Hebrew Highlights 57 - INCENSE


Shalom.  This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.


EXO 30:34-38  “Then the Lord said to Moses, "Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each.  And with it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy.  And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting, where I shall meet with you; it shall be most holy to you.  And the incense which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves; it shall be holy to you for the Lord.  Whoever shall make any like it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people."

In this passage we see a basic principle of God.  Our work for Him, our creations, and our offerings need to be done in the right proportions.  The word in Hebrew for proportions is “matkonet”.  In modern language we would say “recipe”.  Today, our offerings are not usually connected with either chemistry or cuisine; however, our offerings of praise and thanksgiving, and of service still need to be mixed according to the proper recipe.

Let’s take for instance our work.  It needs to be stirred properly with quiet time, spouse time, family time, and rest in order to be of any good to anyone else.  If we become workaholics, then our mixture is poisonous.  On the other hand, if we become lazy, our batter will loose its leaven, and will not, if you’ll excuse the expression, make us any “bread”.

Another good application of the “principle of right proportions” is in our making music.  The combination of melody, harmony and rhythm must be just right.  In praise and worship, the melody carries the word of God.  It absolutely must be dominant.  The harmony and rhythm should serve the delivery of the words.  If a song ministers first to our body, that is to say, we want to dance, before we know why, something is wrong.  It should first be the words which catch our spirit’s attention.  Then we can let our soul and body respond appropriately.  Even in instrumental music, the melody should remind us of the missing words, or at least of something pure and worthy of our concentration.  Please understand that I am not simply being dogmatic, but am speaking from over 30 years experience as a musician and worshipper.

Let’s turn for a minute to LEV 2:1-2,  “Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.  He shall then bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke as its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.”

We should always ask if what we are offering has a good aroma to the Lord, or stinks.  If we get the mixture just a little wrong, we can ruin the recipe.

One of the mistakes we make in music, and other ministries, is throwing a bit of worldly invention, just for fun.  I’m not saying that God is against a good electric guitar solo, or a drum solo, as long as they somehow bring Him glory.  If our only purpose for using a certain riff or rhythm  is to attract worldly people to our message, or to draw attention to our musical prowess, we are making a big mistake. 

Let’s read ECC 10:1, “Dead flies make a perfumer's oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.”  So then, using an old Beatles guitar solo in the middle of a praise song is like throwing in a dead fly.  It will draw attention away from the real purpose of the song, and take the congregation away from God’s face.

As a music teacher for twenty years, I often had students approaching me with new CD’s and asking my opinion.  For the Christian students I had an illustrative answer.

Imagine you are sitting on a bus, listening to your new CD on your disc-man with headphones.  Then, Yeshua gets on the bus and takes the seat next to yours.  Do you hand Him the headphones and say, “Oh man, you gotta’ hear this song?”, or do you embarrassingly  stick your disc-man into your backpack and hope He didn’t hear it?

In everything we do, whether it be preaching, prophesying, or praising, it would be good to think about making a cake for our Heavenly Father.  Will he like it?  Will he ask for seconds?


Shalom, Shalom, from Jerusalem.