The Theology of Cigars
God loves smoke and we see this clearly throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, God loves smoke so much that most people would consider Him completely obsessed with it! We are made in the image of God so, therefore, we should like the same things He does. We see in the Bible that God preferred incense and barbecue/barbeque/BBQ, also known as “burnt offerings” (e.g. well-done lambs, rams, bulls, goats, etc.), but it’s feasible that God would have preferred cigars to incense if they had been discovered. However, nothing beats the smell of BBQ and that is clear in Scripture (see The Theology of BBQ). In fact, God likes BBQ so much that He used to forgive people when they made BBQ, especially when they burnt it (God couldn’t eat it but He could definitely smell it)! The smell of the smoke was “soothing” to God, much like a cigar. Eventually, the torture and death of Jesus (the ultimate sacrifice) replaced this BBQ and now we can enjoy BBQ anytime we want. We can even eat BBQ pork now (thank God!) and the only reason God prohibited the Israelites from eating pork was probably so they wouldn’t get sick from not cooking it right. Ever heard of a Jewish “chef?” Didn’t think so.
Well, cigars are remarkably similar to both incense and burnt offerings, and good cigars have a wonderful aroma and bouquet. Cigars are not explicitly in the Bible but there is a lot of evidence in the Bible that God probably enjoys them, and like the burnt offerings in the Bible, they are a wonderful offering to God that we can enjoy as well.
Pure Tobacco Is Good
Cigarettes have given cigars a bad reputation. They are a complete corruption of cigars, which are just rolled fermented tobacco leaves. Cigarettes are usually made with cheap tobacco that is processed, chemicals are added (including pure nicotine which makes them addictive), they are wrapped with paper, and a machine makes them. Cigarette tobacco is not fermented and aged but cigar tobacco is (which breaks down harmful chemicals and nicotine). Cigarettes, with all of these chemicals, nicotine and burning paper is typically inhaled into the lungs. You haven’t heard of anyone getting addicted to cigars but you may have heard they are bad for you. Everything can be bad for you if abused or not handled correctly. For example, smoke should not to be inhaled into your lungs. Cigars, unlike cigarettes, are only puffed into the mouth and then quickly exhaled. Smoking a cigar, however, is like consuming a burnt offering (which God commanded the Israelites to do), minus the fat and cholesterol. It’s no worse than smelling or eating BBQ, or breathing air. God clearly made tobacco and called it “good.” The Bible says after God made everything, God blessed Adam and Eve, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth…’” (Genesis 1:28,29). Tobacco is not your typical “herb that yields seed.” Did you know a single mature tobacco plant has the potential to produce as many as a million seeds in just one growing season and a teaspoon of these tiny seeds can grow into enough seedlings for 6 acres? Coincidence? I think not! Tobacco is a gift from God and clearly meant to be smoked in the form of cigars. Here is some other evidence from the Bible:
Smoke Probably Saved Mankind
20 “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done” (Genesis 8:20-21).
The first thing Noah did when he and his family came out of the Ark was to have a BBQ for God. When God “smelled a smoothing aroma” (smoke), he “then” decided He would never to wipe us out again. Thank God Noah knew how to make a good smoke! Sometimes a good smoke can avert a tragedy.
God Preferred Abel’s Smoke Over Cain’s Smoke
Remember Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16)? Cain made a vegetarian burnt offering from “fruit of the ground” while Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” Who do you think won? It’s no surprise that the next verse states, “The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor” (Genesis 4:4b-5a). Fat saved Abel’s butt, even though Cain then killed him out of jealousy. So remember, the smell of your smoke makes a huge difference, choose your cigar wisely.
The Vision of an Ashtray
17 “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land…” (Genesis 15:17-18).
A smoking firepot with a blazing torch is clearly symbolic of an ashtray (“smoking firepot”) with a lit cigar (“blazing torch”) in it.
Circumcision and Cutting Your Cigar
In Genesis 17, we read about a 99 year old man named Abram who gets his name changed to Abraham. God appears to him, changes his name, tells him all the good news like promises to make him fruitful, the Father of many nations and kings, etc. (Genesis 17:1-8). Then God tells him that He wants him, all the boys in his family, and everyone after him to be circumcised (Genesis 17:9-14). That same day Abram (now Abraham) got circumcised, along with his 13 year old (that must have been an interesting conversation!), as well as every other boy in his family. Is it a coincidence that every good cigar needs to be circumcised with a cutter (e.g. a guillotine cutter) before it’s used? I think not!
God Appeared to Moses in a “Burning Bush”
“…the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn” (Exodus 3:2-3). Was the “burning bush a tobacco plant? Regardless, it’s ironic it didn’t burn/smoke with a God so obsessed with smoking.
God Spoke to Moses From a Cloud of Smoke
“And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever” (Exodus 19:9).
“Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:18).
God Smoked When Giving the Ten Commandments
God first spoke the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and Moses wrote everything down. The next day, Moses had some chefs make BBQ for another smoke fest (Exodus 24:5), then Moses went up the sacred mountain with over 70 priests and elders, and they all ate and drank with God (Exodus 24:9-11). Then God commanded Moses to go to the top of the mountain to get tablets of stone on which God wrote His law and commands on how to teach it.
The Bible says, “15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.
16 Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:15-18).
So God rested on a mountain and it was covered with smoke for six days, then God calls for Moses. Hmmm. What did God do for six days to rest? A mountain with a consuming fire on the top and filled with smoke, and God was up there “resting” alone before the meeting? I have a theory… God burned a huge stogie (or the “burning bush” finally burned)… A meeting of this magnitude definitely warranted a nice smoke!
God Led the Israelites as a Pillar of Smoke During the Day and as Fire at Night
“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a column of smoke to lead them on their way. By night he went ahead of them in a column of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or by night” (Exodus 13:21).
“Then the LORD appeared in a column of smoke at the entrance to the tent.” (Deuteronomy 31:15).
This is another obvious reference to smoking… God always had a column of smoke around Him!
Smoke Comes Out of God’s Nostrils
“Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it” (2 Samuel 22:9).
“Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth” (Job 41:20-21).
“Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it” (Psalm 18:8).
The Tabernacle Was Built For Smoking
In the Old Testament, they built a “tabernacle” or a sort of tent for God while the Israelites wandered throughout the desert. Some of the highlights were the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the burnt offering altar and incense altar. This is where the BBQ’s went down. Smoke constantly filled this place. God would also show up in thick smoke when He wanted to visit (kinda like some of my friends).
You Better Like Smoke Because Heaven is Full of It!
The temple is filled with smoke (v. 4), a burning coal (cigar?) touches Isaiah’s lips (v. 6-7) and the burning coal cleanses his sin (v. 7). Isaiah 6:4-7
“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4).
“And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” (Revelation 15:8).
As you can see, heaven is “filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power.”
The Smoke That Changed Everything
In 2 Chronicles 1, we read that Solomon got everyone (“all of Israel”) together for a BBQ smoke fest with 1,000 burnt offerings (2 Ch. 1:2-6). God was so happy with the smoke, the Bible says “That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” Have you ever had a cigar so good that you would have done anything someone asked? I have and totally understand where God is coming from! Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge, and God made him the wisest person (1 Ki. 4:29-34, 2 Ch. 1:12). On top of that, God also gave him what he didn’t ask for but wanted, so Solomon also got wealth, riches and honor (2 Ch. 1:11). God really liked that smoke!
The Temple Was Built For Smoking
Later in the Bible we see that God got a huge upgrade from a box (“Ark”) to a tent (“Tabernacle”) to a beautiful mansion (“Temple”) on Mt. Zion (aka “Temple Mount”) in Jerusalem. This was built over seven years by Solomon. Although we don’t know the converted size it was measured with (it was in a type of cubit), we know it was huge and absolutely beautiful. Although it had no bedrooms or bathrooms, it had a lot of rooms and was just perfect for God. The main purpose and design of this mansion was around smoking. In the middle were the incense altar and the burnt offering altar, among other things. It also featured clerestory windows at the top of the temple, which were latticed (had slits) to let the smoke out (1 Ki. 6:4). God’s favorite smoke always filled His house!
The Dedication Smoke Fest for the Temple Was Unbelievable!
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple” (2 Chronicles 7:1). Then Solomon and all the people offered more sacrifices (v. 4), with Solomon offering 22,000 head of cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats (v. 5).
God was so excited about this BBQ (also described in I Kings 8:62-66) that He wanted to use His own fire to burn it. Likewise, if someone offers me a cigar, I sometimes prefer to use my own torch lighter because I know it will do the job. It’s interesting that after God sends down His fire from heaven and it burns up all the sacrifices and burnt offerings, Solomon gets so excited he kills 22,000 cows and 120,000 sheep and goats! In fact, this party got so out of hand that Solomon opened up the courtyard in front of the temple for more even more BBQ “because the bronze altar [grill] he had made could not hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions.” Let this be a lesson to always have a grill big enough to hold your BBQ! This went on for 14 days and was definitely a smoke fest to remember.
This Temple, called the First Temple (or Solomon’s Temple), was destroyed by Babylon and the Israelites went into captivity for 70 years (Dan. 9:2). They eventually built a Second Temple (also called Herod’s Temple), which took a lot longer to build (46 years) and was eventually much larger. The Romans destroyed this temple in 70 AD, took over Jerusalem, and the Jews haven’t smoked for God since.
An interesting Blend
God Really Likes the Smoke From Burnt Fat and Burnt Bread/Cake:
“Also you shall take the fat of the ram, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, the two kidneys and the fat on them, the right thigh (for it is a ram of consecration), one loaf of bread, one cake made with oil, and one wafer from the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD; and you shall put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and you shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. You shall receive them back from their hands and burn them on the altar as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma before the LORD. It is an offering made by fire to the LORD” (Exodus 29:22-25).
Wave and Heave Your Cigar!
Did you note my “wave offering” highlight in the Scripture above? God even likes to be almost teased by having us look up to Him and wave our offering before Him. There are verses throughout the Bible (i.e. Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers) where God commanded them to wave ram parts, including fat (Ex. 29:22, 24), the ram breast (Ex. 29:26, Lev. 8:29), the breast of all of the peace offerings (Lev. 7:30,34; 8:27,29; 9:21), the left shoulder of a ram (Nu. 6:17,19), lamb meat, bread, barley (Lev. 23:10-11,17-20), wheat-bread (Lev. 23:10-14), jewelry, even the Levites! There was even a “heave offering” which once included a bunch of Midionite booty (Numbers 31:25-30, 40-41), including virgins! How they got heaved is uncertain and for another study. So next time you make BBQ, or have a cigar, look up to God with thanks and wave it, even “heave” it up to God, but don’t let go!
God Likes His Favorite Smoke Cut the Right Way
3 “Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is on the wood that is on the fire, as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
6 ‘If his offering as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD is of the flock, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 8 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar.
9 ‘Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 11 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
12 ‘And if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 13 He shall lay his hand on its head and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it his offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 16 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the LORD’s” (Leviticus 3:3-16).
This is why God forbid the Israelites to eat the fat from any of His burnt offerings (Leviticus 7:25)… “All the fat is the LORD’s!” Fat is a big deal to God because it smells so good! Even circumcision is symbolic of trimming fat and it’s no coincidence that a cigar needs to be cut (circumcised) before you smoke it! So make sure you cut your cigar the right way, it makes a big difference. I like to use a cut I have never seen elsewhere, which is a double v-cut in the shape of the Cross. I think this is the perfect cut because the tongue doesn’t touch the tip which can become bitter, and it also reminds us of the Cross.
God Liked to Have A Smoke Twice a Day (Morning & Evening)
The Daily Offerings – Exodus 29:38-46
38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 40 With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. 41 And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
As you just saw, God wanted a nice smoke even when He was talking to the Israelites!
The Fire Was Never Allowed To Go Out
“And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out” (Leviticus 6:12-13).
This is like you not only have your cigar lighter with you everywhere you go, but you never shut it off. That’s definitely an obsession.
God Also Likes the Smoke From Incense and Wanted it Continuously
God commanded Israel to make another altar for incense (like He did for burnt offerings) just for burning a specific blend of incense (again, really picky). The use of incense was probably so He wouldn’t get tired of the same smoke all the time (BBQ) and maybe to give the animals a break. Do you smoke the same cigar all the time? Don’t you like a change once in a while? Well, God gave specific instructions on how to build this altar (Exodus 30:1-10) and commanded Aaron the priest to burn “sweet incense” in it every morning and evening (Exodus 30:7-8) as “a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (Exodus 30:8). God took this smoke very seriously too. Leviticus 16:13 says, “And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.” It was really important to God not to get sick of the smoke of BBQ and incense was a nice way to change it up a little. If it wasn’t time for BBQ, incense was the backup smoke.
God Had an Infused Blend
1 ‘When anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it. 2 He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD. 3 The rest of the grain offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. It is most holy of the offerings to the LORD made by fire” (Leviticus 2:1-3).
Again, God is really into his smoke smelling good. We all know that grain wasn’t His favorite smell so he infused it with frankincense, a sweet-smelling oil. Likewise, choose cigars that smell good to you. There’s a huge variety and some are even infused with the smell of vanilla, chocolate, flowers, perfumes, spices, etc. There’s definitely a cigar smell you will like. God wanted the Israelites to burn stuff that smelled good but He also understood that the Israelites naturally had limitations on what they could obtain. Grains were abundant so he had them burn flour with oil and frankincense, kinda like a flavored or infused cigar.
The Priests Had Smoking Jackets
“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. 10 And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen trousers he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering, which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments, put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place” (Leviticus 6:9-11).
As you can see, the priests wore linen (guayaberas?) and linen pants, which is the most breathable and best for warm environments. They carried the ashes outside the camp to a clean place but I recommend dumping the ashes in the trash or putting them in your plants. It’s no coincidence that plants thrive on cigar ashes to complete the circle of life.
God Liked A Drink With His Smoke
“Their drink offering shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, one-third of a hin for a ram, and one-fourth of a hin for a lamb; this is the burnt offering for each month throughout the months of the year” (Numbers 28:14).
A hin of wine was about 5 quarts or 6 1/3 bottles of wine. So God basically liked slightly more than 3 bottles of wine with a bull, a little over 2 bottles of wine with a ram, and 1 2/3 bottles of wine with a lamb. The proportions sound good to me! Jesus understood the importance of wine, look at His very first miracle – turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana to avert a tragedy, not having enough wine! Wine is very good for you and drinking while smoking is healthier as well.
Cigar smokers are in good company with Charles Spurgeon and many other famous preachers and theologians.
Yes, Charles Spurgeon, who is commonly referred to as the “prince of preachers” and many other famous preachers and theologians smoked cigars or pipe, and they also lived long lives. I don’t know of any whose death can be attributed to smoking cigars or pipe. In fact, cigar and pipe smokers are said to live longer than non-smokers and this is commonly attributed to the lack of stress in their lives as smoking cigars or pipe is very relaxing. In the case of Charles Spurgeon, he smoked cigars until the day he died (according to his David Spurgeon). He died “from complications of gout and Bright's disease.” His website at www.spurgeon.org states the following:
Note: Because we get so many requests for information about Mr. Spurgeon's use of cigars, we provide the following vignettes from some early Spurgeon biographies. It is important to note that Mr. Spurgeon's love for cigars was not an addiction, and he deliberately kept it from becoming an addiction, as is clearly shown in the anecdotes related by William Williams (below).
Furthermore, we fully agree with Mr. Spurgeon that smoking cigars per se is not a sinful activity. Cigars, unlike cigarettes, are properly smoked without inhaling, minimizing the risk of lung damage. Nor does cigar smoking normally involve the kind of addictive behavior associated with cigarette use. By all accounts, Mr. Spurgeon's smoking was occasional, and never much more than a cigar a day or so—which, again, suggests that this was no addiction with him.
There are no doubt health risks associated with cigars, but this is also true of cream cheese, or coffee, or almost anything when consumed without moderation. There is no real evidence that cigars in any way hastened Mr. Spurgeon's death.
Mr. Spurgeon's smoking was a historical fact, and the cause of truth cannot be served by denying it or inventing myths that suggest he finally "repented" of this activity. The fact is that he did not regard smoking cigars as a sinful activity, and he evidently held that opinion until the end of his life.Conclusion
So I believe it is clear that God made tobacco, a remarkable plant with an incredible ability to reproduce, and he allows us to enjoy the same things He does such as wine, BBQ (including chicharrones, see Leviticus 7:8), and incense/cigars! So put on your guayaberas and make a “sweet aroma” to the Lord!!!
© Todd Tyszka
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, you do not make more than 500 physical copies, and you include the following statement on any distributed copy:
From Todd Tyszka. © Todd Tyszka. Website: www.toddtyszka.com. Email: [email protected]
For web posting, a link to this document on our website is required. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Todd Tyszka.