MY CHRISTMAS INCENSE BURNS CONTINUALLY THROUGHOUT THE ADVENT SEASON. MY GRANDSON LOVES ITS FRAGRANCE. LUCAS DEFINITELY INHERITED THE LORD GOD’S GREAT DELIGHT IN PLEASING AROMAS
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.”
Luke 1:5-10 NIV
I just can’t leave this Holy Place. I know God wants to reveal to me many more truths as I observe this scene in Luke 1. I can vividly picture Zechariah lighting the alter of incense in my mind’s eye. I have my shoes off because surely the Lord is in this place and I am on Holy Ground.
Let me set this stage according to the very command of the Lord.
“Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there. “Every morning when Aaron maintains the lamps, he must burn fragrant incense on the altar. And each evening when he lights the lamps, he must again burn incense in the LORD’s presence. This must be done from generation to generation.”
Exodus 30:6-8 NLT
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 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. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord. Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.””
Exodus 30:34-38 NIV
Let me just share with you a character trait of God that just blows my mind. God has a sense of smell.
“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and ther he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the LORD was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things.” Genesis 8:20-21
Did you see it? Did you see the phrase “the LORD was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice”
The scene we read about in Luke 1 of Zechariah being chosen by lot to go into the Holy Place and light the Alter of Incense was an established ordinance given by God to Moses. God commanded the priests to burn incese on the golden alter every morning and evening, the same time that the daily burnt offerings were made. The incense was to be left burning contnually throughout the day and night as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. The incense was a symbol of the prayers and intercession of the people going up to God as a sweet fragrance. God wanted His dwelling to be a place where people could approach Him and pray to Him. The picture of prayer wafting up to heaven like incense is captured in David’s psalm and also in John’s vision in Revelations:
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“Another angel,who had a golden censer, came and stood at the alter. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelations 8:3-4
God is an amazing Author. His description He has given us of His Alter of Incense paints such a vivid picture I can actually be with Zechariah as he is lighting the incense. The pious and faithful Jews were gathered in the temple courts because it was time for the evening sacrifice and the lighting of the lamps. They had come knowing the priest would burn the incense as a representation of their prayers rising to heaven. Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth would have been there also watching with pride as her man wore his blue robe and approached the curtain to the Holy Place. She would have been in the Court of the Women. She too would have had a silent prayer on her lips to be carried up to heaven as the incense wafted upward.
May I tell this story as I see it unfolding in my mind’s eye from the vantage point of the MOST HIGH GOD.
“El Elyon, The Most High, The Only God, sat perched on His Throne. He had prepared all things. The time was drawing nigh. He could already feel the absence of His One and Only Son who was sitting on His right side. They had prepared together and now all the forces were gathering like a mighty rushing wind. The scene was set. This certain priest had been chosen. God had caused the lot to fall to this aged priest. God had heard the prayers of this righteous man and his wife for many years. The babe had been in God’s creative hand since the plan of salvation had been hatched between Him and His Son. God had even given the child a name, “John.” It means, “The Lord is Gracious.” The stage was set. It was time for the MAIN EVENT to begin unfolding. The one who would prepare the way for His Son was about to be announced to his soon to be parent’s. God called Zechariah to the quiet place, to an alone place, a place where it would only be Him and the soon to be father. The aroma drifted upward. The MOST HIGH GOD smelt the pleasing fragrance. He saw, He heard, and He felt each prayer of His people gathered to pray. He heard her heartache. He had felt it year after year. Now He would tell Elizabeth, “The Most High had not forgotten her.” He heard her pleas for many years now, but He just had a perfect timing and an “exceedingly abundantly great answer.” He was about to do something in her life that only He could do. “Gabriel,” God summoned as the pleasing aroma of incense and prayers filled the throne room. “I have a mission for you…”
God has a sense of smell. That just blows my mind. I really don’t know why. We are created in His image you know. I guess it is just another aspect of God that endears me to Him. He created my grandson, Lucas, with a great sense of smell. Lucas loves the fragrances of Christmas. (actually he loves alot of pleasing aromas just like my Heavenly Father.) I gave him “Cool Breeze” hand sanitizer yesterday. Then he wanted to try my “Green Apple.” Then he came over and wanted to smell my electric Christmas incense that burns continually during Advent Season. Really these aromas bring great pleasure to Lucas. And Lucas’ reaction is a reminder to me that my prayers and sacrifices are a pleasing aroma to THE LORD GOD. So why am I not offering them up to Him continually as the decree of the Alter of Incense suggests?