Work has been heavy and writing and thinking about writing all day makes it difficult to write some more when I come home at night or get up in the morning. However, there has been an interesting side effect of these hours filled with demanding work and that is I don’t have much time to work through the questions that come up either when I pray in the morning or read or think about Scripture. I find so many threads starting on so many queries that my mind is beginning to feel like a piece of cloth filled with loose ends.
Let me give you an example. I was reading Morning Prayer and I read the beginning passage for Ephiphany (Lent hasn’t started yet) from Malachi 1:11:
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 1:11
That is a prophecy of the future coming of the Church and its spread across the world. But within that prophecy is a statement of an activity, an offering that will be done by those who acknowledge the LORD of hosts: incense. In the midst of my Morning prayer my brain suddenly ran away with the question, “Where is all of this incense the LORD expects us to offer to Him?”
I don’t have an answer to that question because while many Evangelicals and Reformed look down at the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, at least they do offer incense, albeit not as much as they used to. When was the last time you saw incense being offered in your local Baptist, Pentacostal, or contemporary mega church?
One thing I do know and that is that Malachi was not talking in euphamistic terms about the prayers of the saints, though they are a form of incense (see Revelation 5:8). He was talking about the literal burning of a sweet spice, the kind that was offered to Jesus by the Wise Men (frankincense) who sought him out as a newborn child.
So. Why don’t we offer incense to God any more?
Just one of the many loose ends dangling in my mind these days. May God grant you grace and peace as you go about your day and may the incense, rising from just behind my laptop, be a sweet smell to the LORD of hosts, made pure and holy by Christ in the heart of the one who offers it.
Nice to hear from you William, Hope that job is getting a little better. I will pray for your success and God’s glory seen in that. Incense huh? Sounds like my obsession with pomegranates a couple of months ago! (in the Temple) I finally posted about it and I feel much better! God bless you and yours!
I don’t know pomegranates, but incense doesn’t appear to be an option from that passage. I guess because it isn’t discussed in the New Testament except in Temple and OT terms. So, in keeping with Malichi 1:11, I will continue to offer physical incense as well as prayers to God as a pure offering.