Every holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas) my wife makes this wonderful peanut butter pie. Now this pie is not an everyday pie. It is not even an every holiday pie. We don’t eat it on birthdays; it’s not for Easter consumption; the Fourth of July is right out. If we had this pie every day or even every holiday, it would become less special. We would stop anticipating the pie every year. It would become mundane; you know, everyday. Nothing about the actual pie would change. The texture and taste would remain the same. It is not the ingredients that determine that this is not an everyday pie. Somehow this pie became associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas; somehow peanut butter pie has become intrinsically tangled with the holiday season. When Thanksgiving approaches, I begin to anticipate peanut butter pie. This pie has been set apart for a specific occasion. It’s like that!
Exodus 30:22-38 deals with the ingredients of special, not for everyday, anointing oil and special, not for everyday, incense. The spices listed are most likely in dry form since the measurement given is a weight measurement and not a liquid measurement. These spices were to be the chief or finest spices. Only the best was to be used in the Tabernacle. You have your “flowing myrrh” (the word “flowing” may also refer to the idea of choice),sweet cinnamon, sweet cane or reed and cassia. These dry spices would have equaled about 33 and a half pounds. They were to be mixed by a professional perfumer with about a gallon of olive oil. The ratio of dry aromatic spices to olive oil seems off and this, of course, has led to much discussion. Some suggest, relying on rabbinic sources that the spices were first cooked in water. One source refers to the Egyptian process of making a sort of resin with spice and oil and then squeezing the oil out through rags. This process would use a large amount of spices and result in a small amount of aromatic oil, but that oil would be very fragrant and expensive. The Biblical account does not tell us how these ingredients were mixed.
What is most important about this anointing oil was that it was to be considered holy, set apart for a specific use. With this oil, the priests were to anoint the Tabernacle, the ark of testimony, the table and its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils and the altar of incense. This anointing would render all of these items most holy; so holy in fact that whoever touched them would become holy as well. How this is acted out in Israelite life is that only those who have been consecrated can touch these things. These items are now too holy for common hands. We know from the story of Uzzah, that if even if someone touches the ark to save it from crashing to the ground, that person will be dealt with and in the story that meant being struck with incurable deadness (2 Samuel 6:6-7).
The priests were also to be anointed with this oil. This anointing set them apart so that they could minister in the Tabernacle. This was not an everyday anointing oil. It could not be mixed in exactly the same way for any other purpose. It was set apart for the specific purpose of anointing the place and the items that represent the Presence of Yahweh; it was set apart for the anointing of Yahweh’s servants. It was so holy that if someone mixed it for any other purpose or gave it to a stranger (the word “layman” means foreigner) that person was to be cast out from the people. They were no longer to be considered a part of Israel.
The incense is similar. We are not sure what the spices named are except the frankincense. One of them probably comes from a mollusk. The others probably come from aromatic trees or shrubs. This is most likely the incense that was to be offered on the altar of incense twice a day. Again, the people are told that this incense was not to be made for any other purpose. If anyone used it for an everyday perfume, they were to be cut off – no longer considered an Israelite. This was set apart for a specific purpose stuff.
I don’t think there is anything in the New Testament that would correlate to the anointing oil and the incense. I could be wrong though. I do know that you are a saint. You are not an everyday person. You are set apart for a specific purpose. You have been anointed with the Spirit of God. You have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. You are the temple of the Holy God. You are not common everyday folk. I pray that your character is being shaped by the Presence of Yahweh. I pray that you are living above the everyday. Shalom brothers and sisters! Walter