The Sacred Tradition of Essential Oils in Scripture

For thousands of years, the knowledge of essential oils has been woven into the very fabric of history. As modern research continues to unveil the myriad benefits of these precious substances, it's helpful to revisit their origins through the sacred texts. Two particularly profound sections of the Bible that highlight the divine importance of essential oils are Exodus 30:22-35 and Numbers 16:46-50.

In the book of Exodus, God commands Moses to prepare a sacred anointing oil, a blend of the most exceptional botanicals mixed with olive oil. This oil was not merely a fragrant blend; it held great significance and was used by the priests for anointing, healing, and prayer.

The Lord spoke to Moses: 'Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred fifty, and two hundred fifty of aromatic cane, and five hundred of cassia—measured by the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil' (Exodus 30:22-25).

This sacred blend was used to consecrate the tent of meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, and other holy articles, marking them as holy and set apart for God's service. Moses was also instructed to anoint Aaron and his sons (the Levitical priests), consecrating them for service to the Lord. The ingredients of this biblical blend were selected for their symbolic meanings, healing properties, as well as their transformative qualities. Here’s a closer look at the what made up the Holy Anointing Oil and how it was used in antiquity:

1. Myrrh, used in ancient times for its healing properties, symbolized purification and spiritual cleansing. Myrrh was renowned for its ability to support the immune system and promote skin health, which made it a cherished asset for holistic wellness practices in biblical times.

2. Cinnamon, known for its warming qualities, represented passion and spiritual fire. This potent oil was cherished for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a versatile addition to the Old Testament priest's medicine box.

3. A lesser-known ingredient, calamus symbolized humility and a firm foundation in faith. Beyond its symbolic significance, calamus was valued for its calming effects and potential to support mental clarity and emotional balance.

4. Similar to cinnamon but with a subtler scent, cassia represented strength and righteousness. Cassia oil was known for its robust immune-boosting properties, as well as its ability to promote cardiovascular health and circulation.

5. Representing the Holy Spirit, olive oil was the base that unified all the individual elements into one holy blend. Olive oil was used not only in lamps and for its nutritional benefits, but also for its moisturizing properties and ability to soothe and heal the skin.

The creation of this sacred oil was so unique and potent, God specifically commanded that it should not be replicated for personal use. It was a divine composition meant solely for sacred purposes, embodying a deep respect for the spiritual realm.

The Immediate Power of Incense

Moving forward to the book of Numbers, we find another divine application of aromatic substances, but this time in the form of incense.

So Moses said to Aaron, 'Take your censer, put fire in it from the altar, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the Lord, the plague has begun.' So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting (Numbers 16:46-50).

In this passage, incense once again played a sacred and immediate role. During a devastating plague among the Israelites, Aaron was instructed to intervene with incense (frankincense). The image of Aaron standing "between the living and the dead" poignantly illustrates the profound impact of frankincense in mediating between the spiritual and physical realms. Through God's guidance and the healing power naturally imbued into frankincense, the plague was stopped, ultimately by God, but also as Aaron obediently administered the healing potential of this sacred botanical.

The full sacred incense recipe was given directly by God to Moses, establishing its essential role in prayer, meditation, healing, and  worship. The exact ingredients for this incense blend were also divinely ordained, serving as a reminder of the power and presence of the God of Israel in times of crisis.

The Modern Connection

Rediscovering these biblical practices fosters both a spiritual connection and a practical application of ancient wisdom for the modern-day believer. The power of essential oils and the aromatic essences of plants can elevate your daily routines, enhancing your spiritual intentions while providing profound physical benefits.

Here are a few practical suggestions for believers today:

  • Incorporating essential oils during meditation or prayer can help create a calming atmosphere, sharpen your spiritual focus, and deepen quiet moments with the Lord.
  • Essential oils like frankincense, lavender, and myrrh are valued for their soothing qualities, offering comfort during emotional distress or grief.
  • Many of these oils have properties that support overall health and wellness, reflecting their traditional uses for prevention and healing as found in scripture.

Using essential oils for spiritual enrichment today can draw us back to the heart of their divine origin. These ancient practices remind us that we are part of a larger, sacred story stretching back millennia.

The Biblical passages of Exodus 30:22-35 and Numbers 16:46-50 offer compelling insights into the spiritual and practical importance of essential oils, even today. These holy recipes and practices serve as powerful reminders of God’s continued care for His creation. By incorporating essential oils into our daily practices, we not only honor the ancient wisdom found in God’s Word, but we can also enhance our physical and spiritual well-being.

As we turn to these ancient scriptures for guidance, let's remember the sacred tradition from which our modern practices emerge. Whether through anointing, diffusing of essential oils, or other applications, using the aromatic molecules from plants can deepen our spiritual journey as we re-discover ancient practices that have inspired humanity for generations.

Get your copy of my devotional journal, "Finding Comfort and Healing" and discover how seamlessly you can combine prayer, journaling, and anointing with Young Living essential oils.

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