Saturday, July 13, 2013

Water and Oil: Sacrifice and Worship: Part 1 – Old Testament

Samuel anoints David as God's chosen king


Throughout the Bible, water and oil are used figuratively and literally not only as symbols of God’s provision and healing and instruments of His judgment, but also as offerings of sacrifice and worship. Water cleanses from impurity, symbolizing God’s holiness, and oil adheres to sweet spices added to it, offering a “sweet savor” to the Lord and symbolizing His goodness (Leviticus 6:15). Oil is also a fuel that can be burned as a source of light (Exodus 25:6; 27:20; Leviticus 24:2), also representing God Who is light (1 John 1:5).

In Old Testament worship, water was used to purify the temple (Exodus 29:4; 30:18,20), the priests (Leviticus 8:6, 16:4.24), and the offering (Leviticus 1:13; 8:21; 14:5, Numbers 19:9 etc.). Water can even be used as an offering when it is scarce and precious, as when David’s soldiers endangered their lives to bring him water, and he poured it out to the Lord as an offering (1 Chronicles 11:18).

Oil was to be given to God as a firstfruits offering (Deuteronomy 18:4; Nehemiah 10:37), meaning that we should honor God with the first returns from our labor. Oil was an integral part of many temple sacrifices (Genesis 28:18; 35:14; Exodus 29:2, 23,40, etc. Leviticus 2:15.16 etc. Numbers 28, etc.) but had to be omitted from the sin offering (Leviticus 5:11; Numbers 5:15), suggesting that oil symbolized God’s holiness and purity.

Similarly, oil was left out of the jealousy offering given for suspected adultery, and bitter water was substituted as a symbol for sin (Numbers 5:12-31). When the men of Jericho asked Elisha for help with the barren ground and bitter water in that city, God healed the land by instructing Elisha to cast salt in the water (2 Kings 2:19-22). This foreshadows how believers in Jesus Christ can be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to a sin-sick world.

During a great drought, Elijah saturated the altars with water as He prayed to God to show His power by bringing down fire from heaven onto the drenched altars, and He did so. In this showdown between Jehovah God and the pagan god Baal, water poured on the altar made the display of God’s power in fire even more intense (1 Kings 18:32-39)

Even after Gideon saw the angel of the Lord bring forth fire from a rock (Judges 6:19-22), he prayed to God – twice – for a sign that God would indeed deliver Israel. Each time God honored Gideon’s unusual prayer requests, first that a fleece he laid on the ground would be soaking wet while the ground all around it was dry, and second that the fleece would stay dry while the ground around it was drenched with water (Judges 6:36-40).

When warriors in Moses’ day returned from the battle, they had to purify all their gear before they could bring it back into the camp, by fire if it was made of metal that would withstand the heat, or by water if it would not (Numbers 31:21-25). Now we realize the health benefits of cleansing blood-stained items that have endured battle, but there is also a spiritual significance to purifying these from the bloodshed, violence, and pagan customs where the war was fought.

When a man took a vow to be a priest or a king, he was considered to be God’s chosen, set apart from the sins of the people in a sanctified state as His representative. Anointing oil (Exodus 25:6; 29:7,21; 30:25,31) placed on his head symbolized this commitment and transferred God’s holiness (Exodus 40:9; Leviticus 21:12) to priests (Leviticus 8:12,30), kings (1 Samuel 10:1  [Saul]; 1 Kings 1:39  [Solomon]; 2 Kings 9:1-6 [Jehu])  and even the tabernacle (Leviticus 8:10). When the prophet Samuel anointed David with oil as the king God had chosen, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13).

Sacrifice and worship in the Old Testament foreshadowed the appearance and revelation of Jesus Christ, God the Son, in the New Testament. Ritual purification and offerings in the temple were only temporary, covering sins for a time but not removing them. Only His shed blood washed away our sins, reconciling us to Holy God (Hebrews 2:17). Now when He looks at those Who place their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, He sees only His Son’s righteousness, and we are as far removed from our sins as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). Now believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit throughout our lifetime.

May we have the heart of David, the psalmist and king who longed for God so intensely that he wrote “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). May we find joy in worshipping Him as we “draw water out of the wells of salvation!” (Isaiah 12:3). 


© 2013 Laurie Collett
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30 comments:

  1. Hi Laurie,
    Yes the more that our soul pants for our wonderful Father God, the more the Holy Spirit will enlighten His word to us and renew our minds in Christ. God bless you in your ministry

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    1. Amen, Brenda! He desires for us to know Him, and if we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us through His Holy Spirit. Blessings to you and your ministry also!
      Laurie

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  2. Dear Laurie,
    Yes indeed, Jesus Christ has forever removed our sins as far as east is to the west, and through him, all our sins are forgiven.
    Praise and glory to God, and may he bless you for another of your brilliant blogs.
    Frank.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement -- you are a blessing! Praise God that when He looks at His children, He no longer sees our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  3. So thankful that He took my sin away! As far as the east is from the west! AMEN!

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    1. Amen, Barbie! He paid the price for our redemption!
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  4. The oil usually symbolizes the Holy Spirit in scripture. Again we see the importance of the holy Spirit in the Christian's life to make his service acceptable.

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    1. So true, Donald! Without Him we can do nothing, but if we yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit, all things are possible!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  5. Yes, most definitely. Thank you Laurie for a well thought out post, and thank you for linking up with Heart Reflected.

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    1. Thanks so much, Salina, for your sweet comment and for hosting!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. Last time I read The Gospel According to Matthew. After reading of Old Testament I discover, how much Christ is the King, Messiah, Saviour and Priest - in addition to prophecies of Old Testament. Greetings for You dear Laurie - we have weather as in autumn, rather than in summer (so, stereotype of cold Poland is little true ;) ). I wish You blessed week.

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    1. Amen, Zim, He is not just the Babe in the manger, but King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Great High Priest. Enjoy the nice weather -- it is very hot in most of the U.S.
      May you have a blessed week in Him also!
      Laurie

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  7. Thanks for your faithful linking to Sunday Stillness.
    Thank you for your wonderful research on oil and water. We actually talked to the children at VBS about anointing - we did the 23rd Psalm.
    Blessings,
    Janis www.janiscox.com

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    1. Thanks, Janis, for your sweet comment and for hosting! That is awesome about VBS -- those precious lessons will stay with them forever!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  8. Thank you Laurie this is amazing, it's always great to stop and read your posts. Thank you

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouraging words & for hosting! Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  9. Love the artwork with your post. Thanks for the devo. http://choosetotrust.com/2013/07/the-opposite-of-femininity/

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    1. Thanks so much, Scott, for your visit & nice comment!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  10. This is such a great post with such truth in it's teaching. Thanks for sharing.

    I linked here from 1-minute Bible Love Notes and thought you might want to link this post at the linkup I host called Essential Fridays.

    www.essentialthingdevotions.com

    I'm sure my readers would love to see this!

    Blessings.

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    1. Thanks so much, Mel, for your lovely comment! Thanks also for the invite -- I'm linked up at Essential Fridays!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  11. Very interesting!! Thanks for linking this wonderful post up to my “Themed Blog & Shop Hop!”
    Angie
    godsgrowinggarden.com

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    1. Thanks for hosting & for your comment, Angelique!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  12. oh, how i long for that kind of heart, laurie...

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    1. Amen, Emily! It's not about working for Him or about what He can do for us, but just about Him. He is all we should desire and He is enough.
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  13. This reminds me that if your heart is pure for God and you're seeking his knowledge, everything else around you will fall into place. Thank you for the msg.

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    1. Amen, Rosey -- first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else shall be given to you.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  14. Thank you for sharing at All Things Pretty. Made me think of the song "How Far East is from the West from one scarred hand to the other". Great writing.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathy, for your sweet comment and for hosting! Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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