Anointing

Last week, we learned about and experienced a bit of the glory of God. 

This morning, we turn to the anointing of God.  Whereas the glory of God is ambiguous and our experiences vary when encountering it, the anointing of God comes with an intentional purpose to accomplish.

The anointing of God as seen in both the Old and New Covenants equips and empowers people to accomplish the will of God and His purposes for their lives.  The anointing of God is also often be accompanied by the impartation of spiritual gifts. 

Our focus is on the anointing of God upon people, however, objects were also often anointed to be set apart for God’s purposes such as items in the tabernacle or temple.  It was the anointing that consecrated those objects and made them holy; set apart for God’s purposes.

Anointing is a common practice going back throughout history which literally just means to apply perfumed oil onto.  It was commonly either poured out over or smeared on.  There isn’t anything particularly special about physically anointing something or someone.

This was a practice going back in history in many cultures beyond God’s chosen people.  Often guests would be anointed to honor them when entering a home.  Anointing oil was used for several medicinal purposes and still is today.  Shepherds would anoint their sheep to help keep pesky and dangerous bugs away from them.  Some cultures would anoint bodies upon death as a way of controlling the smell of decomposition.  Although not a Jewish custom, Mary, Mary, and Salome were on their way to anoint the body of Jesus when they found that He had rose again.

In Exodus 30, God gave Moses a special blend to make a special, holy, anointing oil.  It was so special that if anyone other than a priest made any anointing oil like it, they were to be cut off from the rest of the community.  No matter how unique and special the oil might have been, there is still nothing “magical” about anointing oil in and of itself.

Oh, but as we learned last week, when the spiritual meets the natural, everything changes!  When that same fragrant oil is used to apply the anointing of God at His direction, there is something awesome about it!

God’s anointing can heal the sick.  We use anointing oil here when we pray for the sick because that’s what Jesus’ disciples did (Mark 6:13) and also because it’s what God’s word calls us to do in James 5 as we pray in faith.

God’s anointing can raise the dead.  Elijah was anointed as a prophet of God and was, well, having a bad day and in a bit of depression and having a pity party right after bringing about one of the most powerful displays of God’s power and glory recorded in the Bible; the showdown between Baal and his prophets and the Lord and Elijah.

1 Kings 19:13-18

13 …Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

Jehu and Hazael both received a king’s anointing and Elisha received a prophetic anointing.  One of the purposes of both of these anointings was to carry out the wrath of God to deal with the unrepentant and stubborn sin of those who refused to follow the Lord and to instead turn to Baal and to lead others to do the same.  If you take a quick look of the aspects of Baal worship, you’ll understand how this was a merciful act and not as harsh and unfair as it may seem in our culture.

Now before Elijah was taken into Heaven in a whirlwind with a chariot and horses of fire, Elisha was promised a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  Elijah rose one person from the dead; a widow’s son.  Elisha also raised a Shunammite’s son from the dead, but then passed away himself.

However, God’s promises are always yes and amen!  God’s word never fails!  We sing a line about this next account in the song, “Rattle.”

2 Kings 13:20-21

20 Elisha died and was buried.

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

The anointing that Elisha received was so powerful that even his dead, dried up bones were able to raise the dead and doubling the dead that Elisha raised versus Elijah!

The anointing of God is essentially an increase of God’s Presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit or a unique empowerment given to us by the Holy Spirit.  The anointing of God radically changes and transforms us.  The anointing of God is so powerful that it transforms atmospheres.  We’ll be taking a deeper look at this next week, but I just have to share this account about the anointing of God.

Here, Samuel just physically anointed Saul with oil and the anointing of God followed.  Samuel gave him this prophetic word:

1 Samuel 10:5-6;9-12

5 “When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. 6 At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.

9 As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw a group of prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy. 11 When those who knew Saul heard about it, they exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet? How did the son of Kish become a prophet?”

12 And one of those standing there said, “Can anyone become a prophet, no matter who his father is?” So that is the origin of the saying “Is even Saul a prophet?”

You know that it was one amazing time of worship when you and your friends leave the service and keep on worshipping and prophesying all the way home! 

Here’s the interesting part of this account.  I can’t find a single other time when Saul ever prophesied.  Although Saul had been anointed as king, when he was in the presence of the band of prophets, he came under their anointing and began to prophesy right along with them.

Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 15:33-34

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

Though this is a good warning, we don’t often consider the flip side of this influence.  Bad company may corrupt, but anointed company inspire and impart great things!  If Saul’s life was transformed by the Spirit of God coming powerfully upon Saul while being around the band of prophets, how much greater is the influence of those who are anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit?

This influence and impartation is not just an Old Testament concept.  Through an angelic visitation with an Italian centurion named Cornelius and a vision that Peter had, Peter went to share the good news about Jesus to this gentile family.  Peter shared:

Acts 10:38

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

And while Peter was sharing this, the Lord was so excited that something pretty amazing took place!

Acts 10:44-46

44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46 For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.

When we are simply obedient to do what God calls us to do like Samuel, Saul, Peter, Cornelius, Elijah, Elisha, or countless others, the anointing of God comes to empower us to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives.  It operates much like the physical anointing.  We must humble or lower ourselves willingly so that the anointing oil can be poured out. 

God’s calling and giftings are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).  His anointing, however, can fluctuate much like the glory of God that would fade from Moses’ face the longer he spent away from God’s Presence.  To remain under the anointing of God is a choice of both us and God.  We cannot force the anointing of God to come upon us and neither will God force us to remain in it.  John taught:

1 John 2:24-28

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

John wrote a warning to believers, to be cautious of people who were trying to lead them astray and to remain connected to Jesus and in His anointing.  They were encouraged to learn from the anointing of God and not to listen to the teachings of those who were drawing them away from Jesus.  That same warning applies to us still today.

The anointing of God is so incredible and it’s a critical key to living a Spirit-empowered life!  When Jesus began His ministry, He went to His hometown on the Sabbath and quoted from Isaiah 61:

Luke 4:18-19

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,

    that the blind will see,

that the oppressed will be set free,

19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

Jesus was the Messiah and the title Messiah just literally means, “anointed one.”  As we just read earlier, Peter taught that it was this Holy Spirit anointing that equipped and empowered Jesus to do all of the good works that He did while ministering in our same weak flesh.

Isaiah also prophesied that the anointing of God would break the yoke of God’s people (Isaiah 10:27)!  The anointing of God brings such freedom and empowerment!  The anointing of God breaks the power and undoes the works of the devil!  The anointing of God transforms us!

Right now, let’s seek after the anointing of God; a fresh anointing!  Let’s make Him Lord of our lives, willingly surrendering all that we are into His hands.  Let’s throw off anything that would hinder or stop God’s anointing and choose to let it flow in, over, and through our lives.  Let’s join together in unity pursuing Jesus and His purpose for our lives.  As God’s word says:

Psalm 133

1 How good and pleasant it is

    when God’s people live together in unity!

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,

    running down on the beard,

running down on Aaron’s beard,

    down on the collar of his robe.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing,

    even life forevermore.

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