Blog: The Anointing Oil

One of the big focal points of the Old Testament is the Tabernacle. The Lord gave very specific instructions about the building of the Tabernacle, the furniture and relics that were to be placed inside, and the adornment of the priests who would administer specific sacrifices. And, God gave specific instructions about the Tabernacle and even the oils used in it.

He was clear that those priests were to be anointed with a specific blend of essential oils which He relayed to Moses. And, He directed them how to create the Holy Incense which would be diffused in the Tabernacle, creating an aroma that was pleasant and uplifting.

(Learn more about the Holy Incense here.)

Here’s what God told Moses about the anointing oil, the oil that was to be used on the priests as they were set aside for service:

“Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil” (Exodus 30:23-25, ESV).

For mathematic purposes, 500 shekels is about one gallon. In effect, Moses was blending the following:

* Myrrh- 1 gallon (500 shekels)

* Cinnamon- 1/2 gallon (250 shekels)

* Calamus- 1/2 gallon (250 shekels)

* Cassia- 1 gallon (500 shekels)

* Olive oil- about 1 & 1/3 gallons (“a hin” is slightly larger than a gallon)

When complete, he had the equivalent of a five gallon bucket of anointing oil. If they didn’t ration it when applying the anointing oil, it would drench the man being anointed.

That said, consider this passage from Psalm 133:1-3 (ESV, emphasis added):

"Behold, how good and pleasant it when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore."

Notice that they didn’t just “form the shape of a cross” on the priest’s head. Nor did they simply make a symbolic touch. I’m certainly not saying that those types of anointing are inappropriate. I’m simply showing you that the oil actually flows down the robes as it falls off the priest’s head, fills his beard, and hits the collar. That’s a lot of oil!

 

So, what’s in it?

Notice there are five ingredients to “big bucket” of anointing oil Moses was instructed to mix: myrrh, cinnamon, cane (calamus), cassia, and olive oil. Here’s what they’re each known for.

 

Myrrh was prized for its ability to support healthy skin. Ancients believed Myrrh helped the skin elude infections, and that it helped reverse stretch marks after birth. Esther treated her body with Myrrh for 6 months in preparation for her night with the king (Esther 2:12).

They also believed it was emotionally soothing because of it's ability to connect to your limbic system. This means that if Mary applied Myrrh to her skin, it would have soothed and calmed baby Jesus even while supporting her body.

We see Myrrh in the Holy Incense as well as the Anointing Oil (see Exodus 30:23,34). As a “fixative” Myrrh helps other oils maintain their effects longer and stronger- which would help since the incense burned 24 hours a day. We see Myrrh over 150 times in the Bible.

In my mind, the most revelatory facet of Myrrh is this: Myrrh connects with the limbic system in a stronger way than most of the other essential oils. The limbic system is the “inner brain.” It’s the place where emotions are housed, and it’s the place where revelation and insight occur.

The outer part of your brain is rich in logic and deep in its capacity for communicating in words and systematic concepts. The limbic brain, though it senses and interprets words and concepts, doesn’t communicate in words. It’s “more than” words…

* Revelation

* Insight

* The sacred space dreams and vision occur

* The realm of the prophetic

In other words, the Father was enhancing revelation when anointing His priests in this way.

 

Cinnamon has a rich history which includes tales of how it might support your immune system. It's reportedly one of the ingredients in the “Marseilles Vinegar” which the four thieves used during the Bubonic Plague. Their story goes something like this: during the plague no one could touch a dead body, or anything an infected person had touched. If they did, they would catch the plague, become sick, and also die.

Everyone except four thieves, that is. They were allegedly able to rob the dead- and dying- without so much as catching a cough.

Finally, they were caught. Everyone, understandably, wanted to know the secret of their immune support. They were promised their freedom if they handed over the recipe to the magic potion they used (the authorities lied; the men were all killed for their crimes- after the recipe was delivered!).

The men revealed a concoction of essential oils, cinnamon being one of the primary ingredients. (Today, Young Living- the brand we recommend- has a Thieves essential oil, created with many of the same ingredients and named as an homage to this motley bunch.)

So why have immune support in the anointing oil? Well, the priests were dealing with sacrifice- daily. That means they came in contact with blood from the animals, meaning they could potentially be exposed to disease. In other words, God not only cared that a person received spiritual insight, He also wanted their bodies healthy + whole!

By the way, some people believed that the smell of Cinnamon oil was believed to attract wealth and bring increased energy and vitality.

 

The third oil mentioned in the anointing blend is calamus, an oil reported to support the digestive system and bring comfort to gastronintenstinal disturbances. I know, that sounds like an odd thing to include in an oil that would be used to mark priests for service in ministry.

However, shepherding people- and dealing with their issues, relational conflicts, and constant criticism (yes, this happens in the church!)- is a cause of anxiety and stress. Remember, too, priests are people, too, and carry their "own issues" of the "stuff of life," right?

So, in the same way that the Father supported emotions and revelation (Myrrh), and in the same manner than He supported the immune system of His spiritual leaders, God also supported basic bodily functions.

(Incidentally, when I’m teaching a healing workshop and ask people to list the health issues with which they struggle the most, this one always seems to make the list of the majority of the people in the room.)

 

Cassia, like Cinnamon, supports the immune system. Cassia is somewhat different, though, in that Cassia exudes uplifting feelings. In other words, it’s believed that you emotionally feel the effects of the immune support.

By now, you’re sensing why that might be important for the priests?

Again, let’s be raw... forget the "church" answers, let's go "real life" here...

Spiritual leaders get to see people at their highest points. Weddings. Births. Baptisms. Baby dedications… They are among the first to hear about answered prayer requests, and they get to see miracles and the healing power of God firsthand.

Spiritual leaders also have a front row seat to the lowest points in Bible lives. They walk through the valley of the shadow of death over and over again. Even when it’s not death, it can be chaos.

* It’s late night phone calls

* It’s divorce and heartbreak

* It’s sick parents and children dying even before their own grandparents

* It's being on at a moment's notice- even when you need a bit of time off to recover

Spiritual leadership can be holy and it can be hell. Sometimes, it can be both on the same day. We see this cleansing oil mentioned over 50 times throughout the Bible because, in large part, we need emotional release and freedom… and that’s an ongoing process.

 

Olive Oil is the fifth and final ingredient in the anointing oil. Initially, I thought Olive was simply the "carrier” oil. (Carrier oils are often used to dilute essential oils before applying them topically. They are not essential oils but are fatty oils- they’re used for the purpose of helping spread, deliver, or carry the essential oils to the skin.) However, Olive Oil has too rich a history throughout the Bible to simply be viewed as a mere carrier.

For instance, we see Olive Oil is used...

* To anoint kings, showing that they were chosen by God to lead His people (1 Samuel 16:1)

* As part of the grain offerings (Leviticus 2:1-10)

* To anoint the Tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 40:9)

Olive trees fill the landscape of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:7-8), the Promised Land. As such, the oil became a symbol of health, prosperity, and joy (see Jeremiah 31:12, Hebrews 1:9). The oil became a symbol of God's blessing over every area of life. In fact, judgment was referred to as a season when “the oil fails” (see Joel 1:10).

Most Bible commentators actually believe Olive Oil is representative of the gift of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Father was marking His leaders with the presence of the Spirit when He moved them into ministry.

 

 

What does it all mean?

In another post I mention that part of my fascination with studying some of the oils used throughout the Bible is simply this: when we look at what God prescribed AND know what each of the oils He commanded them to use supports, we know what He was trying to achieve. In this, we see His heart for His people.

Plus, we can “reverse engineer” this same equation to support our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. That is, if we admit what we need… and then see what He suggested that supports that need… then we know what to administer to ourselves (or to the people we are serving).

Let’s do some “basic math” and look at what each of the oils including in the anointing oil supply:

* Myrrh = revelation, spiritual insight

* Cinnamon = immune support

* Calamus = digestive support

Cassia = emotional release, freedom

* Olive oil = blessing, the presence of Holy Spirit

All five hit the “big ones” that every pastor I talk to mentions...

They consistently want- and need- to hear the Lord (Myrrh). Many of them are overworked and stressed out. They need the time and space to slow down, clear the clutter of external voices, and simply hear the voice of the Father.

They consistently feel tired and physically exhausted (Cinnamon).

Some struggle with weight issues while, simultaneously, dealing with anxiety and stomach issues every time they eat. Of course, many keep reaching for food out of comfort (Calamus). I know firsthand- I did it for over 15 years…

As well, 99% of pastors carry a burden too large for any group of people to carry- much less one person. Ask most how they are doing and they’ll give you the customary, “Fine…” They may even give you an uppity version and go on to tell you how “fine” things are. Yet probe a little bit… and you’ll often hear a different story. They’re carrying a heavy load (Cassia).

Finally, all pastors crave the presence of God (Olive). That’s why they got into ministry in the first place. It wasn’t for the money (Lord knows!); it wasn’t for the fame or notoriety. It was driven by a sincere hunger for God’s presence- and for taking that presence to His people.

Again, If you’ve browsed this site, you probably remember I built an equation like this when I discussed “Oils of the Bible, How To.” I proposed that if we know what the oils teach, then we see what God was trying to lead us to- the new, better reality He invites us to experience.

This means that we can lead ourselves to that reality by-

* praying for what we feel Him placing in our heart

* anointing ourselves in the way He directs, with the oils He outlines, and

* walking into that new experience by faith

 

So, how do you make it this oil?

So you've read this far and  you're thinking, "Yes, I need that! All of it!"

And, you think the plan outlined above sounds good- see what God suggests to support each of these needs, and then get it done!

Look back at the Bible verse where Moses is given the recipe. Turns out, you need approximately 25% Myrrh, 12% Cinnamon, 12% Calamus, 25% Cassia, and 30% Olive Oil (I know- that’s slight more than 100%, but you get the idea). Get a bottle, then count off the drops… 25 of one, 12 of the next, 12 of the next… 25… then 30…

Or you can do this…

As I researched this I learned the Young Living created a proprietary blend called Exodus II, based on the oils you see throughout the story of Moses. The blend Exodus II contains

* the 5 oils listed above from the Anointing Oil

* 3 of the 4 oils used in the Holy Incense (Hyssop + Frankincense + Galbanum… Onycha is not included in Exodus II, as it’s a thicker “gel-like” substance)

* Spikenard (which is the oil used to anoint Jesus before His death, and is believed to support anxiety and stress)

In other words, Exodus II is an incredible blend.

 
Prohibition against making the oil?

Now, most of the time I teach this concept in The Healing Workshop, someone references Exodus 30:32-33, which emphatically, clearly says not to make the anointing oil and place it on a “common” person. Let's be clear: the Old Testament tells us not to make it and not to put it on an ordinary person.

Let's get some context, though. The Old Testament also tells us not to eat pork (Leviticus 11), not to get tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) or body piercings (Leviticus 19:26-31), and not to wear clothes of mixed fabrics (Deuteronomy 22:11).

Once, during a workshop I was teaching, a young woman politely debated with me about the prohibition against anointing oil. She really was polite- please understand... she was sincerely wondering how in the world I could teach the Scripture AND teach that this was OK... 

As she asked her questions, I observed that she stood there in a poly-cotton blend t-shirt while sporting a nice tat on her arm and multiple earrings. And, I’m certain we’d just eaten ham and cheese sandwiches during the break, as someone referenced this after she asked the question…

"I see what you mean..." she replied. 

Yet, I'm not sure that she still felt OK about having the oil in her possession...

I reminded the workshop participants that day that, first of all, we’re under grace- and a lot of the “rules” have changed (that’s a bigger conversation for another time and place, OK).

Then, second, I mention that there are no “ordinary” people now. We’ve been made priests...

* 1 Peter 2:5-9 says that we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession...

* Revelation 2:5 says He has made us a kings and priests

In other words, you're the perfect candidate for the anointing.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t condemn someone for taking the position that we can’t make the oil- anymore than I would condemn someone for getting a tattoo or eating BBQ. Those are matters of conscience. Obviously, I believe making a blend of the anointing oil is fine. Particularly if you want an extra dose of 

* Revelation, spiritual insight (Myrrh)

* Immune support (Cinnamon) 

* Digestive support (Calamus) 

* Emotional release, freedom (Cassia) 

* Blessing, the presence of Holy Spirit (Olive Oil)

 

________________________

You might also like The Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture- taught in less than 21 minutes. Free access + stream here: https://www.overflowfaith.com/p/12-oils-of-ancient-scripture 

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