Many apologies for the brief hiatus in publishing Bob’s work with Simon starting work at a new church and me travelling we have gotten behind. Anyhow now we shall start a new series on The Anointing of God and which shall probably extend to around 20 posts in total. I hope you are blessed to read and meditate on them. [I should also add I have been having some trouble with my blogging software so this does not look as neat as it should, sorry. Editor]
Isaiah 10 v. 27
And the yoke shall be destroyed by the anointing.
Well, the Hebrew does not actually mean that. I am not going to talk about the text and am not going to argue with it. I do agree with the sentiment, however. In context the word “anointing” means a number of different things, amongst which; “getting wealthy, or rich, or fat, or added to”. To read the text in the light of that might give us a different interpretation. Nevertheless we do know what it means by “the anointing breaks the yoke”: we can do nothing without the power of God.
There are many words that we associate with the word “anointing”, such as power, enabling, or gifting, for example. They generally have the idea of God doing something in his strength that we cannot in our strength. That is what most people think of when we speak of being anointed by the Spirit. We mean an empowering or enabling or a kind of overflow of God into our lives that equips us with divine ability to do that which we in ourselves cannot do,The word “anoint” in that sense is rarely used in the Bible, but that does not mean that I disagree with it. I want to unpack that idea biblically, to come to it through the prism of scripture, to see what ideas are involved and then to move on into the realm of our experience, life and ministry: to talk spiritually and practically about the anointing to see how it works and how we might get to know it.
The Anointed One. Jesus is called the Messiah, which means “the Christ” as we will come across again and again as we look at the scriptures. We need to understand the anointing in essence and in action. What do we mean when we talk about the anointing? In essence, what is the heart of it? In action, how does the anointing operate? Or, how might we operate in the anointing of God? We all know we need something, and the anointing addresses the need. When we know what the anointing is, we will come to the conclusion that this is what we need and we will ask the Lord to release it in us.
The Old Testament
The whole theme of the anointing comes from the Old Testament, that is where we see it both physically and spiritually. Exodus 30, which is of course where God gives Moses the instructions for making the anointing oil.
Exodus 30 v. 22-25
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.”
Someone recently said that the good of these things is released when they are crushed, and that is certainly true here, as these things were crushed and the reality of them was released. If we want to know God operating in our lives, then time and again we face this principle in the scriptures; the release of the fragrance of God comes through brokenness. Without being broken before God there is no release of goodness in that sense.
It will be the sacred anointing oil.
The word “sacred” is important here. It simply means that it will be set apart to God for this purpose and will be used for no other purpose. The word has so many overtones but it means that the oil was ordered by God, commanded by God and set apart to God for no other purpose. The word “anoint” carries an active sense because you did not take a whole lot and pour it all on at once, you sprinkled it. Psalm 133 gives us a clue as to what they did to Aaron. When the oil was made it then had to be used;
Exodus 30 v. 26-29
Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the Ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them and they shall be most holy, and whatever touches them will be made holy.
The idea of being sacred or holy means that they were separated. The anointing puts things in a totally different position from where they had been before. The value, the holiness or sacredness was not due to the intrinsic value of the materials; they were changed because of the purposes they were set apart to. They were no longer set apart to ordinary purposes, but were anointed and set apart to God’s purposes only, and it was this consecration that made things special. The basin is still a basin, the thing in itself was not made special. There is dynamic inward movement that takes place here. The thing has not changed, but it has in a spiritually dynamic sense. Think of the Ark of the Covenant in David’s day when he wanted to move it back to Jerusalem from the house it was in. He forgot the principles of holiness, and instead of having the Levites carry it on poles as God had commanded, he had it carried on an oxcart, and the anointing was broken on that day. The oxen could not compensate for rough ground like the Levites would have done. God knew what he was doing when he laid-down that the Levites were to carry the Ark because he did not want it to be dropped. Uzzah, not an unrighteous man, took the punishment because he forgot the principle of the anointing, that the anointing has awesome power. That is why David would not stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed. God endued something that was not intrinsic to the Ark and it took on a new significance. When you do the wrong thing with the anointing it is dreadful. The New Testament says;
Hebrews 10 v. 31
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.
You cannot create or take upon yourself that which is God’s own initiative, but when God’s initiative comes on a person that initiative carries with it the dimensions of reality that far outstrip any dimensions of reality we have ever known before. We have such a moral view of holiness, that it is about being good, but the Bible has such a dynamic view of holiness. God is good, but he puts his mark on people and it is not their intrinsic nature that counts; it is the anointing of God that transfers them from one position spiritually to another. Look at David who was the anointed king. His life was a continual between the natural David and the messianic David;
Psalm 51 v. 10-12
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
The messianic David was the man of God’s choice and anointing; when he spoke and acted he did it in the name of the Lord. When the Ark of the Covenant was there it was there in the name of the Lord. It was the sign of God’s presence, and when the Ark moved the people had to move, and when the Ark stood still the people did likewise. The Ark was under the anointing and on that day when Uzzah died the people forgot the power of the anointing. It is that power that killed him. It is about the power of a holy God, his personal presence. That is what the anointing is all about; the personal presence of God. That is what Moses knew about the anointing;
Exodus 33 v. 15
If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
It is important that we understand that. There is a tremendous sense of awe in these things, and if we believe we have the anointing of God in us it will be like the first day of Pentecost when, after the preaching and praying in tongues it says;
Acts 2 v. 43 (K.J.V.)
the fear of God came upon every soul
That is not being frightened of God, but having a reverence for God when you know he is working in the midst of you.
man does not possess the anointing – it is the anointing that possesses the man.
We need to get rid of any desire for the spectacular and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, then he will exalt us in the midst of the nation.
Exodus 30 v. 30-33
Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so that they may serve me as priests. Say to the Israelites, “This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred and you are to consider it sacred. Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut-off from his people.”
They did actually pour this oil on men’s bodies, they put it on Aaron’s beard, but that is not what this word means. The oil is not for bodily cleansing, nor for a pleasant aroma nor to be used casually. There is a danger of treating the Holy Spirit casually and of treating the anointing of God as if we can get it freely whenever we like. That is not how it is in the Acts of the Apostles – there was an engagement between God and Man, a profound movement between the Spirit of God and the spirit of men. When God moved in “presence-power” there was a tremendous awareness that this was something of another dimension of reality. If we have a need today, it is for another dimension of reality, by which I mean that we need a different kind of reality.
Although it is true that the Old acts as a type for the New nevertheless the reality is still powerful in the ancient experience. When the priest gave the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, the people’s sins were covered. You could just look at the priests’ anointing with oil as a powerless type, but that strips it of all reality. The reality of the Old Testament is the type of the New, but it was real.
In the Old Testament the anointing was spoken of regarding three classes of people. The first and most frequently mentioned one is the priest (Exodus 30 v. 30: Exodus 40 v. 15). Secondly there was the king. The first occasion that Samuel took anointing oil it was to anoint Saul. He anointed Saul as king and then he anointed David as king. Thirdly there was the prophet. It is also in that order as there are many references to priests being anointed, not so many kings, and very few prophets being anointed. One comes in the book of the Kings;
I Kings 19 v. 16
…and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.
The other prophetic anointing is in Isaiah, where it is a prophetic anointing because the heart of the prophet is proclamation;
Isaiah 61 v. 1
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
So, it is priests, then king and finally prophets.
1. Priest: Notice that this teaches us something about the act of anointing, The priest was the mediator between man and God. He took the sacrifices of man to God and brought the things of God to man. His whole role was intercession in that sense. The New Testament says of our Great High Priest;
I Timothy 2 v. 5
For there is one God and mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
2. Kings: The king’s place was government. These words in Samuel refer specifically to Saul, but are no less relevant;
I Samuel 10 v. 1
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?”
3. Prophet: The prophet was the man of revelation. In Deuteronomy God speaks about the prophet;
Deuteronomy 18 v. 18
I will raise up for them a prophet from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him.
These are the three emphases shown in the three categories, and although they are not mutually exclusive, these people are anointed for this particular purpose.
The three ideas that come in anointing are connected with that. We have talked about holiness already and also authority, where God puts his authority on people, and the idea of power. These are coupled together in Moses where in Deuteronomy God spells out his view of Moses;
Deuteronomy 34 v. 10-12
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt – to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of Israel.
So, the idea and the promise of the anointing came a long time ago.
Firstly in type in Exodus 30 in the anointing oil used on the priest, king and prophet. Besides Jesus, that was only all fulfilled in David. He was a priest, prophet and king. David did things as a king that no other king before or after him ever did. He was an amazing character because he was the type of Christ. As the old hymn says, “Great David’s greater Son”.
Secondly the promise of the anointing is demonstrated in the type of the Old Testament, but promised through the prophets, for example in Isaiah 52 we have the beginning of the fourth Servant Song. There are four Songs of the Servant in Isaiah’s prophecy where the Holy Spirit speaks of an anointed personality and how God is going to release through this personality the promises to his people. The Servant Songs are all different in intensity; sometimes they focus on the one individual and sometimes it looks as if the whole nation of Israel is involved. But throughout the songs God is promising to release his purposes on the face of the earth through an anointed personality.
It starts in Isaiah 52 v. 13 where we begin to get the Spirit opening up history, looking ahead to something not yet fulfilled, not only in a type but in a prophecy. In Exodus 30 we saw the establishment of a practice that became a type of Christ, but here we have the actual words of a prophecy. This is a strand particularly in Isaiah’s prophecy where there is a promise of anointing in a tremendous way.
Isaiah 52 v. 13
See my servant will act wisely;
That is the opening stanza of this song and each of the songs speaks of the servant in that way.
[The second part of this post will be published shortly – Ed.]