” Aaron will burn fragrant incense on the Golden Altar as a pleasing aroma every morning; he is to burn it when he prepares the lamps. Aaron is also to burn it when he lights the lamps at dusk; this is the regular burning of incense before Adonai through all your generations. You are not to offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering or a grain offering; and you are not to pour a drink offering on it.”-Exodus 30:7-9
The Lord issues a stern warning concerning the Altar of Incense (or Golden Altar).
No OTHER KIND OF INCENSE but what God authorizes is to be burned on this Altar.
The Hebrew word for “unlawful incense” being used here is KETORET ZARAH
Many bibles will use words like “unholy“, “strange“, “foreign“, or “alien” to translate this Hebrew and I think these are all acceptable.
The underlying meaning is that it is God alone and no one else who declares something holy.
It’s not like the ingredients used for the incense in and of themselves took on some magical quality when they were combined and then burned up.
God simply DECLARED them holy and that was that.
Right here, a profound principle is being demonstrated that reveals a distinct difference between the mindset of a pagan and a true monotheistic believer in the God of Israel.
One common characteristic you will find among the pagan religions of the world is that they believe that certain locations, or certain foods, or certain combinations of certain ingredients, or certain animals are inherently holy or magical.
This is not true.
In the Book of Genesis, God declared ALL His creation good.
Nothing in and of itself is INHERENTLY HOLY OR UNHOLY!
Whether something is holy or not, or clean or not, is NOT based on the inherent characteristics of the object in question.
It is based solely on God’s sovereign decision.
For example, I’ve heard there are some groups who make pilgrimages to Mount Sinai and treat the area as a holy spot.
This is retarded.
Aside from the fact that the majority of these groups are going to the wrong location because the REAL Mount Sinai is located on the Arabian Peninsula and NOT the Sinai Peninsula, minus God’s presence Mount Sinai is just a pile of dirt and rock like the rest of planet earth.
When the Lord was active and present at Mount Sinai, oh it was definitely holy alright.
God declared that it was holy.
The reason is because His holiness is contagious.
His presence is so transcendent that it literally infects whatever is near Him.
At the time, the top of Mount Sinai was practically untouchable, only Moses was allowed to go up there.
However, now that YHVH is no longer active and present there, Mount Sinai isn’t any different than any other mountain.
Nowhere are told to worship Mount Sinai or treat it as some untouchable holy spot or make a pilgrimage to it.
I can understand how it must be cool to stand at the very place that Moses received the 10 Words of God.
But that doesn’t make the place holy.
However, the Lord has separated FOREVER one very specific piece of real estate for Himself and His people.
And that land is Israel.
In terms of its dirt or foliage, there isn’t anything exceptionally unique about the land of Israel.
I don’t think there is any one particularly compelling physical characteristic of the land of Israel that you can point to and say “Now that’s why God chose this land.“
I just accept God’s sovereign decision as it is which leads me to the takeaway for today.
It is not necessary nor is it our responsibility to apply scientific methods or worldly philosophies to the Lord’s decisions on matters.
It is NOT necessary to ask or know WHY God has declared something holy.
If He has declared something Holy, that’s it.
It’s a done deal and we don’t need some scientific reason to substantiate it.
Unfortunately, today modern man has become very arrogant.
If something in the Bible doesn’t meet the approval and consensus of man’s intellect, we jump to the conclusion that the Word must be in error.
The truth is God’s declaration of what is Holy and Unholy, clean or unclean has nothing to do with man’s limited views of reason and logic.