“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them.” Exodus 29:38-46
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
The sense of smell opens its nose in fascinating ways in Scripture. After detailed descriptions of cut and flayed animal sacrifices, thrown and applied blood, we are told the regular morning and evening offerings emit a pleasing aroma to the Lord. The gory is required before the pleasant arrives to permeate and please, and the Lord is present and glorified in that place.
It couldn’t be the actual smell of death in the offerings that brought pleasure to God, but the honor and obedience and looking forward in offering the sacrifice prescribed. He was giving illustration, in all its horror, of a perfect lamb being killed to atone for sin. Life was in the blood, and blood spilled and applied brings eternal life in Christ. His presence at the altar, in the offering, among and within His people, is a loveliness and glory we cannot describe. (Leviticus 17:11; John 1:29)
Paul explains the dichotomy of the aroma of Christ- to rebels the stench of death, to believers a fragrance of life. The crucifixion was ugly and horrible, and to those who reject its balm of grace, it remains a putrid horror. But to those who are, by God’s mercy, plunged beneath Calvary’s blood, it emits the scent of resurrection life that infuses our whole being. Christ’s love makes the cross bloom.
How do we respond to Christ’s sacrifice for us? Do we view the wounds, the blood, the agony and suffocation, and become repulsed? Or do we embrace the excruciating gift of God on the cross as His beautiful flowing grace to our sin, emitting the fragrance of eternal life?
Lord, my Beloved, may Your perfume anoint my coming and going, the words of my mouth and the love of my hands, that others will be drawn to Your fragrance of life. (Song of Solomon 1:3)