Anointing oil is one the few tangible elements used in the Old Testament which was carried over for use into the New Testament (James 5:14, Mark 16:13). A very descriptive recipe of how to make the Holy Anointing Oil can be found in the 30th chapter of Exodus.
However much ignorance and fear of the prohibition in this chapter have prevented many capable believers from using it.
Is it indeed prohibited for believers to make and/or to use? Who has the right to use this sacred substance?
It was forbidden to be used on an “outsider” or to be used as an emollient on the body of any common persons and the children of Israel were forbidden to duplicate any like it for themselves.
In this article we will attempt to discover who, in this modern age, is permitted to be anointed with this most precious oil.
Let us take a closer look at the instructions for the manufacturing and use of the Holy Anointing Oil in Exodus 30. God gives TWO messages to TWO different groups of people in this chapter concerning the anointing oil. Not knowing which messages pertains to which group has been the source of much confusion in the past.
The first message (or set of instructions) is given for Moses and the priesthood (all that minister in any priestly capacity). This message begins in verse 22 and ends in verse 30.
The second message (or set of instructions) is given to the children of Israel. This message begins in verse 31 and ends in verse 33.
I. The first message, which is for Moses and the priesthood, gives the following information:
- The recipe for the Holy Anointing Oil (vs. 23,24).
- How to make the Holy Anointing Oil (vs. 25).
- That all the articles of the mishkan are to be anointed with it 26-28).
- The degrees of holiness in using the oil (vs. 29).
- That all the priesthood is to be anointed with it (vs. 30).
II. The second message, which is for the children of Israel only, gives the following information:
- The message is for the children of Israel (vs. 31 a).
- This is a holy anointing oil for all generations (vs.31 b).
- It is prohibited to be poured upon a common man’s flesh (vs. 32 a).
- The common people of Israel are forbidden to make any other like it for themselves (vs. 32 b).
- If the common people of Israel make any other like it and put it upon a stranger then he shall be cut off from his people (vs. 33).
In the first message we are told that the oil is to be used on the priests (vs.30).
In the second message we are told not to pour it upon man’s flesh (vs. 32).
This seems to be a direct contradiction. First it is to be poured on man and then he says it is not to be poured on man. However the very next verse makes it much plainer revealing the prohibition being putting “it upon a stranger.” The NIV translated this last statement as “whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.”
The ESV makes it much clearer:
“32 It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.
33 Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Bible comments “Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured,…. That is, not upon common men, or on men’s flesh in common, as was usual at feasts and entertainments in the eastern countries, see Psalm 23:5 but this was not to be used on such occasions, otherwise it was poured on the flesh of some men, as Aaron and his sons, on whose head it was poured and ran down to the beard.”
Notice that the prohibition to “make any other like it” is directed toward the common children of Israel and NOT to the priesthood.
The prohibition says:
- It is a Holy Anointing oil ONLY to be used by the priesthood.
- Not to make any LIKE it (not referring to making the holy anointing oil, but a counterfeit).
- It is not to be made by the common children of Israel (made by priesthood only).
- It is not to be poured upon a common person.
We discover God does not want common man to make any of his divine recipes “for yourselves” for the purpose of enjoying “to smell thereto” (Ex. 30. 37,38).
Again in summery, It was forbidden to be used on an outsider or to be used as an emollient on the body of any common persons and the children of Israel were forbidden to duplicate any like it for themselves.
Originally the oil was used exclusively for the priesthood and the Tabernacle articles but was later extended to include prophets and kings.
Are believers still “strangers” to God? No we are not . . . we have been “grafted in.” As Paul writes we are no longer an “alien” or “stranger” to God’s family but we can call upon the LORD God of Israel as our own (Ephesians 2:12).
But who are the priests today which have the right to use this oil?
Today we live under a new covenant. The Word says,
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 5 )
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9)
“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelations 1:6).
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
We are a chosen people and a chosen generation who have been made “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).
Although there may be different levels of development, every born again believer is a minister. Jesus is the fulfillment of every type and shadow of the Tabernacle of Moses. Had Jesus not come we would never put our hand to this most sacred oil, however, he has become our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (although in the physical he did have the Cohanim, or Aaronic, priestly bloodline through his mother Mary, who was cousin to Elizabeth, who was “of the sons of Aaron” ) and we have been made a holy priesthood who follow after.
It is our incredible blessing to use the Holy Anointing Oil for purposes of consecration. It is every born again believers great commission to take this gospel to all of the world.
As a royal priesthood of born again believers we have the right to use the Holy Anointing Oil. But the prohibition still stands that it should not be used on those which are not born again ( a stranger, common, not of the spiritual children of Israel). Olive oil scented with myrrh alone or some other spice may be used for anointing those who are not yet born again. However, the holy oil of Exodus 30 is for special consecration only for born again believers and only by born again consecrators.
“And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations (Ex. 30:30,31).”
Dr. Curtis D. Ward