Bible Study Series: Holy Spirit - Roles, Types and Imagery
The Oil Part 1: Anointing oil for the greatest to the least
by I Gordon
Always in Scripture oil is an emblem of the Holy Spirit.
- The general use of oil in the Bible
- The first use of oil in the Bible - Oil upon the Greatest
- A surprising use of oil - Oil upon the least
- The anointing in the New Testament & warnings against misuse of the anointing oil.
So let's begin with some general thoughts about the use of oil in the Bible.
- Oil lubricates when used for that purpose - there is little friction and wear among those who are lubricated by the Spirit of God
- Oil heals and was used as a medicinal treatment in Biblical times (Luk 10:34) - the Spirit of God brings healing and restoration
- Oil lights when it is burned in a lamp - where the Spirit of God is there is light
- Oil warms when it is used as fuel for a flame - where the Spirit of God is there is warmth and comfort
- Oil invigorates when used to massage - the Holy Spirit invigorates us for His service
- Oil adorns when applied as a perfume - the Holy Spirit adorns us and makes us more pleasant to be around
- Oil polishes when used to shine metal - the Holy Spirit wipes away our grime and smoothes out our rough edges
- When God later told Jacob to leave Laban and return to the Promised Land. Look at how God introduces Himself:
Gen 31:13 'I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.'"
- When Jacob returned back to the Promised Land from Laban, look at where he was told by God to go and what he did there (he repeated his earlier experience):
Gen 35:1 Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God..."
Gen 35:14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.
- In his last days, when Jacob was blessing Joseph, look at how Jacob described the Messiah who would come from God:
Gen 49:24 But his bow remained firm, And his arms were agile, From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
Dan 2:34-35 "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. (35) "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
But in the midst of it are you able to rest in Christ? Among all the notifications of disaster and doom popping up on your computer, have you seen, and can you rest, in the fact that actually HE is in control? Let me say it again - Our Lord is in control. He raises up one and puts down another and His ways and will and are being fulfilled. It can be scary when we only focus on what is happening... but focus on Jesus and lay your head on that solid dependable stone!
So that is the first mention of oil. It comes, significantly, in a passage which pictures the anointing of the Stone (the coming Messiah Jesus4) in the Promised Land. But oil wouldn't just be limited to the greatest of all - the Messiah. In fact it was used also to anoint the lowest and greatest outcasts within Israel to cleanse them and set them free... And as we shall see, again in picture form, this includes you and me.
- Leprosy in the Bible is a type of sin. Thus lepers point to sinners and the cleansing of lepers speaks of salvation and cleansing of sinners (like you and me) in Jesus.
- You will note that the cleansing was complete on 'the 8th day'. The 8th day in scripture speaks of resurrection and the new creation. Jesus was raised on the 8th day (Sunday) and it is His resurrection that enables us to have new life.
- The Leper (sinner) was cleansed through the sacrifice of a lamb (Jesus) which the Priest would wave this as an offering before the Lord.
- There were two things applied to the leper to complete their cleansing - blood and oil, in that order. The blood came first and then the oil. Blood is obviously a type of Jesus' sacrifice. It speaks the blood Jesus shed to provide salvation. Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit as we have seen. This is the gift of God at the point of salvation.
- Oil was sprinkled 7 times 'before the Lord' - A picture of the seven-fold perfect Spirit mentioned in Revelation and discussed in a previous study.
- Oil was also placed on the guilt offering signifying that Jesus' sacrifice was consecrated and performed through the Spirit.
- Both the blood and the oil were applied to the leper in the following locations: Right ear, right thumb and right foot. Any oil left over was placed on the head of the leper. Now as to the specific areas where the oil was applied, we'll come back to this in the application section below...
Now remember that God is placing a picture before us of redemption and sanctification. The leper (sinner) could be cleansed through the blood and afterwards would be anointed with oil (the Holy Spirit). Thus, in picture form, it shows that even the lowest of the low, even the outcasts of society, could receive the greatest of gifts - salvation and the Holy Spirit! Have you experienced that? Do you thank Him for it?
- This anointing oil cannot be poured out on man's flesh - As a picture this shows that the Holy Spirit won't dwell with those still in 'the flesh' or an outsider. That is, unbelievers. But He also won't bless believer's 'works that are still of the flesh'. For example when we are promoting ourselves and stroking our own ego's... or causing divisions in the body... or using worldly efforts to bring about spiritual growth... None of this is of the Spirit and He won't bless any of it.
- Nor shall you make any like it, according to its composition - In other words, don't try to make something like, but not the same as, this recipe, and use it yourself. Do that and you would be cut off from the Israelite people. As a picture this tells us that we are not to try counterfeit the true work and gifts of the Holy Spirit with something that is not the real thing. Think about Church history for a moment. Think about a lot of what passes as the Holy Spirit today. This is a very serious passage and warning. The reality is that there is so much worldliness and hype and fleshly imitation in the Church of God that is said to be 'the work of the Holy Spirit' or 'the anointing' where in reality it is fleshly men and women using ego, entertainment, persuasive speech/personalities, and smoke and mirrors to counterfeit the real thing. To be honest in makes me sad just thinking about it.
For those of you who want more scriptures and details here is a good summary from Easton's Bible Dictionary:
"Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Exo 29:7; 2Sa 14:2; Psa 23:5; Psa 92:10; Psa 104:15; Luk 7:46); in some of the offerings (Exo 29:40; Lev 7:12; Num 6:15; Num 15:4), but was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev 5:11) and the jealousy-offering (Num 5:15); for burning in lamps (Exo 25:6; Exo 27:20; Mat 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa 1:6; Luk 10:34; Jam 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Mat 26:12; Luk 23:56). It was one of the most valuable products of the country (Deu 32:13; Eze 16:13), and formed an article of extensive commerce with Tyre (Eze 27:17). The use of it was a sign of gladness (Psa 92:10; Isa 61:3), and its omission a token of sorrow (2Sa 14:2; Mat 6:17). It was very abundant in Galilee."↩
Easton's Bible Dictionary
This statement is a good one to remember when things seem unsure around you. If you are a believer God is with you... even, like Jacob, if you do not know or sense it. Remember that and come to the same startling realisation that Jacob did - You are not alone. God is in this!
Jesus, the Messiah, is also the true 'house of God' and He is the 'stairway to heaven' - the bridge between heaven and earth. This is why He alluded to this dream of Jacob's and applied it to Himself when speaking to Nathanael:
Joh 1:51 And He (Jesus) said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
These thoughts are not knew and others have seen and written on this before obviously. For example Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), who has been called America's greatest theologian, spoke about the anointing of this stone, writing:
This anointed pillar is a type of the Messiah, or anointed, who is often called a stone or a rock, and is the house of God wherein the Godhead dwells and tabernacles….This is the stone that was Jacob’s pillow, to signify the dependence the saints have upon Christ, and that ’tis in him they find rest and repose, as Christ invites those that are weary to come to him, and they shall have rest [Matt. 11:28]…This stone signified the same with the altar that he built there when he returned (Gen. 35:7), and the pillar that he set up and poured a drink offering and oil upon it (v. 14).
We will likely touch on the gifts of the Spirit in the next study and the light and teaching from the Holy Spirit (the anointing spoken of in 1 John 2:27) in the one after that. ↩
There is too much about Right vs Left (argh Biblically, not politically) to go into here but if interested here is a good Biblical survey of it:
In a little more detail, with some scriptures for those interested, the oil was placed on the leper (sinner) in the following areas:
- The ear - The anointing of the ear speaks of hearing what the Spirit has to say. Believer's should hear the voice of their Lord (John 10:3-4, 16, 27) and this comes through the Holy Spirit. Is your ear open? As Revelation repeatedly says Rev 2:7 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' If you are a believer your ear has been anointed to hear. Are you listening? Do you talk to your Lord and expect a reply? Do you set aside time to listen to what the Spirit is saying?
- The hand - The speaks of our work in the Lord. That has been anointed by God's Spirit. And, as scripture says (and even more so for the Lord) Ecc 9:10 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.'
Act 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." - And God will have something for you as well. Are you doing what God has placed upon your heart?
- The foot - The oil on the foot speaks of our walk. It is walking in God's ways. It is walking in the Spirit.
Gal 5:16 'But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.'
- The head - This speaks of our mind. We no longer think like we used to but have our mind renewed by what God says.
Rom 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Eph 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.