Friday, January 1, 2021

Oil of Joy

I have been writing essays on “Joy.” It is not about happiness but the aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit that comes from God to the believer in Jesus Christ that gives a sense of the presence of God always. God is in the valleys and the trials with us. He will never leave of forsake us. Those are characteristics of God that we can count on.

There is an anointing of joy that comes from God alone that brings out a glow or a visible sense of peace and even “shekinah glory” that was in the face of Moses when he came down from the mountain with the 10-Commandments and Jesus when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration. Some would call it an angelic look, as it is supernatural. The anointing of oil that appears frequently in Scripture can give off sheen too.  Speaking of Jesus, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:9). God the Father has set Him above all companions because He is the Son of God and God incarnate.  Again in the Psalms we read the same text from the sons of Korah prophetically regarding Jesus, the Messiah. “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy”  (Psalm 45:7).

The anointing of oil gives a quality to skin that is healthy and in the Bible it is spoken of as both a courtesy for houseguests and more importantly a sacramental symbol of the Holy Spirit of healing even consecration. The Anointed One is Jesus the Messiah Himself. When I received my ordination I was anointed to serve our God. As a healthcare chaplain I carry anointing oil with me to anoint those who are sick as James instructs us.  Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven”  (James 5:13-15).

In the Roman Catholic Church there is the Sacrament of Healing of the Sick. In their theology it must be performed by a Priest with confession of sins, forgiveness and reconciliation as part of the Holy Sacrament. Final or extreme Unction, known as “last rites,” is no longer a sacrament of the church. Anointing of the Sick may be offered in community mass or individually. Sadly, as a chaplain, I frequently hear Roman Catholics asking for “Last Rites” for loved ones even though it has not been a sacrament since Vatican II Council some 57 years ago. The former sacrament has no effect on salvation or of the remission of sins.  Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the only way to receive forgiveness of sins as Scripture tells us.

Jesus the Messiah came to heal and save the sick, of which we all are included. Physical healing is important in times of sickness. But spiritual healing is to eternal life and even more important for salvation. That is what Jesus came to do as the Prophet Isaiah wrote of the Messiah 700 years before Christ saying,
“The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3).

Anointing with olive oil was common on joyous occasions like Jubilee. Psalm 23 speaks of anointing our heads with oil while our cups overflow. Psalm 104:15 speaks of “wine to gladden the heart and oil to make the face shine.” I love Psalm of Ascent 133 by David speaking of the pilgrimage up to Jerusalem and, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the beard, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, running down on the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”  This theme of unity in conflict was and still is an important message to our country today that is in acrid conflict and arrogant battle. Unity for the sake of the nation is vital. We do not want “The day of vengeance of our Lord” to visit us any time soon. Wake up and find the oil of joy for a joy-filled New Year. 

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