Anointing oil, mentioned 20 times in Scripture, was used in the Old Testament for pouring on the head of the high priest and his descendants and sprinkling the tabernacle and its furnishings to mark them as holy and set apart to the Lord (Exodus 25:6; Leviticus 8:30; Numbers 4:16). Three times it is called the "holy, anointing oil," and the Jews were strictly forbidden from reproducing it for personal use (Exodus 30:32-33). The oil was created as a test of the obedience of the Israelite's and a demonstration of the absolute holiness of God.
There are four New Testament passages that refer to the practice of anointing with oil. We can draw our conclusions from context. In Mark 6:13, the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In Mark 14:3-9, Mary anoints Jesus' feet as an act of worship. In James 5:14, the church elders anoint the sick with oil for healing. In Hebrews 1:8-9, God says to Christ as He returns triumphantly to heaven, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever," and God anoints Jesus "with the oil of gladness."
The origin of anointing was from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep's head, they could burrow into the sheep's ears and kill the sheep. So, ancient shepherds poured oil on the sheep's head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep's ears because the insects would slide off. From this, anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio, which means “to smear or rub with oil” and, by implication, “to consecrate for office or religious service”; and aleipho, which means “to anoint.” In Bible times, people were anointed with oil to signify God’s blessing or call on that person’s life (Exodus 29:7; Exodus 40:9; 2 Kings 9:6; Ecclesiastes 9:8; James 5:14). A person was anointed for a special purpose—to be a king, to be a prophet, to be a builder, etc. There is nothing in Scripture that commands or even suggests that we should use holy oil today, but neither is there anything to forbid it. We just have to make sure that the purpose of anointing is in agreement with Scripture. Anointing should not be viewed as a "magic potion." The oil itself does not have any power. It is only God who can anoint a person for a specific purpose. If we use oil, it is only a symbol of what God is doing.
Some formulas were very simple and consisted of one active ingredient and olive oil, while other formulas were a complex mixture of ingredients. Our holy oil is extra virgin, kosher, cold pressed, organic olive oil.
Note a few traditional uses. Anointing oil has roots that date back to biblical times. While some of the more traditional uses are rarely applied nowadays, here are some uses that were once used and are used today.
- Among other things, you can use the oil to anoint yourself when you pray, when you are troubled, or when you are sick.
- Just as you can use the anointing oil on yourself, you can also use it to aid others.
- Anointing oil is commonly used when blessing a new home or a home that has faced some form of spiritual threat.
Anointing the body with perfumed oil was once used to refresh the body. If done to someone else, the act was considered one of hospitality. Ancient Israelite's once rubbed consecrated oil on the leather of their shields to prepare for war.
- Some anointing oils were used for medicinal purposes, while others were used to prepare bodies for funerals and burials.
- Some oils were also used to purify the body or consecrate an individual for a specific purpose or calling within God's plan.