Why Refuse The Lord What He Calls Most Holy?

While reading another posting questioning whether tithing is a New Testament practice I was meditating on Malachi’s words on the subject of stealing from God when I was reminded of the following scripture, also from Malachi,

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 1:11


The offering of incense is an early Church tradition more often than not rejected by most modern-day gatherings, yet in the Book of Malachi, we see that incense was not a practice purely for the Jews but that it would continue with Christianity. The prophecy of this scripture makes it clear that it refers to the Christian Church. It talks of a time when God’s name shall be ‘great among the gentiles’, this did not occur until the spread of Christianity. It repeats this message by stating the Lord’s name would be ‘great among the heathen’, again this can only be with Christianity. It states that ‘in every place incense shall be offered’ to the name of God.

As the Jewish religion did not spread to every place, there can be no reasonable doubt that this reference to the burning of incense is speaking of the Christian Church.

If we then consider the importance that God places on the burning of incense, we see that this practice held a high place in the Old Testament. When Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenged the authority of God’s appointed being Moses, and attempted to usurp the position of priest, they were given instruction to offer incense to the Lord along with Aaron, the true appointed high priest.

They did as instructed and God completely obliterated them for the insolence of their action, as the offering of incense was a duty to be performed only by a consecrated priest. This should be taken into account as God allows all to offer prayer yet he takes grave offense if any but a priest should offer incense, demonstrating the significance the Lord places upon it. (Numbers 16:16-38)

Another example of the importance of Incense is when a plague fell among the people of Israel, it was through an offering of incense that Aaron made atonement for the people, not a sacrifice, nor prayer. (Numbers16:46-50)

Incense, is also indirectly mentioned in the New Testament such as when the three wise men came to Jesus, they brought gifts of Gold, Myrrh and frankincense. This is deeply significant as frankincense being a component of the incense was a symbol of His divine priesthood, just as gold represented His Kingdom and myrrh His suffering.

One common argument against the burning of incense is that it was done as part of the sacrifices of the Jewish priesthood. This is however false; the two offerings are completely independent of each other. When the angel appeared to Zacharias, he was offering incense, not a sacrifice.

“And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” Luke 1:8

In the Jewish temple, incense was also offered on a completely different altar than the burnt offerings or the sacrifices, further proving the two were separate actions. This altar was placed before the veil, before the mercy seat where God would meet them, thus being a position of great importance. (Exodus 30:1-10) What is particularly relevant is that in the book of Exodus chapter 30 when we read the description and position of the Altar where the Incense was offered, in verse 10 we read that the Lord considered this offering “most Holy”.

“……It is most holy unto the LORD.” Exodus 30:10

Would it make any sense to cancel this practice when God Himself describes it as “most holy unto the LORD”, or would it comply with scriptures such as;

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” Malachi 3:6.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

As the Holy Spirit spoke through Malachi saying He does not change, and through Paul saying Jesus Christ will always remain the same and through James that the Father in heaven has no “variableness” or “shadow of turning”, then is it not reasonable to question who or what spirit would inspire a change to a practice that God Himself considers “most holy unto the Lord”?

The Book of Revelations also speaks of an Angel in heaven offering Incense along with the prayers of the saints.

“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Revelations 8:3-4

Is it conceivable that God, who never changes would consider the offering of incense “most Holy”, then abolish its use for Christians who conform to the prophetic message He gave us through Malachi, and then reintroduce it again in heaven?

We also have an abundance of evidence that the practice of offering Incense was continued within Christianity such as the following prayers taken from the Liturgies of St. James and St. Mark


“Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, O Word of God, who didst freely offer Thyself a blameless sacrifice upon the cross to God even the Father, the coal of double nature, that didst touch the lips of the prophet with the tongs, and didst take away his sins, touch also the hearts of us sinners, and purify us from every stain, and present us holy beside Thy holy altar, that we may offer Thee a sacrifice of praise: and accept from us, Thy unprofitable servants, this incense as an odor of a sweet smell, and make fragrant the evil odor of our soul and body, and purify us with the sanctifying power of Thy all-holy Spirit: for Thou alone art holy, who sanctifiest, and art communicated to the faithful; and glory becomes Thee, with Thy eternal Father, and Thy all-holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and to all eternity. Amen.” Liturgy of St. James, Apostle and Bishop of Jerusalem

“We offer this reasonable and bloodless sacrifice, which all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the north and the south, present to Thee, O Lord; for great is Thy name among all peoples, and in all places are incense, sacrifice, and oblation offered to Thy holy name.” Liturgy of St. Mark, writer of the second Gospel

The point I wish to raise is who decided, in relatively recent years, that the Lord no longer considered the offering of Incense to be “most holy” and who gave them the authority to cancel or abolish this practice?.

I ask are those who made this decision more knowledgeable on what our Lord desires than the apostles who set the Church in her original order.

I also ask if any can show a scripture that categorically states that the offering of Incense is not part of Christian worship. In regards to this, please do not include verses addressed to the Jews as the scriptures make it clear the Lord no longer wanted their offerings. I ask this solely in relation to how we as Christians should worship.

A few final thoughts, considering the scriptures make it very clear that only those truly called “as Aaron was” as it is written in Hebrews 5:4 can truly take on the role of Bishop, Priest, Pastor etc. and the biblical precedent shows that only those with such a calling can offer the Incense, then why has the Holy Spirit not revealed His desire for the offering the Lord Himself considers “most Holy”.

“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Hebrews 5:4

One possible answer could be they are fully aware they have no calling and to them it is merely a way of providing for them a financial reward, taking money from those who intended it to be in the service of God, through a true Church, not just a gathering formed on the carnal minds of men who use the Book of Malachi to justify their collections of ‘Tithes and offerings’ yet blind to the Book of Malachi in the prophecy concerning the continuing practice of the offering of incense

Another possible reason is although they truly believe they have a calling in all good faith, but in fact, they do not and so the Lord has blinded them to the truth of the prophetic message in Malachi through His mercy and grace. For if, this is the case then they would have no right to offer incense to the Lord, as this is an honor granted only to those who have been called just as ‘Aaron’ was. Remember the discipline of God against those who offered incense in the scriptures without due authority. If this is the case then God has saved them from committing a grave sin, however it would also prove that they have no right to call themselves by the title in which they claim.

Finally, I do not put this forward as a condition or stipulation concerning salvation or in any way a essential part of being a Christian, but I do ask if Christians truly love God and God Himself considers the offering of Incense “most Holy”, then why do so many that claim to be Pastors with a calling from God, deny Him this offering?


Coptic Orthodox Priest offering Incense as it has been done since the apostolic era.

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