In the Old Testament, incense was used as an offering to God in the temple and was seen as a way to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to God. This tradition was carried over into the time of Jesus, and it is mentioned in the Gospels that incense was used in the temple during his lifetime. However, the question is, did Jesus burn incense?
Whether or not Jesus burned incense has been debated among biblical scholars. According to the Bible, there is no explicit mention of Jesus burning incense. While Jesus himself is not recorded to have burned incense, he may have participated in the temple rituals and offerings that included incense burning. Jesus also criticized the religious leaders of his time for their hypocrisy and for focusing on external rituals rather than on the true worship of God.
This article takes a deep dive by addressing questions like; it there a place in the New Testament where Jesus burns incense? What does the Bible say about aromatherapy? What does the Bible say about the incense altar? Read on to find out.
Is there a place in the New Testament where Jesus burns incense?
There is no specific place in the New Testament where Jesus is recorded as burning incense. However, incense is mentioned several times throughout the New Testament and is often associated with worship and religious ceremonies.
In the New Testament, incense is mentioned in the book of Revelation, where it is used to worship God in heaven. Revelation 8:3-4, it says, “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
What does the Bible say about aromatherapy?
The Bible does not specifically mention aromatherapy, as using essential oils for therapeutic purposes is modern. However, the Bible does mention the use of various plants, oils, and fragrances in religious ceremonies and for medicinal purposes.
In the Old Testament, incense was used in the Tabernacle and the Temple as an offering to God. The incense was made from a mixture of spices, including frankincense and myrrh, also used in other religious rituals. In Exodus 30.34-38, God gives instructions for making a special incense to be used in the Tabernacle, which was made from a mixture of fragrant spices and was to be burned on a special altar before the Ark of the Covenant.
In the New Testament, the Magi bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus in Matthew 2.11. These gifts are believed to symbolize Jesus’ role as king, priest, and sacrifice, respectively. Frankincense is also mentioned in Revelation 8:3-4 as being used to worship God in heaven.
What does the Bible say about the incense altar?
The Bible has several references to the incense altar, which was a significant part of the religious rituals in the Old Testament. The incense altar was used in the Tabernacle and the Temple as an offering to God.
In Exodus 30.1-10, God gives detailed instructions to Moses on how to construct the incense altar. The altar was to be made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It was to be located in the Holy Place, in front of the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The altar was to burn incense made from a special mixture of fragrant spices. The incense was to be burned twice daily, in the morning and evening, as a part of the daily worship.
Leviticus 16.12-13 mentions that on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to take coals from the altar of burnt offering and two handfuls of finely ground incense and enter the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites. The incense was to be burned in the presence of God, symbolizing the prayers of the Israelites rising to God.
Numbers 16.46-48 mention that when Korah and his followers rebelled against Moses and Aaron, the Lord sent fire from the Tabernacle to consume them. However, the censers of Aaron and his sons, which were used to burn incense, were spared and reminded the Israelites of the Lord’s holiness and the importance of following the proper rituals.
In 2 Chronicles 26.19, it is mentioned that King Uzziah of Judah attempted to burn incense on the incense altar but was struck with leprosy by the Lord because he was not a priest and was not authorized to do so.
Why did burning incense become an abomination in the Old Testament?
The burning of incense is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, and it is not always portrayed in a negative light. In some passages, it is described as a pleasing aroma to God. However, there are certain instances in which incense burning is described as an abomination.
One possible reason is that the Israelites were commanded only to offer incense to God in the temple and to use only specific incense blends that God approved. Any other forms of incense, or incense offered to other gods, would be considered an abomination.
Another reason could be the use of incense in idolatrous worship. Incense was often used in worshipping other gods, and the Israelites were strictly forbidden from engaging in such practices. The burning of incense as part of idolatrous worship would be considered an abomination to God.
Lastly, the Israelites were also warned against the excesses of their neighboring cultures, which included burning incense as part of their religious practices. The Israelites were to be distinct from the other nations, following the commandments of God rather than the practices of the nations around them.
Can Christians burn incense?
Whether or not Christians can burn incense is a matter of personal interpretation and tradition. Some Christians may view incense as a form of idolatry or paganism, while others may see it as a way to enhance prayer and worship.
In the early Christian church, incense was used in liturgical rituals, such as burning incense during the Eucharist celebration. This practice was based on the Old Testament tradition of offering incense to God in the temple, and it was seen as a way to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to God. However, over time, the use of incense in the Christian Church has varied, and some denominations have discontinued the use of incense in their liturgies.
There are some Christians who argue that incense burning can be a way to create a contemplative atmosphere for prayer and meditation, and it can be a way to symbolize the presence of the Divine. Some Christian mystics have also used incense to aid in contemplative practices and help focus the mind during meditation.
However, others may argue that incense burning can be considered an act of syncretism, which is the blending of different religious practices or beliefs and can be seen as an attempt to merge Christian beliefs with non-Christian practices.
What is the meaning of burning incense in Catholicism?
In Catholicism, incense burning is a significant ritual with deep spiritual meaning. The use of incense in the Catholic Church is rooted in the Old Testament tradition of offering incense to God in the temple, and it is seen as a way to symbolize the prayers of the faithful rising to God.
During Mass, incense is often used to incense the altar, the book of the Gospels, and the congregation. This is a sign of reverence and honor for God and a symbol of the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven. The incense smoke is also believed to symbolize the soul’s purification and the Divine’s presence.
Incense is also used in other sacramental ceremonies such as baptism and confirmations and during the blessing of churches, altars, and other sacred objects. In these cases, the burning of incense is seen as a way to sanctify and purify the space, making it a sacred place where the presence of God can be felt.
Additionally, incense is also used in the Catholic Church as a way to aid in contemplative practices and to help focus the mind during meditation. It can create a contemplative atmosphere for prayer and meditation and can help to symbolize the presence of the Divine.
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They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.