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Anointing

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What is anointing? Who is qualified to do anointing? Why? Who can be anointed? Are there any restrictions?

FACT


Anointing is defined by Oxford Languages Dictionary as:

a'noint
/a'noint/

verb

smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony.
"high priests were anointed with oil"


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Anointing oil?

During a recent Bible study this last Sabbath, a friend of mine mentioned that he was thinking of starting again to carry a container of anointing oil as he once did when he was younger. When I asked what he would do with it, he said that he would use it for healing. We discussed it briefly and mentioned anointing of "special people" to the Lord, as well as healing. Well, not having delved into the subject very deeply, this started me wondering about the use of oils in the Bible.

What is anointing?

The first entry of the online search was from the Oxford Dictionary. It defines anoint as:

a'noint
/a'noint/

verb
verb: anoint; 3rd person present: anoints; past tense: anointed; past participle: anointed; gerund or present participle: anointing

smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony.
"high priests were anointed with oil"
Similar:
smear with oil

rub with oil
apply oil to
spread oil over
anele

smear or rub something with (any other substance).
"Cuna Indians anoint the tips of their arrows with poison"
ceremonially confer divine or holy office upon (a priest or monarch) by smearing or rubbing with oil.


So what?

OK, but what is the point? If you get a massage, you are sometimes rubbed with oil, but we hardly call that being anointed. We get a hint in the definition when it says "typically as part of a religious ceremony", but that hardly answers the question, "What is anointing?"

Perhaps some context will help. The first listing in the NIV concordance for anointed (anoint) was Genesis 31:13
13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.

. This is what God spoke to Jacob after Laban had tricked him into working for both of his daughters and he was spending the night in the wilderness of Luz.

OK, does that mean that someone smeared oil on a pillar? Well, not necessarily. The reference is to Genesis 28:17-22
17He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." 18Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21so that I return safely to my father's household, then the LORD will be my God 22and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

when Jacob received a vision during the night, realized that the place was special, and poured oil on the rock he had used for a pillow. The reason he gave was that he had not known that God was present when he had first arrived in that place, so he acknowledged Him with a vow and marked the spot with the "special" stone.

Jacob seemed to know what to do

Interestingly, Jacob knew to do something. He renamed the place called "Luz" to "Bethel" (House of God), and God later referred to it by that new name. He also referred to the action of pouring the oil as "anointing". We aren't told the purpose of the "anointing", but Jacob knew something or he wouldn't have done it. God noticed his actions along with the vow.

After Jacob, more instructions

The next reference to anointing is Exodus 28:41
41After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

. Now it seems that we are getting closer to the definition reference to a "religious ceremony". We see some preparation for priesthood. Based on what we have seen, Moses was to pour oil on Aaron and his sons as part of that preparation which began back in verse 1 of chapter 28. This included some pretty special clothing, garments, and ornaments throughout the chapter. So, anointing is part of preparing someone, or something, for a special purpose. This goes on into chapter 29, describing the steps of the consecration process including pouring the oil on his head. This turns out to be a seven-day process.

Not just anyone can make it or use it

There is a very specific formula for making the "holy anointing oil" in this chapter (Exodus 30:22-25
22Then 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 calamus, 24500 shekels of cassia - all according to the sanctuary shekel - and a hin of olive oil. 25Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil."

) that is to be used for anointing a list of items, utensils, and priests, but is not to be used for anointing any other type of person. In fact, no one is to even make oil with the same recipe or that person will be "cut off" (Exodus 30:32-33
32Do not pour it on anyone else's body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.

). The purpose of this oil is to let the people know that everything and everyone on whom the oil is properly used is to be considered holy and dedicated to God.

Something different

So, while this is called anoninting oil, it cannot be the same oil as my friend mentioned, so let's see if there is another kind oil of which he may be speaking.

Going through the Old Testament, we see Samuel anoninting David as king, not as priest. Only Levites could be priests, and the kings of Israel came from the line of Judah. While they were anointed with oil, it was evidently not the same as the anointing oil of the priests. So we have another type of anointing oil. The only thing I could find thus far is a reference to olive oil, but that is not definite, depending on which translation of the Bible you use.

As far as Jesus being our "great high priest", it is confusing that Jesus is from the line of Judah and not Levi. However, Paul tells us that Jesus was not anointed by men, but was made a priest by God Himself (Hebrews 4:14
14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

and Hebrews 5:5-6
5In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

        "You are my Son;
                today I have become your Father."
        6And he says in another place,
                "You are a priest forever,
                in the order of Melchizedek."

).

Back to the study

Continuing through the Bible, we find many verses about anointing priests and kings, but none about using oil for healing. Now, I need to qualify that statement. I did find two that were about the use of oil during a session that mentioned healing, but the healing was attributed to the faith of those involved, not to the oil.

The Bible says...

One mention in the NIV is vague because it says that three things happened (Mark 6:13
13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (NIV)

). Was the anointing a separate incident from the other two, or part of one or the other. It can be seen that the anointing and the healing were connected. Maybe they were all one incident. The Greek Interlinear says this:

The only thing I am not willing to do it to call the oil "healing oil". Anointing oil, fine, but anything else seems to be wishful thinking. You can already find many sites that sell the oil as not only good for you but "certified Biblical", "Made in Bethlehem Certificated Anointing Oil", and "Holy Anointing oil". I wonder who does the certifying and making it holy.

"The Bible says..."

One site at Feasting on Joy is so helpful that they post the God-given formula onlne so that you can make your own DIY HOLY Anointing Oil - (DIY = Do It Yourself), which may answer the question "Who makes it holy?". You are so special that you do.

The formula they give is in Exodus 30:22-25
22Then the Lord said to Moses, 23"Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels[a] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24500 shekels of cassia - all according to the sanctuary shekel - and a hin of olive oil. 25Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.

.

Whoa! But, the Bible also says...

The only problem with this helpful advice is in the verses that follow shortly after (Exodus 30:30-33
30"Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31Say to the Israelites, 'This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32Do not pour it on anyone else's body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.' "

). That recipe is only to be used on priests. Now, that warning may sound a little vague (grin), making you think that this issue is a disputable matter (warning only the Israelites), but it sounds like this website is advising people to disobey the will of God.

What's doing the healing?

Now, my understanding of anointing is to set something or someone apart as holy and dedicated to God. In Mark 6:13
13They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (NIV)

, we are told that they anointed many sick people and healed them. If they were healed by the oil, it seems it would say something like, "and they healed them with oil". The anointing could solve a need caused by the demon-possession while the healings were performed on sick people who were not necessarily anointed. But, not being an expert in the Greek, I take it for what it says here, so it is disputable.

The second passage is James 5:14
14Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

. Again, here it is the prayer of faith that heals. The anointing is a dedication to the Lord. Again, the oil is used in the process, but it is never called "healing oil". Another query I have on this is the nature of the oil that is used for this anointing. By the very word of God, it cannot be the special formula for anointing the priests. So, "everyone" assumes that it is olive oil, myrrh oil, or something similar.

On whom are we allowed to use this oil?

While we are on the subject, who is a priest? I know, silly question. However, if you do some research, all the Israelites, and supposedly all who claim to believe in Christ are priests. According to Exodus 19:6
6" 'you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

, everyone who is a descendant of Jacob (Israelite) is a priest, holy as a nation. Now, does that mean we can use the "holy anointing oil" on any Israelite? What about us Gentiles? 1 Peter 2:4-5
4As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him - 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

says we are being built into a house of priests as we come to Christ.

Are we priests just because we say we believe?

Now, I have to get picky here, just a little bit. The first part of Peter's statement says, "As you come to Him,". That is a statement about the sinner who "comes to Christ". We come to Christ, and make Him Lord of our lives. His goal is to give glory to the Father, and that should become our goal. Many who come to Christ seem to stop before they get to that point. They come to Christ, but do not continue and allow themselves to be eventually "built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." I doubt if many "Christians" even know what that means. Each Christian is a "living stone" being used to build "the spiritual house" to be a "holy priesthood".

Many have claimed that they have come to Christ, and claim that they have stepped up to do whatever it takes. This claim carries with it a responsibility to live in the Spirit by following Christ and staying in the will of God (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

). One who claims to be a Christian must live as though he or she believes these words of Jesus. If he or she does not, then that person cannot be a "priest". If he cannot be a priest because of the way he/she lives, then he/she cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. No one is perfect, but deliberate disobedience will "un-qualify" us.

The priesthood

While I do not agree with the Baptists on many of their rituals, beliefs and especially their combination of paganism with their worship, there is a great article at 0201.nccdn.net/1_2/000/000/095/a1f/the-priesthood-of-all-believers.pdf regarding modern understanding of the priesthood of believers in which many claim to live. (If for some reason they change the site or remove it, you can see it on pdf at The Priesthood of All Believers). The author makes statements that suggest that he is Baptist, but we won't hold that against him. I give only the address of the site because I could not discover a name for either the site or the author of the article. Much of what this author said makes sense - especially regarding the priesthood.

Anointing and the priesthood

What does all this have to do with anointing? If you cannot use the priest anointing oil on other than priests, but all Israel are priests and true Christians are a Priesthood of All Believers, can any believer now be anointed? There is some discussion in the article above that when a new believer joins the Priesthood of All Believers, that does not necessarily make him or her a functional priest as an individual. He/she joins a spiritual group which is the priesthood with many talents.

Does Exodus 30:30-33 prevent us from using the anointing oil formula in 30:22-25 on a Christian? Can we judge whether or not one is a true believer? How do we tell if one is truly a believer? Is that restriction removed from any consideration by Christ's death? Is that passage not valid even though Paul said some of the Old Testament is still valid?

Anointing other than for the priesthood

Following the words of Mark and James, there is some leeway in the use of oil, but we are not told what type of oil. Leviticus 14 describes the process of purification of a person with leprosy that uses olive oil. Other chapters in Leviticus describe other uses for pure olive oil. What makes me nervous is that sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are statements like Leviticus 24:9b
This is a permanent law. (CJSB)

. Some things are to remain in effect until they are removed by an act of God (Matthew 5:18
18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

).

Is there a qualification of who is able to "set someone apart as holy and dedicated to the Lord"? Can anyone who claims to be Christian anoint anyone else - Christian or not? The basic assumption is that the one who anoints is a Christian and the one anointed is a Christian. Unfortunately, that is not as easy to determine as it sounds.

What is a Christian?

I know many who call themselves Christian, clearly believe in Christ, but outright refuse to act in the will of the Father because they feel that they have some sort of dispensation. Is there a definition of Christian that we should use as a basis, or do we just agree with everyone who makes the claim? For a different look at this question, take a look at Real Christians. It may start you thinking about what you have been told in church.

Even non-believers can speak to God

Since any sinner who comes to God in faith and repentance will get a hearing, anyone can call on Him. However, when one who claims to believe, but does not act like it (not in faith) , will that person get a hearing? God will hear, but there is some question as to whether God will respond (Job 35:12
12He does not answer when people cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked.

, 1 Samuel 28:6
6He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.

, Micah 3:4
4Then they will cry out to the Lord,
        but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
        because of the evil they have done.


).

This study is not complete, by any means. It seems that there is Biblical reason to use oil in processes, but it is also common to see people jump on a band wagon that is clearly forbidden. Does anointing with oil make you a healer or even set apart the anointed one if some condition is not properly met? Are we comfortable enough with our knowledge to flaunt some of those boundaries and risk being "cut off" from our people?













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