Tuesday, August 08, 2006

God With Us

Exodus 30:34-36 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
34 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 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.

This morning I read Exodus 30, letting it sink into me, reading and re-reading God's instructions for the altar of incense overlaid with gold, the sacred anointing oil made from olive oil with cinnamon, cane, cassia and myrrh and the fragrant incense, made from gum resin, onycha and galbanum - and pure frankincense. The Bible says that it was to be salted and pure and sacred and that both the anointing oil and incense were so set apart that there were dire consequences for anyone who treated them as anything other than holy to the Lord.

Gold, frankincense and myrrh; all key ingredients in the preparations of the Tabernacle, the place God instructed the Israelites to build for his holy Presence to dwell with his people.

Many hundreds of years later, a baby would be born in Bethlehem, a holy child; his name - Immanuel - God with us. Matthew writes of the mysterious visitors, known only as Magi, who by tradition have been called wise men or kings, and who came searching for the one, "Born King of the Jews," so that they could worship him. Matthew writes about their visit:

Matthew 2:11 (Today's New International Version)
Today's New International Version (TNIV)
© Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

These gifts are said to represent Jesus' kingship, priesthood and sacrificial death. God's precious word today reminds me of his initiative in coming to us in all of his beauty and holiness and of the Magi's provision of the symbols of his Presence come to dwell with mankind.

Prayer: Dear Lord I want to offer anew a place for you to dwell in me, in my world and in my day. Sanctify me, be in me O Lord, and may the fragrance of your presence cling to me. With the Magi of old, I bow in worship to you.

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