UPWARD GLANCE: The Gifts of the Magi: Frankincense

by Kyle
published December 19, 2012


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Read More Upward Glances

The second gift the magi brought, listed in Matthew 2, is frankincense. Everyone seems to know what gold is, but frankincense and myrrh seem to throw people for a loop because they aren’t materials we really use all that often in the twenty-first century.

Frankincense had several uses. One was medicinal. It has been used to treat skin ailments, arthritis and feminine hormonal imbalances in eastern and far-eastern traditional medicine.

None of these things are ailments common to babies, though. The frankincense the magi brought was most likely in the form of its essential oil, used commonly as a perfume.

But why give a baby perfume?

Let’s look at one other place perfume is used in Scripture. In Exodus 30, God gives Moses yet more instructions on how to build, sanctify and operate the tabernacle where the nation of Israel was to worship God. In verse 25, God instructs that the tabernacle should be anointed with perfume.

Hebrews 8 makes clear that the tabernacle from Exodus 30 was only a representation of the true tabernacle where Jesus ministers for us before God. That true temple is Jesus’ body. Jesus claimed this very thing in John 2, after which the second person to give Him perfume anointed Him (Mary Magdalene in John 12).

So why give a baby perfume? Because that baby was the true temple on Earth, and it needed to be anointed with perfume. He was where sins would be atoned for and He alone was how we can worship God.

He still is.

“You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony.” Exodus 30:25-26

What do you think?

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