I love January. The start of a fresh new year. Cracking open a brand new calendar, penciling in all the significant dates and dreaming ahead of what exciting new things I’d like to see take place. Where do I want to go? Where do I want to intentionally position myself? What do I want to see? What would I like to accomplish? This year holds so much promise!
Though my plans for each New Year actually start the September prior, (around the time of Rosh Hashanah), I do enjoy setting aside some time each January for dedicated focus – both spiritually and practically. This year, I started out a little different. I always try and make sure I don’t do things just to do them or just because I’ve always done them. And while there have been some familiar practices I’ve kept to this January, I felt led to add two additional ones that have really amplified my focus and my time with God. Maybe you’d like to give these a try too? Today, I’ll share around the first one: the practice of anointing with oil. Now, let me start out by saying, as my title suggests, these are acts of remembrance. There’s nothing “magical” or superstitious about the acts themselves, but there is power in what these acts symbolize/represent. And if I could simplify what anointing with oil represents, it would be the marking of something that is set apart to be used for God’s purposes.
Throughout the Bible, oil represents the presence and/or anointing of the Holy Spirit. The word “anointed”, (originally the Hebrew word “mashach“) means to rub with oil, especially in order to consecrate someone or something. Early on, we see this act performed when God instructed Moses to “anoint” certain elements in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:9-14). He also gave specific instructions as to how the priests should be anointed (Exodus 28:41, 29:21). Both of these acts indicating that the temple itself and those chosen to minister unto God were to be marked and “set apart” for God’s service. Additionally, whenever kings were appointed, they were anointed (1 Samuel 16:1-13). It was an act of affirmation and consecration, sealing and marking the call of God on their lives.
Then came Jesus. The Messiah. Which literally means “The Anointed One”. Priest, King and Prophet. Marked, set apart, full of and operating in the anointing. Because He IS the anointing, Himself. He’s the only One worthy and full of the power and authority necessary to actually set something or someone apart. After His death, burial and resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit so that this magnificent Anointing could now dwell in those who receive Him. Those who will give Him the rightful place as Lord of our lives. The indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit means that the Anointing is no longer someOne we only experience externally. Anointing now dwells within.
“And because of Him [Jesus], when you who are not Jews heard the revelation of truth, you believed in the wonderful news of salvation. Now we have been stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.“ Ephesians 1:13 TPT
As a symbolic act of remembrance and a heightened awareness of what has already been done for me and what is available to me and within me, I’ve been starting out each day anointing myself with oil. With the prayerful marking of my head, my eyes, ears, hands and feet, I pronounce that my thoughts, what comes into my hearing, how I perceive, what and how I see with my eyes, what I put my hands to, who I lay my hands upon, and where my feet take me – it is all set apart for His purposes, and His purposes alone. Anything that is not of Him is not welcomed in, but all this is of Him is released and free to flow out.
I also anoint my knees and ankles. I don’t have time to go too much into this, but last year, one of the main things I battled was fear. A much different fear than anything I’ve ever faced before. Fear is a presence, you know? (2 Timothy 1:7 “…a spirit of fear..”) And in moving into a new area, I have to recognize there are different things at work in the atmosphere around me. Fear is one of the main ones here. It was warring against me, and I humbly admit, there were times it gained ground. As it did, it’s effects began to manifest in my physical body, causing arthritic-like symptoms in my joints – primarily my knees and ankles. But God heard my cry and exposed what was really at the root of this. Once I knew what I was up against, I could battle it. And I haven’t had a symptom since. Anointing my knees and ankles with oil reminds me to walk diligently, alert and aware of my surroundings. Not becoming distracted by them, but aware – and most importantly, abiding in unbroken fellowship with God so that I can recognize, conquer and establish His kingdom in places where fear is trying to rule.
The practice of anointing indicates what something or someone is set apart for and thereby also indicates what that someone or something will not be used for. You could think of it this way: when you set something apart to be used for a specific purpose, it not only clarifies what can go in – it clarifies what must stay out. It activates proper use and guards against misuse.
Throughout my day, should anything threaten or cause my attention to waver, the scent of the oil reminds me and draws me back to that sweet place. I’ve learned to carry a small roller with me and some days, depending on what I’m doing, I may need to reapply. How long will I continue on in this practice? I’m not sure. I’m always very careful to not make a law of things, so I guess my best answer would be, seventy-times-seven, or until this awareness has been perfected in me. Until then, I gladly remain in training, making the declaration of Psalm 89 my anthem:
“With My holy oil I have anointed (her), with whom My hand shall be established. Also, My arm shall strengthen (her). The enemy shall not outwit (her). Nor the son of wickedness afflict (her). I will beat down (her) foes before (her) face and plague those who hate (her). But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with (her), and in My name (her) horn shall be exalted. Also I will set (her) hand over the sea, and (her) right hand over the rivers. (She) shall cry out to Me, “You are my father, My God, and the rock of my salvation”… (Psalm 89:20-26 NKJV)
Forever in His grip,
Linda G. Riddle