Summary: We look at the very word “Messiah.” What does it mean? How did it become associated with the one whom Israel had placed her hope?
Isaiah 61:1-3 Anointed One
June 7, 2015 D. Marion Clark
Jesus and his disciples are nearing Emmaus. He has taken the two disciples through the Scriptures, demonstrating how he has fulfilled them in regard to being the Messiah even as he was being crucified. He has bruised the head of Satan, redeemed Israel from bondage, atoned for their sins, delivered them as their King, and opened the way to God as their Priest. This morning, we look at the very word “Messiah.” What does it mean? How did it become associated with the one whom Israel had placed her hope?
If you peruse your English Bibles, you will not find the word in the Old Testament and only twice in the New Testament. Nevertheless, it appears numerous times. In the New Testament, every time you come across the name “Christ,” you have read the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” In the Old Testament, every time you see the word “anointed,” you are reading “messiah” or a form of the word.
With that in mind, let us read our text.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
Verse 1 is literally “The LORD ‘masah’ me,” thus making him “messiah,” the anointed. It is this passage that brings to a pinnacle the expectation and hope of the Messiah – the Anointed One – who will redeem Israel. When and where did “anointed” get so wrapped up in the hoped-for deliverer that it became his identifying title?
The word first appears in Genesis 31:13. God speaks of an act by Jacob, whereby he anointed a pillar of stone. What Jacob had done was to pour oil on the stone, and he did so as a means of consecrating the stone. It was the stone on which he had rested his head when he had his dream of the ladder climbing into heaven. Jacob was setting the stone apart as a holy object.
We do not come across the term again until in Exodus. The people have passed through the Red Sea and come to Mt. Sinai. God has delivered the Ten Commandments and is now giving instruction to Moses about matters related to the priesthood and tabernacle. Aaron and his sons are to be anointed with oil, thereby consecrating them for holy service to the Lord. Items of the tabernacle are to be anointed for the same purpose. Anything and anyone who are consecrated to God – i.e. set apart – are anointed with oil. Consecration – set apart – is the operating concept, and specifically it is the consecration of a priest or object used in the tabernacle of God.
Later, anointing takes an added aspect. The change is seen at the end of Hannah’s prayer, which she made in response to having a son.
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed (1 Samuel 2:10).
The odd part about this prayer is that it was made before Israel had a king. Hannah is looking to the day in which a king will sit on the throne of Israel, and he will be God’s “anointed,” his messiah.
The king would be anointed with oil, as was the priest, but the primary concept of anointing a king is that of God choosing that individual to serve as king. The anointed one is the chosen one. God chose Saul to be the first king, and he chose David to be the second king. He chooses the lineage of David to be on the throne, and even many of the kings of the northern kingdom are chosen by him.
In summary, a messiah – an anointed one – is one who is consecrated, as is a priest, for holy service. He is one chosen, as is a king, by God to serve God’s purposes. There are two Old Testament texts that lead God’s people to equate a messiah/anointed one with the Messiah, the Anointed One. The first is Psalm 2. Here are the opening verses: