Biblical Oil: Cassia

“All your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia…” Psalm 45:8

CassiaWhere does Cassia come from?

It is believed Biblical Cassia comes from the bark of an Eastern Asian tree called Cinnamomum Cassia and is in the same family as Cinnamon. What is amazing is that Cinnamomum Cassia is still used today to extract Cassia essential oil.

What is the Hebrew word? There are two different words used in the Hebrew for cassia:

1) qiddâh = spice or cassia

2) qetsi`oth = derived from the Greek “kasia” and refers to the strips of bark used to extract the oil

How many references are there to qiddâh / qetsi`oth in the Old Testament? Three

Exodus 30:24, Psalm 45:8, Ezekiel 27:19

What is the Greek word? kasia = “cassia”

How many references are there to alóē in the NT? none

Historical Uses: Cassia was part of the sacred and holy anointing oil given to Moses by God for anointing purposes (Exodus 30:24) and used as perfume.

Modern Day Uses: Arthritic Pain, Colds and Flu, Constipation, Cough, Diarrhea, Stomach Ache

Plant Properties: Antibiotic, Anti-diarrhea, Antiseptic, Anti-spasmodic, Antiviral, Astringent, Disinfectant, Stimulant

Amazing Fact: Cassia was one of the ingredients in the Holy anointing oil given to Moses.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekelsof fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” Exodus 30:22-25

This sacred oil anointed “the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.” (Ex. 30:26-28). The oil was also used to anoint Aaron and his sons, so they might serve as priests.

If you have the “Cinnamon” spice in your home, you likely have cassia – as this form of cinnamon is the most commonly used and sold cinnamon in the United States. True cinnamon is “Cinnamomum zeylanicum”, is lighter in color and sweeter. In a study done by the Pennington Center, researchers found cassia cinnamon greatly “improve(d) blood glucose, triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

For more information, check out this amazing study done by the Pennington Center.

Biblical Oil: Aloes/Sandalwood

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight.” John 19:39

Aloes:SandalwoodBiblical Aloes/Sandalwood were extracted from the dark, non-functioning central core of the Evergreen tree. While this part of the tree no longer uses water, it functions as the primary way to support the tree. Aloes/Sandalwood has a sweet, woody, and fruity scent, and while it can be confused with the ever popular Aloe Vera plant, they are totally different.

What is the Hebrew word? ‘ăhâlı̂ym = aloe tree or perfume

 How many references are there to ‘ăhâlı̂ym in the Old Testament? 4

Numbers 24:6, Psalm 45:8, Proverbs 7:17, Song of Solomon 4:14

What is the Greek word? alóē = aloe

How many references are there to alóē in the NT? 1

The only time “aloes” is referenced in the New Testament is in John 19:39-40 when “aloes” was used to prepare Christ’s body for burial.

“He (Joseph of Arimathea )was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” John 19:39-40

Historical Uses: Religious ceremonies, perfume (Psalm 45:8, Proverbs 7:17) and embalming (John 19:39)

Modern Day Uses:Acne, Asthma, Bronchitis, Candida, Colds and Flu, Cough, Dermatitis, Skin Disorders, Stress, Throat Infections, Yeast Infections

Plant Properties:Antibacterial,Antidepressant, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Aphrodisiac, Carminative, Disinfectant, Diuretic, Expectorant, Sedative, Stimulant

Amazing Fact:  Aloes/Sandalwood has a 90% sesquiterpene level, a compound molecule only found in plants and insects.

According to Dr. David Steward, sesquiterpenes molecules:

1) Deliver oxygen molecules to cells, like hemoglobin does in the blood.

2) Can erase or deprogram miswritten codes in the DNA.

3) Are thought to be effective in fighting cancer because the root problem with a cancer cell is that it contains misinformation, and these molecules can erase that miswritten information. Also, the oxygen carried by sesquiterpenes create an environment where cancer cells cannot reproduce. So, these molecules not only disable cancer’s coded misbehavior, but also stop its growth.

“The American Medical Association (AMA) has said that if they could find an agent that would pass the blood-brain barrier, they would be able to find cures for ailments such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Such agents already exist and have been available since Biblical times. The agents, of course, are essential oils – particularly those containing the brain oxygenating molecules of sesquiterpenes.”

A Weapon No One Can Destroy

As I wrapped up my study on Ezekiel 47:12, I was like a kid in a candy store when I uncovered the truth found in this portion of Scripture.

Ezekiel 47.12g“and their leaves for healing.”

The Hebraic word for healing here is “terûphâh” which literally means “healing” or “medicine” and is only used ONE time in the entire Bible – right here in this verse!

The root words for “terûphâh” come from two Hebraic words:

1. “rûph” (rock)

2. “râphâ’” (healer and physician – most often used as a name of God).

Uncovering this rocked my world – no pun intended! Here’s why:

In the New Testament, Jesus is personally referred to as the “rock”:

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that ROCK was CHRIST.” 1 Corinthians 10:3-4

Let’s not forget about all the numerous verses that refer to God the Father as the ROCK in the Old Testament.

 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no ROCK like our God.‬” 1 Samuel 2:2

”My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty ROCK, my refuge.‬” Psalm 62:7

When you put all of these verses together, they reveal the beautiful and direct relationship between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. In the book of Ezekiel, God is revealing that TRUE healing can only come through Jesus Christ (rock) as the Ultimate Healer (rapha). Isn’t that incredible??

Our church is in the middle of a 21 Days of Prayer event. These past couple of weeks have been great for me, for my prayer life, and has challenged me in many ways. Thousands of people have been meeting every morning at the church or online to pray for other people, our country, and our own lives. As I have prayed through the prayer requests, one theme has continually surfaced – the need for healing: physically, financially, maritally, and relationally.

As I have prayed, one Bible verse has continually come to mind over these situations:

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” Isaiah 54:17

What about the weapon of cancer? Of desperation? Of divorce? Of child loss? Of bankruptcy?

NO, not one shall prosper!

This doesn’t mean God will heal our cancer, instantly restore relationships, or take away our child loss. It means that when we choose to trust in the name of Jesus – regardless of the outcome - our circumstances don’t need to have power over us. Yes, this side of Heaven we will still grieve and we will still hurt, but we can still choose the way we respond in our circumstances. And, we can find hope that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have access to an eternal healing that NO weapon can destroy with God as our Rock and Healer.

Q. Is there a weapon that has been formed against you holding you back from a deeper relationship with Jesus?

This is Why We Should Live Out Our Faith

because their water flows from the sanctuary;” Ezekiel 47:12

Ezekiel 47.12 ef

It is not by our own abilities that we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ and “bear fruit”, but the grace of God (the sanctuary) and the Gospel. As we allow God to work in and through us, we are able to grow in our faith, love others, and “bear fruit”.

In order for a tree to live (let alone produce fruit) it must be continually nourished by water, otherwise it will wither and die.

In the same way, when a believer chooses not to be fed and nourished by God (reading his or her Bible, talking to God in prayer, hanging out with other believers, going to church, etc) on a continuous basis, his or her spiritual life and relationship with God will wither, and potentially die.

“and their fruit will be for food;” Ezekiel 47:12

This food is NOT for the believer (remember, that nourishment comes from God), but rather this “food” is for other people. A believer produces “food” when he or she acts on his or her faith in God in tangible ways. For instance: evangelism, helping the poor, caring for orphans, serving his or her community, teaching, serving and loving others, etc.

“‪The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls.‬” Proverbs 11:30

While it is easy to find “good Christian things to do” to “produce food”, it is more difficult to live out our faith when tragedy strikes and be an example for other people. However, this is one of the best ways to “produce food.” 15 years ago, I was hit hard with this unexpected reality.

“Nineteen year olds are not supposed to have cancer”.

This thought consumed my mind the entire week I spent at a Bible Camp. I was tired; exhausted from a long summer traveling for my college. I didn’t understand why I was in Oregon that week, as the camp didn’t seem to need me. Then I met this boy named Shay.

I’d played volleyball with him for three days when he suddenly collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. I had no idea his body was fighting a disease. Through light-hearted vulnerability he shared his story about having an advanced form of cancer. What started out as a small lump grew significantly in a very short amount of time. He’d already been through multiple surgeries and too many tests to count.

He should have been throwing caution to the wind and chasing his dreams. Instead, he was about to begin his first round of chemotherapy. His faith was firm, no hint of fear or anger. He knew he belonged to Jesus and appeared to genuinely accept his circumstances. I listened to his story stunned, trying not to touch the hard lump that had been developing underneath my jawbone all summer long.

Looking at him you’d never know he was sick. His smile, happiness and love for God permeated his entire being. His faith inspired me as he lived out 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”. He breathed this example into every person who learned of his story. The last night of camp, I wondered if I could ever face something like cancer and stand firm in my faith. Honestly, I didn’t know the answer!

Then, just three short weeks later I too was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer, one that had only been found in men over the age of 80. Whew!! That was a lot for this 22-year old woman’s brain to take in. But even as those words were spoken, I resolved to take the example I had seen in Shay and made the conscious choice to keep my total faith and confidence in God – regardless of the outcome.

I never spoke to or saw Shay again after that last day of camp. I don’t even know if he is alive today; and if he is, whether he would remember me. But because he lived out his faith during his battle of cancer, he gave me an example of how to be real and authentic when my own battle with cancer showed up. He strengthened my faith and prepared me for my cancer journey before I even knew I would need it. But… God knew!

And, here’s the beauty… the “food” that has been produced by Shay’s example to me was never tangible for him. He never saw it, or even knew it existed. However, the impact of his faith led to a life-long harvest in my life and continues with every person who is touched by our ministry.

Friends, you may NEVER know when your faith and authenticity can lead someone into a deeper relationship with God. So, let’s stop simply checking the good little Christian boxes and – live out our faith! You never know who you are equipping for the unexpected!

(This post is Part 6 of the Healing Oils, Plants, and Spices in the Bible Series: To read more posts in this study, please check out the Essential Oils Category link above!)

Debate Less, Care More

552957-robin_williams_1_license_to_wedI am taking a super quick break from our current Bible series, to address some thoughts on what I’ve seen in social media surrounding the death of Robin Williams.

Here is what I’ve read over the last 2 days:

“He’s in a better place.”

“Now he’s a free bird.”

“Genie, you’re free.”

“I’ll bet he’s making God laugh at this very moment.”

“At least his death might save someone else’s life.”

I can’t help but read these words from the perspective of his wife, his children and his best friends. The indescribable grief, regret, and pain his family must feel right now breaks my heart because I know how well-intentioned words can really hurt those who are grieving.

Yesterday I shared a blog I thought made some interesting points in regards to this situation on my personal Facebook page. In the ministry God has given our family, we have worked with many people who have gone through depression and some who have been suicidal. We have received the late-at-night phone calls from friends seeking help. I have been on the phone with someone who asked me to attend her funeral after she killed herself. I have called 911 to have the police intervene. I have rushed to the hospital after a family member had a failed suicide attempt. 

And, as I began to get into a debate over mental health and suicide from that blog post, I felt convicted to use the time I was spending defending my position, to simply stop and pray for Mr. Williams’ family. The intensity of their pain hit me as I realized I had become another person totally removed from the situation weighing in on and debating all the unanswerable questions of his death.

So I STOPPED!

I deleted the post, shut down Facebook and just PRAYED!

For Robin Williams’ wife

For his children

For his best friends

For his co-workers

For the many men and women currently considering suicide and watching social media make this “okay” by constantly sharing his “freedom” from depression.

While the world is shocked by his death, we must consider that his “freedom” came at a very high price to all those who loved, cherished, and adored him. Men and women who may never be “free” from the guilt, regret, and grief they haven’t even begun to uncover. And, if these same men and women were standing in front of you right now, would you say the words above? Would you tell them that at least Mr. Williams is now “free” or in a better place? If you would not say those words to his wife, please don’t use them in social media. You never know which of YOUR own family members or friends is contemplating the same fate.

suicide preventionThe discussion of mental health and suicide is absolutely necessary and the death of Robin Williams brings these discussions to the forefront of our minds. But, may I ask that we focus less on the debates and on “his freedom”,  and spend more time not only praying for his family and friends, but reaching out to those we care about who are struggling with depression? Those closest to us who are hurting don’t need to know every facet of what we believe causes depression and how to recover from it. Those closest to us need to know that we love them, we need them, and if they are hurting, we desperately want to help! Let’s band together as a Country, in our churches, our schools, our social services, our families, and in our relationships to do a better job of meeting those needs.

If the idea of suicide is even crossing your mind right now as you read these words, I beg you – please reach out! Even if it does not feel like it right now, there IS still hope! People DO care and you are NOT ALONE!