You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.
God gave a recipe for the anointing oil: about 6 liters of olive oil, equal parts (500 shekels each) myrrh and cassia, and half as much (250 shekels each) cinnamon and fragrant cane. I had hoped to find a good measurement for the shekel, but it worked out to about 1/10,000 of a talent as compared to gold and a talent just meant a round of gold, as in a large gold coin. So, I could try to replicate this oil if I really wanted to, just by following the proportions, but this oil has a very particular purpose: it anoints and sets apart everything in the tabernacle. All of the instruments and altars and tables and even the tent itself are to be anointed with this. The priests, too.
I notice that most of the contents of the oil have a sweet or pleasant smell to them. Fragrant cane just makes me think of sugar cane, though it is probably not, since sugar is not indigenous to the region. Cinnamon has a wonderful smell and I hear that myrrh smells pleasantly sweet.
Outside the tabernacle is where the animal sacrifices were made and the meat boiled and burned with fire. Inside the tabernacle, everything is anointed with pleasant-smelling oil and the air is scented with incense and there might be a faint aroma of bread from the table. Outside is where the scene reminded one of how offensive our trespasses are. Inside is where one is reminded of how good and how pleasant it is to be in God’s presence.
This oil, used to anoint things and set them apart as holy, reminds me that the holiness that God commands is pleasant. While my trespasses and sins require blood and death and result in a horrible smell, holiness is not so. Holiness is pleasant and makes me useful to God as were the implements and tables and priests.
I need to be mindful that God accepts no imitations. No counterfeit versions of this anointing oil were to be made and this oil was not to be used on anyone or anything that was not holy; set apart for God’s particular use. The punishment for putting this oil on anything or anyone not set apart for God’s particular use was to be cut off from his people (v 33). I suspect that there is a parallel in the life of the believer. If we call holy that which is not, then we have cut ourselves off from God and His people. We have, as another verse puts it, called evil “good” and good “evil”.
Let me bring to God the holiness that He has commanded and no substitute. Let me see things as He sees them and call holy and good the things that He has deemed so.
Father, thank You for this reminder that You are the arbiter of holiness. I cannot make my own oil and anoint something and have it be holy in Your eyes, but everything that is set apart for Your use must be set apart in Your way. Please give me eyes that see that and hands ready to do Your work.