Sunday, October 15, 2017

Anointing for Ministry

The Jewish practice of anointing royalty goes back thousands of years.  Leaders were chosen and anointed with scented olive oil for the office of king, priest, or prophet. In this form of anointing a community leader poured oil over the head of the chosen one from a unique vessel made of a ram’s horn called a shofar.   

This was symbolic of a transfer of authority from one leader to the next.  In Hebrews 1:9, God anoints Jesus with the oil of gladness beyond his companions because he is the chosen one, the Messiah. The oil used for anointing the tabernacle, kings, priests and prophets was prepared according to instructions in the book of Exodus and reserved only for this use. 

In Jewish custom ketoret was the consecrated oil used in incensing the temple and in the anointing the tabernacle, priests and kings.  It was infused according to a recipe described in Exodus 30:34-38; 37:2 with equal measures of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense. Moses used this type of incensed oil to anoint his brother Aaron for ministry and offered it before the mercy seat of the ark for the atonement of the people (Leviticus 16:12, 13.).   

Oil was used to consecrate the altar in Solomon's temple in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 28:18 and 2 Chronicles 2:4).  Over time the Jewish people modified the recipe for their sacred oil adding other aromatic spices including myrrh, bdellium, cinnamon, spikenard and saffron. The sacred oil or chrism used in the Sacrament of Ordination in the Orthodox and Catholic churches comes from this tradition.