Upon visiting the local studio to ask for advice, I found out how much I didn’t know about dance shoes. The strappy heels I’d seen on display during our lessons weren’t merely “shoes that are good to dance in”—they were “shoes that are ONLY for dancing in.” Our instructor informed me that you never, ever wear your dance shoes outside. You bring them in a bag and put them on when it’s time to dance. They have suede soles, perfect for both spinning and traction, but also easily ruined. In other words, if I chose to purchase some ballroom dance shoes, they would most certainly not double as party shoes. If they were to retain the very features that made them good for dancing, they would have to be kept aside, reserved for special use.
A similar rationale accompanies the worship regulations described in Exodus 30. The anointing oil is sacred; God instructs Moses to use it for consecrating priests and objects within the tabernacle only. And God means business. The recipe isn’t a guarded secret; it’s clearly described here—but anyone who tries to make his own sweet-smelling oil or put the real stuff on an outsider “shall be cut off from his people” (v. 33). God’s instructions are explicit: “This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person” (v. 31-32).
The holy incense was protected by similar regulations: Make this exactly according to instructions, and don’t you dare mix up any for your own common use. This specific blend of spices was carefully hoarded, not to be used anywhere but in the temple.
These stringent restrictions were dismantled in a stunning way a few centuries later. And after Jesus had risen again, He would do something unbelievable, something vaguely akin to letting my little niece wear my ballroom dance shoes to an outdoor princess party.
Head over to Pick Your Portion today for the rest of my reflections on Exodus 30 and the shocking way God turned His own rules upside down.