Scripture Reading: Exodus 28:41-29:35
What can we do for the people who work with us to dedicate them―and their gifts and talents―to the Lord? One thing to consider is “anointing” them with oil.
It seems like an ancient practice, anointing people with oil. But one of the most dramatic experiences of my life was an ordination service where I truly felt God Himself was calling me into His service. He used the hands of a pastor to anoint my head with oil, ordaining and consecrating me for the work God had called me to do.
Throughout the Bible, God anointed some of His most powerful leaders with oil for their work of service to Him, like King David, King Saul, and in the passage we’re looking at today, the priest Aaron and his sons:
“After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests” (Exodus 28:41).
I happened to be in Israel when I read some of these passages about anointing people with oil. It’s one thing to read these passages at home. It’s another thing entirely to be standing on the spots where these things took place. At one point, I was amazed to think that I was standing at the tomb of Samuel the prophet, the one who walked the very same hills I was walking on when he sought out young David to anoint him as king.
These were real people who had done these things, who lived in real places that still exist today. I wondered what it would be like if God were to send someone to anoint me, right there in Israel, for the work He had called me to do. I had recently quit my job to go into full-time ministry and wondered if God could consecrate me in this specific way, too. So I began to pray that God would send someone. I couldn’t believe He did it when it happened the very next day!
I ran into a tour group and began talking to a pastor and his wife. They kept asking me questions about how I had quit my job and gone into ministry. I really didn’t want to stand around and chit-chat―I was waiting for God to show up! But as we talked, the pastor asked if I had ever anointed people with oil when I prayed for the sick, as he had found that to be very effective.
I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t told him anything about my prayer the day before that God would send someone to anoint me with oil. Yet here was a man standing in front of me who regularly anointed people with oil. I hesitantly asked him if he would pray for me, too, anointing me with oil for the work that God had called me to do. He said he would, and at the next stop on the tour, he’d pick up a bottle of oil at one of the local shops to do it.
So I walked with their group from the Temple Mount, down the Way of the Cross, where Jesus carried his cross to his crucifixion. The tour stopped at the church that now houses the crucifixion site. We bought a little bottle of oil, and went into the church to pray.
There, about 20 feet from the foot of the cross which marks the spot where Jesus is said to have died, this man and his wife prayed for me. They anointed me with oil for the work of service God had called me to do. Their prayers were accompanied―at 1:00 sharp―by the loud ringing of church bells overhead, the sounds of a tour group singing hymns, and as sights and smells of burning incense wafted through the room.
I was overwhelmed by the way God had answered my prayers. I’ll never look at an anointing service as just an ancient ritual again. It is a powerful means by which God can ordain and consecrate us for our work of service to Him.
God used an earthly man to anoint, ordain and consecrate me for my work, and has since used me to do the same for others. Perhaps God wants to touch those around you in a similar way, praying for them that they would use their gifts and talents to bear much fruit for Him.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.