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December 10, 2022 8 min read

It is all about fragrance appreciation in the Bible.

 

Although there are different schools of thought on the topic, 27 references in the Bible suggest that perfumes are not only okay but may even be encouraged. Proverbs 27:9 states, "Oil and perfume make the heart glad." This shows that God created these scents for us to enjoy. In Ruth 3:3, it is noted that even brides would use perfume as part of their ceremony.

 

When burned as incense, frankincense is fragrant. In Exodus 30:8 and 34, it was an ingredient in the sacred incense for the sanctuary. Myrrh is another aromatic gum that was highly prized in ancient times. It was used to compound the holy oil (Exodus 30:23-25), make perfume (Esther 2:12; Psalms 45:8; Proverbs 7:17), and embalm corpses (John 19:39).

 

The apostle John recounted Mary's anointing of Jesus with a box of expensive alabaster. The breaking of the alabaster filled the house "with the fragrance of the perfume" (John 12:3). Jesus appreciated her act of devotion and said, "She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial" (Mark 14:8).

 

After Jesus passed away, his body was anointed with spices. For example, "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might come and anoint him" (Mark 16:1). Another instance is when Nicodemus "...also came at nightfall bearing a mixture of myrrh and aloes--close to a hundred pounds worth. They took charge of the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths drenched in spices according to Jewish burial ritual." (John 19:39-40). Aloes (which means aloeswood) is an aromatic resin from the tree Aquilaria Agallocha. The fragrance is mentioned only here in the New Testament. The Old Testament says it in Numbers 24:6, Psalms 45:8, S. of Solomon 4:14.

 

 

Aloeswood, also known as oud, is a type of fragrant wood that has been used for centuries in religious ceremonies. It is said to have a calming and meditative effect on those who use it. For Christians, agarwood incense can be a thoughtful gift for many occasions.

 

Some people may not know that Agarwood is a resin from certain trees. These trees belonged to the Thymelaeaceae family. This plant family contains 54 genera, including Aquilaria, Daphne, Gonystylus, Gyrinops and Wikstroemia. Not all genera produce Agarwood.

 

The oil content from these resins makes a divine aroma when burned. The scent of Agarwood is often described as woody, sweet vanillic, and musky all at the same time.

 

When giving Agarwood as a gift, you can be sure that the recipient will appreciate its meaning and purpose. Whether they use it during prayer or meditation or enjoy the scent, agarwood incense is an excellent gift for any Christian.

 

What is agarwood incense, and where does it come from originally?

Agarwood is an aromatic resin harvested from the Aquilaria tree, found primarily in South and Southeast Asia.

Incense makers will pulverise Agarwood into powder before making Agarwood incense sticks

Agarwood sticks make high-grade traditional incense due to its distinct deep sweet vanillic fragrant smoky aroma. It is very highly valued for its deep resinous scent.

Agarwood has also been used for centuries as an essential component in traditional medicine, commonly used as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and digestive aid.

Agarwood has become increasingly popular even outside of its region of origin due to its unique smell properties, with many modern perfumes incorporating Agarwood's distinctive fragrance. Agarwood is obtained after several years by damaging the Aquilaria tree through deliberate inoculation or natural infection by certain fungi. This causes the tree to produce a dark brown or black resin deep within the trunks and roots, imparting the fragrant scent.

Agarwood aromas range from soft, sweet scents to powerful balsamic notes that linger on fabrics long after burning has taken place, making it a popular choice for religious ceremonies and home fragrance joss sticks rituals.

This precious raw material is further processed into unique incense that, if used correctly, can produce pleasant aromas that last up to several hours. Agarwood incense is therefore not only used as a pleasure source but also carries with it a cultural and spiritual significance that cannot be found anywhere else.

 

The history of agarwood incense and its use in Christian ceremonies

Agarwood incense has been used in religious ceremonies throughout history. In early Christianity, agarwood incense was popularly burned as an offering to God during mass and other rituals. The scent was believed to add a spiritual element of reverence to the proceedings, and its use is referenced in many ancient manuscripts. Even today, some Catholic churches still use agarwood incense as part of their services. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was used as an aromatic accompaniment to essential religious services such as funerals and weddings, with its fragrant smoke curling up towards the altar. Its popularity then spread further to India and East Asia, where it became a staple at traditional ceremonies and celebrations. Agarwood incense continued to be popular in Christian worship until modern times when perfumes and colognes gradually replaced it. Nevertheless, its quiet beauty continues to represent faith, devotion, and spirituality while welcoming guests into places of worship worldwide.

 

How agarwood incense can be a thoughtful gift for Christians?

For many Christians, the scent of agarwood incense can be a meaningful gift. Its warm and divine aroma symbolises the spiritual teachings of Christianity and is associated with divine breath. Moreover, it has traditionally been used in churches to enhance worship experiences and aid contemplation by bringing forth feelings of peace and serenity. Agarwood incense also provides a tangible reminder of the powerful presence of God within each worshipper. The smoke generated during burning carries prayers to the heavens. This symbolic act can create a potent reminder that God is always present, helping to strengthen faith and encourage growth in righteousness.

Furthermore, its properties make it ideal for programs designed around sacred anointing. From devotional services to retreats and healing ministries, agarwood incense may help people feel emotionally uplifted during these special occasions. In addition to its spiritual significance, Agarwood produces a pleasant scent that pervades any room with its distinctively rich fragrance. Whether given as an individual gift or shared among family or co-congregants, this thoughtful present will surely be remembered and cherished for years to come.

 

In addition, Agarwood has been mentioned multiple times in the Bible and is highly appreciated.

(Lopez Sampson and Page, 2018)

•Agarwood is referenced several times in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, firstly where Balaam describes God's vision of Israel and likens their settlements as being "like aloes planted by the LORD" (Numbers 24:6).

• Also in the Old Testament, Agarwood's noble and seductive importance is presented in Psalm 45:8, which recounts a king's preparation for marriage; it states, "All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia."

• The seductive power of aromatics, including Agarwood, is further described in Song of Songs 4:14, rejoicing the sexual attraction between two lovers, where one praises the other "Your plants are an orchard of every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all 

the finest spices." Similarly, in Proverbs 7:17, there is an invitation by a seductress to her lover: "I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes

and cinnamon."

• The reference to aloeswood in the New Testament mentions embalming and describes a simple act of anointment, with Jesus' body wrapped "with the spices in strips of linen."

 

The benefits of using agarwood incense in your Christian life

Interpreting the smoke of burning incense as a symbol of prayer rising to heaven is a practice shared by both Western Catholic and Eastern Christian churches; incense is burnt in some churches.

In Christian worship, incense may be used to celebrate the Eucharist, at solemn celebrations of the Divine Office, particularly at Solemn Vespers and Solemn Evensong. It may also be used during funerals, benediction and exposition of the Eucharist, consecration of a church or altar or other services.

 

Revelation 8:3, NASB: Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne (Bible Ref)

When Christians pray, they join in with the heavenly host. Their prayers combine with the worship that is going on in heaven, and God loves to hear them. It is like a great sacrifice of incense being wafted up to him.

Just as incense and prayers go together, our prayers join the host of heaven's continual prayer. Psalm 141:2 says, 'Receive my prayer as incense, my uplifted hands as an evening sacrifice.' In a way, prayer may be the only offering we can give to God. It should encourage us to know that when we pray, it joins with multitudes of other heavenly beings who are also praying without ceasing.

It is so encouraging to know that our prayers matter to God and that He hears us when we pray! We can take comfort in knowing that help is available to us as we pray, even if our prayers sometimes feel feeble. Let's thank God for the angel who brings the incense and adds it to the prayers of His people.

 

For thousands of years, agarwood incense has held a special place in the spiritual life of many cultures, including Christianity. Beyond its delightful scent, this incense offers many potential benefits for Christian practitioners. First and foremost, Agarwood can trigger a meditative state— ideal for deep prayer and contemplation. The soothing scent can also aid in grounding during difficult times or when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Additionally, some experts suggest that the aroma travels directly to the brain and helps awaken deeper connections to faith and spirit. Many believers use it when performing rituals such as smudging, cleansing and anointing with holy oil. With a bit of practice and intention, Agarwood can become an invaluable tool in helping create a deepened sense of connection with God. Thus, by bringing the healing essence of Agarwood into one's Christian life - whether at home or in more extensive group settings - practitioners can reap the numerous benefits of making agarwood incense genuinely divine.

 

 

Some tips on how to burn agarwood incense properly.

Agarwood is a fragrant and aromatic wood that has been used as incense for many centuries. It can fill a room with its distinctive scent and create an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. To ensure you are burning this incense correctly, there are some tips you should follow.

 

First of all, burn your incense in a well-ventilated area.

If you burn an incense stick, ensure your stick is away from any flammable material. When you leave your house, blow out the embers at the end of your session, and be sure not to leave glowing embers behind that could potentially start a fire in your house.

 

If you use a charcoal burner specifically for burning Agarwood chips, ensure the burner is heat and fire-resistant.

When lighting the charcoal, let it burn for 10-15 minutes until you see small pieces of red glowing beneath. You will see a layer of white ash formed around the charcoal.

You can reduce the temperature by adding white ash above the charcoal and placing a mica plate on top of the ash.

Reason: this exercise will give you the right temperature. If it is too hot, the agarwood chips will be burnt. You will smell bitterness.

 

Place your Agarwood chips on top of the mica plate and "listen" the fragrance will waft up, and you will have a sense of joy.

 

Agarwood incense is a unique and thoughtful gift for Christians with many benefits. If you want to add spiritual fragrance to your life, agarwood incense is a great way to do it. Just be sure to burn it correctly to enjoy all its benefits safely!

 

Merry Christmas, and enjoy this Holy Season.

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