By Thomas Newberry
Oil for the light.
The word "light" here, signifies "light-giver"; that is, the lampstand with its seven lamps which stood in the Tabernacle. In the Sanctuary natural light was in a measure shut out. Light during the night was supplied by the golden lampstand. The lamps were ordered by Aaron and his sons from evening to morning before Jehovah (Exodus 27. 20, 21). The children of Israel were commanded to bring the pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually (Lev. 24. 1-4).
Primarily, the lampstand represents Christ, who, whilst He was in the world, was the light of the world; on Him the Spirit of God rested in all its fulness. He was anointed to teach and preach (Isaiah 11.2, 3; 61.1). And even after His resurrection, it was through the Holy Ghost that He gave commandment to His apostles whom He had chosen (Acts 1. 2). Now believers are exhorted to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life (Philippians 2.15, 16), bearing their testimony, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but in the words the Holy Ghost teacheth (1 Cor. 2. 13). It was for this purpose the apostle Paul besought the saints to pray on his behalf, for the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1. 19). The Greek word here used implies "additional supply." Testimony for God in the Church and in the world, can only be kept up in its spirituality and efficiency, by the continual communication of grace from God through the Holy Ghost, out of the sufficiency which is in Christ Jesus.
In Acts 2. we read, the Spirit was given at Pentecost; and in Acts 4., in answer to prayer, the disciples were again filled with the Holy Ghost, and with great power gave their testimony. The lamp is provided for the night season. It is during the present night-time of the world that the Church is called upon to hold forth the Word of life in the power of the Spirit of God. Whilst Christ was in the world He was the light of it, but that sun set behind the hill of Calvary when the Son of Man bowed His head upon the Cross. From that time till the appearing of "The Morning Star" the word of Christ to His disciples is, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine" (Matt. 5. 14-16) that God may be glorified. And Pentecost supplied the oil for the light, that the lamp might burn continually. What is now needed is the continual additional supply.
In Exodus 27. 20, the word to Moses is, "Thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." The supply of the Spirit of God is to be kept up in answer to prayer; and if the people of God were diligent in seeking that supply, would there not be additional power in the ministry of the Word?
Ministry should not be haphazard talk, but the result of careful study of the Word in dependence on the Holy Ghost. When Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, spake in the council, they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake (Acts 6.10). The secret of effective speaking is said to be "prepared unpreparedness," being thoroughly up in the subject, but leaving to the Spirit of God to direct the utterance. Then after the feast there may be twelve baskets left, and there is always a fresh supply, for God's truth is never exhausted.
The lamp in the Tent of the Congregation was to be ordered by Aaron and his sons continually "BEFORE JEHOVAH." It is a matter of great importance, that ministry should be exercised consciously in the presence of God. The divine presence not only realized by the assembly according to Acts10. 33, "Now therefore are WE all here present before God, to hear all things commanded thee of God," but also by the speaker as delivering God's message, and with the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified (1 Peter 4.10, 11). Remembering that God hears every word, and that He is his most discriminating listener. If preaching before an earthly potentate would call for such care and circumspection, how much greater should it be, when speaking in the presence of the Majesty of heaven and earth.
Spices for Anointing Oil.
(Exodus 25.6: 30.22-23).
"Moreover Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying 'Take THOU also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the Sanctuary, and of oil olive a hin: and thou shalt make IT an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be a holy anointing oil.'"
"PRINCIPAL SPICES." The anointing oil was to be composed of the chief or most excellent spices.
"PURE MYRRH ;" literally, freely-flowing myrrh - a fragrant spice, bitter to the taste, but sweet to the scent. The ordinary kind was obtained from the tree by lacerating the bark, but that which flowed freely and spontaneously without laceration was considered the most excellent and valuable. This is the kind here indicated by the Hebrew word.
What do these four spices represent? They are all the produce of trees, the result of vegetation and life. They represent the excellencies and perfections of Christ as Son of Man, the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely. His humanity was so excellent and perfect, that infidels can but admire His portrait as drawn in the Gospels. The Bride in Canticles (5.13) says, "His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." His townsmen at Nazareth marvelled at "the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth," and the officers which were sent to take Him returned with the report, "Never 'man spake like this Man." And even His laceration on the Cross only brought out the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Myrrh is also a soother of pain, and the sympathy of Jesus how comforting!
"SWEET CINNAMON" is the inner bark, sweet and also fragrant. Expressive of the sweetness and excellency of the character of Jesus, as witnessed by those who were familiar with His private walk.
"SWEET CALAMUS" is the pith. Emblematic of the sweetness of the Spirit of Christ in all His internal thoughts, feelings, and affections; similar to the fat of the inwards, burnt as incense on the altar, which was for God alone, and only fully estimated by Rim.
"CASSIA" is the outer bark. Expressive of the sweetness and excellency of the external character and conduct of the Lord Jesus in His daily walk.
Pure Myrrh - - 500 shekels - - Bitter.
Cinnamon - - 250 ,, - - Sweet.
Calamus - - 250 ,, - - Sweet.
Cassia - - 500 ,, - - Sweet.
500 shekels bitter, 1000 sweet; such is the composition.
"After the shekel of the Sanctuary." Not man's estimate, but God's holy estimate of the graces of the Spirit of His Christ, which is here set forth.
"AND OF OIL OLIVE A HIN." This pure olive oil symbolizes the Holy Ghost, the eternal Spirit of the Triune God. It was to be a full hin, for the Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him.
"IT SHALL BE A HOLY ANOINTING OIL." "A COMPOUND COMPOUNDED." Two things strike us here.
First, its holiness. This is twice mentioned, for the Spirit of Christ was a Holy Spirit.
Secondly, the tempering of the precious spices together. Expressive of the incomparable excellency of the Spirit of Christ, produced by the exquisite blending of the various graces of His character, in perfect and harmonious oneness. It should be observed that the pure OIL OLIVE represents the Spirit of God apart from the Incarnation. The ANOINTING OIL with the spices added, is typical of the Spirit of Christ and the various graces of His Spirit, which are communicated to believers, and shared by them through the anointing of the Holy Ghost sent down from Christ exalted. "Like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Ps. 133. 2). Thus they become Christ-like. Thus the character and graces of Christ as the anointed Son of Man are reproduced in those who drink into His Spirit.
Not only under the law were almost all things sprinkled with blood (Heb. 9. 18-22), but we may say that almost all things also were anointed with oil.
THE TABERNACLE TO BE ANOINTED.
"And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the Tabernacle, and all that is therein." (Ex. 40. 9).
For believers "are builded together for a habitation of God THROUGH THE SPIRIT" (Eph. 2. 22). So on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit from Christ risen and glorified, constituted the assembled believers the dwelling-place of God, and by that one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body.
THE TENT OF THE CONGREGATION.
"And thou shalt anoint the tent of the congregation therewith." (Ex. 30. 26).
When believers are gathered together in the presence of God, and in the Name of the Lord Jesus, that which is of all importance is the power of the Spirit unquenched. This makes the assembly of believers the place of power, and joy, and blessing.
THE ARK ANOINTED.
"And the ark of the testimony." (Verse 26).
Christ risen, exalted, anointed, having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, is the centre of gathering to the Church of God. He is the subject of testimony, and in Him all the promises of God are, Yea and Amen.
THE TABLE ANOINTED.
"And the table and all his vessels" (verse 27).
The communion of saints, in the sacred remembrance of the sufferings and death of their divine Saviour, must be in the present power of the Spirit of Christ, and all things connected therewith should be done by the unction of the Holy Ghost.
THE LAMPSTAND ANOINTED.
"And the lampstand and his vessels" (verse 27).
Testimony to Jesus and the ministration of God's Word is to be in the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit given by Christ exalted, and by His present guidance and grace, and everything connected with this ministry is to be in the power of the Spirit of Christ.
THE GOLDEN ALTAR ANOINTED.
"And the altar of incense" (verse 27).
The worship of the Father in truth, can only be by the Spirit of Adoption - the Spirit of an ascended Christ. He helps our infirmities, He makes intercession, He causes our prayers and praises to ascend accompanied with all the fragrance of the Name of Jesus.
THE BRAZEN ALTAR ANOINTED.
"And the altar of burnt offering, with all his vessels" (verse 28).
It was through the Eternal Spirit, that Jesus offered Himself without spot to God; and it is by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, that testimony is to be borne to the value of His blood, and to the fact of His resurrection, as the ground of communion between God and the soul.
"And the laver and his foot" (verse 28).
The Spirit of God reveals Jesus in the holiness of His Person and walk down here, and makes Him practical sanctification to us. He also reveals to us a glorified Christ, and conforms us to Him, changing us into the same image from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3. 18).
THE ANOINTING OF AARON AND HIS SONS.
"And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons" (verse 30).
The risen Jesus was anointed to His heavenly priest-hood, and it is the Spirit of the ascended Christ, received by the believer, which constitutes him one of God's holy and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2. 5, 9).
A HOLY ANOINTING OIL.
This unction of the Holy One is not to be imitated. In Acts 5. we have a solemn illustration of this, when the graces of the Spirit of Christ manifested in the church as received in Acts 4., were imitated by Ananias and Sapphira, they were cut off from the people of God. The substitution of the energy of the flesh for the power of the Spirit, cuts off from real spiritual communion with the people of God. God and Christ are most jealous for the honour of the Holy Ghost. All manner of sin and blasphemy may be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost hath no forgiveness (Matt. 12. 31, 32).
The Sweet Incense
(Exodus 25. 6; 30. 34-38).
"And for sweet incense." "And Jehovah said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices."
These sweet spices express the divine estimate of the excellencies of the character of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man, "whose Name is as ointment poured forth" (Cant. 1, 3).
The name of the first spice, "stacte", comes from a Hebrew word signifying to drop, to fall in drops, to distil, similar to the freely flowing myrrh used in the composition of the holy anointing oil.
"Onycha" in Hebrew means also a lion, and suggests the thought of the uncompromising faithfulness, firmness, and decision of the character of Christ, setting His "face like a flint," boldly acting for God and reproving all manner of evil. He was not only the Lamb of God, but also the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5. 5, 6).
"Galbanum." The root of the word signifies "milk," or "fat," and connects the thought with the "fat which covered the inwards" - God's portion of the sacrifices, and emblematical of the internal preciousness of Jesus.
"With pure frankincense." The Hebrew word signifies white. The richness and abundance of its perfume suggested the English word, meaning frank or liberal incense. It reminds us of the purity, piety, and acceptability of Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
"Of each shall there be a like weight."
How expressive of the character of Christ! What an even balance do we there discover! His grace, His firmness, His internal excellency and outward piety how exactly proportioned!
"And thou shalt make IT a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together (salted together), pure and holy" (verse 35).
Perfume and incense are the same. There is but one word in the original. The graces and virtues which compose and make up the character of Jesus, how exquisitely tempered together! Not only equal, but harmonized, blended, and combined. "Tempered ;" Hebrew, "salted," or seasoned. The art of the apothecary so combining as to bring out the perfume in its exquisite perfection. "Pure and holy." What purity and holiness also are seen in the character and ways of Jesus!
"And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put it before the testimony in the tabernacle (tent) of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy" (verse 36).
These sweet spices, beaten very small, may suggest the thought that the various excellencies and perfections of the Lord Jesus are to be searched out and discovered in His minutest recorded action and word, as well as in the more important occasions of His life. Some of it was to be put before the testimony in the tent of the congregation, where God promised to meet with His people. And when the people of God are gathered together in His presence, then the preciousness of the name of Jesus gives a perfume to their prayers and praises. And this is there for the encouragement of faith, and for the comfort and joy of our souls before God, "for ointment and perfume rejoice the heart."
"And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for Jehovah. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people" (verses 37, 38).
This preciousness of Jesus is inimitable, and must not be counterfeited. Self-conceit through supposed resemblance will put the soul out of communion. Strange fire is natural, or fleshly excitement. Strange incense is Nature's imitation of the peerless preciousness of Christ. Both are alike forbidden of God. But fire from God's altar, and the sweet perfume of the excellency of Jesus, are provided for the true worshippers of the Father through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.