By George H. Warnock
We spoke about the oil of the candlestick that gave light in the sanctuary. But now we want to talk about the ingredients of the anointing oil that was used for the anointing of the priesthood and the tabernacle.
"Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh... of sweet cinnamon... of sweet calamus.. of cassia... of oil olive... and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment" (Ex. 30:23-25).
(1) Pure Myrrh. (1) Pure Myrrh. (Also translated as "liquid myrrh"). Myrrh was a fragrant resin that would ooze from the myrrh shrub. But it was "bitter", and that is what the word 'myrrh' actually means. Myrrh, you will recall, was one of the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus at His birth; for He was to be a "Man of Sorrows" in His life and in His death. His true joy would spring forth from His obedience to the heavenly Father, and in His abiding relationship with Him. He gloried not in His ministry, in His works, in His accomplishments --but gave all glory to the Father who was the One who performed all His mighty works through Him.
Have we not all wondered at times how men who have seemingly carried a lot of anointing have so often lacked the grace and beauty of the Spirit in their lives? It is because they have refused to allow the myrrh to be mingled with the oil in the apothecaries of God. Because Jesus suffered, it is taught that we do not have to suffer. The way of discipleship has been perverted to mean coming under subjection to some minister or some kind of church system. Men would simplify the pathway of discipleship by eliminating the myrrh. Just get under our 'covering'. Just get involved with our 'church order'. Just recognize 'our prophet' or 'our apostle', if you want to be a true disciple. But in spite of all the assurances that they might give us, the path of discipleship is just as demanding today as it was when Jesus warned His disciples:
"Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be my disciple..."
"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27, 33).
(2) Sweet Cinnamon. (2) Sweet Cinnamon. Cinnamon was from the bark of the cinnamon shrub, and had a certain fragrant sweetness. The root meaning of the word is "to erect" or "to stand upright". The holy oil if truly compounded by the apothecary will cause the anointed people of God to stand erect, to walk in truth. It is said of the anointed Son that He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity". We glory in justification--in the imputed righteousness of Christ which we receive by faith. But if we truly receive this righteousness and walk in it we are going to hate iniquity. These two things are mutually exclusive. Truth and deception cannot co-exist. Righteousness and iniquity cannot co-exist. The one will overshadow the other, and eventually exclude it.
It is not too difficult to discern an awful lot of dead flies in the ointment today. "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour" (Ecc. 10:1).
(3) Sweet Calamus. (3) Sweet Calamus. The word "calamus" has been variously translated as "reed" or "cane", and once as "branch" (for the branches in the candlestick) (See. Isa. 42:3; 43:24; Ex. 25:33). And so like John the Baptist (who appeared to be but a "reed shaken in the wind" the sweet calamus is a rod of strength, a channel, a branch through which the oil can flow. It is also the same word that is used for the "stalk" on which the ears of corn develop and mature (See Gen. 41:5). A reedy stalk, not seemingly of any particular value; but the life flows through it, and causes the fruit to grow and mature. There is nothing pretentious about it. It "seeketh not its own". It merely wants to be a channel for the oil, the stalk through which the life can flow to produce the fruit of the Spirit and to bring forth the life of Christ in others. Paul carried with him a "treasure" in an "earthen vessel". The reason was "that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7). A stick in the hand of Moses as he tended the sheep in Midian becomes the "rod of God" when he stands before Pharaoh. The shepherd's staff becomes a scepter of power and authority. A "reed shaken in the wind" strikes fear into the heart of a wicked, powerful Herod. A man manacled with fetters causes another governor to "tremble". At His trial the soldiers entwine the briars into a crown of thorns and place it on the head of Jesus, and they put a flimsy reed in His hand, and hail Him "King of the Jews" in mockery. But in the wisdom of God and in the wisdom of the Cross that "reed" becomes His royal scepter of dominion over all creation. The crown He wore becomes the crown of the anointed King who reigns eternally on Zion's Hill, King of kings and Lord of lords.
How is it then that the lesser kings and the lesser lords of the Kingdom of Heaven are boasting about scepters of iron rods and crowns of gold? They seem to think that Jesus became a Lamb so they could become lions. They seem to feel that Jesus took the form of a "slave" so they could take the form of a king.
(4) Cassia. (4) Cassia. The cassia was also the bark of a shrub; and its root meaning is 'shriveled'. It is from the same root as the word "bowed down", when it refers to Abraham's servant bowing his head and worshipping the LORD in humbleness of heart (Gen. 24:26). It is also the word used for "stoop" where David humbled himself in reverence before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8).
The flesh can produce a legalistic, mock humility. But we are talking about true reverential fear and worship that is inherent in the anointing oil from God's apothecaries. The giddy laughter and joy in many of our places of 'worship' has nothing to do with the holy ointment. Happiness, joy, and entertainment has almost crowded the cassia out of the house of God. All this professional musical entertainment we have today has absolutely nothing to do with the true anointing. True worship is primarily a state of being, and not an act that you perform in times of religious service. Jesus talks about "true worshippers", and not merely about the act of worship. Only as you become a worshipper can you truly "worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth" (Jn. 4:23). Let us seek to minister Christ, that men might become worshippers, rather than trying to stimulate "worship" in a religious service.
Do you know that the first mention of the word for "worship" in the Bible concerns the offering up of Isaac on the altar of Moriah? True worship is simply that: giving your all to God in total surrender. In praise you give Him glory and honor and thanksgiving; but in worship there is a "bowing down" before Him in total surrender to His Lordship. And so, after extolling the Lord in song and praise and thanksgiving, the psalmist goes further and cries out for worship--
"O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker" (Ps. 95:6).
True worship leads to total commitment to His will. True worship softens the heart so we may hear His voice, and conditions us to walk in step with God. God, we pray, mingle us with the cassia of Your gracious dealings, that we might know the fulness of Your anointing oil.
(5) Oil Olive. (5) Oil Olive. Olive oil is consistently used in the scriptures as a type of the Holy Spirit. But the anointing oil is mingled with all these ingredients we have mentioned, to more clearly portray the attributes of the Spirit of God, whose presence in our lives will give forth the fragrance of Christ. He comes into our lives to make the Lord Jesus real to us, and to shine forth from our lives in the beauty of holiness.
The Art of the Apothecary
Now do we understand why men can be anointed of God, and still lack the grace, the holiness, the beauty of Christ? It is because they have not known the processings of God in His divine apothecaries. How we have tried to take the ingredients of His grace and mingle them together in our lives, that the virtues of His own character and excellence might flow forth! And how hopelessly we have failed!
Now we understand why. We haven't been willing to undergo the mingling together of the virtues of Christ according to the "art of the apothecary". Only God knows the secret of this wonderful "art". But He shares His secrets here and there as we are willing to submit to His ways. And as we do we discover that the anointing is more fragrant, and more pleasing in the eyes of God, and more edifying in the lives of His people. The bitterness of the myrrh removes the bitterness of past circumstances and disappointments, and the many wounds that have been inflicted upon us in the battles of life. There is a fragrance and a sweetness from our lives that we could not have known except as we find ourselves ground and pulverized in the mortars of God's apothecary. We discover that the bruised reed of our calamus is never really broken; that the smoking flax is not quenched. Rather, God has led us this way to prepare us for a richer anointing, a more pure anointing, a holy oil that would crown our heads with priestly virtue and priestly ministry in the house of God.
And so we continue to pray: "Lord, compound us together in your Divine apothecary. Add all the graces and virtues of your Spirit to our lives, and mingle us together in your holy oil, according to your own art and wisdom, bitter though your ways seem to be--That mingled together with the sufferings of Christ and the fragrance of your own nature, we may discover the crown of priestly ministry. Give us not the power that the rulers of the Gentiles exercise, to lord it over others. But rather give us true spiritual power with man and with God--priestly power that can rule over the restless hearts of men, by a ministration of your grace and peace and truth and love".
The Restrictions of the Priesthood
There are many restrictions laid upon the priesthood, and the reason is clearly stated:
"For the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him" (Lev. 21:12). We are restricted because of the anointing oil. The anointing does not give us freedom to do as we see fit.
God cause us to know that the crown of oil is a crown that confines us to the sanctuary. "Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary" (Lev. 21:12). Perish the thought that because we have the anointing, the "liberty of the Spirit" gives us freedom to do our own thing, to magnify and enlarge our own ministry, to come and go, to speak, to minister as we see fit.
Nor does it mean that we become a member of the clergy, or confine ourselves to a cloister. This holy oil is for all of God's people. For this living sanctuary in the New Covenant is not some kind of religious system--nor a building that has been dedicated to the glory of God. God's people are His sanctuary; and God's holy presence is the place where we sit before Him, to inquire in His Temple. And it is here that we discover the revelation of His heart and mind by Urim and Thummim. It can be at your work or place of business, in the factory or on the farm, in the field or on the streets. God's holy priests are to remain in the sanctuary at all times, even as they walk in the midst of men. Furthermore we must know that we do not minister as priests except as we stand before the mercy seat in heavenly places. We must become totally heavenly minded, wearing the holy mitre upon our head, and the crown of "holiness to the LORD"--if we are going to be of any earthly good here in the midst of men.
We are Not Part of the Harlot System
"A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people" (Lev. 21:14). Paul said, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). Anything--any religious system, any minister, any apostle, any prophet--that comes between you and Christ, God will not approve. True ministry is for this purpose: to ensure that the people to whom we minister are totally devoted to Christ, and not to us or to any religious system. Ministry is not to stand as a mediator between God's people and the Lord, or above them--but to be one with them in mutual relationship with Christ.
The Priesthood must be Without Blemish
"Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God" (Lev. 21:17).
Who can qualify? Only Christ can qualify! And He bears the "iniquity" of a holy people upon His heart so that He might cleanse and perfect them, that they too might qualify in union with Him.
"A blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eyes, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; no man that hath a blemish... shall come nigh" (Lev. 21:18-20).
What a high and holy standard! O how sick and deformed is the Church of Jesus Christ! But His body was broken and His blood was shed, that we might be healed. He was blinded with blood oozing from His brow, that we might see. He was made lame by nails in His feet, that we might walk in paths of truth and righteousness. His heel was bruised, that by His bruised heel He might bruise the Serpent's head and set us free. He was broken-footed and broken-handed with cruel spikes (though not a bone was broken), that we might walk uprightly, and use our hands for His glory.
"Surely He hath borne our griefs (our diseases, our sicknesses), and carried our sorrows (our anguish, our pain): yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isa. 53:4).
He suffered all of this that we who are acquainted with many diseases and many afflictions, both physical and spiritual, might be healed; that we His brethren, His sons, might minister with Him in the heavenly sanctuary, crowned with a golden plate of "Holiness unto the LORD", and a crown of anointing oil upon our brow.
Restrictions of the Holy Oil
We spoke a little about the restrictions of the priesthood. Now we want to speak about the restrictions of the anointing oil; for it was because of the holy oil that God has laid these prohibitions upon us.
(1) The Oil is Not for the Flesh
"Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured" (Ex. 30:32). We mentioned some things along this line when we talked about the consecration of the priest.
God will not pour out His holy oil upon carnality. God's priests must be stripped of their unclean garments, and washed in pure water at the laver. This cleansing vessel stood at the door of the holy place. Here in the sight of Moses and God alone, the priests were stripped of their clothing--unseen by the eyes of the nation that was camped outside the linen fence. God does not want His people to gaze upon the nakedness of God's erring ones. We need to remember this in this day and hour when God is exposing the hearts of men. But let us not shrink from exposing ourselves openly before our Mediator in the heavens. He desires only that He might cleanse us with pure water, because He wants us to enter into priestly service for Him. There is only one Mediator--and let us never forget that. And let us be assured that if we are sharing the problems of another in priestly ministry, we can only function before God by virtue of the anointing of the High Priest Himself. It is His garments of truth and meekness that we must wear. It is His words of comfort and forgiveness that we must speak. God's true priests will not pull back the hanging of the gate and expose his brother, like Ham of old; but like Shem and Japheth they will cover his nakedness, and receive the blessing of God on his life because of his priestly heart. For he knows that if he should rejoice in the downfall of a fellow-priest, he might well be the next to fall. He knows that God wants "merciful" priests, who can show compassion to the erring ones. He knows that he, too, is "compassed with infirmity"--and if he does not know it, he will have to discover it before he may qualify as a priest in the sanctuary of God.
"Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured". God's priests must be washed and cleansed and then clothed upon with priestly garments.
Garments of His righteousness. Garments for glory and for beauty. Garments of 'fine linen'. We are not to wear anything that causes "sweat" in the house of the LORD (See Ezek. 44:17, 18). O the sweat that some of God's priests work up as they seek to burn themselves out for God, and for their own achievements! God says, "I see garments woven from spider webs" and He declares: "Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works" (Isa. 59:6). God is raising up a Zadok priesthood who shall minister in truth and righteousness; and their garments must be of pure linen, holy and clean. Zadok means "righteous". The name is the latter part of the word "Melchizedek" (Melchi-Zadok), which means king of righteousness.
We are talking about the restrictions of the holy oil. It is not for the flesh. It is for a priesthood that has been stripped of filthy garments, washed, and clothed upon with the garments of His own righteousness.
(2) There is to be No Substitute Anointing
"Neither shall ye make any other like it" (Ex. 30:32). We must not try to make something like the real thing.
How bold and blasphemous the Church has become in our day! It is one thing to lack the anointing, or unknowingly get into a false anointing. But today they are openly declaring that they are using the art of mimicry to enhance their worship in the house of God. There are professionals in mime and pantomime and puppetry and drama and magic and clowns going about showing the people of God how to beautify their worship! All in the name of charismatic worship!
How long, O Lord, before you come forth and cleanse your Temple, and "purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness"? (Mal. 3:3).
The falsehood and the make-believe and substitutes in the Church today are incredible. But along with all of that there has to be a veil of great deception on the hearts of the people--for many of them believe that this is true worship, and a true anointing.
Does the Church not realize that "antichrist" not only means "against Christ"--it also means "instead of Christ"? And Christ means the Anointed One. Can we not see that the "Instead-of-the-Anointing" is really "Antichrist"? God help your people to see You, and how You look upon the fake anointing in our midst; for only as we see You and understand the grief of Your heart, will we be able to turn from the waywardness of our ways!
God's people used to sing under the anointing, praise in the anointing, worship in the anointing, dance before the Lord in the anointing. But now they just do it because they have learned how to do it professionally.
Young people, seek God for the real thing! It may be much more difficult to find--but there is nothing comparable to God's holy anointing oil. You might make something like it and have more fun. And you may get a lot of applause from carnally minded Christians who know nothing about the anointing of God. But it is all "wood, hay, and stubble"--and will go up in smoke in the Day of Christ.
The Fragrance of the Real Thing
You do not really need a lot of Bible knowledge or discernment to see the falsehood in it all. The smell is enough.
Of Christ it is said, "Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces" (Ps. 45:7, 8).
Don't try to make anything like it! It just doesn't smell right. Throw away your gadgetry, and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. You do not need ballet slippers, and you do not need instructions in choreography--in order to dance before the Lord. You do not need the flowery words--but let your words flow from a heart that has touched the heart of God.
And if you lift your instrument or your voice to show forth His praises--let your song be the song of the Lord that glorifies Him, and draws the hearts of the people toward Him.
God needs no court-jesters to amuse His heavy heart, nor will they stand before Him in His priestly courts.
(3) It is Holy
"It is holy, and it shall be holy unto you" (Ex. 30:32). It is something that is consecrated wholly to the service of God, totally set apart for God and His purposes. It is His working, and not ours. Christ Jesus is "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification (holiness), and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
God wants us to give His priesthood the same Anointing that He gave to Christ, and to be as holy in our eyes, as it is in His. "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you... the same anointing" (1 Jn. 2:27).
(4) It is not for the Stranger
"Whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off" (Ex. 30:33). It is for the whole family of God: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
Yes, we are born as "priests" into the family of God. But if we are going to participate in the priesthood we must be disciplined. We must be washed in pure water, stripped of the old garments and clothed upon the new, and consecrated unto priestly service. We must know the restrictions of the holy oil. Our heritage as priests does not give us liberty to indulge in the work of the Lord any time we wish, any way we see fit. The anointing oil confines us to His will. We are not free to use substitute anointings--if we think it will attract more people. We cannot use strange fire like Nadab and Abihu, or like our modem entertainers who are using smoke-machines to imitate the glory of God. We cannot offer strange incense, in order to get the applause of men. Ask Nadab and Abihu if being "born" a priest was enough to qualify them to minister in holy things any way they saw fit!
God grieved over the house of Israel, and said:
"Ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it" (Ezek. 44:7, 9). The "stranger" in God's house is the man who is "uncircumcised in heart". New Covenant circumcision enables a man to "worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3).
God says His priests must minister unto Him according to the "order of the sanctuary". It is disorder if it is not God's order. It is the bondage of man if it is not the liberty of the Spirit. The "order of the sanctuary" will determine the manner and the character of our gatherings in His name. Right now there is an awful lot of strange fire, and strange incense, and strange anointing. But because the glory of God is not there, there is no fire coming forth from the presence of God to put an end to it all.
Confined to the Anointing
Let us recognize that it is in the restrictions of the anointing oil that we shall discover true release in our spirits. For what man is released to serve God in the liberty of the Spirit, but he who walks in the restrictions of the anointing? What man knows true freedom, but he who sits at His feet in confinement to His will? Who is he that knows true liberty, but he who comes under the yoke of Christ?
Can we not see the glorious contradiction of warring a good warfare in order to enter into Canaan rest?
Of taking His yoke, in order to learn from Him, and find rest for our souls?
Of becoming a bond-slave of Christ, in order to discover true freedom"
Of coming into a prison-house of confinement, in order to discover the freedom of doing His will?
Of becoming a captive to Pharaoh, or a prisoner of Nero--in order to discover that we are the Lord's free man?
Of experiencing the myrrh of trial and bitterness, that our lives may show forth the fragrance of Christ?
Of dying, that we might come forth in life?
Of counting all things but loss, "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord"?
Glorious contradictions! And glorious and holy is the anointing that confines us to the hidden wisdom, and delivers us from the wisdom of this world--
That confines us to Him who is pure love, and pure light, and delivers us from the darkness that surrounds us in this world--
That confines us to the lengths and the breadths and the heights and the depths of God--depths that are unsearchable--and delivers us from the fleeting, perishable things of this life--
That confines us to oceans of love and truth, and delivers us from the muddy pools of theology and the philosophies of men--
That confines us to His living word, and reduces us to God, that we might be delivered from ourselves and from the world about us.