God gave us five physical senses with which we enjoy the world around us. He uses those senses to teach us spiritual lessons, as well. What about the sense of smell? Is God pleased with our “fragrance?”
[Rick Shabi] You know, God gave us wonderful bodies. We've talked about some of those things. David commented on it when he would muse and meditate in the middle of the night, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And if we ever stop and think about what we're able to do, how we're able to navigate through earth, the things that we can think, the things that we can do, the things that we can speak are kind of amazing when you look it. That God built that into we, human beings. And it certainly makes our life… certainly makes this life so interesting to live in, and the capability of improving ourselves and ever-growing in every way, shape, and form, physically and spiritually as well.
But to help us to understand life and to appreciate it more, God gave us five senses. And if I asked the children in this room, they'd be able to tell me what those five senses are. We have the sight, you know, there's the sense of sight and hearing, taste, touch, and smell.
And if you try to imagine any in life, you know, without any one of those senses and it becomes a very… it becomes a much less good experience. You know those who are blind, who have lost the sense of sight, that it's not… and if we ever were to lose that, you know, we would find just how important that is or taste. You know sometimes when we are sick we lose our sense of taste. And a few times in my life I've done that. And it's like you know, food just isn't worth eating. It's like it all taste the same and whatever, and you appreciate what God has built into us when we have those… you know, when we have those senses.
They help us to understand, appreciate life and to navigate through life a lot more than if we didn't have them if you can imagine that. You know, we use all of those senses. Sight, you know, of course, we know what a valuable thing it is in seeing but when God gives us the gift of sight He also gives us the spiritual analogy of that.
So we understand physically from the time we're very small what those five senses are. And as what God opens our eyes to the truth we see Him using those allegories to help us understand what we are going on in life as well. We see with our eyes the things around us but one day for all of us you know, God opened our eyes and we could see the truth. We could see the words in the Bible. We understood things that we didn't see before because He opened our eyes. And we could go through the other senses and see the same thing where He's taught us. And we can use those things that every single one of us have and learn what God is doing with us.
We have the sense of touch. And today, you know, we touch each other. Whenever we greet each other, we touch each other. We shake hands, we hug, we do something, and with our children, we touch them daily, I hope, and we hug them and we kiss them and we touch them. And touch is the way that we show each other that we care and that we are friends.
And if you know, if anyone ever withholds touch it kind of hurts a little bit, doesn't it? Because it means there's something between us and them. And when that happens we want to have that touch back again because it's something we do. So it has more than just the physical effect, but it has something to do with our mental wellbeing too and what we do with each other.
You know God uses touch in the spiritual sense as well. When we you know, for instance, when we are sick, what does God say to do? We simply could pray and ask God to heal us. He would listen to those prayers but He says back in James 5, if any is among you sick, let him be anointed. And when we anoint someone we touch them, we lay our hands on them. It's symbolic of God being out there and reaching out and touching to someone. You know in marriages, at the end of the ceremony we ask God's blessing, and we touch, and we lay hands on the couple that is getting married. At ordinations, we lay hands on people. It's symbolic of God touching us, and it has a spiritual meaning to us as well. And we can kind of relate to that as we understand the things of the Bible and feel God around us and how He's working in our lives.
We can say the same thing about hearing. You know, we all hear. It's a tremendous gift that we have. And I know there are times at times that you know I have one ear that I'll get stopped up usually once a year, and it's tough. It's tough to navigate during that time when you miss half of your hearing for a week or so. And I can only imagine what it must be like to be in… with no sound at all and to struggle with it. So I empathize with those who have that problem. And we all know what it is. We all know what it is. It's a tremendous gift that God has given us but in the same way, God opens our ears. You know, one day we're deaf to the truth but then He opens our ears. And the same way we might have an ear problem and all of a sudden it opens up and we can hear again. He opens our ears to those type things.
You know, it tells us in John 10, the sheep know the shepherd's voice. We get to know who He is by listening. Not that we physically hear His voice speaking to us but when we hear something we know it's of God. We hear His voice because we know the Bible, we know what His way is. And we know when something meshes with that, that when something is contrary to that.
That's the spirit of hearing. And of course, you know, in Romans it tells us that we are to preach the gospel so people will hear the gospel. It's something that God has given us to do, and we pray that people will hear and they will listen. And even in our opening prayer today, that we will hear what is going on.
Taste, now taste is tremendous, everything… we would only need one food if God didn't give us taste. One thing that we would eat day after day after day like dogs and cats you know, they just eat the same thing day after day after day. Seems pretty mundane but they seem to enjoy it, but we have the gift of taste. We can enjoy different things. God gives… He compares us to taste as well. He says, "You're the salt of the earth. You're the salt of the earth. If you aren't there, where is its flavor?" And we know that if we add a little salt to our food it enhances the flavor. And God says, "You're the salt of the earth."
He gives us a very… one set of scriptures, it's always you know, kind of strikes me when I read it. It's when He talks to John in Revelation. And He says, "John, remember back," I think it was in Revelation 10, and he says, "Here's this little book. Take it and eat it. Eat that little book." And He says, “It's going to be a sweet, as sweet as honey in your mouth, but it's going to be bitter, bitter as well.” And John does what He says. He eats that little book spiritually, and it is sweet in his mouth because he sees the gospel, he understands it, he hears the words, and he sees the Kingdom of God. And he's like, "This is wonderful. We want to be there. We want to be where God wants us to be."
But then when he digests it, he understands everything that has to happen before the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom, and it's bitter. It's bitter, it's tough but God uses that allegory to help us see the same thing that we do. And He tells us, those of us who are called if we taste of this way of life and then we decide to go back to the other way, our future is not good. It's a bitter future. When we taste of this way of life we have to keep eating of the truth, we have to keep eating of the unleavened bread day-to-day as we'll picture at the time we go into the Days of Unleavened Bread as we'll talk more about.
And then there's a sense of smell. Probably all of you when I say the sense of smell, there's some smell that comes into your mind that you find very comforting. Maybe you think back to your grandmother's house and something that she was cooking, and when you smell that smell you think back to that. Or your mother's house, something that she was cooking, and when you smell it, it brings back pleasant memories. I know when I walk in and Debbie's cooking something I like I know it's going to be a good evening.
But you know it might be anything because there are pleasant smells and there are also unpleasant spells. Sometimes we can smell something, it can make us sick. If we've gotten sick on a food and we smell that food later, it's like, "I don't want that again.” Same smell but something has happened in between. When we use that even in our everyday language, you know, when something isn't setting right looking at the opposite of a good smell, we'd say you know, "Something's rotten in Denmark." It just doesn't smell so good. It doesn't sit right what's going on in there. Well, where in the Bible does it talk about and does God use an allegory for the sense of smell?
Well, let's go back. Let's go back to 2 Corinthians. I was reading through this book a while back. And I came across some verses that I, you know, the kind of just jumped out at me. That I'm sure I've read many times before but read right over them. Let's pick it up in 2 Corinthians 2:12 2 Corinthians 2:12Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord,
American King James Version×. And verse 11, you know, it's a notable verse that we should be aware of Satan's devices so that he can't take advantage of us. And verse 12, Paul goes on, and he's writing to the Corinthians. Now let me give you a little background to the book here.
In 2 Corinthians, it could be the third or fourth letter actually that Paul has written to Corinth. 1 Corinthians, most commentators believe is the second letter that he wrote to the Corinthians, was the second epistle that we have being the third or fourth, and that's because in 1 Corinthians 5 he mentions a letter he had previously written to them. But in this letter, he is looking to the Corinth church.
Now remember last week we talked about 1 Corinthians 5, where there was the instance of someone in the Church there in Corinth that had to be put out of the Church for a while. And Paul was unsettled, unsettled about, how was the Church going to take that? Were they going to follow his advice? Were they going to be bitter? Were they going to turn against him? Were they going to ignore him? And he was concerned about that. And so he wrote the second letter.
And the second letter is more joyous because he's learned that the Church did, the Church followed what his advice was. And it turned out to be a joyous occasion because that sinner repented. In the 2 Corinthians 7, you see the effect it had on the Church. The energy that that repentance brought upon not only the man who was offending but also the entire Church.
So here in chapter 2 verse 12, he's introducing Jesus Christ. He says, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel," and I'm in verse 12, "and the door was open to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit,” he's saying that because “I didn't know what was going on in the Church.” “I had no rest in my spirit, because I didn't find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed from Macedonia. 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."
He “diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” through us. The nearer He compares you know, what we do, what we preach, how we live, our presence in society, our presence in our families, “diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” And he mentions that a few more times here in the ensuing verses. "For we are to God" we, you and me, "we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one” he says, "we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life."
So three or four times there, he uses the same Greek word omra, O-M-R-A a couple of times, translates as fragrance, and other couple times, major one time mentioned as aroma, the smell. The smell, the scent that people that through us, we diffuse the fragrance of Christ and that to God, we are the fragrance of Christ. We smell like Him if we're following His way if we're led by His Holy Spirit.
And then he says to some, you know, it's “the aroma of death leading to death, and the other the aroma of life leading to life.” Well, let me give you a little background back in the time of Corinth. It was the time Paul wrote, it was under Roman domination, part of the Roman Empire. And the Romans were, of course, notorious warriors. They went out, they conquered areas and whatever. And when they would conquer an area or a nation or whatever it was, city-state at that time, they had a ritual that they did.
They would then come through the city that they had conquered and they would parade through that city. They would have the people that they'd taken captive and they would parade them through there and the people who are afflicted in those areas and they also would do that in their city as well. They would go back and they would have a victory parade if you will.
It was always the general who had that conquest that they would have leading the parade and the soldiers and then the captives to go along with them. And they said that what they did was, they would have incense burning along that route. And it would usually be the flavor, the same favorite incense of the lead general there or whatever they call them in that day. So as they marched through the city in the city that was victorious, part of the Roman Empire, they would smell the smell and to them, it was the smell of victory. It had a sweet smell.
“Yes, we've done it again. Yes, we've conquered them. Yes, we're the greatest empire on earth.” And they would smell that smell and it would sink into their minds. And to them, it was the smell and the fragrance of victory. But when it was in a different city or to the captives that were there, it's the very same smell. But when they smelled that smell if they were so, if I can use the word lucky or fortunate to survive, to them it had a very different connotation. The very same smell, when they would smell that the rest of their lives, it would mean defeat. It would mean in signal, humiliation. To most of them, it meant certain death was coming their way. So when they smelled that smell it had no not at all the same thing that it meant to the people of Rome.
And so Paul is saying here, that fragrance of Christ that you and I should be emanating, that fragrance that of Christ that God diffuses through us to the world, to some, they smell that smell as we use it allegorically and they say, "This is life. This is where I want to be. I'm attracted to that smell. This is where I want to be. It makes me feel good. It energizes me, it gives me zeal." But to others who don't want any part of that way of life, they think, "That stinks. I don't want any part of that way of life. I don't want anything that Christ had to stand for. I don't want anything that God says. I don't want that part of my life. I don't want that at all." And to them, it's a fragrance that leads to death.
So the question, the question for us is, what fragrance? What fragrance do we give off? What fragrance do we diffuse? When God looks at us, does He say, "Ah, in them I smell the same smell I had with Christ, I feel the same way with them. There's a pleasant aroma when I look down at their homes." There's a pleasant aroma when I look down at their church in Orlando, their church in Jacksonville, their churches all over the world, their churches when they get together for the Feast of Tabernacles and other times is that the fragrance that comes up before God that He says, "This is who, this is a people that I am pleased with. This is a people that I enjoy being with. This is a people that are following Me.”
So when Christ… or not Christ, but when Paul writes here and back in verse 15, and he says “we are to God the fragrance of Christ,” and that is the title of this sermon, "The Fragrance of Christ." What was it about Christ that God the Father found so good that He is looking to us to do the same thing?
Now we can go around the room and every one of you could say here's, and if we have you know, 100 and some people here today, we would have a hundred different trace, we could come up with Christ that is very pleasing to God that when He looks at the whole package He would say, "That was my son. Here's him in who I am well pleased."
And all of us are in the process, as we have God's Spirit developing those very traits of Jesus Christ if we are yielding to Him. And as we grow in that way we'll be sounding more like Him. We will be thinking more like Him. We will be acting more like Him. We will be making decisions more like Him and that we will be coming the same way to God. What some you know as good as Jesus Christ was and He was a very, very good man, one that you would think anyone who came across him would say, "This is a man I want to follow. He was well liked. He had thousands following Him but then there were some in that day and age that simply wanted Him dead, simply wanted Him dead.
Let's go back and look at a few verses here in the Gospels to see what kind of man Jesus Christ was. The effect that He had on people that gives us an insight into His personality and how He related to people. We know, He was filled with the Spirit of God but He had those traits that we know so well. The love, the mercy, the compassion, and of course, all the fruits of the Spirit.
In Matthew 8:1 Matthew 8:1When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
American King James Version×, we see that the fragrance of Christ did have an effect on Judea. There were those in the area at that time who saw Him and they were attracted to Him. We're at chapter 8 verse 1 of Matthew. When he had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. Great multitudes, not just a few like at the end of His life but great multitudes followed Him. Down in verse 18. It says “When Jesus saw a great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.” He needed a little space, He needed a little breathing room, great multitudes.
We like this Man. We like the flavor of what He is, who He is, how He presents Himself, what He is, not just the words He spoke but who He was, had a pleasing sensation to them when they listened to it. Over in chapter 9 verse 10 it says this, "It happened, as Jesus sat down at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples."
Well, here's a Man, as a Jew, the Jews look down on tax collectors and those people if we can say that, in those days but they flocked to Him. They liked the flavor, they liked the smell, they liked what they saw. They saw how He was. He was engaging with everyone. He was not at all a respecter of persons. He didn't give any regard to their position or to the amount of wealth that they had. He loved all mankind equally, and they saw that, and they flocked to Him.
Verse 11, “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’" Well, here's a group of people that didn't like the fragrance He was giving off. "Why are you doing that? What are you sitting down with those people for?" They didn't like what He was offering up at that time. And so of course, they began to plot against Him because while He offered life to everyone and He offered acceptance to everyone who would follow and who would listen, who would believe, there were some who were going to be just the opposite, the aroma that they didn't like that would lead to death.
We go on down in verse 35. 35 of Matthew 9, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Oh, we see some of His traits. There He was. He was teaching and… He was teaching, He was active, He was talking the truth of God in their synagogues and among them, He was teaching the truth. It was a little bit different than what the leaders of that day were teaching, but He was teaching from the Bible. He wasn't afraid to teach it, He wasn't afraid to speak out, He simply did it.
Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom something that they hadn't heard before, same gospel that the Church of Jesus Christ would be teaching today, the Church that He began, and He was healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Again, not selective. The Bible says that everyone who brought someone to Him that was sick, he healed. He didn't segregate them, He didn't point fingers, He didn't say, "No, I'm not going to heal you because…" He healed them all.
And in verse 36, it gives us more of His traits. “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Like so much of the world today, they don't know where they're going. They run to and fro looking to fill every hole in their lives like we talked about a few weeks ago, but they don't know how to fill it. And He looked at them and He had compassion. And He thought, "If they would just listen if they would just know, if they would just follow what I have to say I could fill up those holes, I could fill up that meaning in life for them. They would have purpose. They would be able to move forward." But He had compassion for them because He knew that wasn't going to be what happened in this lifetime. That would be for another time.
Well, we see some of the traits. We see some of the traits of Jesus Christ in those few verses. We see that the fragrance of Christ as it diffused through Judea, thousands followed Him. 4,000 in one sitting, 5,000 in another setting, and He was there for all of them. And He wanted to lead them in triumph, as Paul says. And as He still will lead many in triumph, and the time comes for them to taste the fragrance of Christ or just smell the fragrance of Christ, they may smell the fragrance of Christ through some teaching that goes on or through some preaching that goes on.
Some people may smell a fragrance of Christ or become used to it by the interaction that they have with you because it doesn't say that God diffuses the fragrance of Christ just through preaching, not just through teaching. That isn't what Jesus Christ did. He didn't just teach, He didn't just preach, He didn't just heal, it was Him. It was He through whom the fragrance of Christ was diffused, the whole part of Him, all parts of Him.
And so through us, every one of us sitting here today. God says, "I diffuse the fragrance of Christ through you, individually and collectively." Puts a responsibility, put responsibility on us, makes us accountable for some things. We have to think, "What is it? What is it that we diffuse to people?” When they look at us, is it a pleasing aroma? Is this something that they take note, and they say, "I haven't seen that fragrance or I haven't smell that fragrance before but I like it. I like what you are putting off." Or would they look at us and say, "I've seen that before. I've seen that before, nothing different than the normal everyday stuff that everyone else, everyone else is wearing."
The fragrance of Christ is the essence of who He was. It's the essence of who we are and what Christ did all of the days of His life. In the trying times as well as the good times He gave off that pleasant pleasing fragrance of everything that you can mention, every trait that you can mention in Him, and every adjective that you could mention of Him, it all blended together into a pleasing fragrance, the same thing that God wants us to be developing. The same thing that He wants us to be doing.
Well, back in Romans 2. Romans 2 we find that some can take up, you know, the mantle, with Jesus Christ, they can repent, they can be baptized. But Paul warns them to be aware of what is the fragrance that you're giving off because you don't want others to say that and say, "I don't want any part. I don't want any part of that fragrance." Let's read through, chapter… let's look at Romans 2, beginning in verse 17. Romans 2:17 Romans 2:17Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the law, and make your boast of God,
American King James Version×. It says, “Indeed you are called a Jew.”
Today we would say, indeed you are called a Christian. We call ourselves true Christians. Indeed you are called a true Christian. And when we ask people what we are we say, Christian. We follow the Bible. We live by every Word of God. We keep the Holy Days, we keep the Sabbath day, we do what He says. And if He says it, we keep it. And if He says it, we teach it.
“Indeed you are called a [Christian],” let's say that, “and rest on the law,” while we rest on the law, we live by the lifestyle of Jesus Christ but we live by faith and we live by the grace of Him and through His Holy Spirit, “and you make your boast in God,” we follow Him. You say you “know His will, and you approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the [Bible],” out of the Word of God, “you are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.”
And then he comes back and he asked them a question, "You say these things. You say you're a Christian, you say you're teaching the things, you say you live by the Word of God, you say those things in your house,” and he says, you, “Therefore,” verse 21, “who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?” What do you do in your life?
You say all the right words but when we do our self-examination as we get closer and closer to Passover and as we examine ourselves, we're supposed to be looking at ourselves honestly through the eyes of God. Ask Him to open our eyes to who we are. Open our eyes to what our real motives are and intents are. He says, "Those of you who say, I live by the law. I follow everything that God says." And he says to them, "Do you steal? Do you steal? You who say, ‘Don't commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?"
And today we know it's not just the physical act of adultery, there's any number of ways to commit adultery. The world is full of opportunities to commit adultery without even having another person involved, the pornography, the internet, magazines, movies, you name it. There are all sorts of things out there. “You say ‘Don't commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” Do we have idols? Do we have things that are between us and God, things that we choose before we would choose to obey God? And that's how you can determine what an idol is. If I'm going to… if I have a choice between what God says and what I want and I choose what I want or what's better for me or more comfortable for me rather than what God says, it's an Idol. It's an idol, and it's something that we need to look at.
So if we're running around saying, we're true Christians and yet we put all these roadblocks in our way or do things that are opposite than the fragrant of Christ because He didn't fail to sacrifice everything, He didn't fail to follow God in every single precept, but the Bible says He lived perfectly. 23, “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” Well, it tells us a little bit about what fragrance we give off. If we're telling people, we're Christians and yet they see us doing things that are contrary to what we believe, there's an aroma, there's a scent, there's an odor out there that isn't that of Jesus Christ.
Probably not an odor that they would look at and say, that's a pleasing aroma. Certainly, not something that God is going to look down and say, "That's a pleasing aroma to me, the way they're living," because Jesus Christ had a pleasing fragrance every minute of His life. And none of us are there now, not one of us or even close to that. But we're supposed to be striving for that.
And then verse 24, he says something that should strike home to all of us. “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” the Gentiles, the people outside the Church, you know, Gentiles then it was Jews and Gentiles, today it's the Church of God, the true Church of God and everyone else. “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
They look at you and say, "Well, how are you any different than anyone else? You go to church on Saturday but you still do this. You may keep the Holy Days instead of Christmas and Easter, but you still do this." So the question is what fragrance? What fragrance are we doing? If we're shady if we're manipulative if we are dishonest in our business dealings, what is the aroma that we are giving off? Is that a pleasing aroma to God? Is that a pleasing aroma to each other? Is that something that people would look at and say, "I like that. I'm attracted. I'm attracted to that. I like to be there."
You know we like to be in places where there are pleasant smells. I know as we've moved a few times and sometimes we go into new homes and they have chocolate chip cookies baking, and I think, "You know what? I like this house already." And I know why they do it. I don't think we've ever bought a house that had a chocolate chip cookies baking. We didn't fall for it, but I imagine, it just leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth, if you will. It's like, it's kind of a nice smell. I kind of associate something okay with that house and whatever. How do people associate with us?
You know, there's a whole science out there about our own personal sense and how we are attracted to each other by those things. And it says, it's an interesting science. I'm sure there's something to it. I don't know all the details of it but God did build that in. And when people see us, and when people come into our midst, what are they sensing?
Now, Paul said, the fragrance of Christ is diffused. It's diffused through you and me. Well, God does have a lot of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament about that sense of smell. Let's go back and look at some of them. Back in Genesis 8, way back at the beginning of the Bible, right after the time of the flood we have Noah and his family who have followed God down through, followed God down through their life.
Again, remember, they were the only ones on earth at that time, the only ones on earth who had followed God and I think what they did for 100 years, they built that ark just like you and I are building a temple for 30, 40, 50, 60, 5, 10, whatever number of years God gives us from the time we come into His Church until the time we die. And the rest of their lives they built that ark, following God implicitly. And through it all, He saved them from the flood and delivers them on to dry land.
And here in chapter 8 and verse 20, when they get off of the ark, it says “Noah built an altar to the Eternal, and he took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Eternal smelled a soothing aroma.” As He watched Noah give thanks to God as he offered those animals and those waves wafted up through the air, God was not just talking just talking about the physical thing, look what they're doing. Look at the fragrance they're giving off, look at the scent that's there.
He saw the scent of yieldedness, He saw the sense of commitment, He saw the sense of unity with God that Noah and his family had done. He had seen them through and He saw the gratitude. And so when He saw those attitudes coming up through those offerings that they were doing, as they stopped and set the time to thank God, He saw that fragrance emanating up into them. And those were pleasing to Him. To Him, it was a sweet, a sweet aroma.
Going forward to Exodus. In Exodus 29:18 Exodus 29:18And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar: it is a burnt offering to the LORD: it is a sweet smell, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
American King James Version×, God, of course in the later chapters of Exodus, He gives them detailed instructions on the tabernacle, the instruments, even the priestly garbs, what they should wear when they come before His presence. "This is how you should appear before Me," He says. And He is going to and He gives them the dedication ceremony for all of the priests of that time.
And cutting into the whole section here in chapter 29 and verse 18. Now, let's pick it up in verse 15. And I'd like to get the context of this a little bit before we hit the key verse. Verse 15, you know, He gives instruction, “You shall take one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram; and you shall kill the ram, take its blood and sprinkle it all around the altar. Then you shall cut the ram in pieces, wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and with its head. And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.”
Here were people that were dedicating their lives to God. And going through the process that He had instilled in them, commitment, “I will serve you the rest of my life.” Sweet aroma to God when someone commits to him, is loyal to Him. Dedicates their lives to Him. Later on in the Old Testament, back in Ezekiel, Ezekiel 20. Now, actually as we read these verses, it's the time, it's the latter days that we'll be reading of here. Exodus… or Ezekiel 20:36 Ezekiel 20:36Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, said the Lord GOD.
American King James Version×. God inspires Ezekiel to write this. He says, “'Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says the Lord God. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” To the people, the people of Israel He'll bring out “I'll make you pass under the rod."
“You're going to learn that you have to measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ, one of those standards of the cultures of the Kingdom that we talked about. You'll pass on to the rod. I will measure you, and you will be…” “I bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel.” A sobering verse.
“I'll bring them out but the people that don't have that sweet aroma, the people that aren't diffusing that fragrance would have the fragrance of rebellion.” “I'll stand against God. I don't need anyone. I don't need His Body, I just need to be on my own. I'll do things my own way.” Those aren't going to be part of it. That's not the fragrance. That's not the diffusing of the fragrance of Christ who lived by every word of God, who began and started His own Church in the Body through which He would bring people and teach people. And they would come to the knowledge of God, and they would come to becoming a firstfruit person as they continue to yield through Him. And He goes, "When I do this, then you'll know that I am the Lord."
Oh, okay. What are you saying here? I was going to say, I was looking for the word “aroma’" and I didn't see it. But what I'm saying, what these verses are, is that, you know, He's saying these are the people that don't give off that aroma. These are the people that aren't there. They're not going to be parts, they won't be part of the country. They won't enter the land of Israel, they won't be part of the Kingdom. We have to diffuse the fragrance of Christ.
Back in Ephesians, moving to the New Testament, Ephesians 5:1 Ephesians 5:1Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children;
American King James Version×, it says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” In other places, Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ, follow me as I follow Christ.” Puts a condition on all of us, we need to in our families, we need to as ministers, we need to be following God implicitly that our children see this is how you follow God because what we do in our houses should be the way of God.
And I take that seriously. I know Mr. Wendt takes it seriously and the leaders here in this church and other churches take that seriously. We have a responsibility to not only talk the talk but walk the walk just like God wants all of us to do. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”
Willing to sacrifice His whole life. Willing to offer His whole life, willing to do whatever it took to be part of God's plan and to do what He wanted Him to do. Again, we see in Christ the agape love. We see the complete yieldedness, the willingness to sacrifice self, sacrifice will, and let God work through Him and do the things through Him that God was going to do. It was a pleasing sacrifice to God.
Go back to the Old Testament for one minute and then we'll finish up at the end of the Bible in Revelation. Back in Psalm. Psalms 141:2 Psalms 141:2Let my prayer be set forth before you as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
American King James Version×, David says to God, a man after God's own heart who learned to follow Him and to yield to Him, and to repent deeply when he made a… when he sinned. He says, "Let my prayer be set before you as incense. The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice… Let my prayer come up before You as incense."
My prayer to God would have a pleasing aroma, something that He would look at, something that He would hear you and I say. Look at the attitude, look at our heart and say, “That is a pleasing aroma.” And we talked about how God hears us. God listens to us, and those sweet-smelling prayers, those fragrant prayers that come from the Holy Spirit, that come from the groaning down within us, that helps us and wants us… that helps us to become like Christ that we want and God sees that our will is to be like Him. He keeps those, He remembers those.
Back in Revelation 8, Revelation 8:4 Revelation 8:4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
American King James Version×, as the time comes for the seventh seal to be opened, and in verse 1, it says, “there was silence in heaven for half an hour.” It's the time, it’s the time for the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, and the trumpets are about to sound. In verse 4 says, “The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.” They come before Him as a sweet-smelling savor. He remembers your prayers, He remembers my prayers, He remembers the prayers of all those who have gone before us and who have lived and died in the faith, they are a sweet-smelling aroma to Him as He hears those things.
Well, we see what the incense of God is, and it held a place in ancient Israel, and it holds a place in God's hearts for us today. Let's go back to Exodus 30. And again, we'll see the tabernacle and some instructions regarding the tabernacle back there. And as God was building that physical tabernacle back there, you know, it's a type of what we are building in our individual lives and in our church today. That tabernacle, the temple later was to be built exactly to every word of the instruction of God. And Moses and the people did it exactly the way God said. He commended them. They followed every single detail.
They didn't try to shortcut, they didn't try to substitute products, they did it exactly the way God said. Exactly the way He expects you and me to be building our temple. We'll take the rest of our lives to do it, but to be paying attention to every word and building it on every stone. The foundation's already been laid, which is Jesus Christ but we are building the temple. And here in the temple among all the instruments, among all of the things that God had them to do, the priestly garments, the sacrifices that He gave them, there was one more thing that he put in there that was important to Him. And we find it here an Exodus 30:1 Exodus 30:1And you shall make an altar to burn incense on: of shittim wood shall you make it.
American King James Version×.
He says to Moses, “You shall make an altar to burn incense on; make it of acacia wood.” Of all the things that God was going to do, the sacrificial system which Jesus Christ fulfilled, we no longer do today, all those things He says, you know, “I want an altar of incense in that temple as well.” And then He gives the dimensions of it. And He says in verse 3, “You shall overlay its top, its sides all around, its horns with pure gold; you shall make for it a molding of gold all around.”
It wasn't going to be just some afterthought that He had, this was an important thing. Overlay it with gold, make this altar and make it and pour some wealth into it. “Two gold rings you shall make for it, under the molding on both sides. You shall place them on its two sides, and they will be holders for the poles with which to bear it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you.” It's going to have a prominent place in that temple. It's going to be a beautiful place. It's going to be overlaid with gold. Its sole purpose is to burn incense.
“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Eternal throughout your generations.” Day and night there would be that incense burning in the tabernacle and later the temple. Day and night Aaron and the priests or actually just Aaron would be doing that. Every time there was this ever-burning fire, there was also this perpetual incense in the temple. The sweet-smelling aroma to God.
Now, think about the Israelites. We know that 600,000 men exited Israel, exited Egypt, so there's probably a couple million people that were there. Not all the people lived right next door to the temple like we sometimes think. They liveD… picture Orlando, picture Chicago, how big those areas are, they lived away, but every time that they came to the temple, every time they came to the vicinity of the temple, what were they smelling?
They were smelling incense. There was a diffusion of fragrance coming from that temple, that they smelled it and they became accustomed to it. And when they came there, it was like here's the smell of God. Here's the fragrance of God. He dwells in that temple, and day and night incense was burned on it, in a prominent place on a prominent altar in the temple.
God would stay in our temples. And He tells us in 2 Corinthians 2, He diffuses through us the fragrance of Christ. It was there in the temple, and He tells them in verse 9, and He gives them a mixture, a formula for what that incense should be. And verse 9 He says, “You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.” “That altar is only for incense and don't you dare put a strange incense on it, only one savory aroma comes from that incense altar.” So the people are used to it. When they smell that smell, they know the fragrance of the temple, they know the fragrance of God.
When they came close they knew where they were. And it says in verse 10, “Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once…” okay, I don't need to read verse 10. But He says, concludes there in verse 10, “It is most holy… it is most holy to the Eternal.” Later on in the chapter down at verse 34, He says, He gives them the ingredients, if you will, the recipe for the incense that was to be in that temple… or in that tabernacle. “The Eternal said to Moses: ‘Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha galbanum, and pure frankincense’” and in the home Bible studies, we talked about frankincense a little bit. Earlier in the chapter He talks about the anointing oil, and you see myrrh in there. “Take sweet spices, stacte, onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. Make each of these and… You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy… salted, pure, and holy.”
So He tells them, "It's not going to have just one ingredient, it's not just going to burn onycha on it, you're not going to burn just frankincense on it, you're not going to burn just stacte on it, it's a compound. I want you to mix because you know what, this is a unique formula for God. A unique formula for the incense and it's made up of several things. And it's only going to burn in the temple of God and in the tabernacle of God." And He forbids them. He forbids them in verse 37. “As for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It is holy for the Eternal.”
“I don't want you to take this compound and then have it burning in your homes, I want you to know when you come into the presence of where God dwells, this is the fragrance you identify with.” Now, the fragrance that we diffuse, that God diffuses through us, it's not just one thing, it's not just keeping the Sabbath day, it's not just keeping the Holy Days, it's just not not lying, it's just not not stealing, there's a whole compound, there's a whole thing, there's a whole Bible full of words that we have. And God expects us to be living by every word, willing to sacrifice every part of us.
The things that we really like to do, the family member that really wants us to do this thing that we really shouldn't be doing what we do anyway because we put him more important or her more important to what God wants, all those things He says, "No, no, no. I'm building in you a compound, the diffusion of the fragrance of Christ comes through you just like Jesus Christ wasn't just about healing the sick, He wasn't just about preaching the gospel, He wasn't just about teaching the truth, He wasn't just about sitting down with taxpayers and harlots, He was the whole nine yards.”
Everything about Him was the way that God said. He lived by every word of God, and that's what God expects of you and me, that we would be willing to sacrifice and yield to Him that He could be building that fragrance, that compound, that incense in us, that when others see us individually or come to know us individually or they walk into our midst, there's something that's nice about that population. There's something nice about that church, there's something nice about that Body, there's something nice when I go over to Rick and Debbie's house that's different than the other neighbors that I come in contact.
Something different than what they would say about you, something different but I like it. Well, I hope they like it because not every fragrance is sweet to everyone, right? Some are going to hate us because of it. The Bible says that. We could… but the more we give off the fragrance of Christ the more people are going to hate us. They hated Him. The more well-known hH became, the more they understood him, the more they hated Him, they wanted to put Him to death, and the same thing's going to happen to us.
It doesn't mean we should ever change our fragrance, it means we should be doing it even more. And even enhancing that fragrance as we yield to God more and look to Him more, and rely on Him more, and depend on Him more, and cast our cares and concerns on Him more, and trust Him to do all the things in life that we sometimes they take too many things to try to do it ourselves rather than truly looking to Him and following Him.
That's the incense that He wants to burn in us. That's what He's trying to build in us and not every person likes that. Just like not every person like every perfume or cologne, right? I mean you go to the counters, I don't go to stores that much but I had to be in one earlier the other night. I looked, I walked by and I thought, "Man, there must be 1,000 different things out here on the counter but everyone has their own preference, right?”
And fragrances can be very sweet to some. Others, they are not so sweet at all. We live in a society where fragrance can be a problem for people. And there are fragrance insensitivities that really cause people problems. So we have to be aware of that. And as we love our brother and as we love our sister, watch what we're doing that we don't create a problem for any of them. But that is something that God wants us to do. We would always diffuse and continually diffuse the fragrance of Christ.
You can go back, you know the Bible. You can read in Romans 12, and you can see the type of attributes that God wants us to develop. You know the agape, the fruits of the Spirit, all those things combined together, the fruits of the Spirit, it's not just agape, it's not just peace, it's not just love, it's not just joy, it's all of them as we are or we're doing that. And that is what God is looking to.
So self-examination question for us as we look at our homes, as we look at our families, as we look at our marriages, do we diffuse the fragrance of Christ? Would He look at what we do with our neighbors and in our businesses, would He look at what we do as husbands and wives when He looks at what we do as mothers and fathers? Does He look at what we do as fellow members of the Body of Christ and say, "They're diffusing the fragrance of Christ." Because we all have a part in this, individually and collectively that we would be building and allowing God to build that altar of incense in us.
The compound that He is formulating in us. It's not just one thing that we don't just say, "Oh, that's enough. I stop there." It's the whole life. It's the whole being. It's the whole yieldedness to Him. It's everything that we are yielded, that we become yielded to God in. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes the rest of our lives. Do we diffuse the fragrance of Christ?
Let's conclude back in 2 Corinthians where we started. 2 Corinthians 2 and let me read verse 14 to 16 again, and finish verse 16 that I didn't before. Verse 14, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,” always but always in Christ, not on our own, not with our ideas, not with our compromises, but when we do things the way that He says to do it.
"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 those in the Church, to those outside the Church, we are the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go. Not just when we're here on Sabbath afternoon.
"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?" Who is sufficient? Well, you and I are sufficient. We can do it. We can't do it on our own. We can't do it by our own might, or our own will, or our own power, or our own intellect, but we can do it as we have God's Spirit. Who is sufficient for these things? We are but not by ourselves. Only as we yield to God's Spirit, only as we follow Him, only as we do things the way that He says, only as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then God will be pleased with the fragrance that He has from us individually and collectively.