Can You Really Smell God

Can You Really Smell God?

Can You Smell God?

Smell God

God gave us our sense of smell, but can you actually smell God? He designed us to use it to interpret the world around us, communicate without words, recall memories, and experience Him on a deeper level. God filled His creation with scents, both pleasant and putrid. Our sense of smell is more sensitive than the other four. It is immediate and intimate. Smells both waft and cling.

Particles enter the nose and through our mucous are directly connected to brain receptors. They do not need to travel via neurons along the spinal cord to reach the brain for translation into conscious thought as things experienced through our other senses do.

Smell is mentioned more in Song of Solomon than in any of the other 65 books of the Bible. It is intimate. Smell and taste are the only two senses where something from outside the body actually enters it. And smell is personal. One odor may smell good to one and repulse another.

Though, we cannot actually smell God, His Word is rich with fragrant odors and perfumes that help us understand our relationship to Him.

Though, we cannot actually smell God, His Word is rich with fragrant odors and perfumes that help us understand our relationship to Him. #smellgod #5senses #experienceGod Click To Tweet

Smell in the Bible

In Genesis 8:21 we read how Noah sacrificed animals after the flood as a sign of his devotion to  God and how the aroma of Noah’s burnt offering pleased God. In Exodus and Leviticus we read also how the aroma of the Israelite’s offerings and sacrifices pleased God. God gives Moses a detailed recipe for concocting a holy anointing oil from the richest oils and spices known at the time in Exodus 30 22:25.

Jewish oral tradition passed down a recipe for incense to be used in the temples which included balsam, anycha. galbanum, frankincense, myrrh, cassia, spikenard, saffron, cinnamon, and cinnamon bark. Do you recognize any of those from other places in the Bible?

Esther’s preparations prior to her presentation to the king included 6 months of myrrh and 6 months with perfumes and cosmetics. Song of Solomon also speaks to the sachet of myrrh worn by brides for purification purposes.

Finally, in Psalm 141:2 and Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, we read the prayers of the saints, that is  our prayers, rise to God like incense.

Scent of Jesus

In Psalm 45:8, we read the bridegroom, whom we know is Jesus, wore garments that smelled of myrrh, aloe, and cassia.

The wise men brought frankincense and myrrh, along with gold as gifts for the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Guards offered myrrh mixed with the wine to Jesus, which He refused, at His crucifixion. In John 12:3 Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with her most valuable possession, a perfume of spikenard. John 19:39-40 tells us Nicodemus brought a 75 pound mixture made with myrrh and aloes to cover Jesus’ body before others bound Him linen and spices.

Deuteronomy 4:28 lists God’s ability to smell (along with seeing, hearing, and tasting) among the many distinctions between Him and false gods, or idols, lacking the ability to interact with or intercede on behalf of the people. Yet, Jesus was God with us—smelling, tasting, touching and feeling, seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard. He is also named our intercessor. And the final, most pleasing sacrifice.

Smell God

Smell of Sacrifice

Can you imagine the stench that came from the altars where priests made sacrifices on behalf of the Israelite people? Blood, death, and burning flesh. I would imagine these odors to be rather offensive. Yet over and over again, God’s Word tells us He was pleased by the aroma of their sacrifices.

Until he wasn’t.

“‘The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?’ Says the Lord. ‘I have more than enough of burn offerings, or rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.’…

‘Stop bringing meaning less offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.’”

Isaiah 1:11, 13

When corruption spread throughout Israel and they celebrated the designated feast and sacrifices out of obligation or pride instead of love for God, He condemned their practice. The book of Isaiah both called out Israel’s sinful ways and prophesied of the coming Messiah, God’s plan for redemption of His people. Jesus, the final sacrifice. Insincere sacrifices don’t save us. Only Jesus does.

The Scent of Modern Day Sacrifice

Smell GodBecause God no longer requires our animal and grain sacrifices for salvation or sanctification, we have the opportunity to offer up a new pleasing aroma to God.

“But Samuel replied,

‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?

To obey is better than to sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.’”

1 Samuel 15:22

But obedience out of obligation does not produce a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Only obedience brought forth from love pleases Him. Mercy and acknowledgment are superior to the sacrificial system in God’s eyes.

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Hosea 6:6

Praise and professing His name bring Him pleasure. As we talked about in our segment on touch, praising God doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice, until we offer those praises in times of trouble. (For more on that click here.) This life brings us both pleasant and painful experiences, so I think it’s important to note that some of the fragrances listed in the holy anointing oil and the incense recipes are rather unpleasant. God sees our pain, but He is pleased when we praise Him and continue to profess our faith despite difficulties.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His name. And do not forget to do good and share with others, for which such sacrifices, God is pleased. ”
Hebrews 13:15-16

The pleasing aroma of modern day sacrifices comes from love, voluntary obedience, prayers, mercy, praise, and professing His name.

The pleasing aroma of modern day sacrifices comes from love, voluntary obedience, prayers, mercy, praise, and professing His name. #smellgod #5senses #experienceGod Click To Tweet

How will you offer up a pleasing aroma to God today?





Can You Really Smell God


Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerFaith On FireSusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridaySoul SurvivalRah Rah Link UpTell His StorySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market FridaySalt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope

14 thoughts on “Can You Really Smell God?

  1. I would never want to return to the blood bath of OT worship (not to mention that Jesus has “sat down” at the right hand of God!), but there are times when I wish for a more show-and-tell experience in worship. I know that my prayers ascend like incense to God, and so I should be lighting a candle on the table when I have my prayer time to underscore the beautiful truth!
    Thanks for this great biblical review!

  2. This was an interesting post, Liz. I cannot imagine what the smell of sacrifices would have been like. But perhaps that was the strong reminder the people needed. Our sense of smell can be a powerful agent in jogging the memory. I know for me, the smell of a spring rain, freshly cut grass, or blooming flowers have all made me so appreciate the presence of God and His goodness to me as I have spent time out in our yard. Thanks for making me think on this today.

    1. Love that… Yes, anything in nature that smells nice makes me stop and thank God for his sweet blessings! Blessings, to you, Joanne!

  3. A great post! Our sense of smell is the greatest memory trigger of all…this is an interesting phenomenon…one we have been given…for a purpose.
    We are also told that the prayers of the saints are as sweet smelling incense to God…Rev 5: 8b

    You’re welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration anytime!

    1. It sure is! #memories That’s right…everything God creates has a purpose! You may see that verse in a coming post, Jennifer! We’re unpacking several aspects of smelling for a couple weeks! Blessings!

  4. Wonderful. One of my favorite parts of church is the burning of incense and the smell of the pure beeswax candles. He gave us these anazung senses to draw us into His beauty. Great job!

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