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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fragrance of Christ

"Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom ..."
~ John Henry Hopkins Jr,
from the 1857 hymn "We Three Kings"

Fragrance of Christ

"To the messenger of the church in Smyrna, write ..."
~ Revelation 2:8 (ISV)

This church bore the identity "Smyrna," a name meaning "myrrh"—the precious oil called one of "the best fruits of the land" of Israel, and a valuable oil which herbalists employ today. Myrrh was a perfume of royalty (King Solomon and Queen Esther). Myrrh is the base of the holy anointing oil used on the priests and throughout the temple—a unique perfume blend forbidden for any other persons or use.

Myrrh is the scent of God Himself, mentioned in a passage which also speaks to His desire of feminine beauty:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom...
All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia ...
Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father's house;
So the King will greatly desire your beauty ...
Psalms 45:6,8,10-11 (NKJV)

Christ's church is given a feminine identity as His bride. We are the royal priesthood of which Old Testamant priests and kings were forerunners. We are anointed with His fragrance:

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. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NKJV)

The fragrance of myrrh is called both "bitter" and "warm, rich, spicy balsamic." I find it quite pleasant, while others do not care for it.

People who use Christianity to attain financial gain, personal esteem, or to manipulate others do not bear the fragrance of Christ, and are rightly considered odious.

But make no mistake. Those Christians who put off the world and work to forget its enticements—who would bear the fragrance of Christ—will also be considered odious to those who don't care for Christ. We may expect to be persecuted for such an aroma.

More on that in Monday's post, which will look at the way Jesus spoke to the church of Smyrna.

Lord Jesus, anoint us freely with Your Spirit. Make Your fragrance of holiness sweet to us. Please allow us to bear it, and any persecution which may come with such a precious scent.

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  1. It is amazing how some find the fragrance repulsive while others find it the best ever. The message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to we who are being saved is the power of God. I want His fragrance today as well. Thanks Anne.

  2. I want to smell like my precious Lord, not the world.

  3. caught up in the oil part of this. in the linked scriptures it talks about anyone who duplicates HIS oil and uses it is in BIG trouble. this series is really putting the fear of God into me.

  4. Lovely. I'll never look (olfactory wise) at Myrrh the same again. I pray all my thoughts and prayers are a sweet scent to his ears. (Now I have that song in my mind. It's a good song.)

  5. Jason ~

    God's wonderful gifts are all given freely—but not without cost to us. The bride leaves behind her people in order to fully belong to her Bridegroom. We must be in the world and yet cleanse ourselves of its scent to have the fragrance of Christ.

    It's more easily said than done. I pray we'll follow His leading to follow through.

  6. Denise ~

    You and I both, dear, as we uplift each other. :D

  7. Bud ~

    Good and well to have fear of God. Just as the particular blend of oils used to consecrate the priest was not to be used for purposes other than worship of God, He anoints us with His Holy Spirit that we are holy for Him. Those who use the gifts of the Holy Spirit "to attain financial gain, personal esteem, or to manipulate others" should fear the discipline of God for such misappropriation.

    Likewise, those who receive the anointing but do not use it, allowing it to be wasted, are missing out on immense blessing—and ultimately, missing their reward.

  8. T ~ One of the curiousities I'd not noted before now is that there were two sacred compounds: the myrrh compound of oil was for the anointing of the priests and temple, which represents our anointing with the Holy Spirit given by God to us; the incense compound which included frankincense was a burnt offering, which represents our prayers given by us to God. I haven't yet had time to fully reflect on this distinction.


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