The Formula for Adding Spice to Worship

Exodus 30:22-38

Yahweh sets forth the FORMULA for ANOINTING OIL and INCENSE in Exodus 30:22-28. Exodus 30:22-33 contains the ingredients for making ANOINTING OIL—

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. Say to the Israelites, `This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same 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 30:34-38 contains the ingredients for the making of INCENSE—

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 Testimony 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 any like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from his people.”

Both the ANOINTING OIL and the INCENSE are to be a FRAGRANT BLEND that smells sweetly. Certainly, the FRAGRANT BLEND pictures Jesus Christ as does everything else in the Tabernacle. Psalm 45:7-8 relates the sweetness of Jesus—

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.

The formula for ANOINTING OIL consists of four FINE SPICES.

MYRRH is the embalming spice that foreshadows Christ’s love poured out in His bitter but fragrant death.

CINNAMON speaks of the ZEAL or ZEST of Christ.

CANE comes from the Hebrew root-word meaning TO STAND UPRIGHT. It grows in the MIRE. Jesus grew in the quagmire of this world, yet stood upright without sin. As with a reed, wicked men took Him, bound and bruised Him. But what fragrance has filled heaven and earth through the bruising of that Reed.

CASSIA has a name derived from the Hebrew root signifying TO STOOP DOW as in worship. It speaks of Christ’s submission to the Father.

And the OLIVE OIL is a figure of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:38 says—

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Song of Solomon 1:3 says of Christ—

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!

That’s the TYPICAL significance of the FORMULA. Now, I want to take the FORMULA and apply it ALLEGORICALLY. For the purpose of illustration, I am going to use the formula of four spices to teach about our worship. And since worship is the emphasis of this chapter, I am on solid ground.

I was intrigued by the Cover Story of the October 6th issue of Christianity Today—MISSING GOD AT CHURCH? Its author, Gary Burge, who teaches NT at Wheaton College, wrote—

I believe evangelicals are yearning to recapture worship that lifts us—as a medieval cathedral lifted the eyes of the fourteenth-century—to truly meet God.

His point is that modern society has lost a sense of divine, holy space. The splendor and holiness of cathedrals which created the ultimate feeling of divine space has been replaced by gymnasiums and impermanent buildings. A sanctuary should be a place that is completely separate—that radiates the holiness of God.

He finds that students at Wheaton College are drawn to the Episcopal and Greek Orthodox churches, which have magnificent cathedrals and liturgical worship. His solution, therefore, for evangelical worship, which for himself lacks majesty and mystery, is liturgy and atmosphere—a sanctuary with stained class windows, high ceilings, carved angels on the walls and religious symbols scattered throughout the sanctuary.

This article caused me to pause and ask some hard questions—“Are believers Missing God at Church?” Yes, I would agree, many are! Are magnificent sanctuaries and the way we do church the answer?

Though people worshiped in magnificent cathedrals in the 14th century, they were spiritually dead! It was the dark ages!

Certainly, the first church of Jerusalem had no magnificent cathedrals or sanctuaries. It met daily at the Temple courts and eventually in houses. Their worship services were time tested—they reached back to the days of Ezra, when the synagogue came into existence. Except for the Lord’s Supper, baptisms and prayers in the name of Jesus, one would not have been able to distinguish synagogue worship from church worship. There was singing of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and reading and exposition of Scripture in no particular sequence in both the synagogue and church. The agape meal lasted in church until the 4th-century. Influenced by observance of festivals by Jewish and pagan religions, the church developed a liturgical year.

In 313 A.D., Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, which spawned the building of splendid cathedrals along with longer and more colorful services. The mysticism of the pagans, who were attracted to these churches, was introduced into the Lord’s Supper, resulting in the MASS. The Communion Table gave way to the altar to offer sacrifices and prayers, which the people were no longer allowed to offer for themselves. The Lord’s Supper turned from a joyful service of thanksgiving to the awesome objective sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.

The MASS became the watershed of worship. Worshipers became mere spectators observing the priestly activity at the altar. The 16th-Century Reformation brought a shortening of the Mass by LUTHER. ZWINGLI denounced the Mass, but eliminated congregational singing and the use of the organ in worship. CALVIN’S aim was to return to the worship practices of the early church. He endorsed congregational singing, especially the Psalms. He gave the sermon the most important place in the worship service.

Three groups of worshipers settled in the American colonies: Those of the Anglican Church, who worship with a fixed liturgy. Puritans, who rejected all forms in worship. And the third group, who attempted to worship according to the Word of God, with preaching being dominant.

REVIVAL in America introduced to worship intensely personal songs to raise the emotional pitch of the congregation and the evangelistic sermon was followed by an altar call. The Lord’s Supper was limited to semiannually or quarterly and corporate prayer diminished. In the 19th-Century, the Chautauqua movement turned worship services into entertainment—killing the churches of England. This movement died in America, but has raised its head again!

Much is being written and said about how we DO worship today! Doing worship involves many things, such as PRAYING, SINGING, SHOUTING, DANCING, PROCLAIMING, LISTENING, CONFESSING, MEDITATING, SERVING, EATING, DRINKING, THANKSGIVING and PRAISING. I like to think of these things as the INGREDIENTS of worship.

Worship is like a POT OF STEW, with its variety of vegetables and meat. How we chop the meat and vegetables makes little, if any difference to the taste and smell of the stew. It is when the appropriate SPICES are added—the stew packs zest!

Many find worship lacking zest—stale, tasteless, uninteresting! Worship, however, is to have a zesty flavor and fragrance! That’s the point of the fragrant anointing oil and incense!

The Tent of the Meeting, that is the Tabernacle, and its furnishings typify Christ, Salvation, the Christian, and worship. The applied anointing oil of spices identified these objects as uniquely set apart for service to God, while adding zest to “doing worship” at the Tabernacle.

FOUR FINE or CHIEF SPICES were blended together with olive oil to make a sweet smelling fragrance. The fragrance of the spices evenly saturated the olive oil so that not one took precedence over the other. To leave one of the spices out of the mixture might make it smell more like a sunk! I submit that BAD ODORS instead of a sweet fragrance rise to God when Christians leave out any of THE FOUR FINE SPICES OF WORSHIP.

What is WORSHIP? There is a rule of thumb when it comes to defining terms of the Bible that the word’s first usage supplies its basic meaning. The very first time the word WORSHIP appears in the Bible occurs in Genesis 22:5, when Abraham said to his servants—

“Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Consider Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22. There are four spices present in Abraham’s act of worship. These four spices when blended will add zest to any Christian’s worship.

The FIRST SPICE of Abraham’s worship is THE FEAR OF THE LORD—“Now I know you fear God” declared the angel of the LORD. The Hebrew word (ary yare’) translated FEAR denotes the emotion of fear, reverence, awe, righteous behavior or piety, as well as formal religious worship. At Mt. Sinai, the Israelites saw God’s awesome display of thunder, lightning and smoke and they trembled with fear.

They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

THE FEAR OF THE LORD is a healthy motivation that produces righteous living. This kind of practical fear of God that kept the midwives from killing the Israelite boys in Egypt. That same FEAR OF GOD moved Abraham to obey God’s command without hesitation. The text records, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.”

Fear and worship are combined in passage like Revelation 15:4 —

Who will not FEAR you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and WORSHIP before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Uncircumcised Gentile believers, such as Cornelius, were identified as GOD-FEARING in NT times. The God-fearer implemented his awe and reverence in practical righteousness or piety. It is said of Job that “he feared God and shunned evil.” Psalm 112:1 declares—

Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

To fear the LORD is to OBEY Him as Abraham did—even at great cost to self. God’s term for this cost is SACRIFICE. To SACRIFICE is to voluntarily suffer deprivation. Because Abraham feared God, he was willing to obey God’s command in Genesis 22:2—

Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.

In Hebrews 11:17-19, the Holy Spirit reveals it was because of Abraham’s KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING of God that he did not hesitate to OBEY this most difficult, perplexing, and trying command—

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

I am convinced that the KEY VERSE of the Bible is Proverbs 9:10—

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Abraham’s RESPONSE to God’s REVELATION illustrates that knowledge of the Holy One had so saturated his understanding that Abraham was willing to worship God in God’s way, even to the point of sacrificing his beloved Isaac.

At the heart of Christian worship, therefore, is God Himself. In order truly to worship two fundamental elements are needed: REVELATION, through which God shows Himself to man, and RESPONSE.

Martin Luther claimed that “TO KNOW GOD IS TO WORSHIP HIM.” In so saying, Luther embraced both aspects of worship—revelation and response. He also insisted that worship is not an optional extra for the godly person, but an essential symptom or expression of that knowledge.

Psalm 19 tells us that God has made Himself known through His creation, His written Word, and through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

Christian worship depends on that revelation. Therefore, worship is founded on THEOLOGY—the knowledge of God. The shortest route to deeper and richer worship is a clearer theology. This will enable the worshiper to know who, and how great and how good, God is. Also, theology will inform the worshipper how God wants worship to be expressed.

As the Bible opens, we discover that all worship is not acceptable to God. Adam and Eve tried to hide their nakedness with fig leaves, instead God provided animal skins. Cain brought some fruits of the soil to worship God, but on Cain and his offering God did not look with favor. God asks Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”

Good intentions in worship are worthless if they do not adhere to God’s revelation. Consider the scene in 2 Samuel 6:3-8—

They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

What’s wrong with this scene? Everyone’s worshiping God with all their might and a man dies! Several spices are missing from this scene, especially FEARING GOD and OBEYING GOD.

Following the example of the Philistines, David had made a terrible mistake! God had given specific instructions about moving the Tabernacle and its furnishings, David did not follow those instructions because He didn’t know the Scriptures. The Ark was to be carried by its poles by priests!

Someone might say, “Well, the Philistines didn’t either, and they got away with it.” They got away with it because they were ignorant. They didn’t have the Scriptures. Light creates responsibility. If you have a Bible, God is going to hold you responsible for knowing it, whether you read it or not!

My advice is—study God’s Word—someday we’ll stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and things we did our way will be consumed in fire, but the things we did God’s way will be rewarded. That’s the teaching of the Word of God, whether you like it or not!

Look at the next verse, 2 Samuel 6:9—

David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?”

Literally, “David FEARED THE LORD that day.” Now with the proper awe and respect for God, David finally asks, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” He’s ready to obey God.

Now drop down a few verses, to the middle of verse 12, for another indispensable SPICE of worship—

So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David WITH REJOICING.

REJOICING—JOY. The Hebrew word hxms (simchah) denotes joy coming from one’s whole disposition—heart and soul! Its the joy of meeting a loved one! The LORD told Moses, “Aaron is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad/rejoice when he sees you” (Exodus 4:14).

The Shorter Westminster Catechism says, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Failure to worship or serve the LORD with gladness/joy will bring His judgment according to Deuteronomy 28:47—

Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

One of the many PARADOXES of Scripture is that SUFFERING PRODUCES JOY! Listen to James 1:2-3—

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Paul writes the same thing in Romans 5:3-4—

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

If you have trouble rejoicing in the LORD, God has a solution—SUFFERING!

Case in point. The Israelites returned from seventy years of captivity in Babylon to find Jerusalem in a state of rubble. God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to rebuilt the walls of the city. Against tremendous opposition, obstacles and difficulties the Israelites rebuilt the walls in fifty-two days. Nehemiah 12:27 records—

At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to CELEBRATE JOYFULLY the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.

Verse 34 emphasizes—

And on that day they offered great sacrifices, REJOICING because God had given them GREAT JOY. The women and children also REJOICED. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

BECAUSE GOD HAD GIVEN THEM GREAT JOY—it is God that receives the GLORY! He gets the THANKS—not Nehemiah! In a section of Scripture dealing with worship, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31—

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Worship that does not give God glory is no worship at all! Psalm 29:2 says—

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Glory is God’s right, and He stands upon His right; and this the sincere Christian knows, and therefore he gives God His right, he gives Him the honor and the glory that is due unto His name.

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals—but God did not receive the glory—they moved the Ark on a cart instead carrying it with poles! They gave God the finger—not the glory! All respect and awe for God as well as His commands are missing from their worship!

THE OT ENDS ON A SAD NOTE! The Israelites of Malachi’s day were robbing God of tithes and offerings, showing contempt and profaning for the LORD’s Table by bringing blind, crippled or diseased animals for sacrifice. Many were divorced. Injustice impoverished the poor. People flooded the LORD’s altar with tears, but their worship wearied the LORD.

Instead bringing glory to God by their actions, these people had diminished His Name. God, therefore, lamented in Malachi 1:10-11—

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.

My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

In other words, Israel’s worship displeased God so He would seek acceptable worship from the Church since the nation Israel was unwilling to glorify His Name—their impure offerings lacked the sweet smelling incense—the zest of worship!

Let’s return to Abraham on Mt. Moriah. So far we have discovered the first two spices of His worship— FEARING GOD and OBEYING GOD. But what about ENJOYING GOD and GLORIFYING GOD?

On the surface, the text doesn’t reveal anything about ENJOYING GOD. But read between the lines— put yourself into Abraham’s shoes—you’re about to slay your son—and the Angel of the LORD stops you and supplies a ram in thicket as a substitute! Oh, you just another every day occurrence! No—you would be overwhelmed with JOY! Abraham enjoyed God that day!

And Abraham glorified God that day. Look at verse 14—

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

Yes, God received the glory of his worship that day!

Interestingly, Abraham was directed this particular place to worship God—Mount Moriah. On this mount in Jerusalem, the Temple would be built by King Solomon and the Shekinah glory of God would take up residence. Here would be the acceptable place of worship for centuries until Jesus came.

One day, Christ encountered a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The Samaritans had discarded all the OT Scriptures except for the five books of Moses. Rejecting God’s revelation, they built a Temple on Mt. Gerizim and practiced meaningless and unacceptable worship that brought no salvation according to Jesus.

To worship must we find a stained glass Cathedral? Jesus says, “NO!” He emphatically states, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

TRUTH signifies responding to God’s revelation—the Bible! SPIRIT signifies adding the required SPICES to worship!

To worship in SPIRIT, one obligated to . . .

Fear God
Glorify God
Enjoy God
Obey God—even to the point of making great sacrifices.

Add these four fine spices to your worship and it will be zesty!

Revival is a time for personal examination and evaluation.

If one spice is missing, the sacred anointing oil is not a fragrant blend, but a repulsive odor! The LORD desires from us a sweet smelling incense, not a stinking smell!

Romans 12:1 —

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Is there something in your life that is not holy, and pleasing to God—that rises before Him as stench? As living sacrifices, every Christian is to have a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

To know God’s will in your life and to be hesitate in OBEYING it is an act of rebellion, and your disobedience smells to high heaven!

Do you FEAR THE LORD? Are you like Abraham—ready to OBEY—no matter what sacrifices God might ask? Is God asking you to do something and your saying NO or HESITATING? If so, take a step of faith nad come to the altar and ask the LORD to strengthen and help you to do His will? Even Jesus prayed in Gethsemane to receive strength to face the Cross—to do the Father’s will!

Is there a melody of JOY ringing in your heart from the salvation God has provided for you in Christ Jesus? To sing the praises of God without JOY and GLADNESS in your heart stinks! Joyless worship is unacceptable to God. Sin steals JOY! Confess your sin and add the spice of JOY into your life and worship!

In whatever you do and say, do you give God the glory? Are you living your life for yourself or for God? Are you a sweet smelling fragrance or foul!

If you add the four required, zesty spices of FEARING, OBEYING, ENJOYING, and GLORIFYING GOD to your life and worship—REVIVAL will come to your heart!

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