Olive Oil – The Anointing Oil of God
Many times in the bible, we read about the anointing oil. In the times of the Tanakh (or the “Old Testament” as it is known in the Christian Bible today), the purpose of anointing oil was to consecrate, make holy, to set us apart for God’s purpose. Usually, when an individual was anointed, it symbolized that the spirit of the Lord was now with him.
1 Samuel 16:13 states, “So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on…” A special person had the function of anointing and another one was anointed, receiving a divine assignment, role or status.
Anointing oil can be seen throughout the Bible being used for medicinal purposes, to bury the dead, for joy, as preparation, including when an individual met a king, attended burial, cured diseases, and other ritual functions, including Moses anointing the Tabernacle in the desert. The first time anointing oil is mentioned in the Bible can be found in Genesis 28:18,“Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.” Jacob did this in order to consecrate the place, which he named “Beit-El” in order to express the holy encounter with God that he experienced. In a sense, we see from this episode that anointing oil was used to commemorate a holiness that symbolized God’s presence, touch or a holy experience.
Even today, all throughout the land of Israel, olive trees are harvested for olives and olive oil every year. The olive that was produced from these trees since biblical times was separated in a few categories as we can see both in the Tanakh and the New Testament. The first pressing of the olives produces “extra virgin” olive oil, and was used to light Golden Menorah in the temple, the second press made “virgin” oil that was used for medicinal and ritual purposes (James 5:14, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”), the third press had more remains of olives and was used for cleaning and food purposes. The extra virgin and virgin olive oil was usually mixed with fragrant spices, like frankincense and myrrh, in order to produce a sweet aroma that was pleasing to God.
In the Bible it is clear that the oil in itself has no special power or even significance, but the significance that men assigned to it through ritual prescribed by God and through an empowerment from God. In the New Testament, we read the parable of the ten virgins on their way to meet the bridegroom. Only five of them were prepared because their lamps were full of oil, which is symbolic for their lives being filled with the Holy Spirit. Later Paul makes a direct connection, writing that “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21–22).
As human beings, we belong to both the physical and spiritual realms, being born into the physical world, but given a spirit that is able to experience things beyond the material. It is because of this nature, we seek to find physical symbols and experiences that confirm some spiritual truth. Just as the temple existed to be a meeting place between the physical and the spiritual, our hearts pump physical blood and experience the presence of God. It is in this dual nature that the symbol of oil comes alive in a beautiful way.
An olive tree is not flowing with wonderful, soft and fragrant oil in a visible way. It takes in the nutrients and liquids from the soil and at the right time produces fruit that contains oil. Only under pressure and through filtering, the beautiful, soft and flowing virgin olive oil can be produced. In Biblical times, the oil was pressed using large round stones that crushed olives. Hard work, crushing circumstances and lots of patience produced the anointing oil.
Another beautiful image in the Bible is the olive tree itself that often is used to give us an image of Israel and the Church. Both have suffered pressure, pain and suffering, but also both have been a source of oil that flows in a beautiful way. It is this picture of a Jew and Gentile that are standing together and continue to produce fruit that is so precious because it shows how the everlasting covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is a source of holiness, healing and special calling.
LoveIsrael.com has been planting olive gardens in the land of Israel allowing Christians around the world to connect to the Jewish nation and the land and experience this precious truth. It is not the tree or the land that are so special, it is the unique place where God first met man and the historic trail that connects the one that believes to the truth of the Word of God. Planting an olive tree in the land of the Bible and receiving oil that this olive garden produces is a way to be somewhat like Jacob that commemorated his experience with God by pouring oil out on a stone that he slept on.