The Anointing Oil
July 18th, 1965 @ 10:50 AM
THE ANOINTING OIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-18-65 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. If you would like to follow the introduction to the message, turn to the prophet Zechariah, chapter 4:
And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
And two olive trees by it,
– and the title of the sermon today is The Anointing Oil –
two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
In this long series of messages that are being prepared on the Holy Spirit, we are in a group on the emblems of the Spirit of God found in the Holy Scriptures. We have spoken of the dove, last Sunday; and today, on the anointing oil. And this beautiful, beautiful vision of the lampstand, supporting its bowls of oil and the flame that burned, fed continuously by the two olive trees on either side, pouring their golden pure olive oil into the bowls on the lampstand [Zechariah 4:3, 12]. And when he asked, when the prophet asked what it meant, the Lord answered and said, "This is My word to Zerubbabel," the civil governor of the remnant of Judah, "Not by might, not by power, not by human strength, not by human energy, but My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" [Zechariah 4:6].
Palestine is a land of olive trees. It has always been such. If you visit Gethsemane, they will show you olive trees more than two thousand years old. If you go up and down the land, you will see olive groves and olive orchards dotting the hillsides. If you bring back a souvenir from Palestine, you will doubtless bring back a Bible or a New Testament, and the lid, the cover on both sides will be made out of carved olive wood, or if you bring back a figurine, it will be one carved out of olive wood.
Olive oil was a vital part of the life of the people of God in the Old Testament and in the New. They used it for cooking. They used it for food. They used it for medicine. They used it for their lamps. They used it in their worship. It was a part significant of their whole life.
In the Bible, in the Holy Scriptures, without fail, uniformly, wherever the oil is spoken of typically, emblematically, it unfailingly refers to the Holy Spirit of God. That is one emblem you can always and easily identify. Always it refers to the third Person of the Holy Trinity. And the use of consecrating oil, anointing oil, was a figure, a type, a presentation, a dramatization, of the consecration under God, and the bestowment, the sanctifying by the Holy Spirit.
The entire tabernacle was sanctified, anointed, with anointing oil, all of it, every piece of it [Exodus 40:9]. Every article of furniture in it, everything outside it, including the great altar and the laver, all of the tabernacle was sanctified, dedicated, with anointing oil. Inside the Holy Place, the seven-branched lampstand burned with pure beaten oil. It is a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in revelation and illumination.
All of the marvelous ministry of Christ – typified in the embroidered linen, and in the table of showbread, and in the seven-branched lampstand, and in the golden altar of incense, and in the veil so curiously wrought – all of that, all of it, would have been in complete and utter darkness were it not for the lamps that burned with the oil. The oil in their flame made beautiful and iridescent and glorious the work of our blessed Savior. The oil of the lamp shining with their light made plain the entrance into the Holy Place of God.
In the sacrifices, the meal offering was mixed with oil. And then when it was offered the anointing oil was poured on top of it [Leviticus 2:1-15]. The beaten flour, the fine flour is a picture of the purity of the humanity of our Lord [Philippians 2:7-8]; and the oil mixed spoke of His conception by the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:30-35], and poured over it was a picture of His anointing from heaven [Luke 3:22]. In the power of the Holy Spirit the Lord did His work.
The oil was beaten [Leviticus 24:2]. It was beaten oil, made out of the olive berry, beaten, always that first in the Scripture. There is first the bruising, and the sacrifice, and the suffering, and the agony, and the blood, and the cross [Isaiah 53:5], and then, the bestowment, the endowment, the coming of the Holy Spirit of God [Isaiah 61:1-3]. And to me one of the, among many, of the marvelous things that speak of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, one is this, that all through the Bible, whatever the author, whenever he lived, whatever his background, the Scriptures follow the same typology all the way through, uniformly, never deviates from it: first, the suffering, the sacrifice, the bruising; then, the grace of the blessing of the bestowment of the Holy Spirit from heaven.
For example, there is first the sacrifice, the offering up of Isaac [Genesis 22:1-14]. And then later there is the seeking of Eliezer for a bride for the beloved son [Genesis 24:1-27]. There is first the burnt offering of sacrifice [Leviticus 1:2-17], then the meal offering with its oil of anointing [Leviticus 2:1-15]. There is first the slaying of the birds in the cleansing of the leper and the dipping in blood of the live bird [Leviticus 14:4-6], and then, there is the anointing of oil [Leviticus 14:15-18]. There is first the smiting of the rock, and then the gushing forth of the living water [Exodus 17:6].
There is always first that type and that picture of the sacrifice, of the atonement [Matthew 27:32-50], and then the spacious and abounding blessings. Israel must go through the swollen waters of the Jordan River before entering the Promised Land [Exodus 14:15-31]. Our Lord Jesus first must be baptized into the waters of death [Matthew 3:13-17], and then, after His resurrection [Matthew 28:5-7], the coming of the Holy Spirit of God [Acts 2:1-4]. That type is faithfully followed wherever in the New Testament the truth of the Lord is revealed.
There is nothing in the Bible more significantly beautiful, more preciously spiritual, more largely and gloriously dramatic than the cleansing of the leper, and leprosy, of course, a type of our sin, and the cleansing of the leper a type of the atoning, the washing away of our sin.
When the leper was cleansed he appeared before the priest. And the priest took two birds, and he killed one of them and caught the blood in a basin. Then he dipped the wings of the living bird in the blood of the burnt sacrifice. Then going out into an open field, he let the living bird loose [Leviticus 14], a picture that in the atoning blood of Christ our sins are borne away.
Then the second part of the cleansing of the leper is the slaying of a lamb. And when the lamb is slain, the priest takes of the blood of the offering of the sacrifice, and he puts it upon the tip of his right ear, and he puts it upon the thumb of his right hand, and then he puts it upon the great toe of his right foot [Leviticus 14:10-14]. And after he has anointed the cleansed leper with blood of sacrifice, blood of atonement, then the priest shall take of the oil and pour it into his left hand. And he shall dip his right finger into the oil that is in the palm of his hand, and he shall anoint with oil the ear, the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and he shall anoint the thumb of his right hand of him that is cleansed, and he shall anoint the great toe of him that is cleansed. And then the remnant of the oil he shall pour out upon the head of him that is cleansed [Leviticus 14:15-18]. Always that type, first the suffering, the atonement, the blood of cleansing and then the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God.
"And he shall anoint his ear," Lord, that we might hear for Thee. "And he shall anoint his right hand," Lord, that we might do for Thee. "And he shall anoint his right foot," Lord, that we shall walk for Thee. And then, "He shall anoint his head" [Leviticus 14:18] Lord, that we might think for Thee, that we might see visions and dream dreams of Thee, that the Lord might inspire our thoughts, all of the devotion of our lives, that the Lord might make us to see. As He said to the church at Laodicea, "Anoint thine eyes that thou mayest see" [Revelation 3:18]. And that our faces, as the one hundred fourth Psalm says, and that our faces might be anointed with oil [Psalm 104:15]. And as the forty-fifth Psalm says, that we might be anointed with oil in the gladness above our fellows [Psalm 45:7]. Isn’t that a language that the deaf can understand? Isn’t a language that the dumb could hear? There is not a race, there is not a family, there is not a kingdom, there is not a people in the world but that can read eloquently and gloriously the testimony of a shining face, the Christians of the shining countenance. Lord, anoint us for Thee, our head, our hands, our feet, our souls, our lives, that they might burn and shine for Thee; the holy anointing oil.
Now, in the blessed Word there is the anointing for service, for ministering before God:
And thou shalt bring, said the Lord to Moses,
And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that, in order that he may minister unto Me.
And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them…
And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto Me.
The anointing, the coming of the Holy Spirit for service, to minister in the name of our Lord; first, the Lord said, "Anoint Aaron the high priest that he may minister unto Me" [Exodus 40:13], and of course, he is a type of our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus our Savior [Hebrews 4:14]. And as Aaron was anointed with the holy oil that he might minister unto God, so the blessed Lord Jesus was anointed [Acts 10:38]; He was called the Messiah, the Anointed One. In Greek it is translated "the Christ." He is the Anointed One that He might minister unto God.
And unfailingly, that is so gloriously presented in the life of our Lord. When He was baptized, and raised out of the baptismal waters, and began His messianic ministry, the Holy Spirit came and abode upon Him. Then in the next – in 3:22 of Luke that is spoken of – then in the next chapter, chapter 4 and verse 1, "The Holy Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, that He might be tried by the devil" [Luke 4:1].
Then a few verses later, "And in the power of the Holy Spirit He returned to Nazareth, and to Galilee" [Luke 4:14], beginning His great Galilean ministry. Then when He delivered His first sermon in the synagogue there in Nazareth, He opened the Book, of Isaiah, and to the [sixty-first] chapter, and He read, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Then He closed the Book, and He said, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears; before your eyes, the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God upon the Lord Jesus" [Luke 4:16-21].
Then when Simon Peter preached his sermon at Caesarea, in [Acts 10:38], he says, "And the Lord Jesus, anointed by the Spirit of God, with the power of the Lord, went about doing good." All of His ministry was done in the unction, and in the anointing, and in the power, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit of God. And when He was slain, and when He was buried, He was raised from the dead, according to Romans 1:4, "by the Holy Spirit of God." And in the Holy Spirit of God, He gave commandment to His disciples, sending them out to be witnesses to all the nations and peoples of the earth [Matthew 28:19-20]. Anointing Aaron that he might minister unto God, and the anointing of our great High Priest as He ministers before the Lord; not only the high priest, but the sons. "And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them; and thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto Me" [Exodus 40:13-15], the anointing of God’s chosen servants that they might minister unto God.
What a beautiful thing and how moving; Samuel loved Saul. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Fill thy horn with oil, and go; the son of Kish, the son of Benjamin, anoint him: for he shall save My people" [1 Samuel 9:16]. And in the next chapter, "And Samuel caused Saul to kneel before him, and Samuel poured on his head the anointing oil; and Samuel kissed him" [1 Samuel 10:1]. Did God say anything about kissing him? Oh, these things of the Spirit and of the heart are so preciously typical of God Himself and of the Lord’s prophets, His servants.
"And he anointed Saul; and kissed him." And Saul went out in the power of the Lord to deliver God’s people [1 Samuel 11-14]. What a tragedy, and what a sorrow, and how unspeakable. When the Lord’s Spirit withdrew from Saul [1 Samuel 15:26, 16:14], Samuel went away and hid himself, and grieved day and night, until the Lord raised him up [1 Samuel 15:11]. God said to Samuel, "Samuel, get off of the ground, and get off of the earth, and get out of the dust, and get out of the ashes. Stand up, Samuel. Fill the horn with oil once again, and I will send thee to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse" [1 Samuel 16:1].
And Samuel came and the family sanctified themselves to appear before God. And the eldest son came, how fine, how noble, how a picture of the flower and bloom and strength of manhood. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Samuel, the trouble with you is, you look on the outside, you look on the face; but I look on the heart" [1 Samuel 16:7].
Then Samuel had the second son, and all the sons, and the Lord said, "No." And in despair, Samuel said to Jesse the father, "I do not understand. I do not understand. Are these all of your boys? All of your sons?" And the father said, "Yes, but, I have a little fellow, a boy, out at the back of the pasture, the field, out there keeping the sheep." Samuel said, "We will not sit down, nor will we rest, until he is brought here" [1 Samuel 16:11]. And I can just see that, the runner coming from the house of Jesse at the command of Samuel, the prophet of God, "They have sent for you, David. They have sent for you."
"Me?" said David, "Me?"
"Yes, immediately, immediately"; and do you notice in the story – – and how so often is the Word of God filled with these marvelous things – – days pass in the sanctifying of Jesse, and in the sanctifying of his house, and in the sanctifying of his sons, but when the lad came, ruddy, unshaven the Bible means, not big enough to be a man, not old enough to come into maturity, a lad, an unshaven boy, his face like a girl’s face, his complexion like a girl’s complexion, coming out of the field and from the flock, no sanctifying for him, no getting ready for him, for God had sanctified him, and the Lord had chosen him!
And the Lord said to Samuel, "Arise, anoint him, this is he!" [1 Samuel 16:12] And the boy bowed before Samuel. And the Holy Word says, "And Samuel anointed him in the presence of his brethren" [1 Samuel 16:13]. Then the Bible adds the significant, the significant word, "And the Holy Spirit was with David from that day forward" [1 Samuel 16:13], the only time in the Bible such a thing is mentioned. God never took His Spirit; God never took the unction of heaven from David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, anointed for service.
And this is the meaning of the glorious vision that we read for our text and our background. "What are these?" said Zechariah, as he saw the seven lamps and the two olive trees and the golden oil pouring into the bowls of the lamps [Zechariah 4:1-4]. "What are these?" said Zechariah. And the Lord replied, "Zechariah, these two olive trees," and they mean three things.
Historically, in the passage here, in the fourteenth, the concluding verse, historically, they refer to Joshua the high priest, and to Zerubbabel the civil ruler [Zechariah 4:14]. And through them, God’s chosen servants; the Lord was going to pour out His blessings upon the remnant of Judah. Historically, the two olive trees are Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the civil governor.
Prophetically the two olive trees are the two great witnesses in the vast and awesome tribulation in Revelation 11:3-4, and they are so identified. Prophetically, they are the two great witnesses who stand before God at the consummation of the age.
But typically, emblematically – – and that is this series of sermons, following the Holy Spirit in emblem in the Bible – – emblematically and typically, the two olive trees are the fountains, the sources of the constant inflow of the Spirit of God of grace, of power, of strength upon His people. "Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." That is what it means to us, to us.
Now, will you notice? First, the Lord’s strength is upon our weakness. Not by our might, not by our power, "but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." It is the humble; it is the broken; it is the one who bows, who kneels, who looks up to heaven. It is the weak that God empowers, always, always.
This morning you read together the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. Do you remember how the chapter ends, how it ends? It ends with a glorious promise, marvelous words:
To those without might God increaseth strength.
Yea, the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall be renewed; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.
"To those who have no might, God increaseth strength. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" [Zechariah 4:6].
It is when little Gideon has his little band of three hundred that God gives the victory over the Midianites [Judges 7:7, 19-22]. It is when little David, this ruddy-faced boy, meets Goliath with a sling shot and a smooth stone, that God gives the victory [1 Samuel 17:45-]. It is when Jehoshaphat cries before Jehovah, "O Lord, we have no might against this great company that cometh out against us, neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee" [2 Chronicles 20:12]. Then God bestows the victory.
It is when Daniel is shut up in the lions’ den, so helpless, that God delivers him from heaven [Daniel 6:16-22]. It is the story of the impotent man, thirty-eight years not able to enter into the water when it is troubled, and Jesus comes and He heals the impotent man [John 5:5-9]. It is the word and preaching of Paul, "When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly" [Romans 5:6].
It is the story of the apostle Paul himself, when he took before the Lord the thorn of flesh that troubled him. And the Lord said to Paul:
Speak to Me no more about it, bring it to Me no longer, ask Me no further: for My grace is all sufficient, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore, said the apostle, will I rejoice in persecutions, and trials, and infirmities, and sorrows, and disappointments, and heartaches. For when I am weak in myself, then I am strong in God.
[2 Corinthians 12:7-11]
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" [Zechariah 4:6].
Then it has one other meaning. Not only those two olive trees representing the grace and the presence and the benedictory Spirit of God, but it also has one other meaning. The two olive trees pour a continuous stream into the lamps that burn to the glory of our Lord, a continuous and unfailing supply, a vital and living contact [Zechariah 4:3, 11-12]. What it is trying to say is this, that the lamps were supported and the oil was supplied not by drums, and not by pumps, and not by manual effort, and not by the carrying, and the ingenuity and the mechanism of men, but it is made to burn and to shine by living contact with the unceasing flow of the resources of heaven.
Can’t you see those olive trees pouring their oil through those pipes into the lamps that burned unto God? And that is the picture, the type, of God’s unceasing, unfailing, unwasted supply of the grace, and mercy, and presence, and strength, and power of the Holy Spirit upon His people from heaven. As John writes, in the third chapter of his Gospel, "For God giveth not the Holy Spirit by measure" [John 3:34]; an abounding supply, never failing, never.
Do you remember the story in the life of Elijah, do you remember it, when he went from the brook Cherith to Zarephath where was a widow woman? I like that old English talking, "Behold, I have commanded a widow woman" [1 Kings 17:9]. Now if you say that to anybody today, why, the schoolmarm, she will just lecture you, "Now if she is a widow, of course, she is a woman, so you must not do that. That is redundancy," they say. But it is in the Bible. It is in the Bible, a widow woman. And she was poor.
And when he entered the city, the Lord said to Elijah, "That is the widow woman that I have commanded to take care of you". So when he went up to the widow woman, why, he said, "I pray thee, fetch me a little water" [1 Kings 17:10]. Is that not something else again? We have taken the word "fetch" out of our vocabulary. But there is not a single word in the English language that means "go get and bring back" except "fetch," none, none at all. That is the only word that means it, "fetch."
It is a good word; that’s in the Bible, too. "Fetch me a little water." So as she was on her way to fetch him a little water, why, he called to her again and said, "Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand" [1 Kings 17:11].
"Oh," said the widow woman, "oh, as the Lord liveth, as the Lord liveth, all I have in the house, all I have is a handful of meal in the barrel, and a little oil in the cruse." And Elijah said to the widow woman, he said to her, "You go, and make the cake, and bring it to me; and then for thyself and thy son" [1 Kings 17:12].
Well, the widow woman had just told him, "I am gathering these sticks to make a little fire, to make one little morsel for my son and me, that we may eat it, and die in the famine." And then Elijah says, "Now you make that little cake, and bring it to me. And then you make for yourself and for the boy" [1 Kings 17:13]. Well, where was that second cake going to come from? Now just where, just where?
But she listened to the voice of the man of God. He said, "Fear not, go and do." And she made the little cake, the last little handful of meal and the last little drop of oil, and baked it and laid it before the man of God. And she looked in the empty meal barrel, and it was as full as it ever was. And she looked into the cruse of oil, and it was as full as it ever was. And every day God replenished the meal barrel, and every day God replenished the cruse of oil. And throughout the three and a half years of that terrible famine, the barrel of meal did not waste and the cruse of oil did not fail [1 Kings 17:14-16].
What did we say? The meal is a type of our all sufficient, atoning Lord, our every need supplied in Him. And the oil is an emblem of the anointing, the presence, of the Spirit of God. All that we shall need, shall God supply. Oh, how sweet, and in what comfort can we lean upon His strong arms! "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" [Zechariah 4:6]; all sufficient grace.
Now we must sing our song, and while we sing it, somebody you give himself to Jesus. A family you coming into the fellowship of the church, a couple, one somebody, in this throng in this balcony round, on this lower floor, and there is a stairway at the front and at the back, on either side, and there is time and to spare, come. On this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, "Pastor, today, I answer the call of God in my heart. I take Jesus as my Savior." Or, "We are coming to put our lives in the fellowship of this dear church." While we sing the song, while we make the appeal, come today. When you stand up, stand up in the decision, "Here I am. Here I come. I make it now. I make it now," while we stand and while we sing.