|Samuel anoints David as God's chosen king|
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Water and Oil: Sacrifice and Worship: Part 1 – Old Testament
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