Imagine you are a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, and Aaron living in the land of Egypt. You are merely an odious slave living in the midst of pagans, and you have begun to live and worship like the idolaters about you. When God looks your way, like the Egyptians, your stench is unacceptable to him.
However, God has determined to love you. He has seen you in your miserable state, and for his own name’s sake, he has promised to rescue and redeem you. He will transition you from one in putrid bondage to one offering forth the sweet fragrance of acceptable worship.
Therefore, God sends Moses your way. He is the Lord’s mediator, savior, prophet, priest, and almost-king. God blesses his work, and he is successful in leading you out of bondage and into his glorious light. How fantastic it is as he leads you from your Egyptian hell-hole right up to the very mountain of God.
Moses then receives and passes on teachings from the Lord to you and your neighbors. Some of these teachings are engraved on tablets of stone; others are penned on parchment, but together they prescribe how you and your brothers are to worship God and love your neighbors. However, within the Ceremonial Laws, the Gospel of God’s unconditional love is also presented for you who know you can never keep his Law.
In reading these Ceremonial Laws, you discover you have a special calling. As a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, and Aaron, you are called to be a priest. Yes, though your sins are as great as anyone else’s, you have a special role to play.
As a priest, you are to approach the great altar with a bloody sacrifice. You are to publically proclaim to yourself to be a horrid sinner deserving of damnation and death. Then, you are to slaughter a sacrificial animal knowing this represents the slaughtering of the Lamb of God who would someday be provided by the Lord. You know someone holy and blameless must die in your place, for your sins, and this you preach by your participation in this required ceremony.
Next, you are to approach the water basin. There you are to wash and proclaim to all your gifted cleanliness. You are preaching louldy how God has removed the stain of sin from you. This is his work; it is not of your own doing or participation.
Then you are to approach the holy place. What a privilege, for only priests who are covered by the blood and washed by the water are allowed safe entrance. You are a privileged one — one who can come incredibly close to the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant. That’s right, you can come within feet of the throne of God and the place upon which his Shekinah Glory dwells, and most never get this opportunity. For anyone else, it is dangerous, but not for you on this particular day. As long as you stay on your side of the curtain, and offer forth his acceptable worship, all will be fantastic. This is where you are to be found. There is no better place for you to be as his priest, for your sovereign God has bid you come and enter.
Within the holy place, on your side of the curtain, you are to approach the Table of Showbread. Special bread has been provided for you and your household. You are to eat from the Bread of Life, and there you are reminded to be the good shepherd who is to leave and feed God’s flock.
While there, you are to approach the Candlestick. While tending the wicks, you are to be reminded that God is the Light of the World. You are also reminded that you are to shine forth his light so that all may see his glorious deeds.
You are also to approach the Altar of Incense:
You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. A cubit shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold … And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations. You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it … It is most holy to the LORD. (Exodus 30:1-10)
The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.” (Exodus 30:34-38)
At this altar, you are to take that prescribed by God and give it back to him. Yes, before his throne, next to his presence, you are to stand as one perfectly redeemed, thoroughly atoned for, completely washed, fantastically fed, and lit up by God’s light, and there you are to offer forth the acceptable fragrance custom-designed by God. At this time, you are also to pray, and this is to be the most precious experience you will ever have between you and God. There will be nothing sweeter for the rest of your life, unless you were to happen to become the High Priest who was finally called into God’s Holy of Holies on the other side of the curtain.
And all of this was only due to grace. This was your gracious privilege, because you were a chosen descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This was your gracious privilege because you were a son of Levi and Aaron chosen by the lot of God.
However, for those of us on this side of Christ’s New Covenant work on Mt. Calvary, our lot is even better. Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest, and we are his incense. We are that presented by the Son to the Father, and all we have to do is smell good … which is what we do. Christ is the one who offers forth the work of his hands, and his Father is delighted by what he smells. Stop and meditate upon this. Christ does all the work, and we just have to be what we are.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life …. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
But, like the sons of Levi and Aaron, we get to participate in worship:
- We too are horrible sinners
- We too ar chosen
- We too are fully atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ
- We too are forever washed by the water of Christ
- We too are called to enter the Holy Place
- We too are called to follow and be his light
- We too are called to eat upon and feed with his bread
- We too are called to offer incense, smell good and pray
But our lot as New Covenant Priests is better than the Sons of Aaron:
- We are graced to come all the way into the Holy of Holies (Curtain is gone)
- We are graced to come boldly, every single day
- We are graced to never leave, for we have become his glorious dwelling place
- We are privileged to sit on thrones beside him
Listen to God’s Word and see if this is true:
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:5-9)
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Friends, we are the one’s covered by the Lamb of God, washed by the Water of Life, and called to proclaim this to all who are watching from the outside.
We are the ones fed by the Bread of Life. Fresh grace is ours to chew upon as we partake of his Word and his Table. And we are the one’s called to share the wealth with others. It was Christ who said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.”
We are the ones who follow the Light, walk in the Light, and are called to be lights on a hill. We are to shine brightly as those set ablaze by his Shekinah Glory.
And we are the ones perfumed by God. Christ is our High Priest and he offers us to God as his handiwork, and as such we are so pleasing to the Father.
And we are the ones who are to offer forth our own fragrance custom-made by God, and in doing so we are to smell good to some of our neighbors while always smelling delightful to our Father.
Oh friends, in this devotional, I wanted to encourage you to realize whose you are, where you are, and how you smell. You are his chosen child. You are his holy priest. You are in his holy place. You are in his holy presence, and right before you is his sacred altar, candlestick, table, and ark. You are Christ’s incense, and you hold Christ’s incense in your hand. Therefore, there is only one thing left to do. Go ahead, light your fire, burn your incense, and enjoy glorifying God with fantastic, free, and fun holiness. All day long, perfume the presence of the Lord. He has made you smell so good, and he loves what he has done.