Holy Smoke! Why Do We Use Incense? The “How” of the OT – Premium Content

My pastor loves the liturgy; he uses incense like a fumigator when it’s called for. By the end of the weekend’s Masses you have to part the smoke with your hands to see the altar. The old ladies cough and sneeze and dab their rolling eyes, but I love the way it gets in my clothes and hair. I take it home and inhale the scent of prayer for the rest of the day. Combining incense, liturgy, sacrifice, and prayer was God’s idea!


Scripture References for The Show

Old Testament Incense

  • Exodus 30:1-10, description of the tabernacle incense altar
  • Exodus 37:29, second description of the tabernacle incense altar

Incense included salt

Ezekiel 16:4 – salting newborns

2 Kings 2:19-22, salt used to cleanse undrinkable (bitter) waters

Numbers 18:19, “covenant in salt”

2 Chronicles 13:5, David is an eternal king through a salt covenant

  • Psalm 141:2, incense = prayer
  • Malachi 1:11, Old Testament prophecy of the time when Gentiles (non-Jews) would offer a “pure offering” accompanied by incense

New Testament Incense

  • Luke 1:8-11, Zechariah offers incense in the temple at the hour of prayer
  • Mark 14:32-36, “Not my will but yours.”
  • John 17, Jesus prays for us
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Pray without ceasing.
  • James 5:16, The continual prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

Heavenly Incense

  • Revelation 5:8, incense = prayer
  • Revelation 8:3-5, incense = prayer

Episode Resources

Prayer and Temperament, Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types  (Chester P. Michael and Marie C. Norrisey) 

St. Therese of Lisieux, Autobiographical Manuscript C, 25: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy.”

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4 thoughts on “Holy Smoke! Why Do We Use Incense? The “How” of the OT – Premium Content

  1. Sonja, Saw you on The Journey Home and am so thankful that you were on the program. I immediately googled your web page, and signed up on your radio program and so glad I did. The Old Testament teaching you have been providing is so fascinating. Being a revert I am in a continual process of re-learning my Catholic faith and grasp hold of what ever I can to re-learn my faith. I have noticed that converts and reverts seem to be the tip of the sword of apologetics in the Catholic Church and their enthusiasm is contagious. So thank you for your teaching, I have a file where I am placing all your teaching so that I will be able to reference them from time to time. Again thank you, looking forword to seeing your teaching in my in box, keep up the good work!_

    1. Bob, Isn’t the tabernacle spectacular?! You are truly one of the answers to my prayers. Thank you for reaching out.

  2. I loved your interview on The Journey Home, it was wonderful, as a matter of fact, I watched it twice! I want to hear what you have to say, I understand it and I want to hear more. You have a special gift and I am so happy you are sharing it with us.

    1. If you subscribe at the bottom of the website page you get every show delivered to your inbox on Monday morning. Welcome to the #evangelistaevolution, and bless you Phyllis!

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