Ashes and IncenseThe Scripture for this subject comes from Scripture by Topic, pp. 360-361. The exegesis is my own.
The Problem: The use of ashes and incense is seen as empty ritual by most Christians, bordering on
The Truth: The use of ashes and incense in the liturgy corresponds to the divine plan for our redemption. It not only reminds us of our final end, but through faith, brings us into conformance with God's will for us.
Mt 11:21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Beth-saida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Gen 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
Gen 18:27 Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
Esther 4:1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry...
Job 42:6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
Lam 3:16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes...
Incense, too, is a blessing and a reminder of God's constant presence, and our duties towards Him.
Lk 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense
Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee,
and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice!
Ex 30:8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
It is offered even in heaven:
Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints...
Rev 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.