Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Recipes for the Anointing Oil and Incense

22 Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:
25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.
34 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.
38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people. (Ex. 30:22-38)
In these verses the Lord gives Moses directions for a recipe for holy anointing oil and for incense. The oil was for anointing and sanctifying the tabernacle and the priests. The Incense was to be burned in the tabernacle. Both were to be holy and not used for any other thing outside the tabernacle. Anyone who made it and used it for other purposes was to be cut off (or excommunicated).

Why was this so important? Why was it to be so exclusive?

It seems to me that the Lord was trying to use the power of smells and how they create strong associations with memories and feelings. He wanted a particular set of smells to be associated with the act of anointing and with going into the tabernacle.

Smells create atmosphere, and they are a good symbol for how the Spirit of God creates an atmosphere when present as part of priesthood ordinances and holy places.

Also, often smells of places cling may cling to people, and if people who had been worshipping at the tabernacle had those smells on them, everyone who came close would know where they’d been and what they’d been doing and associate it with the tabernacle and the positive feelings of that. Those associations would strengthen over time. Perhaps those who were distanced from God could be reminded by smelling those smells again from other people around them who worshipped faithfully at the temple.

How might this be useful to us today? What if parents had a particular perfume or cologne they only used after having gone to the temple? It might do the same thing for them and their family.

More lessons I get from these verses:
1)    The anointing oil can symbolize the Spirit of God. If so, then we can’t (and should not try to) imitate the workings of the Spirit. Attempts to imitate would amount to emotional manipulation, which isn’t what the Lord wants. The Lord wants us to imitate Christ’s works, but let the Spirit work as it will.
2)    The incense can represent prayer, since it was to be burned will the priests prayed. Thinking about the ingredients of the incense might make us think about the proper ingredients of prayer—humility, submission, requests for help, gratitude for blessings, confessions for sins, requests for forgiveness, pleas for protection from temptation, requests for guidance, confidences about one’s situation and feelings, praise and adoration for mercy and power manifest, etc.

Update on the Revelation Commentary: I’m still working hard on it!  My word count is up to about 153,000 right now. The whole thing has been drafted, but each chapter requires multiple draft iterations for refinement. I’m very excited about it.