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The Anointing - What is it?
May 2013

There has been much talk amongst the Christian community lately about a large and powerful last days anointing that will fall upon the Church of Jesus Christ.  Many pastors in our area have been earnestly praying for it and preaching about it, its importance and how to obtain it.  Unfortunately many people do not know what the anointing is or what to do if and when it comes upon them.  It is the purpose of this teaching to shed some light upon this topic and in doing so when this last day anointing comes upon us, our readers will act accordingly.

The act of "anointing" carries with it a physical and a spiritual purpose.  The physical purpose of anointing the body with oil was an ancient and widespread custom among the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews.  It helped to keep the skin soft and pliable, and to moderate the evaporation of the skins natural oils, which is so important in hot climates. 

Secondly it was used on dead bodies to check decay (Mark 14:8, Luke 23:56).  Anointing oil was also used to show joy (Ruth 3:3), grief (2nd Samuel 14:2), and as a sign of respect or courtesy to guests (Luke 7:46).  The act of anointing one's friends, family or guests is both a blessing to the one being anointed and the person doing the anointing.  The oil is customarily placed on the fingers, then "rubbed" into the head of the one being anointed.

There are two main spiritual purposes for anointing; “consecration and coronation.”  Anointing oil is a symbol of being “consecrated” or set apart by the Holy Spirit for a special calling and work for God's Kingdom.  The first use of the term Mashah, or Mashiach, in Hebrew (anointed, or anoint), simply means to "rub or smear" can be found in Genesis 28:18.  “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.”  This pouring of oil on top of a stone was evidently designed to be a formal consecration of the stone or a particular spot for a sacred purpose.  It is interesting to note that the word for "Christ" in the New Testament Christos” is the exact equivalent to the Hebrew word “Mashiach.”  “Christos” is also rooted in the idea "to smear with oil."  So the term “Christ” emphasizes the special anointing of Jesus of Nazareth for His role as God's chosen.  And so we are today!  We are God's chosen ones.  We are anointed for service in the kingdom of God.  The sign of this anointing is the Holy Spirit who is equipping us with power for the Master’s service. 

This “anointing” or setting apart is seen again when the Lord chose certain kings to rule over Israel.  Samuel consecrated both, Saul (1st Samuel 10:1) and David (1st Samuel 16:13) to the office of king by anointing them with oil.  Anointing symbolizes empowerment by the Holy Spirit to fulfill a special appointment received by God and it reaches completeness in Jesus, the Messiah the Anointed One.  He was set apart to the office of a Priest, Prophet and King, so He could bring salvation to all.  Under the Mosaic Law people and things that were set apart for sacred purposes were anointed with the "Oil of Holy ointment."  This "Oil of Holy ointment" was made using special ingredients, in specific proportions according to a specific formula.  The directions were given for the composition of the "Oil of Holy ointment" and the incense that was to be used in the service of the tabernacle.  With the use of the incense and anointing oil God was to be honored; therefore He would appoint who He wished for the making of them.  For nothing comes to God but what has already come from Him.  This is true of the tabernacle, its utensils, and especially any person who has a calling for divine service.        

The "Oil of Holy Ointment" is first mentioned in Exodus 30:22-33.  It was used to sanctify the tabernacle and its vessels so that all would be Holy (consecration).  Secondly, it was used to anoint the priests, making them sacred or set apart for God's exclusive use (coronation).  This Holy Anointing Oil was so special that any sanctified person who was anointed with it was made MOST Holy (Exodus 30:29).  It was to be continued “throughout their generations” (Exodus 30:31).  Solomon was anointed with it (1st Kings 1:39), as was other kings; and all the high priests with such a quantity of it that it ran down to the skirts of their garments.  The tradition of the Jews is that this very oil which was prepared by Moses lasted almost to the captivity in Babylon.  It was never to be misused by pouring it on someone not chosen or appointed by God. 

This "Oil of Holy Ointment" was not to be duplicated (verse 32-33).  Also the "Oil of Holy Ointment" was not to be used for any other purposes then its described purpose.  With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; (27) the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; (28) the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base.  (29) You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.  (30) And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.  (31) "And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.  (32) It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  (33) Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people'” (Exodus 30:22-33).    

Now let us look at the ingredients needed to make the Holy Anointing Oil.  These ingredients will help us to further understand some aspects of Anointing.  The ingredients are:

  1. Pure Myrrh

  2. Sweet Cinnamon

  3. Calamus          

  4. Cassia                     

  5. Olive Oil    

1.      First let us look at Myrrh.  Myrrh is a fragrant pale yellow gum that comes from the stem of a low, thorny, ragged tree that grows in Arabia and Eastern Africa.  The word here rendered pure, is literally, “freely flowing.”  Its nickname comes from the fact that the best myrrh is said to flow spontaneously from the bark, while that of inferior quality oozes out in greater quantity from incisions made in the bark.  The first thing we must notice is that the Myrrh needed to make the Holy anointing oil must be pure and not of inferior quality.  It must be free from any contaminates or mixtures.  The purest Myrrh must be gathered as it freely drips from the bark, a freewill offering if you will.  Just as all our offerings should be.  If the Myrrh is forced out of the tree artificially, it was not to be used for the Holy anointing oil because it would not be in its purest form.  Myrrh is used throughout the Holy land as a spice, a preservative that was used for embalming, an antibiotic, and a pain killer.  Interestingly, Myrrh was mixed with the drink offered given to Jesus as He hung on the cross.  It was offered to help ease His pain.

2.      Sweet Cinnamon is produced from a species of tree called Laurel.  It was imported from India in very early times by the people of Ophir, and brought with other spices from the south part of Arabia by the trading caravans that visited Egypt and Syria.  The Laurel tree produces glossy green foliage, and was used to make a crown or wreath of honor in ancient Greece and Rome.  Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the Laurel tree.  The outer bark must be striped away to get to the Cinnamon. Just like Jesus’ skin was stripped away from the 39 lashes He took via the Roman whip.  Then the Cinnamon is striped, dried out and ground up.  It then crystallizes and is used for flavoring food and wine.

3.      Calamus is a cane or a fragrant reed.  It is a marsh plant and is tubular in shape, and has a strong sweet smell.  It is said to scent the air while growing; and when cut down, dried, and powdered, makes an ingredient in the richest perfumes.  The reeds are flexible yet strong and sharp when cut properly.  These reeds when cut were also used for measuring and balancing rods.  Jesus is our measuring and balancing rod who brings a sweet smelling savor this world (Ref. Song of Solomon 1:3).

4.      Cassia is the outer bark of the Cinnamon tree.  It is striped off, and then dried out until it is shriveled.  It is a fragrant, aromatic bark and was probably used in a powdered form; used as an ingredient in balm and as one of the perfumes at funerals.  What is interesting about this ingredient is its root Greek word.  It means to bow or to stoop down in respectful submission to ones authority and position, as Jesus did to His Father’s will and to His creation; all for the purpose of atonement.

5.      Olive oil is eluded too many times in the Bible, often as an emblem of peace, prosperity, and wealth.  Olive oil forms a large element in the diet of people.  It is used in salads, or for frying in place of butter.  It is also much used in the manufacture of soap, fuel for lamps that produce light, and a soothing lotion for dry skin.  Olive oil was the base ingredient all these expensive and valued spices were infused into.  These were added the oil to show forth the excellence and beauty of holiness, because it added a beautiful sweet aroma to the oil.  The oil was then sprinkled throughout the tent of meeting which made the tabernacle as pleasing to the smell as it was to see.  Jesus cleanses us from sin, gives light to our soul and nourishment to our bodies.  He is our solution to whatever ails us.

The Holy Anointing Oil was a foreshadowing of the better anointing, that of the Holy Ghost in Gospel times, that of “another comforter.”  The variety of whose gifts was typified by these several sweet ingredients.  To show the excellence of holiness, there was in the tabernacle the purest form of anointing oil.  Christ's name is said to be as “ointment poured forth” (Ref. Song of Solomon 1:3), and the good name of Christians better than “precious ointment,” (Ref. Ecclesiastics 7:1).    

The incense which was to be burned upon the golden altar was prepared from these same five sweet spices, though not so rare and rich as those of which the “Holy Anointing Oil” (Exodus 30:34-35).  When it was used, it had to first be broken and beaten until it was very small: symbolizing that it pleased the Lord to bruise the Redeemer when He offered Himself for a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor (Ref. Isaiah 53:10).  Also the anointing oil should not be made for any common occasion or use only for the called servants of God (Exodus 30:32-33, 37-38).  Thus God would preserve in the people's minds a reverence for His own institutions, and teach us not to profane nor abuse anything whereby God makes Himself known.  It is a great affront to God to take lightly sacred things, particularly to make sport of His Word and His Ordinances (Ref. Matthew 22:5).  That which is God's must not be used as a common thing. 

Christ is the Anointed, and He sheds the oil of joy on our heads, as one by one we yield ourselves to His service (Ref. Acts 2:33).  The oil was not to be poured on “the flesh of man” but on the head.  For we must deny the flesh, with its affections and lusts, that we may be filled with the Spirit and have the mind of Christ.  Christians how important it is for us to understand that we must first face Calvary before Pentecost!  Let us look at one last fact regarding the “Holy Anointing Oil;” it was to be carefully and meticulously prepared; showing us that our prayers should not be uttered rashly or lightly; but with reverence and forethought.

Let us summarize what has just been said.  In these elements we see a picture of Christ, His work, and His reward.  He is purity, He was freely given, and He preserves our lives for evermore.  Jesus is our pain killer and the cure for our diseases.  He wears a crown of honor and wealth.  His skin was stripped by the whipping He took for our sins.  He then was nailed to and hung on a tree to die.  But through it all He gave nothing but respectful submission to the authority, position, and divine call of His Father.

Jesus influences all aspects of our lives.  He is our salvation, joy, peace and life.  Our obedience to His lordship brings prosperity not only in the natural but to the spiritual man as well.  Finally, Jesus fills our entire lives with the sweet aroma of His presence.  Christ is the one anointed, the one anointing, calling and sending.  We cannot come to Christ unless Christ calls us.  Again nothing comes to Christ unless it comes first from Him.

Under penalty of death no-one can try to imitate the "Oil of Holy Ointment", just as it is with one trying to imitate the anointing of God upon their lives.  They, in the end will be under the penalty of death, eternal death (Ref. Acts 8:18-24).  When God pours Himself into you and calls you to His service, you become the "Oil of Holy Ointment."  You are used to heal, feed, preserve, cure, purify, measure, and balance right and wrong.  You must bring light, peace, prosperity and a sweet aroma to all the people in the world.  You must do this in respectful submission to the authority and position of our Lord and His Heavenly Father.  The only way this can be accomplished is to have our bodies and minds sacrificed and our lives freely given for the master’s use (Ref. Romans 12:1-2).

The second use of the term Mashah, or Mashiach, can be found in 1st Samuel 10:1-6.  “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: "Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance ...?  After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is . . .   Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.”  Here the anointing oil was used as a sign of “coronation.”  It was a custom among the Jews to anoint those set apart as kings.  This custom was then adopted by the Christian Church. The Christian Church would then anoint those who were called to service, such as leaders, elders, deacons, priests and so on.  The anointing oil was used as a symbol of the endowment of the Holy Spirit of God.  This endowment is for the duties of the office to which a person was consecrated (Leviticus 8). 

The anointing of God comes to us in two ways.  One, is directly from God (Psalm 23:5), David speaking directly to God said; “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over."  In Acts 1:8 Luke wrote; “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  No-one on the day of Pentecost laid hands on, or poured oil on any of the people present.  God gave the anointing personally.  Peter referring back to the day of Pentecost, the day in which the Holy Spirit was given, saying; it was a sign of His calling and the work in which we are all consecrated for (Acts 2:16~).  This verse is a quotation from Joel 2:28-32.  “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”  The Holy Spirit anoints us for the duties of the office to which we are consecrated.

The second way a person can be anointed is from a person who already has the anointing, like a priest, a pastor, an elder, and so on.  Refer to the passage found in 2nd Kings 2:9-15.  In this passage Elisha seeing Elijah being taken up into heaven was then anointed, and Elijah's mantle was then given to Elisha.  The students of the school of the prophets said of Elisha once they saw him return; “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha."

            The anointing of God can be administered in a variety of ways.  Some of them are;

                        1.         Prayer (Psalms 23:5).

                        2.         Reading the Word of God (2nd Kings 5:7).

                        3.         The laying on of hands (1st Timothy 4:14, 2nd Timothy 1:6).

                        4.         Object of clothing being past from one to another (2nd Kings 2:9-15).

                        5.         Hearing the Word of God (Acts 10:44).

                        6.         Special miracle (Judges 15:15).

                        7.         Sprinkling of oil (Exodus 29:21).

                        8.         Pouring of oil on a person's head (Exodus 29:7).

                        9.         Being near someone with the anointing (Acts 5:15).

Finally; in the New Testament we are commanded to anoint the sick with oil and then to pray for their healing.  This is shown both by example (Luke 10:34, Mark 6:13) and by the teaching in the Epistle of James (5:14).  Often believers use oil to signify any touch a person may need from the Holy Spirit.  For instance, a person may be anointed when a special call is discerned.  Or a place may be anointed when someone is moving.

We in our modern day churches have taken the act of anointing perhaps too far.  We without knowing or hearing from God anoint cars, boats, houses, motorcycles, and many other objects.  I have even heard of dogs and cats being anointed.  Perhaps at this point it is important to recall what Exodus 30:31-33 says:  "And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.  It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  'Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.’” 

It may be important to note the statement in verse 32; “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generation.”  The word "generations" is plural meaning forever.  It is also important to keep in mind what the Anointing Oil represents.  If we reverence who and what the Anointing Oil represents, and on whom the oil was used, we would be more selective and careful in its use.  Especially regarding those who we think are called to minister.  Remember nothing comes to Christ unless it comes first from Christ.  God's called and chosen ministers have an obligation and a duty to make sure that the mantle of ministry, with all its responsibilities, be passed too only those we are instructed to pass it too.  God will inform His chosen, who is to be anointed.  His calling will not be based on charisma, intelligence, money or stature.  For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."  Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1st Corinthians 1:19-20, 26-27).

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