I was listening to a Sermon and the Preacher was going through the Worship Service of Ancient Israel and something that he was describing is something that I have studied much, but he led me to understand it more deeply and fully, so let me share. When one came to “Church” to worship, there was a lot of different things going on all at the same time, as some were sacrificing for Sin, some were offering Peace Offerings, yet others Thank Offerings, and so the list goes on for all the various activities the worshipers were actually worshiping at, and all were so very thankful and grateful for being able to be in the presence of their God.
Three times each year, all the males were to come to Jerusalem, and to “stand before their God” and I like to conceptualize this as like being on a Military Parade, and the dignitaries, and the inspection of the troops. The Feasts of the Lord brought the people all to Church, and then there was the individual needs that brought the people to church on any day of the week for various reasons as their specific needs for Sacrifice and Offering had arisen.
This left the Priests and Ministers very busy every day of the week attending to each person and each family’s unique needs and to correctly processing their various offerings as laid out in the first five books of the Bible. When Sabbath arrived, the activities in the Temple were multiplied as the population did church. Each offering was assessed as to their wealth or lack of it, as well as to what they were actually here worshiping for. There was always “The Continual” or “Perpetual” offering on the Bronze Altar and this was often referred to as the Back Offering as it was right at the very back of the altar and slowly burned away over many hours night and day, and it was added to each Morning and each Evening, so it was also often referred to as the morning and evening sacrifice.
So we all understand all the mechanics, or what people were doing, but this Preacher took us to see the sights, sounds and smells. We have the Altar of Incense pouring forth that amazing bouquet of unique fragrances as the prayers of the saints arise and this unique perfume billows out of the Holy Place to envelop the worshipers in the Courtyard, and out beyond the Temple into the adjacent suburbs. From the Bronze Altar we get the fragrance of the barbecuing meat from the sacrifices, the roasts and frying pans cooking bread and meat, pots boiling with various meals, it is a vast array of smells of wood smoke and cooking and barbecue.
There are crowds of happy sounds from happy people thanking and praising God for the bountiful gifts of produce, from which they have brought the samples or evidence of the produce there to share with the Priests and then to feast upon the rest in the very presence of The Lord. Then there is the happy praises from those who have confessed and forsaken their sins and are now free of the sins and the guilt, they are spiritually clean. There are babies being dedicated to God, there are young and old, couples, families and sole individuals all worshiping and praising God for all that he has done in their lives. Lots of sights and sounds, but over this all, is that lovely aroma of Barbecue and Incense, is there then any wonder why “Down Under” a barbecue is still enjoyed, and most people have one and most shops have a vast array of barbecues that they wish to sell, but unfortunately these days the “drink offering” is now usually a cold beer and the “meat offering” has become unclean meats, so the mechanics are still there still, very much the same, but it is very much corrupted these days.
If you go deeper, what is commonly known as “Saint Patrick of Ireland,” and you study his methods and systems, one interesting thing stood out to me, and that was that they usually had 1000 people divided into three groups and their sole task was to Sing Praise and to pray 24/7. There was always continual prayer and praise from at least 300 people, and it was called “Laus Perennis” or “continual praise” and we have this verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.” So even the Apostle Paul was encouraging us to have perpetual Prayer and Praise.
This “Laus Perennis” is often credited as being the main power source of the amazing things that happened in Ireland and to the vast number of Resurrected people across that vast land, and to the almost total conversion of Ireland to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe that is a reason why we are so stunted in power these days, and not so effectual anymore, maybe we need loads more Prayer and Praise.
Patrick learned this “Continual Prayer and Praise” as a Jew evicted from Jerusalem by the Romans, and his family moved and settled in England, so they carried this concept along with them from the Jewish Temple as it was part of the worship service back in Jerusalem, and it is also interesting to note that even Nehemiah when he returned to Jerusalem from Babylon very specifically checked the people returning with him just to make sure that this division of worship was covered with suitable leaders, composers and singers/prayers.
Dear Readers; so next time you “fire up the bar-be” or you are out and that unique aroma wafts over the neighbourhood, just stop and remember that long ago in a land far far away when believers “did church” there was always sacrifice, prayer and praise, and over this all was the smell of Incense and Barbecue. May from this day onwards, this pleasing aroma will send your thoughts running back to Jesus Christ who offered himself for your sins.