To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them…the oil of joy for mourning
(Isaiah 61:3)
In my last post I talked briefly about Isaiah 61:3 and how the oil of joy symbolized the Spirit. But based upon some reading I did in Exodus recently, I found myself questioning whether there was additional meaning attached to this oil of joy.

Holy oil was only used for anointing kings, priests, and sanctifying the sacred things in the temple. It was made with a special recipe described in the scriptures and it was explicitly forbidden for anybody to concoct oil using that recipe for anything other than holy purposes.
22 ¶ Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:
25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people. (Exodus 30:22-33)
Because Christ was the Messiah, or “Anointed One”, He could have been anointed with this oil. There is a Messianic prophesy in Psalms about the “oil of gladness”.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalms 45:7)
Is that oil of joy the special oil that was reserved for holy anointings of the priests?

If that is the case, when Isaiah says that those in Zion will be given this oil of joy, he may be expressing that because of what Christ did for us, we can also partake in that holy anointing, implying our transformation into kings and priests to God, through the Spirit.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Here’s what the Bible Dictionary says about the term “anoint”:
To apply oil or ointment to the head or the person. Anciently anointing was done for reasons both secular and sacred. It is a sign of hospitality in Luke 7: 46, and of routine personal grooming in 2 Sam. 12: 20 and Matt. 6: 17. The maimed or sick were anointed with wine, oil, and/or ointment as medicine (Isa. 1: 6; Luke 10: 34; cf. Rev. 3: 18). The sick were also anointed with oil as part of the sacred procedure in healing of the sick by faith and the laying on of hands (Mark 6: 13; James 5: 14-15).

Kings were anointed to their office by the prophets (1 Sam. 10: 1; 1 Sam. 16: 13; 2 Sam. 5: 3; 1 Kgs. 1: 39; 1 Kgs. 19: 16; 2 Kgs. 9: 3, 6; 2 Kgs. 11: 12; 1 Chr. 11: 3; 1 Chr. 29: 22; 2 Chr. 23: 11). The anointing of the priests is outlined in Ex. 40: 15; of the high priest (Aaronic order) in Lev. 21: 10. Elisha was to be anointed a prophet by Elijah (1 Kgs. 19: 16).

The holy anointing oil used in the law of Moses was composed of olive oil mixed with spices and was to be restricted in use to certain specified ceremonies (Ex. 30: 22-33; Ex. 37: 29). Paul and John speak of an anointing of the Spirit (2 Cor. 1: 21-22; 1 Jn. 2: 20, 27), and Peter says that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10: 38).

In the Church today holy consecrated olive oil is used in anointing persons in various sacred ceremonies, including administration to the sick. Although the scriptures do not specifically so state, we may confidently assume that anointing with oil has been part of true, revealed religion ever since the gospel was first introduced on this earth to Adam.
As we see, anointing with oil is an ordinance rich in meaning, with implications of healing, mission, sanctification, and exaltation, all of which bring joy.
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