Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Toward the end of the section concerned with the revelation of the tabernacle two things are described: the anointing oil and the incense. I believe that in the foregoing messages we have considered thoroughly the matter of the anointing oil. We have seen that this oil is a fine and all-inclusive type of Christ being the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit. As the life-giving Spirit, Christ not only comes to us from God, but He is also God coming to us. His coming is not only from God but also with God, for Christ comes as God. Eventually, this coming One passed through death and resurrection and has become the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit. There is a divine traffic in this universe that moves in two directions. The coming of God to us in Christ is the first direction of this divine traffic. With the incense we have the other direction of this divine traffic, Christ going from us to God. Therefore, the anointing oil is Christ as God coming to us from God, and the incense is Christ going from us to God. It is important that we all see this two-way traffic.
This traffic has much to do with our Christian experience. Do you know what our Christian experience is? It is God coming to us in Christ and our going to God in Christ and with Christ. God’s coming to us is a matter of the anointing, and our going to God is a matter of prayer. This divine traffic is the proper Christian experience. In particular, our going to God in Christ requires experience.
Without adequate spiritual experience, we shall not be able to understand the type of the incense or interpret it. This type is actually very strange, more strange than that of the anointing oil. The incense is strange because its three spices—stacte, onycha, and galbanum—are unusual. Even the words themselves are not common. Rather, they are peculiar words used to refer to unusual things.
More than twenty years ago, I spent a good deal of time to study the incense and its ingredients. Then I gave messages on the incense on at least two occasions. Some of those messages were published in the book How to Meet.
Exodus 30:34 says, “And Jehovah said to Moses, Take to yourself fragrant spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum— fragrant spices, and pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each.” In this verse the Lord twice speaks of fragrant spices. Stacte, the first of these spices, is a resinous gum used as the purest myrrh, a myrrh that is edible. Years ago I read that this kind of myrrh can be used as an expectorant. In particular, it can heal the throat and reduce excess saliva. It is an edible medicine. However, the other two spices, onycha and galbanum, are not edible. Actually, they are poisonous. Galbanum has a very disagreeable odor that is even poisonous. Nevertheless, the Lord indicates that it also is a fragrant spice. Later we shall see how this disagreeable and poisonous element can be fragrant.
Most Christians, including those who have been in the Lord’s recovery for many years, still do not have much knowledge of what genuine prayer is. Furthermore, we may not have much experience of genuine prayer. We thank the Lord that sometimes our prayer is genuine. But most of the time our prayers have not been genuine. Only a small percentage of our prayers have been genuine. For the most part, our prayers have been natural.
Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament incense signifies our prayer. In the Psalms the saints’ prayer is likened to incense that is offered to God and ascends to Him (Psa. 141:2). However, incense is not actually for offering; it is for ascending. We often speak of a prayer being offered to the Lord. Strictly speaking, this understanding is not scriptural. According to the Bible, prayer is not an offering; it is an incense that ascends to God.
We have seen that with the tabernacle there were two altars: the bronze altar in the outer court and the golden altar in the Holy Place. The bronze altar was for burning offerings, sacrifices. On that altar offerings were presented to God. Of course, with the burning of the offerings on the bronze altar in the outer court something did ascend to God.
The golden altar inside the tabernacle was close to the ark in the Holy of Holies. At this golden altar of incense no offerings were offered. The burnt offering, the meal offering, or any other kind of offering could not be presented there. This altar was only for the purpose of burning incense to God. Therefore, the incense that was burned at the golden altar ascended to God. This is not an offering; it is an ascending. The incense that ascends to God typifies our prayer.
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