Andrew Abernethy – Exodus 34 – Oak Lodge, Australia – 1961

Exodus 30:4, portion of the teaching of those who are on their way to the land of promise and blessing. This teaching for them is for us and will guarantee a safe finish and will guarantee the presence of God amongst us. These are foundation truths that we dare not depart from. If the foundation is destroyed, what shall the righteous do? These foundation truths we shall never let depart from us except to our destruction and death – downfall. This is not so much the outward part of our lives – we’re not told not to go to the dance or theatre – but what we are in our hearts before the Lord. It is what the Lord sees to decide whether or not we are accepted. Is there anything you would rather have than to be accepted, your attitude, thoughts, and behavior accepted by Him? Nothing gives us more consolation than if we have this assurance.
Verses 6 and 10, immediately, I read about incense. I think of prayer, most of you would know it concerns prayer. It’s not my intention to tell you to pray. It is not a subject that is thread-bare. Prayer is the ingredient which goes to make up what is fragrance in the presence of the Lord. You understand your joy and mine is determined by what we are bringing to Him. We do not have any more joy than what we are bringing to Him. This is not one- sided. It is possible that, as we approach Him, our words can be so fragrant that they will move Him toward us. But we could spend an hour on our knees and get up to be an ugly, nasty people – could spend all the time the Lord requires and with endless repetition, bring Him no joy and there would be no pleasure coming back to us. Years ago, I thought this was a narrow, up-hill way, full of sacrifice and self-denial, and that there would be no joy in walking in it. Yet from observation, it seemed a contradiction, as the people I saw walking in it were the happiest people I knew. Seemed a paradox as they were walking in it and enjoying it. When the Lord called His people to walk in His way, He gave them a love for it. The life accepted brings fullness of joy.
If you are not enjoying the Way, there is something wrong with you. Jesus said, “I will that your joy may be full.” The joy of the Lord is our strength. The Lord said, “When you pray, I will hear you.” We cannot pray if there is iniquity in our hearts. He will not hear us and there will be no joy. We may use perfect phrases, but the Lord says, “I cannot. Away with it, it makes me sick.” The Lord looks on with utter disgust when the heart is not as it ought to be. “Upon this altar,” etc., Revelations 8 speaks of the golden altar. There’s an altar in Heaven. Morning by morning, our prayers go right into the presence of God Himself. Part of our service we give directly to the Father and some we render to others. This sweet incense, the lifting up of our hands, this is the fragrance to the Lord. Without wrath and doubting.
Verse 34, four spices. I do not know how to pronounce them, but we’re not concerned about that, but they were to be most holy. We don’t learn much from other marginal references, but if you have the key, the Lord will help you to be your own reference. The Lord will help you think of another reference. These four ingredients caused me to turn back and read a number of prayers recorded. I read David’s, Mary’s, Hannah’s, Mary (Jesus’ mother). I will read a few words of Mary’s, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” etc. Just a few words that woman was moved to utter after blessing had come, out of the overflow of her heart going up to God. Four ingredients which should be in our prayers:
1. Morning by morning and evening by evening, it means a great deal, this giving our overflowing love to God. We’re giving this because we love Him. Not endless repetition. Not going through the motions, meaningless words. Not compelled to love Him, but impelled, all intermingled with love. I love the Lord sincerely and genuinely. No matter what we utter, the whole foundation is based on love. Fellowship is nothing without the love for Him. What does Love mean to mortal beings? Parents to children, children to parents. To keep on loving the Lord we need to have a good memory. We are forgetful. We love Him out of the greatness of His love. We’ve been overpowered by a Divine love. The Lord didn’t see a thing in you or me to merit His love to us. Can we not appreciate that genuine love? Where would we be today if we did not accept it? I think of those who did not accept it and where are they today? I know what they are living for and as the end draws near, they are without a vestige of hope. Let this love never be lacking.
2. So clearly seen. Thanksgiving. We are in so much of a hurry, all of us, over in my country, too. When it comes to this, you can think of so many, many matters needing attention, so much beckoning to get on, and we do not allow ourselves enough time in the morning and at night we are too tired. Then we lump it all together and say, “Lord, I thank You for all you have done.” Yes, lazy. Take time to enumerate. If you take time to remember all God has done, you will not be playing on the one harp string. Multitude of things beyond our counting, blessings we are not aware of. His good mercy endures forever. So remember not to forget to be thankful. Someone has said the devil never sows discouragement in a thankful heart.
3. Praise. This is what we know of Him personally and thanking Him for what we know of Him day by day. Praise to His power and deliverance to the one whose unseen hand has delivered us along the way. Praise to the one who is working out all things to the course of His own will. He’s watching when no one else is. The Lord is laughing at those who set themselves against Him. He’s able to bring down the proud. Grand to be observing, looking on. Give expression to sincere praise, because of His might. He’ll lift up the humble.
4. Reverence. Fear before His name, righteous, just holy, and pure. Nothing low about Him. We’re not afraid, but we revere Him. All His commandments are truth and faithfulness. We understand we’re on a course of safety. Would you agree with me that every day without fail morning by morning and evening by evening, every week, every year, that incense must be offered up to the Lord as a statute forever? This is most holy, if that is in order with us, we do not allow anything or anybody, no work no matter what we are engaged in to take precedence above what we offer to the Father. They were told not to offer anything, no strange offering. No work you are doing, nothing is so important – no, nothing so important. You may go to see a sick person or write letters, but it’s not as important as this incense – better not write another letter if it takes the place of this incense, as this concerns the relationship with our Father. All the money you may give can never take the place of this incense. There is no substitute for these ingredients. The sons of Aaron offered strange incense and they died. You will die and I will die if we offer strange incense. Incense is bound up with you and I being a light in this world. If you want to be a light to others, this is the way to do it. You say you want to manifest the grace of Christ? This is bound up with the surrender we are making. The light in us could be terrible darkness. We could be professing and be the darkest people in the world. You dress your light morning and evening – without this someone could be without light. If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.
Verse 12, Israel was to give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord. The children of the Lord were to bring this tiny piece of silver (half a shekel weight). The rich were not permitted to bring more and the poor not permitted to bring less. The penalty to disobey was that a plague would come and destroy them. You may wonder what this has to do with us. The ransom money we bring is because of our atonement, that precious blood we have been redeemed by. We have a “hope” and we bring to this house an offering, and if we do not there will be a plague. II Chronicles 4, the shekel was for the up-keep of the Lord’s house.
Verse 11, the money was taken and the temple repaired with this atonement money. What do you and what do I bring to this House that will help to keep it in good repair? You can bring as much as He requires and you are not permitted to bring any less. Awful when the Lord’s house is broken down – foundation crumbling and the elements getting in. You say, “What good will it do if I go?” You be there – bring something to the house. If you want to help someone, don’t toss a brick or a stone. If you want to help, take a loaf of bread, not a stone. I tell you what to bring in equal measure, the love of God. The divine love of God is the most important ingredient in the house, it helps us fight the battle ourselves, to be thankful to others who are fighting, also.
There was a person in my country whose husband did not profess. He did not want her in this way. He began pleading. He saw that did not work so he started boo-hooing. When he thought she was getting ready to go, boo-hoo it was, like a big baby. That did not work, so he got his courage – one day when she was going, he stood in the doorway. Anyway she bowled him over and while he was picking himself up, away she went. Another day he said, “I suppose if I drop dead, you’ll walk over my dead body.” She said, “Take good care to drop dead some other morning.” Bring to this house the love of God, it is contagious. If you have been in the company and they did something grand for you, it was the love of God.
If you want to be missed when you leave this world and leave a great gap, it’s not brains we need, but put into this house love for God. Love keeps us walking, love keeps us obeying love keeps us one – helps us over petty things, old grievances and grudges. We cannot afford that luxury. If there is no love in this house, it brings a plague, somebody may die. If there is no love, how long would we want to be here? There’s nothing left if there is no love. In the days of David, 10,000 people died, not only because David made an error, but there were 10,000 not bringing love. You may bring as much as any mortal being, as much as any servant of God. If so, there will be the abounding joy of God that will keep the house in good repair. Where there is abounding love, there is no plague.
Verse 18-21, washing by the water. This was to be a statute forever. This was also daily, before they could approach the Lord, before they could touch what pertained to God there was the washing by the water – a clean people – a Holy God demands holy people. Walking uprightly. “Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” The Lord is very merciful, but we dare not presume upon it – dare not trifle. We dare not trifle with sin. Every morning, every evening before we start out any day, let us have nothing in our hearts that our Father is displeased with. Before God’s people could offer up anything to God, they had to wash their hands and feet. No dirty work, no backbiting, no envy, no malice but a clean spirit. We are only forgiven when we are washed and God grants repentance. Walking in iniquity brings only one result and that is spiritual death. Acts 5 speaks of Ananias and Sapphira lying – pretending – they died. You will die and I will die if we do likewise. Good to be able to put our head on the pillow at night and say there is not a thing God is not pleased with. I have made it right. Clean hands and a clean walk. God not only asks this of us, but He demands it. No wrong ambition, wrong purpose, but I’ve made it right – have this for our pillow. There is no place for triflers – sin is a deadly snake and will destroy us. Many who trifled and they are outside, they died. So will you, so will I if we trifle. Keep short accounts with God.
Verse 23 and 30, holy anointing oil of God. Whosoever compoundeth any, etc., shall be cut off from His people. Frequently we hear those who are taking part speak of the anointing of God. Do we understand what it means? We feel the need of fresh anointing, the fresh touch of the Lord. All I can tell you, this seems so tremendously high to me. How high and glorious it is. What it would mean to Convention and your little meetings, whosoever has the Lord’s touch upon them. It is not boring or dry to those who have it. I do not profess to have it, but I feign would reach it if I could. If we only had it, there would be the thrill of the meeting. There are four ingredients. Two of these come from the bark of a tree, very difficult to get. The bark was dried and ground, then ground more and ground more – then part of the tree was cut with the axe and it bled and then it was dried and blended. It is costly to know this holy anointing of God. How much can you take? Not the blows you can give, but how much can you take? What do we do when wounded? What do we say? Can we take it? What is it making of us? Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they know no what they do.”
Psalm 45, Jesus had it – what gave Him the oil? Grace was poured into His lips – words of grace, meekness, and righteousness. Would you say you are qualifying for the anointing oil of God? Jesus had it in full measure. He was anointed above all others. We all have it if we qualify with grace in our lips. If this is a part of us there will come the anointing oil. No one has a premium – not by human ability nor is it through better education. This is upon Godliness – those who are separated to Him. This is so tremendously high – no one outside the house can have it. “Not upon a stranger.” The saddest verse in the Bible is, “The shield of Saul – vilely cast away.” Once the Lord had used him – he once had it, and now? We could have it and we could lose it. It’s costly, it’s tremendously high. Let us pray with all our being that this house be not left without the holy anointing oil of God. Those in the work or those out of the work. May we know the guidance and protection of the Father till the close of day.