His Hands Full of Incense
Jim Voisey, Cardiff, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Our hands are important parts of our individual personalities. Some people have larger hands than others. If Aaron's hands were small, whatever he could hold in them would be his sweet incense offering within the vail: so God ordained.
This sweet incense was a fragrant perfume upon the burning coals of the censer, made up according to the Lord's direction ‘after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy’, Exod. 30. 35. It was for the Lord alone, and speaks to us of that worship which came with the prayers of the saints, and ascended up before God, Rev. 8. 4. The children of Israel were forbidden to make it unto themselves, but it was to be ‘holy for the Lord’, Exod. 30. 37. Nor was it to be used to bring pleasure to themselves in the exercise of divine worship; it must all be for the Lord, Exod. 30. 38. The worship we bring to the Lord with our hands, large or small, full of sweet incense, is pleasing to Him, according to His Own divine principle, that it is ‘accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not’, 2 Cor. 8. 12. But the Lord wants us to fill our hands.
The ‘filling of the hands’ is one of the terms used to denote consecration to God, see Exod. 28. 41 margin, and other references there. It is one aspect of our consecration today. Here it is the worship of God that is before us. We all bring our individual appreciations of our Lord's worth before God the Father. What delight He has in Him!
‘But the high mysteries of Thy Name,
An angel's grasp transcend;
The Father only (glorious claim!)
The Son can comprehend’.
Other scriptures teach us how we may bring our ‘hands full’ for the Lord, expressing what we are each able to bring to Him. Different levels of appreciating the merits of our Lord's sacrifice are expressed typically.
If a man’s hand could not reach to the sufficiency of a lamb for his trespass offering, or a woman's hand could not find the sufficiency of a lamb for the offering for her purification after childbirth, or the hand of a cleansed leper failed to reach for the prescribed offerings in the day of his cleansing, then ‘such as they were able to get’ was acceptable to the Lord, see Lev. 5. 7, 11; 12. 48; 14. 21, 30, 31, and the marginal notes in each case. Mary, the mother of our Lord, availed herself of this gracious provision, for she was poor, Luke 2. 24. God never makes impossible demands, but ‘loves a cheerful giver’, 2 Cor. 9. 7, even those who give themselves and what they have, ‘in a great trial of affliction and deep poverty’, 2 Cor. 8. 2.
That which the saints of Macedonia contributed – however small or large it might have been as viewed by others – is referred to as ‘the riches of their liberality‘, ‘beyond their power’, ‘their forwardness’, a ‘grace’, see 2 Cor. 8, 2, 3, 8, 19. God bestows upon our unworthy offerings His divine approval. The poor widow’s mites cast into the treasury were noticed and commented upon by the Lord Jesus Christ. In His sight she had contributed ‘more than they all’, Luke 21. 3. It was all she had. Her ‘handful’ might have been small indeed compared to the rich men’s gifts, but He treasured it. This is the essential thing, whether it be our gifts, our generosity to others, or our appreciation of what the Lord has done and what He is worth in our worship. That poor widow is an example to us still.
‘Jesus, we ne'er can pay
The debt we owe Thy love,
Yet tell us how we may
Our gratitude approve,
Our hearts, our all
To Thee we give,
The gift though small do Thou receive’.