By Rae Lynn DeAngelis
Could it be that the Magi’s gifts to baby Jesus some 2,000 years ago have a deeper meaning? Could they actually represent gifts that we can give God, not just at Christmastime but the whole year through?
I believe the answer is yes!
You will recall from my last post that gold, frankincense, and myrrh were all used in the construction of the tabernacle in the Old Testament, which was God’s dwelling place among His people. Today, God dwells within each and every Christian.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
We saw how gold was significant. Now let’s take a look at the original purpose of frankincense and myrrh as they pertained to the tabernacle and see how these too are gifts we can offer up to God.
“Frankincense was part of a special blend of incense the Israelites burned in shallow dishes called censers. The incense represented the Israelites’ prayers being lifted up to God. This particular sweet smelling blend of incense was so holy that the Israelites were strictly forbidden to copy it for personal use.” (NIV Life Application Bible Notes)
Represented by frankincense, the second gift we offer to God is our prayers.
“O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:1-2)
God loves us so much; He truly desires us to fellowship with Him. Fellowship with God is accomplished through prayer. Although there are no absolute mandates for how to approach God in prayer, Jesus does give us some helpful guidelines.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” (Matthew 6:5-13)
The prayer Jesus refers to in this passage is given as a reference and guideline for our prayers. We do not need to say these exact words, but the pattern within the prayer is meant to help us have a more meaningful and effective prayer life.
Although God wants us to seek Him with all our heart and pray to Him, we also need to give God a chance to speak to us. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
God speaks to us through His Word. I challenge you to open your Bible and see what God has to say to you. God desires a close, personal relationship with us, one that is built on open and effective communication. Everyone knows the importance of communication in relationships. Our relationship with the Heavenly Father is no exception.
Finally, we come to the third gift, represented by myrrh. Myrrh was used by the Israelites in the tabernacle as a special blend of anointing oil.
Here was God’s specific instructions in Exodus: “Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the alter of incense, the alter of burnt offerings and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.” “Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come.’” (Exodus 30:25-29; 31)
According to the NIV Life Application Bible Notes, this oil was used to anoint the sacred articles and accessories associated with the Temple of the Lord. This anointing was to show that they were most holy and must be given reverence.
Through this example, God reveals the third gift we can offer Him. Our reverence. God wants us to keep Him sacred.
How do we do that today?
We can start by giving God the reverence, love, praise, and worship that only He deserves. The Lord’s name, His Holy Word, His saving grace, and ultimate authority in our lives, these we should hold as sacred. The LORD Almighty is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End. He deserves our reverence.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:9) “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
As we exchange gifts with our loved ones this Christmas, let’s take time to also think about the Magi’s three gifts and what they represent. Let’s be sure to bow before our King and present Him with our own gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
“A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” (Proverbs 18:16)
When we offer God these few simple gifts: our lives, our heartfelt prayers and our reverence, it is amazing how the Lord blesses us in return. His gifts to us are immeasurable!
Indeed, He has already given us the greatest gift of all – His Son – Jesus Christ!
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)