Saturday, May 30, 2009

Verse of the Day-- Exodus 30:25

"Make these into a sacred annointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred annointing oil." Exodus 30:25

As God lays out the precepts and procedures for Tabernacle worship, He fully engages all of the human senses. The preceding verses in Exodus 30 list an exact recipe for the sacred annointing oil, which was comprised of myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil. It must have had a very distinctive aroma.

I make preparations from essential oils. The scents come in tiny bottles of essential oil, and I mix them by drops in "carrier" oils which are predominantly unscented, or very lightly scented. I can custom make moisturizers, preparations to treat various skin conditions, and facial products. I have a small cardboard box in my closet where I store all my essential oil materials, and it smells so nice!

Reading the recipe for sacred annointing oil makes me want to go online and order the ingredients to try it out and see what it was like.

However, God's Law goes on to warn against casual usage of the sacred annointing oil... "Anoint Aaron and his sons [the holy priesthood chosen by God] and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. Say to the Israelites, 'This is to be my sacred annointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men's bodies and do not make any oil with the sacred formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.'" (Exodus 30:30-33)

I'm pretty sure "cut off from his people" means put to death, but even if it just means that he would be banished forever, it is a pretty harsh consequence for stealing a perfume recipe. Or is it?

The issue is what is sacred. There have been many discussions about the sacred and the profane. Sacred things are holy, set apart, things of God. Profane things are common, earthy, and sometimes sinful. The books of the Law show God making clear delineations between the two and keeping them separate.

Under grace, we who belong to Jesus are sacred, because we have His Holy Spirit inside of us. Everything we do should have that sacred aroma of His presence about it. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who is in us because we have received Him from God.

Sometimes we take for granted the incredible blessing God has bestowed on us in granting us this sacred standing. Sometimes as we live in this physical, material world, we feel that to be set apart and holy is too hard and we blur the line between the sacred and profane, assuming (wrongly) that since we are sacred, anything we do is therefore sacred by association. Sometimes we actually stop living like God's children and seek instead to emulate the world. I don't expect that this is particularly pleasing to Him.

Under grace, rather than being required to obey an impossible system of laws, we are filled with the Holy Spirit who enables us to love God, love God's Word, and love God's ways. Ultimately this begets Spirit fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22), and we start to act like Jesus, and eventually even look like Him (see Ephesians 4:17-32, Colossians 3:1-17, 2 Peter 1:3-11).

Then, when we come before God, we not only look and sound beautiful in our actions and our words... we even smell beautiful. His sacred annointing is poured out on us (2 Corinthians 1:21--He anointed us), and we are perfumed with the glorious scent of His grace.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Verse of the Day...Exodus 27:21

In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.
Exodus 27:21

The Tent of Meeting is also known as the Tabernacle, God's dwelling place. God gave precise instructions to Moses for how this dwelling place was to be built (Exodus 25-30). Scripture records in detail how explicitly the Israelites followed God's instructions (Exodus 35-39). God's promise throughout was this: "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." Exodus 25:8

Besides the Tent of Meeting, this verse refers to the Testimony. That is the Testimony of God, God's Word, otherwise known as the Commandments of God, which Moses received on the mountain, on tablets of stone. These stone tablets were stored in the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies, in the deepest room of the Tabernacle, the place where God dwelt.

When I read about the Tabernacle, I am always struck by how the beauty God asked them to craft was hidden under layers and layers of coverings. The golden Ark of the Covenant was hidden in the innermost part of the Tabernacle, and was not to be seen by anyone except the High Priest, and even he only approached it once a year.

This hiding away speaks to me of humility. We are not to flaunt our blessings, but to keep them quietly in our hearts and treasure them. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she did not go around boasting. She did not say, "I am the mother of God, and angels sang at his birth!" No! Luke tells us, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

This hiding away also speaks to me of prudence. God is holy and wonderful. Matthew 7:6 says, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." We are to guard the things of the Lord with reverence and awe.

But today's verse tells of a light in the hidden place, a light that was kept burning all night, every night, so that the testimony of God would never be in the dark. You can read about the beautiful lampstand that kept the interior of the tabernacle lit (Exodus 25:31-40). This light was a witness that God is real, that He is alive, and that He desires to show Himself to us.

God showed Himself to us through Jesus, His Son.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. Without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-5)

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)

Jesus is the light of the world, but we are to emulate Him, to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). That must be why Matthew tells us Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14)

We must burn with holy passion for Jesus, so that the world will see and wonder and long for God. This is our witness, not that we shout in people's faces, but that we dwell in God's presence and, like Moses, emerge with a glowing face (Exodus 34:29-35).

Do you remember the old children's song...

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Give me oil in my lamp I pray,
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Keep me burning till the break of day.

May we have a lasting passion for Jesus that never goes out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I'm finding that I need a little accountability.

I'm out of a routine right now, and my Bible study habits are starting to show it. This blog is to help me, and anyone who wants to travel the road with me, to keep accountable with a daily quiet time with the Lord.

Each day, I will try to publish a verse of the day (VOTD). It will be taken from my daily Bible reading. Some days I will write out my thoughts on it, other days I may just type it out and leave it at that.

Today's verse of the day is Psalm 50:12, where God says, "If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." This verse fills me with confidence in the all-sufficiency of the Lord. He does not need us to solve His problems! On the contrary, we need Him to solve ours... which He does with wisdom and grace beyond our imaginations (and sometimes beyond our understanding).

God can handle anything. And He loves us, so we can follow Peter's instructions: "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)