By His stripes

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

I have been reading a lot lately about different oils, especially essential oils. It’s been a joy to learn about their different uses, how they are harvested and then produced to make a lovely oil that can be used at home. What caught my attention during this study were two very special oils – Frankincense and Myrrh. These two oils are very well-known for several reasons: First, because they were two of the three gifts (along with gold) given to the Lord Yeshua as a gift by the Magi and Second, they have tremendous health benefits. They were both used as perfume, incense and medicine. In addition, myrrh has analgesic effects. Knowing this, the verse in Mark 15:23 suddenly seemed amazing to me. The Lord Yeshua refused to drink myrrh mixed with wine, a very bitter drink, as he hung on the cross, so as not to dull the pain and his conciousness, demonstrating his willingness to endure the pain of the cross fully, even while He despised the shame (Heb. 12:2). This fulfills the prophecy in Psalm 69:21 “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”. Both oils have been very famous throughout history and at one point, they even surpassed gold by price and value. These two oils, along with gold, were regarded as gifts fit for kings during ancient times. The classic interpretation as to why these particular gifts were chosen to be given is that gold symbolizes kingship, since it is associated with richness; frankincense symbolizes priesthood, since it was used for sweet incense (Exodus 30:34-38) in the Temple and the rising smoke symbolized our prayers ascending to heaven (Rev. 8:3-4), while myrrh was used for a multitude of things, including perfume and for anointing the dead. However, another reasonable interpretation is that frankincense symbolizes worship and myrrh symbolizes priesthood, as it was used to anoint the priests in the temple. The Lord is our eternal High Priest, who “always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25).

Frankincense is a form of gum (secretion) from a very small tree, known as the Boswellia tree. In order to harvest the gum, the tree is either lashed or it’s periderm is cut repeatedly in order to produce a flow of resin from the tree. The resin falls down looking tear shaped, starts out white and then turns a yellow-amber color. The resin cannot be produced during winter, since the Frankincense can be easily damaged by rain. That is why the lashing and cutting of the tree begins at December, and the harvesting reaches its peak in April.

Another interesting fact about the tree is its very unique ability to grow … out of solid rock! Amazing! The tree is able to withstand harsh weathers and environments that are unrelenting, and its attachment to rocks prevents it from being torn away during violent storms.  No one is able to explain how these trees attach themselves to the rock. All they know is that the root of the tree grows to a disk-like shape covering the rock so the rock appears to become part of the tree.

Myrrh is also a gum, but it is produced by the Commiphora tree. Like Frankincense, the Myrrh tree is small and grows in rocky terrain. It is small and has low, thorny shrubs. But, in order to bring out the resin, which like the Frankincense, also is tear-shaped, it must be  struck or bruised repeatedly.

All this “information” seemed  kind of dry at first. But, what fascinated me was the fact that both trees have to be bruised, cut and stripped of their outer bark, so that the inner resin, the gum that is used to make the oils later on, could flow forth. The more they are bruised, the easier the flow of the resin. Knowing this, I thought of the passage at the top of this post. The Lord Yeshua was afflicted, bruised and cut for me and for you. His blood, like the resin of these oils, flowed from his body, to makeatonement for our sins. The resin that those trees produce as they are bruised is sticky. It brings forth not only amazing fragrances, but incredible healing properties. Similarly, The Lord Yehua’s blood covers and cleanses us from all sin. “And by His scourging, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53;5, emphasis added)  The peak-time for the harvesting of the Frankincense is in April, which would be somewhere around Pesach (Passover), the holiday during which The Lord Yeshua was bruised and wounded for our transgressions, then crucified to complete the work which the Father had given to Him. This leaves me at awe at what He has done, being willing to shed His blood for the forgiveness of my sins. Praise the Lord!

“And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). The Lord Yeshua gave Himself as a sweet-smelling savor before God the Father, and “leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place”  (2 corinthians 2:14), and makes us a fragrance to God.

I was also amazed that both trees grow in dry areas, yet are capable of producing such wondrous, healing resins. This reminds me of another verse – “In a dry and weary land where there is no water, thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory” (Psalm 63:1-2). And the Frankincense being attached to a rock! Yet, no one know how that is done. The Lord Yeshua came down to earth as a man, leaving His heavenly form, and being fully God and fully man, was capable of accomplishing the work on the cross. He is our solid rock, and if we cling to Him, making Him “our root”, even the fiercest and most violent storms won’t be able to move us.

I hope this encourages you as it did me. Realizing what the Lord has done for us should keep us thanking Him and desiring to give our best and most precious to Him. Bless the Lord by Whose stripes we are healed!

© Hannah Kramer

Giving our best and most precious

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with fragrance of the perfume”. (John 12:3-4)

So often it is easy to look at this passage and truly admire Mary for what she did, willing to use such costly perfume, that was all gone within minutes. However, do we look at what it cost her beyond the money? Pure nard was very expensive in those days, it came from the areas of India, China and Japan and it is still one of the most expensive oils today.  This special perfume was worth almost a year’s wages, and it is likely to presume that it took Mary a long time to save money towards buying it.

Do you remember that time when you got something you were longing for, for SO long? You worked and saved your money and kept your eyes on that goal, and then…you finally got it. That precious item is now yours, it is in your room, in your possession and you know exactly what to do with it. Amazing feeling, isn’t it? Try to imagine what Mary must have felt, having that precious perfume. Not only was it expensive, but it was saved for a very special purpose. Her wedding day. Just like our days, when we girls save things for our wedding day, whatever it may be for each one, like items…or ourselves.

What do I mean? we read that Mary had to break the bottle in order to let the perfume out. Notice what happened right after – the room was filled with the odor of the ointment. Sometimes God allows hardships and difficulties in our lives in order to bring out what we store within. To bring out a sweet savor that otherwise would have been kept in. 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 says this – “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”. Though there may be hard times, God uses those times to refine us and never leaves us alone. If Mary hadn’t broken the bottle, the fragrance would not have filled the room. Sometimes we have to take those precious things and start using them.

Mary kept the perfume for her husband but eventually used it for her king. Do we use our talents and gifts for our king? Are there times in our lives that we say “I will start using my gifts only when I’m married”? do we let God use us now, where we are?

When I wrote this, I didn’t give much thought to what Martha did that day. I always focused on what her sister did. I always saw Martha as a tough woman, who worked all day and never took time to rest. I hadn’t thought that perhaps this woman enjoyed what she did, and served with all her heart. Both sisters were different, each served in her own way and it could be asked of both whether their actions were meant to be seen so as to be appreciated. Others might have seen their actions as extravagant, they might have been criticized each in what she did, but they both served whole heartedly. They both gave their best, whether it was perfume saved for a wedding…or silverware fit for a king.

Yeshua’s response to what Mary did was that people will remember her and what she did. He also said on another occasion that she has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42). If we truly love our Lord, we should be willing to lay down what we hold dearest and best for him, even if others see what we do as strange or senseless.

I don’t know if Mary knew that Yeshua was going to die and rise up. She must have known when he had risen, since she did not go to the grave with the disciples. What I do know, is that she did what she did out of love and deep appreciation for her King. I want to be able to show my king, the king of love, my appreciation and love, with my best and dearest.

Let’s be willing to sit at his feet and pour out our best, in our homes and in our fellowship.

© Hannah Kramer