Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Can Afford It.

A gift opens the way for a giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.
Proverbs 18:16

Moses received detailed plans for constructing the Tabernacle including the altar of incense and the rules governing its use. Twice daily an offering was burned on the altar in the privacy of the Holy Place. The recipe for this incense was spelled out in detail and the formula was used strictly for the Tabernacle rites. Violation of this law resulted in banishment from the community, Exodus 30: 34-38.

“Tanchuma (Tetzaveh 14) concludes that incense is the most intimate and personal of sacrifices, for all other sacrifices are brought on the outer altar of stone, whereas incense is burnt on the inner altar of gold, in the proximity of the Holy of Holies, where God’s spirit dwells…

The Holy One, Blessed is He, declared: Of all the sacrifices that Israel offers to Me, there is none so dear as the incense. Sin offerings, guilt offerings and even burnt offerings atone for errors and misdeeds. Only the incense is pure, for it is offered solely to give Me joy as Proverbs 27:9 states: Ointment and incense rejoice the heart.” Tehillim, Psalm 141

According to the Chumash, the Jewish sages exegetically determined that there were eleven ingredients in the incense. One was galbanum which has a foul aroma. Eleven is the number of imperfection. Neither the priest making the offering, nor the incense, were perfect. God loved it. He enjoyed it so much He required a double dose daily. Had He demanded perfection in this offering He’d never get it. Provision was made for imperfection.  

Of all God’s creation, time is the only thing man possesses and controls how it’s used. Prayer is designating a portion of our time to God. When we bring a gift of our time in the form of prayer we are ushered into the Presence of God. We bring Him joy and have His undivided attention.

In the same way the incense was exclusively used for offerings, our prayers are to God alone; no other person or thing. With Him as the sole object of our time and attention, prayer deserves to be a special event. This doesn’t rule out or negate spontaneous prayer. Circumstances and situations arise and warrant them.

The incense offering highlighted the importance of incorporating specific times for prayer into our daily routine. How and when the offerings were made was spelled out, but the length of time spent fulfilling that duty was at the priest’s discretion. There isn’t a universal perfect amount of time to pray; every day and every person is different. What matters is we designate a time to spend alone with God daily.

As the holiday season descends the familiar dilemma arises – what do you give someone who has every thing and needs nothing? God falls into this category. For Him, the perfect gift is imperfect prayer offered by imperfect people who refuse to let their imperfections keep them from giving God the best they have. Why not splurge on God this year, you can afford it!

1 comment:

  1. Mary ----
    GREAT message ----- what a wonderful way to teach concerning our time with God and how HE loves it. I was just sharing about the anointing oil with a grandchild and I am going to revisit the conversation with them and share what you wrote to tie the anointing with being in God's presence.