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Oil of Gladness
Oil of gladness is a phrase that might not make much sense to some of you. It is a beautiful metaphor and actual gift of God that appears only three times in Scripture. But it is full of hope in the sight of mourning or darkness or unrighteousness in the land when it was written as well as for today. Anointing oil was used to consecrate and ordain sacredness. The oil identified the One and only who can do it, Jesus Christ, Son of God. Isaiah wrote prophetically of the coming Messiah saying:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of God’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who morn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified”(Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV).
The oil of gladness instead of mourning; I know a lot of people who are mourning losses. Mourning comes from loss of a loved one, a position that you have valued, health or welfare, or biblical values in society among many. Grief is a real place where all body, mind and spirit are overwhelmed. It must be lived through with expectancy if you are a believer. And God plays a healing role in it. God grieves with us, understands our losses and is appropriately angry about our cultural free fall from righteousness. He has many characteristics like mercy and grace to bring us. “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 ESV). He has chosen many and called them to special ministries in these times including me. I believe as I take leave from my 48 years in hospital ministry that He is preparing me for something new. He is going to bring springs of water and freshness flowing from within me as I listen to His voice and walk in His way.
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Psalm 45:7, Hebrews 1:9). Now I don’t deserve anything beyond my companions, but it is a beautiful verse. It is a promise of God that bore repeating in Old and New Testament. It causes me to pay attention to it as I journey from mourning to joy. His promise, His Word and His love seep into me like oil of gladness. I don’t mourn like unbelievers, but have hope.The Apostle Paul said,“ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope”(1 Thessalonians 4:13).
I am reminded of times of celebration is Israel like after the rebuilding of the broken walls led by Nehemiah. He said to the assembled people. ‘“This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. For all the people wept as they heard these words of the Law. Then he said, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’”(Nehemiah 8:9-10). They had rebuilt their city walls and their lives back to the Lord. This was a time renewal and gladness. So it is with all who claim God’s mighty promises and presence in their lives including me.