The Holy Perfume

by Tom W. Watkins

Exodus 30:34-38

Many Old Testament passages are unfortunately often overlooked for communion meditations. Here in Exodus 30 is an example:

I. The Enrichment of Worship:

We have before us a beautiful picture of worship, especially as oil is incorporated into the worship procedure in the O.T. Tabernacle. Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. Recently we heard a crude yet true illustration: “you pour oil in an auto to make it run better; so it is with us when the Holy Spirit is poured into us—we run better.” In much of the modern church we have lost not only the essentials of worship but we have also ignored the role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus coupled worship with the Holy Spirit in John 4:23,24, where we read, “but the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.…God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” The New Testament Greek word employed here is proskunéo,  which means to do reverence;  to do an act of honor; to honor. It is not confined to praise only! It is an acknowledgment of God and His nature, attributes, and claims. Paul, speaking on Mars Hill, is very instructive: “neither [is God] worshiped with men’s hands….” (Acts 17:25).

Worship is not entertainment as some would have us believe. When worship entertains it is susceptible to become cultic. Worship is not following or mimicking a musical group. Those today who desire to seek the Lord must learn that worship is reverence, homage, and adoration. It involves learning  and “adorning doctrine” (Titus 2:10). The Bible is our manual on worship. Become more acquainted with Leviticus, Hebrews, the Psalms, and the exhortations of the prophets. The Gospel of John is a remarkable parallel to the three-part structure of the Tabernacle in respect to worship.*

As noted, the oil is a beautiful picture of worship. This is part of the instruction that Moses received on the mount: “and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8). “Dwell’ reminds us of His presence in worship. Minute instructions were given Moses regarding all the details of the Tabernacle and its furnishings, and God repeated the instructions to Moses

(Ex. 40:28; 30:27,28; and Heb. 8:5). Look at the salient facts:

II. The Essential Use:

It was to be used solely for the worship of God in the sanctuary.  It was not to be used for cologne or after-shave lotion. The obvious use was  for worship that belongs to God alone. “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool, for He is holy...” (Ps. 99:5). “O come, let us kneel before The Lord our Maker”(Ps. 95:6).  There is positively no substitute for spiritual worship. Idolatry has no part in worship. Allow no other gods before Him. The Lord says, “I am Jehovah, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another” (Is. 42:8). Allow no substitutes.

III. The Essential Ingredients

(vv. 34-36):

Four ingredients were compounded in equal proportions. They are stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense.  Each one had a typical significance. Think of each of them as being in the heart of the believer as he sits in the presence of God.

A) Remembrance (stacte): It is good for the believer to recall what he used to be by nature (Eph. 2:11-13).  Our memory focus in communion should be the Lord Jesus Christ as He said, “do this in remembrance of Me.”

B) Rejoicing (onycha): As we recall, our hearts respond with gratitude (Ps. 103).

C) Reverence (galbanum): Reverence comes as our souls comprehend in some measure the greatness of God. There is no place for flippancy, cynicism, or irreverence. Remember Moses was on holy ground—and so are we. (Cf. also Is. 6:5 and Dan. 10:8.)

D) Rapturous wonder (frankincense): We must have wonder in the element of worship.  If we cease to wonder we will cease to worship.  Remember one of our Lord’s titles is “Wonderful” (Is. 9:6). The hymn “How Great Thou Art” tells it all.

IV. Its Exclusiveness:

Each ingredient was equally compounded to produce a perfume that would ascend to God, to give Him all honor and glory. It was a fragrant stream that brought pleasure to Him.  Likewise, when a believer worships in the presence of God with an equal measure of remembrance, gratitude, reverence, and amazement he, too, brings pleasure to God.  He will also fulfill the desire for worship in his own heart (cf. John 4:23).

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*I refer you to J. Sidlow Baxter's incomparable Explore the Book for a detailed explanation.

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