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February 21st - Aromas on the Altar

Aromas on the Altar

(Leviticus 1:1-17; 2:1-16; 6:8-23; 17:8-9)

(Numbers 15:1-21; 28:1-8)

Priestly Sacrifice

Artist Unknown

Today’s Scripture selections focus on the priestly offerings and sacrifices, which God commanded the Israelites to offer throughout each calendar year. The rituals included five major rites, as well as several additional special ceremonies, of which we will read in coming days. The first two sacrifices listed are burnt offerings and cereal offerings.

Although God’s people do not currently practice these ceremonies, the Lord’s instructions do offer significant spiritual insight for today’s believers. In particularly, a single repeated phrase seems to point to a tremendous truth:

Reread today’s Bible passages (listed above), and count how many times you can find the following words:

". . . an aroma pleasing to the Lord . . ."

I like to highlight key phrases and concepts in my own Bible. Perhaps you do as well. Were you able to find that phrasing at least fifteen times in today’s readings? (The same words will appear multiple times in readings for subsequent days as well.)

Could the Lord be trying to tell us something?

In Old Testament times, when God’s people brought their offerings to the Tent of Meeting, the priest would make the sacrifice for the Lord. Usually, the priest would burn the items, sending the smoke up to honor the Lord. Some rites called for the priest to wave items offered to God. In all of these cases, God indicated acceptable gifts were pleasing aromas to Him.

Aromatherapy has become big business in our time. Scented candles, potpourri, mulling spices and incense fill our homes. Fragrant lotions, soaps and sprays freshen our bodies. How we love sweet smells. Can we imagine that the Lord might enjoy these as well?

How might we offer pleasing aromas to the Lord? What gifts can we offer to God that might please Him? How could our behavior and attitudes determine whether our offerings (in time, talents and tithes) bless the Lord?

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ

among those who are being saved

and those who are perishing.”

(2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV)

Keep the fire burning.

God instructed the priests to be sure that the fire on the altar of sacrifice never was extinguished. In fact, the priests were to keep the fire well stocked with wood, so that it would remain aflame perpetually.

If we consider our own hearts as altars of sacrifice to the Lord, how might we keep the fire of devotion kindled? Often, the Holy Spirit has been described as a fire. (Remember the tongues of fire above the believers’ heads at Pentecost? See Acts 2.) How can we ensure that the glowing spiritual spark that God has placed within us never goes out?

“The fire on the altar must be kept burning;

it must not go out.”

(Leviticus 6:12, NIV)

Will you pray with me?

Father God,

How we love You.

How grateful we are

That You have offered a way

To remove our guilt

And find favor with You

Through Your own sacrifice

Of Your Son, Jesus, the Messiah.

Although we need no longer

Sacrifice animals, grain or other items

On physical altars,

You have said that You treasure

Hearts that are wholly sacrificed

And devoted to You.

May we become offerings

That please You.

May our lives

Be fragrant and pleasant

And acceptable to You.

We worship and adore You.


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