CREATING THE ANOINTING OIL
Today we come to a discussion in which God instructs Moses about creating and using the sacred anointing oil for the tabernacle.
Welcome to Lesson 174 of our ongoing on-line chronological bible study called COME AS A CHILD. Today we are studying a passage found in Exodus, Chapter 30. If you missed the previous lesson you may find it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/bronze-laver-mirrors/.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE ANOINTING OIL
Before we discuss what was said by God to Moses about this sacred anointing oil, we need to see and realize the symbolism of anointing oil and understand what that symbolism means.
Oil is always symbolic of The Holy Spirit.
There are many scriptures that show this to be true; but the scripture found in Luke 4:18 specifically comes to mind:
“The Spirit of The Lord is upon Me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18)
These are the words of Jesus Christ spoken many years after the times of the wilderness tabernacle of which we are speaking about today. In this passage I think Christ speaks as a Holy High Priest, which is a role that these ancient priest we are studying are beginning to model. It was a concept they brought forth from God even back in their times before Christ. All the rituals they performed in their worship help us to see the role that Christ eventually played in our salvation and atonement.
GOD’S PROVISION OF WHAT HUMANITY IS LACKING
Here Jesus speaks of being “anointed” to preach the gospel to the poor. The poor He is referring to here are not just physically poor; but poor in spirit too. They are lacking in what Christ could pass on to them through His ministry; God’s Holy Spirit.
True riches are not found in material wealth; but in the provision of The Holy Spirit which is poured out like a drink offering and/or an anointing upon God’s people when they are worshipful and obedient toward God.
Jesus speaks of this Spirit of The Lord being “upon” Him. God tells Moses in this passage we study today to anoint, or place oil “upon” the priests of Israel.
The placing of the oil upon them will be their consecration which prepares them, or sets them aside in a holy manner, for the priesthood. All of the objects and the tent of meeting will also be consecrated and set aside as holy.
ALL THE POWER COMES FROM GOD
The sacred oil that was poured over the priest of Israel at the time of their consecration was symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit coming into the work of their lives.
The consecration of these otherwise ordinary men makes it clear that it is the power that comes through God’s Holy Spirit that brings forth the work of the tabernacle. The men without this “pouring out” are merely blemished human beings. It is God’s Spirit working among them that provides the necessities of the ministries of the tabernacle to the people. The pouring of the oil upon them would have helped the people to realize this fact.
THE SACRED OIL; THE WORK OF A PERFUMER
The LORD told Moses to take the spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia – all according to the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil and make them into a sacred anointing oil. It was to be a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It was to be a sacred anointing oil.
Let’s pause here and consider the ingredients that God named for Moses to use in the anointing oil.
Myrrh was an ingredient taken from a shrub-like tree. It was an aromatic gum resin. Myrrh is mentioned in the story of Esther as something that was used in her beautification process as she prepared to meet the King.
One of many interesting qualities of myrrh is the way it is obtained. The myrrh comes from wounds inflicted upon a tree, just as the blood of Christ came from wounds inflicted upon a wooden cross. When the tree is beaten and wounded; the myrrh resin comes out of the wound of the tree. There it is collected and used to make incense.
Cinnamon is thought to be the most popular spice in the world. It has a very sweet smell. Not only does it smell good; it also tastes delicious.
Cinnamon is named as one of the trees in Paradise in Rabbinic literature.
Around 1000 BCE cinnamon was so valuable that was used as currency by Arab traders in the Mediterranean. The Arabs knew that other merchant ships might one day bring in cinnamon so they made up stories about it originating from Africa to obscure the real sources in order to maintain their spice monopoly. Some think that these stories ignited the tales that we hear from old stories like The Arabian Knights.
These strange tales regarding the spice trade that spoke of dragons and strange winged creatures guarding the growing of cinnamon in secret places inflated the cost of spices in the trade markets; mainly the cost of cinnamon.
The legends said that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to Egypt and that the phoenix and the bats collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown location of Ethiopia to build their nests. These stories spread and confusion about where cinnamon came from existed for years and years.
The cinnamon used in the wilderness tabernacle probably came from Egypt as a provision provided by their task-masters when they were leaving after the plagues. How that particular cinnamon got to Egypt is another story altogether which will most likely remain a mystery.
The Egyptians valued cinnamon and used it for many things; including the preservation of the dead when they embalmed mummies.
HOW THE CINNAMON WAS OBTAINED IS SIGNIFICANT
The sacred cinnamon was obtained from the bark of trees; but the bark was not on the outside, the cinnamon was cut out of the inside of the bark. This is a perfect metaphor for a picture of a Christian’s life; that it should be lived from the heart; that the substance should come from what goes on with the inside and not from purely physical appearances and superficial appearances on the outside. I think this may be one quality that God saw in requesting this cinnamon to be used for incense.
COVERING THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT HOLY
Cinnamon was also used to disguise the smell of unpleasant odors. When humans who reek of the smell of the world approach a holy God it is good to cover up their unpleasant smell so that they will be allowed to stand in God’s Presence. The addition of the spice of cinnamon makes it bearable for God to be around us when we can’t remove the horrible stench we picked up on this earth by dwelling among evil and sin.
USED AS AN APHRODISIAC
Cinnamon is also an aphrodisiac. It entices and draws and causes attraction by its scent, We read of the use of cinnamon in this form all through the scriptures; but specifically in the Song of Solomon when the Bride is being pursued and enticed to come into the wedding chambers of the Groom. The smell of cinnamon should remind us that our Beloved (Jesus Christ) is near and will one day approach and take us away to be with him forever.
USED AS A PRESERVATIVE
Cinnamon was also known for its ability to preserve meat. It was often used in the sacrifices to keep the freshness as well as enhance the flavor. We can see how this relates to the nature of incense in that the smoke of the incense was symbolic of prayer, and it is the prayers of the people uttered in the wilderness (both in the ancient times and this present wilderness of the world) that preserve us and keep us.
Calamus is actually very calming and can be used as a tranquilizer or a muscle relaxer, or a sedative. It grew from flowers found in damp, swampy places. The flower resembles an iris. Calamus is said to be good for digestive disorders and colic. Doctors have used it for healing fever and sore throat. I think it may have been the healing quality of calamus that caused it to be used in making the anointing oil. wherever God’s Holy Spirit goes healing follows.
Cassia is a spice that is from the cinnamon family. Cinnamon is lighter and sweeter. Most of the spice we use in the United States is actually not true cinammon; but it is cassia. Cassia comes from the inside bark of East Asian evergreen trees. This spice is often referred to as “Chinese cinnamon.” Researchers have recently discovered that the use of cassia improves blood glucose levels, improves triglyceride levels and total cholesterol and helps people with type 2 diabetes when ingested as food. Again I can see the healing qualities that God chose for the known smell of the tent where worship would be performed.
The many meanings related to the use of olive oil could fill pages and pages of books. I do not have enough time here to cover it all. I will give one brief illustration that I think stands alone on it’s own and shows us a clear picture of why God chose to use olive oil to perform such a holy task as anointing and consecrating all that is holy in the tabernacle.
To obtain olive oil one must crush the olives beneath the weight of a huge millstone. This is comparable to the way that Jesus was crucified and nailed to a cross and crushed beneath the heavy weight of our sins. There are three stages to this crushing process with three types of results. The first stage of crushing produces extra virgin olive oil. This is the oil that is used for lighting the Menorah in the tabernacle. It stands symbolic of Christ being The Light of the World.
The second crushing of the olives produces oil that is used for medicine and healing. This too paints a portrait of Christ. We all know and cherish that scripture that speaks the words “by His stripes we are healed.”
The third crushing of the olives brings oil that is used to make soap. This speak of Jesus too; as it is by His precious blood that we are healed.
In using the olive oil for the anointing God was once again pointing us to the future to Christ and our redemption.
HOW THE ANOINTING OIL WAS TO BE USED
This special oil would be used to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the covenant, the table and all of its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all of its utensils and the basin with its stand.
All of these items of the tabernacle were to be consecrated to be most holy, and whatever touched them would be holy.
The same oil was to be used to consecrate Aaron and his sons, since they were to serve God as priests. The Israelites were to understand from Moses that this oil was the sacred anointing oil to be passed down and used by the generations to come.
THEY WERE NOT TO MISUSE THE SACRED ANOINTING OIL
They were not to pour it on anyone else’s body; only Aaron and his sons. They were not to make any other oil to use. This oil was sacred, and they were to consider it sacred. Whoever made perfume like it and put it on anyone other than a priest would be cut off from the people.
So there on the mountain God made his instructions for the anointing oil very clear to Moses. It was obvious that this was very important to God and not something to overlook or take lightly. It is the same for us today. Anointing is a very serious occasion and all steps should be taken to assure that it is done properly and in order and specifically by God’s instructions. When done properly every step of the anointing process honors the sacrifice of Christ.