of it very small, get it blended by the perfumer, don't use the perfume for yourself or else "you will be cut off from the people". Wow.

Then the Lord emphasizes twice, "It shall be for you holy to the Lord." It demanded careful creation and use. It's a foreign concept to us but it was part of the Israelite's life and the air they breathed. Even in the Psalms it's recognized as valuable to the Lord, Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Ps. 141:2

Part of me wants to cling to those external things that I can see, smell, touch. Then I found this:
      For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ. (kjv)
                        the aroma of Christ to God. (esv)

It's beautiful! We have something better. No longer do our prayers have to be mingled with incense because they are covered with Christ. He makes them presentable and sweet smelling to the Father. Believers are "the aroma of Christ" to God. I had to check several times to make sure that's really what it said! 

It motivates me to pray more, knowing that all of my dull words and weak faith are covered with Jesus' sweet savour. He doesn't hear me based on my merit or impressive word choice or state of heart. Rather, it's through our Saviour that we can "come boldly unto the throne of grace". 

Now I'd better get off this tangent and back to the bible study, but isn't that beautiful?


happygirl said...

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Rom 8:26

Sometimes I hang my hat on this verse when I don't know how to pray. When the hurt is too deep. Sometimes I rely on this verse when I'm too lazy to pray. That cannot possibly be right.

I love the smell of frankincense.

Kate said...

I have had these exact thoughts in the past few months while I read through Exodus - Deut. I kept thinking, "It's all so tangible! How lucky were they!?" But flipping over to Hebrews, I'm re-learning how the new covenant didn't move it all further away, but closer; inside instead of outside. But it's so hard for me to remember this sometimes and not to feel envious of parts of the OT covenant....