Exodus 30:22-38

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 2, 2008


Moses has been up on Mount Sinai with God receiving instructions on how to built the portable worship center we call the “Tabernacle. We’ve looked at the various parts of this portable worship center in the wilderness and have been learning that there was purpose and design in these things.  They teach us about heaven.  They teach us about God.  They teach us about how we are to worship and serve God.

:22-33 Anointing Oil

:22 Moreover the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

:23 "Also take for yourself quality spices; five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane,

:24 "five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.

qualityro’sh – head; choicest, best

myrrh – comes from the reddish brown dried sap of the Arabian tree Commiphora myrrha.  It had various uses in the Bible – in this anointing oil, mixed with wine (Mark 15:22-23) to make a drug, used in embalming (John 19:39-40).


sweet-smelling cane – it’s kind of sounding like cinnamon toast!

cassia – apparently a broad category of trees, could include “legumes” which are plants like peas and peanuts.

Play the video

:25 "And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.

:26 "With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony;

:27 "the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense;

:28 "the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base.

:29 "You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.

:30 "And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.

:31 "And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.

:32 'It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.

:33 'Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.'"

:22-33 Anointing Oil

The Bible uses oil as a picture of the Holy Spirit.  Oil = Holy Spirit.

Look what happened when the prophet Samuel “anointed” David as king by pouring oil over his head:

(1 Sam 16:13 NKJV)  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

We see the same connection in the New Testament when John is writing about the work of the Holy Spirit:

(1 John 2:27 NKJV)  But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

As we’ve seen with so many of these parts of the ancient Israelite worship, there are lessons that apply directly to us today.

Oil Lessons:

The fragrance of the Holy Spirit.

There is a beauty to the work of God in our lives.
I know this sounds crazy, but have you ever noticed the distinctive “smell” down at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa? Maybe it’s just some usher’s cologne.  When Drew was main janitor for the church, I asked him about it.  I was wondering if there was a special smell they sprayed.  He said no.  To me it’s the smell of the Holy Spirit.
Just like perfume, when the Spirit of God is on your life, there is a lingering "presence", a separate sense that something is on your life.
When we’re not walking under the anointing, our lives can be a bit stinky.
A young pastor was making farewell visits to his congregation before moving to another church. Visiting a homebound member, whom he had called on regularly, the pastor carefully explained why he was leaving. The woman sighed deeply and said, “Well, we’ll never have another minister as good as you’ve been.” The young man blushed, scuffing his feet along the floor. “Oh, I’m sure your next pastor will be excellent.” The woman shook her head with determination. “You don’t understand,” she said. “I’ve been here through five pastors and each one has been worse than the last.”
Doug Scott, Radnor, Pennsylvania. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
Paul writes,
(2 Cor 2:14-16 NKJV) Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. {15} For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. {16} To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
To those people who are close to the Holy Spirit, the fragrance of our lives will be sweet.  But to some, even when we’re walking with the Holy Spirit, things might not be pleasant because of the conviction that comes from the Spirit in you.
How do you smell right now?

Oil Lessons:

Everything gets oiled. (vs. 26-30 tent, ark, table, even the priests…)

I think that sometimes the Holy Spirit gets a bad rap.  Perhaps it’s because of that King James name, the “Holy Ghost”.  Perhaps it’s because some people get kind of strange and then blame it on the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit.  God’s desire is that we learn to lean completely on the Holy Spirit.
There is nothing we do in ministry that is not to be led by the Spirit of God.
(John 4:24 NKJV) "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
(Phil 3:3 NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
I think it helps to acknowledge this by praying before we minister.
Whether it's a Bible Study, band practice, or an elders' meeting, when we stop to pray first, we ought to be taking time to acknowledge that this is God's church, and we want Him to be in control.
Even the sink the priests were to wash in was to be anointed (the laver).

Oil Lessons:

Don't imitate the Spirit. (vs.33)

This mixture wasn’t to be copied.
It’s not uncommon for people to see what the Spirit is doing, and to try to conjure up some way of packaging it, and duplicating it in some way.
In Acts 8, a magician named Simon saw what happened when Peter and John laid hands on people and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 8:18-21 NKJV) And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, {19} saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." {20} But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! {21} "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
I get concerned with things that can be abused to create an emotional, pseudo-spiritual response in people.
A traveling evangelist always put on a grand finale at his revival meetings. When he was to preach at a church, he would secretly hire a small boy to sit in the ceiling rafters with a dove in a cage. Toward the end of his sermon, the preacher would shout for the Holy Spirit to come down, and the boy in the rafters would dutifully release the dove. At one revival meeting, however, nothing happened when the preacher called for the Holy Spirit to descend. He again raised his arms and exclaimed: “Come down, Holy Spirit!” Still no sign of the dove. The preacher then heard the anxious voice of the small boy call down from the rafters: “Sir, a yellow cat just ate the Holy Spirit. Shall I throw down the yellow cat?”
Years ago when Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show, he had a guest on named James Randi, a skeptic and a magician who has made it his calling in life to expose frauds, people who claim to have supernatural powers but are really just using magician’s tricks. One of his investigations was of a televangelist named Peter Popoff.  He attended one of Mr. Popoff’s crusades with a radio scanner…
View the clip from The Tonight Show.
What do you think about the “anointing” that Popoff claims to have?  Does it make you think that all healing is a fraud?  Does it make you think that the supposed work of the Holy Spirit is just a trick?

God wants us to be real people.  He needs us to be examples of what He is really doing.  He doesn’t need our help.  Don’t try and help God out with your fake perfume.

Oil Lessons:

The Spirit isn't for unbelievers vs.33 - "whoever puts any of it on a layman..."

The "layman" was a person who wasn't a priest.
The New Testament says that all believers are now priests (Rev.1:6; 1Pet.2:9)
So, the "layman" would have to apply to a non-believer.
(Rom 8:9 NKJV) But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
The Holy Spirit will draw and convict non-believers (John 16:8), but He does not dwell inside them.

:34-38 The Incense

We mentioned back at the beginning of the chapter that incense in the Bible is a picture of prayer.

Incense = Prayer – Incense in the Bible is a picture of prayer.

The smoke from burning incense rises upward, like our prayers ascending to heaven.

(Rev 5:8 NKJV)  …and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

:34 And the LORD said to Moses: "Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each.

stactenataph – a kind of storax gum resembling myrrh, which was baked, and then used, like incense, for fumigating

onycha[email protected] – made from the shell of a shell-fish resembling the purpura

galbanum[email protected] – the bitter resin from the bark of the ferula in Arabia, mixed with fragrant substances to make the smell even sharper.

frankincense[email protected] – dried white resin from the Arabian plant Boswellia

:35 "You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy.

Alfred Edersheim tells us more about Jewish practice:

The incense burned upon this altar was prepared of the four ingredients mentioned in Ex. 30:34, with which, according to the Rabbis, seven others were mixed, besides a small quantity of ‘Ambra’ (amber from Jordan) and of a herb which gave out a dense smoke. To these thirteen substances1 salt was of course added. The mode of preparing the incense had been preserved in the family of Abtinas. The greatest care was taken to have the incense thoroughly bruised and mixed. Altogether 368 pounds were made for the year’s consumption, about half a pound being used every morning and evening in the service. [1]

:36 "And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.

Before the Testimony – The incense would be burnt on the altar of incense, located just outside the veil that led to the Holy of Holies.  The picture is that the prayers are made right before the presence of God.

:37 "But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the LORD.

:38 "Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people."

Incense Lessons:

Follow the recipe. "take for yourself spices..." (vs. 34)

There is value in learning to pray as the Scriptures teach us how to pray, according to the proper proportions prescribed.  There are lots of recipes.
(Mat 6:9-13 NKJV)  "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. {10} Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. {11} Give us this day our daily bread. {12} And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. {13} And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Are you learning to use all the ingredients?
a. Recognition – “Our Father...”
b. Fear – “Hallowed be Your name”
c. Submission – “Your will be done...”
d. Personal needs – “Give us this day our daily bread...”
e. Forgiveness – “forgive us our debts...”
f. Protection – “do not lead us into temptation”
g. Adoration – “For Yours is the kingdom...”
It’s not that all our prayers need to include all these ingredients, but it’s a good thing to grow in prayer.

Incense Lessons:

Don’t misuse prayer. (vs. 37-38)  “You shall not make … for yourselves”

Sometimes we don’t quite get what prayer is all about.
Other misuses of prayer:
Using it to start a meeting and quiet everyone down. The purpose of prayer is not to quiet everyone down, it is to bring incense before God. There’s nothing wrong with starting every meeting with prayer, just be careful to keep it as true prayer, otherwise you’re just using the perfume of prayer to make yourself smell good.
During a blistering hot day, a family was entertaining guests for dinner. When all were seated, the man of the house turned to his six-year-old son and asked him to say the blessing. “But daddy, I don’t know what to say,” he protested. “Oh, just say what you’ve heard me say,” the mother chimed in. Obediently, he bowed his little head and said, “Oh, Lord, why did I invite these people here on a hot day like this!”
Sometimes incense is misused to make us smell better, trying to impress others.
People use “imitation prayers” to impress people, like the religious people of Jesus’ day 

(Mark 12:38-40 NKJV)  Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, {39} “the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, {40} “who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Prayer is supposed to impress God, not the people around us.

Incense Lessons:

The fragrance of prayer. “the art of a perfumer” (vs. 35)

When you use the wrong ingredients, prayer stinks.
(Luke 18:10-14 NKJV) "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. {12} 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' {13} "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' {14} "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Prayers mixed with pride stink, prayers from humility smell sweet.

I found it interesting that some of the ingredients in the incense by themselves were most likely not pleasant but bitter.
But apparently when mixed properly, the incense was a beautiful fragrance to God.
Sometimes we have a measure of bitterness in our lives.  But if we would learn to pray and pour out our hearts to the Lord, He considers our prayers to be precious and fragrant.
God is looking for honesty.  He’s looking for humility. 
(Psa 6:6 NKJV)  I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears.
(Psa 34:18 NKJV)  The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
(Psa 51:17 NKJV)  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise.
When prayer contains the proper ingredients, it is as a beautiful fragrance to God.
(Psa 141:2 NKJV)  Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Your prayers are precious to God.

God wants to hear from you.

1 Jos. Jewish War, 5. 5, s.

[1]Edersheim, A. (2003). The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. (163). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.