AE vol. 22, no. 6, June 1965
by Evang. Zelma Argue (U.S.A.)
Have you ever met it, a freighted fragrance, as, belatedly, you were about to enter the sanctuary door? Startling. Weighty. Hallowed. Hush! Give reverence!
Walk softly. Here is something that is not met elsewhere.
We are reminded of the extravagant language of the scripture. "Take to thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, these sweet spices with pure frankincense."
Unquestionably, God is aroma-conscious, also. From their cesspools of sin there arise those odors that are a stench in His nostrils, until He can hold back destruction no longer. At such a time, as in Genesis 19, the cry is, "Escape! Escape! Escape" We do well to heed and lay hold upon our loved ones also to do the same.
But there are also the glorious, fragrant aromas in which He takes delight.
"And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord . . . And the Lord smelled a sweet savour."
"All thy garments smell of myrrh and cassia." "I will accept you with your sweet savour." "Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning." Every morning!
A FRAGRANT SERVICE
Tucked away in the depths of my soul, I carry memories of Sunday morning services in the much earlier days, that "linger with me yet." Announced modestly as "Worship Service," there was no attempt made to go beyond that.
Well-seasoned saints would be there ahead of time, on bended knee, shut in with God in private communion. Thus the aroma would be there when others arrived, mellow with the unquestionable presence of God. Therefore, entrance was made with deep reverence and silence. Truly this factor alone was of value beyond rubies. The plateau for the service was already established. "Hallowed by Thy Name!" our subdued hearts responded.
The singing? It would truly flow in deepest harmony. No jarring note would be tolerated. Of certain choice expressions of adoration no one would ever tire. I can hear them yet. I can see the closed eyes, the trembling tear-drop, and hear the avowal of complete surrender, the deep meaning of every line so sweetly sung.
What was happening in these early services? God was hewing out pillars, fashioning timbers, on which were to be constructed the framework of this last-day, mighty ministry before His coming. So let us hear them sing, faces uplifted: savoring every word's depth:
"O, safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflict and sorrow would fly,
Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I'm hiding in Thee."
Meantime, each one was seeking to keep fully hidden behind the Cross, that the Lord alone might be seen. From seeing the Lord alone, nothing must distract. Nothing. Then it would be,
"A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Saviour to me,
. . . Hiding in Thee!"
You cannot rush the spirit of God, so rather than an attempt to "streamline" the service, there was great unity in lingering in the spirit of worship. By this time we would be devoutly singing,
"Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more."
We would be told that the meeting would now be "thrown open", not for the lengthy relating of experiences, but for the exalting of Jesus. "I, if I be lifted up . . ." would probably be quoted. ". . . will draw all men," and O how this time of exalting Jesus did draw out all our hearts! If, rarely, someone did get "out of the Spirit", it was easily discernible, and the spiritual chorus that would start up from the
 AE vol. 22, no. 6, June 1965
congregation would be accepted graciously, and the offender quickly take his seat.
Why the lingering?
Why the drawing-out of the sweet and mellow atmosphere? Why the absence of streamlining? Everyone knew.
Everyone was conscious that we were all there for a fresh meeting with God. Everyone knew we would not be disappointed.
"Worthy, worthy, worthy,
Worthy is the lamb . . ." we were singing now.
The glorious pinnacle might come now. Or it might come during the presenting of the Word of God. Our ears were open to catch any echoes from glory. Perhaps it would be singing in the Spirit, all so spontaneous, and in such rich harmonies. Perhaps a moment would come when no one would intrude or presume to utter a sound before the Lord. "There I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory." Exodus 29:43. "Thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold . . . there I will meet with thee, and will commune with thee from above." (Ex. 25:17, 22).
With what awe and reverence would the man of God open the Word, and how cautious would he be that each word uttered would be truly in the Spirit, and anointed from above. If the topic were Rebekah journeying to meet her Isaac, how all our hearts would traverse those dusty leagues of the long journey with her, seated on the bumpy camels, and with what joy we too would alight when we glimpsed our Isaac coming to meet and claim the Bride! Perhaps here would come the moment of climax, while all else would cease, and we would all give audible ecstatic expression to our anticipation. Perhaps it would be Revelation 19, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." None could contain the joy, nor restrain nor hold back the overflow. For this moment we had waited all week long. Now we were relishing it to the full.
"And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud. For the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord." 1, Kings 8:10, 11. Spiritual aroma? It still may be among us as we meet the conditions of yore.
A FRAGRANT SAVIOUR
Most of all, Christ is a sweet-smelling savour to God, and to all the redeemed. Ephesians 5:2 tells us this. "Christ hath given himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour." In the Song of Songs, He is held forth to us as the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valleys. "Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth. Draw me, we will run after thee." "While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof." "The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." Now that we tare drawing so near to His glorious return, we cherish the words, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell."
How it melts and humbles our unworthy hearts to read that we, too, are a sweet savour to God. 2 Corinthians 2:15 tells us this. "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ. Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place." (14). "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
When Our Lord was facing the dark hours of Gethsemane and Calvary, how choice, how fitting, that a gift of rare fragrance, by breaking the box of spikenard, was caused to flow down upon Him. How it must have refreshed Him a couple of days later, as He trudged along, bearing His heavy cross, this fragrance so rare and lasting that it would come up to sweeten his pathway. Moreover, when Mary held the broken container and permitted the ointment to trickle through her fingers, some of this lasting fragrance would trickle down upon her wrists and arms. Later, when she passed along, we can imagine some saying, "Where have I smelled that rich fragrance before? Where?" Then, "O, I remember, we caught that wonderful aroma when Jesus of Nazareth passed this way, bearing His Cross." Then the deduction would likely follow: "O, she must have been with Jesus, for she carries the same fragrance than He bore."
How wonderful if those whom we meet from day to day in contact, would find reason to say also of us, "Where have I smelled that fragrance before? O, it was the time I drew very near to Jesus. This must be a close follower of His, for upon him, upon her, there rests something of the fragrance of the Lord."