Exodus 30



                                    THE ALTAR OF INCENSE (vs. 1-10)


This chapter has the appearance of being one in which accidental omissions are supplied.

The natural place for a description of the altar of incense — part of the furniture of the

holy place (v. 6) — would seem to have been ch. 25:10-40, where we have the

descriptions of the ark, the mercy-seat, the table of shew-bread, and the candlestick;

the natural place for “the ransom of souls,” the earlier part of the same chapter (v. 3),

where the silver is required which was to be collected in this way; the natural place for

an account of the bronze laver, ch. 27., where the bronze altar, near which it stood, is

described; the natural place for the composition of the holy oil, ch. 29., where its use is

commanded (vs. 7, 21); and the natural place for a description of the perfume the same

as for the altar on which it was to be offered. Whether Moses made the omissions in

writing his record, and afterwards supplied them in the present chapter, or whether

Divine wisdom saw fit to give the directions in the order in which we now have them,

cannot be determined. Hitherto certainly no sufficient reason has been shown for the

existing order, which hence appears accidental. The altar of incense was to be in many

respects similar to the altar of burnt-offering, but of smaller size and richer material.

Both were to be “four-square,” and both of shittim wood cased with metal; but the

former was to be taller, the latter shorter, than it was broad; and while the latter was to

be cased with bronze, the former was to have a covering of gold. The place for the

altar of incense was the main chamber of the tabernacle, a little in front of the veil;

and its purpose was, as the name implied, the offering of incense to Almighty God.

This was to be done by the officiating priest, twice a day, morning and evening, and

in practice was performed before the morning, and after the evening sacrifice.  (On

a random note, I recommend Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions –

this web site - # 3 – CY – 2010)


vs. 1-10 – “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon” – there can be

little doubt that, in the main, incense symbolized prayer – (See Psalm 141:2; Luke

1:10)  of shittim wood shalt thou make it.  A cubit shall be the length thereof,

and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be

the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.  And thou shalt overlay

it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the

horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.  And two

golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners

thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places

for the staves to bear it withal.  And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood,

and overlay them with gold.  And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the

ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where

I will meet with thee.  And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense (literally

incense of perfumes”) every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall

burn incense upon it.  And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn

incense upon it” - The offering of incense by the high priest twice a day, at the time of

the morning and evening sacrifice, indicated that prayer was needed as constantly as

expiation, and that neither might for a single day be intermitted – “a perpetual

incense before the LORD throughout your generations.  Ye shall offer no

strange incense thereon, - By “strange incense” is meant any which was not

prepared according to the directions given in vs. 34-38.  Nor was the altar to

be use for the following:  nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall

ye pour drink offering thereon.”  For burnt-offering it was manifestly unfit; but the

prohibition of the others seems to show a determination to keep its use markedly

distinct from that of the brazen altar in the court, which was to receive all that was

offered either for expiation, or for self-dedication, or in gratitude. On the sole

exception made to this general law, see the comment on the next verse. “And Aaron

shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of

the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon

it throughout your generations:  it is most holy unto the LORD.”  Once in the

year, on the great day of atonement — the tenth day of the seventh month — the high

priest, after burning incense within the veil, and sprinkling the blood of a bullock and a

ram towards the mercy seat, was to take of the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar

of incense “to make an atonement for it — to cleanse it and hallow it from the

uncleanness of the children of Israel (Leviticus 16:18-19). This was not making it

an altar of expiation, but merely expiating it. There was, however, another use for the

altar, where it seems to have served for an altar of expiation. When the high priest had

sinned in his official character, and offered a sin-offering for his cleansing (Leviticus 4:3-12),

or when the whole congregation had committed an offence through inadvertence, and

did the same (ib, 13-21), the high priest was to put of the blood of the sacrifice on the

horns of the altar of incense, “for the expiation of his own sin and the sin of the

people (Keil). In these two cases, the altar of incense served the purpose of the altar

of burnt-offering, on which was put the blood of private sin-offerings (ib, 22-35). “It

 is most holy” -   There seems to be sufficient reason for considering the altar of incense

as, next to the ark and mercy seat, the most sacred object in the furniture of the tabernacle.

This precedence indicates the extreme value which God sets upon prayer.



                        The Symbolism of the Altar of Incense


We have seen that the ascent of incense signifies the mounting up to heaven of the grateful

odor of man’s earnest and heart-felt prayers. The altar, therefore, symbolizes

the heart which offers such prayers:


  • IN ITS MATERIALS. The altar is of acacia wood and gold — the one a

            symbol of soundness and strength, the other of purity. Prayer, to be

            acceptable, must proceed out of a true heart a sound, honest, sincere,

            strong heartnot one that is weak and unstable, one thing to-day and

            another to-morrow; but one that is consistent, steady, firm, brave, resolute.

            And it must also proceed out of a pure heart. The gold of the altar was to

            be “pure gold,” refined till every atom of the native dross was purged

            away. And the heart of the worshipper should be refined similarly. There is

            much native dross in the hearts of all men. The discipline of life, the

            furnace of affliction, under God’s blessing, does much to purge the dross.

            But something of it always remains. One only was absolutely pure. We

            must approach God through the intercession of Christ, and then our

            incense will mount up from a golden altar heavenwards.


  • IN ITS SITUATION. The altar was “by the ark of the testimony”

            directly in front of the mercy seat — very close to the Divine presence,

            therefore - Prayer brings us into the presence of God. The heart that is

            drawn upward, and fixed in worship and adoration in its Creator and

            Redeemer, feels itself near to Him. Near, very near; yet still separated by a

            veil. The eyes of the body cannot pierce that impenetrable curtain, which

            shrouds the invisible world from our eager, curious gaze. The heart itself

            cannot so lift itself up as to rise out of the present conditions of its mortal,

            finite nature, and really enter the empyrean [celestial]. There is still a veil

            between man and the spiritual world. Through death only can he pass

            beyond it.



            the might of prayer. By means of it the heart has power with God, can

            wrestle with him, as Jacob did; and as it were, force Him to bless it

            (Genesis 32:26). The parable of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8)

            illustrates this power. Let us follow her example; let us persist, let us

            besiege God with our prayers, for ourselves, for others, and we shall

            prevail with Him; at length He will hear us. It has been questioned in

            these “last days” whether prayer is ever answered; and tests have been

            proposed, by which men have hoped to demonstrate its inefficiency. But

            God will not be tested. “Thou shalt not tempt” (i.e. “try” or “test”) “the

            Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7) - He does not undertake to answer faithless,

            or even doubting, wavering prayers. The promise is — “Whoever shall say

            to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and

            shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he

            saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith (Mark 11:23).



                                    THE RANSOM OF SOULS (vs. 11-16)


The various commands given with respect to the tabernacle and its furniture would

necessarily involve a very considerable outlay; and it was important that Moses

should receive directions as to the source, or sources, whence this expenditure was

to come. In ch. 25:2-7, one source had been indicated, viz., the voluntary contributions

of the people. To this is now added a second source. On occasion of the numbering of

the people — an event which is spoken of as impending (v.12) — Moses was told to

exact from each of them, as atonement money, the sum of half a shekel of silver. The

produce of this tax was to be applied to the work of the sanctuary (v. 16), and it is found to

have formed an important element in the provision for the cost, since the total amount was

above a hundred talents, or, more exactly, 301,775 shekels (ch. 38:25). The requirement

of atonement money seems to have been based on the idea, that formal enrolment in the

number of God’s faithful people necessarily brought home to every

man his unworthiness to belong to that holy company, and so made him feel the

need of making atonement in some way or other. The payment of the half-shekel

was appointed as the legal mode under those circumstances. It was an

acknowledgment of sin, equally binding upon all, and so made equal for all; and it

saved from God’s vengeance those who, if they had been too proud to make it, would

have been punished by some “plague” or other (v.12).


vs. 11-16 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  When thou takest the

sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a

ransom” - Rather “an expiation,” “an atonement” — (as in ch. 29:33, 36) —

something to show that he was conscious of sin, and of his not deserving to be

numbered among God’s people – “for his soul unto the LORD, when thou

numberest them; that there be no plague among them” - “That they be not

punished for undue pride and presumption.”  There is no thought of such a plague as

was provoked by David’s numbering (II Samuel 24:1-25) – “when thou numberest

them.  This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are

numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty

gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.” – The burden

imposed by the tax was evidently a light one – “Every one that passeth among

them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an

offering unto the LORD.  The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not

give less than half a shekel” - This is very emphatic testimony to the equal value of

souls in God’s sight. The payment was “the ransom of a soul” (v.12) — an

acknowledgment of God’s mercy in sparing those whose life was justly forfeit.

As each soul that he has created is equally precious in His sight, and as He designs

equally the salvation of all — it was fitting that the same exact sum should be paid in

every case – “when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement

for your souls.   And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of

Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation;

that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make

an atonement for your souls.”  The application of the “atonement money” is stated

more distinctly in ch. 38:27-28. It was employed for the silver sockets that supported

the boards of the tabernacle, and for the hooks, capitals, and connecting rods of the

pillars which surrounded the court. Thus employed, it was a continual “memorial”

in the eyes of the people, reminding each man of his privileges and duties.



                                                The Atonement Money





            sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “If we say

            that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” -

            (I  John 1:8). There was to be no exemption. Moses and Aaron were to bring

            their half-shekel no less than the others; the priests had to make the offering,

            just the same as the laity; the rulers, as much as the common people. The

            lesson taught was, that every soul was guilty before God — all unclean in

            His sight, who “is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13) –

            all in need of pardon and cleansing. So far there was certainly “no difference”            

            (Romans 3:22). “Every mouth was stopped” (ib, 19). Boasting was excluded -         

            the right attitude of the soul towards God shown to be  one of humility,            

            deprecation, penitence.



            It is true to say, that all men equally are guilty in God’s sight; but it would

            not be true to say that all are equally guilty. Yet the same atonement was

            required of all. “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give

            less.” This marks that one and the same atonement is required, whatever be

            the degree of a man’s guilt, whether he be (so far as is possible) “a just

            man needing no repentance,” or “the chief of sinners.” On the man’s part is

            required in every case “repentance and faith;these, however, cannot

            atone. The true “atonement money,” the true “redemption,” the real

            ransom of souls,” is the DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST!  one and the

            same for all — necessary for all — not too much for the least, not too little

            for the most guilty; but “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins

            of the whole world.” It saves all that trust in it — saves them from wrath and            

            death saves them from sin — atones for them — puts them “AT ONE”

            with the FATHER!



            PERPETUAL MEMORIAL. There are those who are content to

            acknowledge that Christ has died for them, and has saved them, who yet

            object to giving the fact, what they call, undue prominency. They would

            acknowledge it once for all, and then have done with it. But this is not the

            general teaching of the Bible, nor is it that of the present passage. The

            atonement money” was to be so employed as to be “a memorial unto the

            children of Israel before the Lord” perpetually. They were to have the

            shapes of silver, into which it had been cast, ever before their eyes. And

            assuredly there is nothing in the whole range of spiritual facts which

            deserves such continual remembrance, such constant dwelling upon in

            thought, as the atonement made for us by Christ. Herein alone have we

            hope, trust, confidence. Hereby alone are we saved. The cross of Christ

            should be ever before the Christian’s eye, mind, heart. He should not for a

            moment forget it, much less be ashamed of it.




                                    THE BRAZEN LAVER (vs. 17-21)


That the tabernacle was to have an ample supply of water had been implied in the

directions given for the washing of Aaron and his sons at its outer door (ch. 29:4).

That it would contain some provision of the kind is further indicated by the

command to “wash the inwards” of victims (ibid. 17). We have now, in this

place, the special directions given to Moses on the subject. He was to provide a

brazen, or rather a bronze laver, which was to stand on a separate “foot,” or base,

of bronze, in the court of the tabernacle, between the entrance to the tabernacle

and the “brazen altar.” This was to be kept constantly supplied with water, and

was to furnish whatever might be needed for the various ceremonies. Among its

other uses, it was to supply liquid for the constant ablution of the priests, who were

to wash both their hands and their feet on every occasion of their entering the sacred

tent, and even on every occasion of their ministering at the brazen altar (v. 20).

This law was to be “a statute for ever” (v. 21), and its violation was to be

punished by death.


vs. 17-21 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make

a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put

it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put

water therein.  For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet

thereat” - Ablution by clear fresh water is so plain and simple a type of purity as to

have been used in almost all religions. The hands and the feet would designate

symbolically all a man’s active doings, and even his whole walk in life — his “goings

 outand his “comings in,” in the phraseology of the Hebrews. There would also be

a special practical need for such ablutions in the case of persons who were employed

about bloody sacrifices, who slew the victims, sprinkled, the blood, and even dashed

it against the base of the altar. On some rare occasions the priests were required to

bathe their whole persons, and not their hands and feet only ( ch. 29:4; Leviticus 16:4).

“When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with

water, that they die not” - Compare ch. 28:35, 43.  Contempt of the simple and

easy regulation to wash at the laver would imply contempt of purity itself; and so an entire

hypocrisy of life and character, than which nothing could be a greater offence

to God -  “or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made

by fire unto the LORD:  So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they

die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed

throughout their generations.”


Ultimately, both the laver and the font, both the priestly ablutions and the

Christian sacrament of baptism, are types of the true washing, which is




of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). “If Christ wash

us not, we have no part in him” (John 13:8). The saved in heaven are

those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of

the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). Baptism is “generally necessary” since

Christ came and instituted it; yet no one doubts that many unbaptized

persons have entered heaven. But not one has entered, or will ever enter,

whom the blood of Christ has not cleansed. “Wash me, Saviour, or I die,”

is the constantly repeated cry of every Christian heart.



            washed,” we are at once both “justified and sanctified” (I Corinthians

            6:11); both pardoned and made pure. Thus washed, we have access to the

            Father; we are made fit to enter His courts; our robes are made white, and

            not only our robes, but our souls. God will never reject one who comes to

            Him in the wedding garment of a robe that Christ has cleansed. Only we

            must be sure to keep our robes clean — we must not “defile our garments”

            (Revelation 3:4) — we must wash them again and again in the

            purifying blood; we must look nowhere else for salvation, but only to the

            Cross, and we must look to that perpetually.



                                    THE HOLY OIL (vs. 22-33)


The composition of the oil required for anointing the priests (ch. 29:7), the altar

(ibid. v. 36), the tabernacle itself (v. 26), and its furniture (vs. 27-28), was a

necessary matter for Moses to know, and is now declared with much minuteness; the

exact weight of each spice, and the exact quantity of the olive oil being given

(vs. 23-24) -  Directions are added for its use (vs. 26-30): and finally, a warning is

given against its application to any persons except the priests, or its composition for

any other purpose besides the use of the sanctuary.  (vs. 31-33)


vs. 22-33 –“Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 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,  And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel

of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:  And thou shalt make it an oil of holy

ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary” - Not a simple

mixture of the ingredients mentioned, but the product of trained skill and knowledge

applied to the materials. Jewish tradition says that the essence of each spice was

extracted from it, and only these essences mingled with the olive oil. We are told

later (ch. 37:29) that the task of preparing the holy oil was committed to Bezaleel

it shall be an holy anointing oil.” - The first application of the holy oil was to

be to the inanimate objects constituting the paraphernalia of worship:


  • The tabernacle itself as a whole;
  • The furniture of the holy of holies — the ark and mercy seat;
  • The furniture of the holy place — the show-bread table, the candlestick,

            and the altar of incense; and

  • The furniture of the court — the altar of burnt-offering, and the laver.

            After applying the oil to these, Moses was to proceed to the anointing of

            the priests. (Compare Leviticus 8:10-12.)  And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle

            of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table

            and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of

            incense,  And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver

                and his foot.   And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: 

                whatsoever toucheth them shall  be holy.  And thou shalt anoint Aaron

            and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in

            the priest’s office.”  Not till all his surroundings had received sanctification

            was Aaron to be consecrated. The tent, the ark, the table, the candlestick, the

            altar of incense, the brazen altar, the laver, and its base, each and all

            were to be touched with the holy oil, and thereby formally dedicated to God’s

            service (Leviticus 8:10-11), and then at last was Moses to “pour of the

            anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anoint him, to sanctify him” (ibid. 12).

            So God constantly prepares men’s spheres for them before He inducts them into

            their spheres. Even in the next world our Blessed Lord “prepares places for us.” 

            (John 14:1-3)  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying,

            This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. 

                Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured” - “it shall not be used by any privately

            as a mere unguent, but shall be reserved wholly for sacred purposes.”  neither

            shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it” - Rather, “after its

            proportion.’’ The Israelites were not forbidden the use of the different materials in

            their unguents, or even the combination of the same materials, provided they varied the

            proportions.  The object is simply that the holy oil should remain a thing separate and

            apart, never applied to any but a holy use.  it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 

            Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a

            stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.”



                                    The Sweetness of the Holy Oil


The holy oil had infused into it the essence of four “principal spices” — myrrh, that scents

the garments of the great king (Psalm 45:8; Song of Solomon 3:6); cinnamon,

the choicest of the spices of distant India; and sweet calamus, that exhales its best fragrance

when bruised; cassia, which, together with sweet calamus, formed one of

the glories of the market of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:19). How passing sweet must have been

the odor of these blended perfumes — each delicious alone — all enhanced by the

combination, which had taxed the best skill of the “apothecary” (v. 25)! But the

sweetness of our anointing oil is greater. “We have an unction from the

Holy One.” Our “anointing oil” is the Blessed Spirit of God.  (I John 2:20,27)

 What is there in all the experiences of this world so sweet to the weary soul as

He?  How sweet and dear is He:



            unperceivedly, without sight, or sound, or stir, the gentle influence comes

            — steals into the heart — only by degrees makes its presence known to us.

            A crisis — a manifest change — “tongues of fire,” or the rush of a “mighty

            wind (Acts 2:1-4) would cause the weak believer to tremble with fear, and     

            perhaps draw back to his undoing. Our “anointing oil” descends upon us soft

            as “the dew of Hermon, which fell upon the hill of Sion.”  (Psalm 133:3)


                                    “He comes, sweet influence to impart,

                                                A gracious willing guest,

                                    While he can find one humble heart

                                                Wherein to rest.”



            shocks, or sudden terrible alarms; but by the mild coercion of little checks

            and scarcely-felt restraints — by whispers softly breathed into the ear of

            the soul — by the suggestion of good thoughts — by the presentation of

            holy memories — does He effect His ends. Wise as any serpent, harmless as

            His own emblem, the dove, He feeds us as we are able to receive of Him. He

            has “milk” for such as stand in need of milk. He has “strong meat” for such

            as can bear it. (Hebrews 5:12) - Manifold and diverse are His gifts, but given

            to every man “to profit withal” (I Corinthians 12:7).


                                    “His is that gentle voice we hear,

                                    Soft as the breath of even,

                                    That checks each fault, that calms each fear.

                                    And speaks of Heaven.

                                    “And every virtue we possess,

                                    And every conquest won,

                                    And every thought of holiness,

                                    Are His alone.”



            once declared, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis

            6:3); and Scripture warns us that the Holy Ghost may be resisted”

            (Acts 7:51) and even “quenched” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). But how

            wonderful is His patience and forbearance towards those who thwart and

            oppose Him! How unwilling is He to give them up! How loath to quit their

            souls, and leave them to their own guidance! Assuredly He is “provoked

            every day” by each one of us. But He is not even angry — He simply

            grieves (Ephesians 4:30) — is “vexed” (Isaiah 63:10) — made

            sorrowful. No sooner do we show any signs of relenting than He forgives

            — encourages us, cheers, comforts, consoles. “There is a friend that

            sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)  Such a friend to man is

            “THE COMFORTER”.  (John 14:16)



            is the Christian’s privilege to speak with God “as a man to his friend”

            (ch. 33:11). With the indwelling Spirit we may ever have this

            mystic sweet communion.” Would we speak to Him at any moment, His

            ear is attent to hear. Unworthy as we are, unclean as we are, rebellious as

            we are, and self-willed, and self-seeking, He will commune with us, if we

            will commune with Him — He will tell us of the things of heaven, “guide us

            into all truth” (John 16:13), “receive of Christ’s and show it unto us”

            (ibid. 14). The sweetness of such commune is inexpressible — it may well

            ravish our heart” and make us “sick of love” (Song of Solomon 4:9, 5:8)



                                    THE HOLY INCENSE (vs. 34-38)


It remained to give directions concerning the composition of the incense, which,

according to v. 7, was to be burnt upon the altar of gold. That it was to be of one

and one only peculiar kind had been already implied in the prohibition to burn

strange incense” (v. 9). Moses is now told exactly how it was to be

composed. As the oil was to contain four spices, so was the incense to be

made of a like number — stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense — of

each the same quantity (v. 34). The art of the apothecary was to be called

in for making it up (v. 35). A portion of it was to be “beaten very small,”

and placed in front of the ark of the covenant, probably on the golden altar

outside the vail (v. 36). A prohibition is added, similar to that given with

respect to the holy oil: no one is to make any like it for private use, under

pain of being “cut off from his people” (vs. 37-38).


vs. 34-38 – “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:  And thou shalt make it a perfume, a

confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:

 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony” –

opposite the ark, but outside the veil. This near vicinity to the Divine Presence

rendered it most holy -  “in  the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will

meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.  And as for the perfume which

thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition

thereof” - None shall be made by any man for private use according to the same

recipe, since the compound, as described, is “holy unto the Lord.” If any man

does  so, he shall be “cut off from among his people”i.e., “put to death by

the civil authority.” (See ch. 31:14.)  it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.

 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off

from his people.”



                                                The Holy Incense


Let us note here:


  • THE COMPOSTION OF THE INCENSE (vs. 34-35). The utmost

            care was taken in the law that the incense should be properly composed, of

            the right materials, in the right proportion. Equal care is to be taken by

            Christians with their incense. Prayer is not to be adventured on rashly,

            carelessly, unpreparedly. The matter, even the very words, of prayer should

            be carefully weighed beforehand. To approach God with unworthy

            thoughts, to beseech Him for those temporal advantages which we ought to

            regard as of no moment at all, is to “pray amiss” — to approach Him with

            strange incense.” Equally unbecoming is it to use homely or over-familiar

            expressions in prayer. What we have to aim at is to reflect “the mind of

            Christ.” Christ has given us three pattern prayers:


ü      The Lord’s prayer; (Matthew 6-13)

ü      The intercessory prayer after the last supper (John 17.), and

ü      The prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).  Let

                        these be our frankincense, and stacte, and onycha. For a fourth

                        material, we may use the Psalms of David — especially the

                        penitential Psalms. We need not then to fear lest our incense should

                        be “strange.”



            A portion of the incense was to be “beaten very small, and. put before

            the testimony” i.e., before the ark and the presence of God, where it was

            to remain continually. It was not to be lighted, but to be in constant

            readiness for lighting. So there is in the Christian heart a prayerful temper,

            ever present before God, which God accepts and values, in the intervals

            between actual prayer. Our incense cannot always be mounting in cloud

            after cloud to the courts of heaven. But the temper may be in us, ready to

            kindle, at all times.  (I Thessalonians 5:17)


  • THE VALUE OF THE INCENSE. The incense was among the things

            that were “most holy (v. 36). God set special store by it. He would have

            it near Him — in front of the tabernacle — only just outside the veil — and

            He would have it there constantly. So it pleases Him to value the prayers of

            His saints. Angels offer them (Revelation 8:3). They ascend before His

            throne (ibid. v. 4). They are acceptable to Him. They have power with Him.

            “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”

            (James 5:16). One humble prayer, breathed by the publican, gained him

            forgiveness“justified” him. One earnest prayer, uttered by the penitent

            thief, obtained him Paradise. There is no limit to the value of faithful

            prayer, whereby we draw upon the Bank of Omnipotence!



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