Fragrance to Heaven


Then Mary took a pound of fragrant oil-pure and expensive nard- anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

John 12: 3

Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was located

1 Samuel3:3

Defining Key Terms

High Priest

An individual consecrated by God to offer gifts and sacrifices on behalf of God’s Earthly Kingdom

  • Tabernacle

A tent like shelter in which the ark of the covenant resided

  • Incense

A substance that is burnt for the sweet aroma it produces

  • Holy

Set apart, made distinct from others

Deeper Exploration

1 Samuel 3:3

Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was located.

We often don’t understand and I include myself in this, how much God desires an intimate relationship with us. Last week we talked about the purpose of a High Priest and his role and function within the tabernacle.

We learnt that the tabernacle had 2 main internal divisions:

•    The first was the ‘holy place’ only the priests could enter to provide sacrifice on behalf of the people.

•     The second, ‘the ‘Holy of Holiest’’ was only accessed by the High Priest who would make a sacrifice on behalf of the nation. What separated the two rooms was a thick fabric veil.

Only the High Priest could enter into the ‘‘Holy of Holiest’’ because this is where God’s presence resided within the ark. He alone could enter as he was deemed worthy enough amongst other men but was still considered too imperfect to enter the room casually. But here we read that Samuel as a young child was resting ( not mourning, crying, in pain) but asleep. Where others would have died in such a location due to their imperfections, Samuel was resting in the presence of God. What kind of heart must Samuel have had to be considered acceptable within the tabernacle? Last week we also looked at how the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus tore the veil that separated ‘The Holy Place’ from the ‘Holy of Holiest’  (Matthew 27:51), Mark 15:38), Luke 23:45).   We looked at how we (the followers of Christ) were titled as Priests, worthy of entering the tabernacle, and now that the veil was torn, we are considered worthy of entering into the sacred place; the ‘Holy of Holiest’.

Despite this room being now free to access, how many of us do, plus how do we access such a room? Now we are no longer talking about the physical structure of the tabernacle but of the tangible presence of God, which is what the tabernacle represents. When God asked the Israelites to create him a tabernacle, he asked that an altar of incense  be made (Exodus 30: 1-9) and placed in front of the veil that divided the two rooms and that fragrant incense be burnt on the altar every morning so that the sweet aroma filled the tabernacle.  Fragrant incense that the Lord desires (Exodus 30:34-38) can, therefore be understood to represent holy and acceptable worship.

‘May my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting of my hands as the evening offering’ (Psalm 141:2)

For the acceptable ‘oil and incense bring joy to the heart’ (Proverbs 27:9)

Daily worshipping and communication with God is what we are told to do, therefore,  as royal priests within the tabernacle we are told to burn fragrant incense every morning. It says in Lamentation 2:22-23 ‘for His mercies never end. They are new every morning’, have you ever considered why we receive new mercies every morning and not like once a month, because each day brings its own unique challenges, ‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34)  that we may be tempted into, but God’s asks that we put him first and foremost above all else and concentrate our attentions on Him.

When we concentrate our attention on Him and not the concerns of the day, we find that God takes care of those concerns with us and what was a great burden is made light. We are called to be ministers within the tabernacle just as Jesus is the minister within the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:2). So with this knowledge, we are called to minister onto God and present ourselves as  ‘living sacrifice[s] holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship’(Romans 12:1) just as Christ did  and presented himself as a ‘fragrant offering to God’ (Ephesians 5:2).  During Esther’s day, before a woman could go to the King she would spend a year beautifying herself with ‘oil of myrrh for 6 months and then with perfumes and cosmetics for another 6 months’ (Esther 2: 12), these women were presenting themselves as fragrant offerings to the King, in such a manner, when we pray the spiritual fragrant that we emit covers our mortal bodies and prepares it to be lifted up as a pleasing offering. So each morning we begin our ministering in God’s presence we are not only been given new mercies to conquer the day, but we are being beautified and cleansed of any impurites that we might have carried the day before.

When we read in (John 12:3)

Then Mary took a pound of fragrant oil-pure and expensive nard- anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

We witness Mary ministering unto Christ by anointing his feet with fragrant oil. In the bible anointing with oil is something done typically when

a)    Coronating a King (2 King 11:12)

b)    An act of hospitality (Luke 7:46)

c)    Installing a High Priest (Psalm 133:2)

In this case, Mary seemed to be much more aware of what was to come (Christ crucifixion) then Christs closest disciples. As such Mary was preparing through her act of worship for Christs’ death and resurrection where he would become the High Priest in heaven.

‘Leave her alone, she has kept it for the day of My burial’ (John 12:7)

Our worship produces a fragrant that ascends to God (Revelations 8:4) and pleases him, it is meant to be a daily activity. Just as the incense fills the tabernacle or Mary’s perfume filled the house in which Jesus was at, so our prayers and worship must fill the heavenly tabernacle with a sweet aroma.

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A hungry young Christ focused girl wanting to explore the bible and help others on their walk with God.

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