Summary: What symbolism does the anointing oil of the Old Testament have for us as believers today?
The Anointing Oil
We often talk about "the anointing". We pray for the anointing of God on our lives, our ministries, our activities - everything. We recognize that we need the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Our own strengths can sometimes be weaknesses because we so easily abandon our reliance on God. We must depend on God.
Zechariah 4:6 – “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” We must minister in the power of God - under this "anointing" of the Holy Spirit. What is "the anointing". We talk about it all the time. We desire it. We pray for it. But what is it exactly?
The most simple definition of the anointing is to be "set apart". When God anoints something He sets it apart for His use.
When a new king was anointed in Israel the prophet would take a horn full of oil and pour it over his head, and it would run right down his clothes. This person was "set apart" - to be used by God.
When we say someone "preached under a real anointing", or "that was an anointed song" - it means it was set apart. God had His hand on the preacher or the song and was moving. The anointing is really nothing other than the presence of God in favour.
In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle and all the furniture and utensils that were used for worship had to be anointed before they could be used. They didn’t anoint with just any old oil - they had special oil for this anointing. We read about it in:
READ: Exodus 30:22-30
22 Then the LORD said to Moses,
23 "Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane,
24 500 shekels of cassia-- all according to the sanctuary shekel-- and a hin of olive oil.
25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.
26 Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony,
27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense,
28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.
29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.
30 "Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
God prescribed the ingredients that were to be used, and how it was to be made. It was a capital offence in Israel to make this oil and use it for any other purpose - punishable by death!
The recipe for this oil gives a picture of what we need in our lives to know God’s anointing.
The first ingredient was …
1. Liquid Myrrh.
Myrrh was used to prepare bodies for burial. To get its beautiful sweetness you had to crush it.
Myrrh speaks of death. There is no anointing without death. If we want to know God’s anointing we have to die to ourselves. Die to the old person that we once were. Die to our own agenda - our own desires and dreams. If we’re going to depend on God we have to die to our own abilities and resources.
And if we don’t come to this place of dying to ourselves on our own, then God may have to bring circumstances into our lives to bring us to the place where we will die to ourselves.
Sometimes we’re really quick to say it’s the devil’s work - it may just be the Lord dealing with us because He wants to bring us to a place of anointing so we can be used by Him. It’s far better for you to come to a place of brokenness by yourself, seeking the Lord in prayer. Then He can anoint you, and it’s far less painful than God having to allow those crushing experiences into our lives.
There’s a story in Matthew 26 of the woman who brought an alabaster box of expensive perfume and anointed the feet and head of Jesus. And the fragrance filled the room. This was the kind of box you wouldn’t want to break – it was precious. But unless the outer box is broken, there can be no fragrance. The perfume is locked up to itself, never to fulfill it’s purpose.
Unless there is a breaking in our lives, the fragrance of Christ in us will never be smelt. Sometimes we hold our lives, and control our lives which are so precious to us. We treasure it more than anything. But those things need to be broken.