The olive tree is the tree of anointing. Those who are grafted into the olive tree by faith in Jesus (Yeshua), according to Romans 11:17-21, might properly be called “anointed ones.” The New Testament pictures this truth in several places, such as 2 Corinthians 1:21, where it is said: “…He anointed us….” It is also pictured in 1 John 2:20, where we read, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One….” In the Bible, the kings of Israel were anointed, as were priests and even prophets that they might serve the living God.
In Hebrew, the word for Messiah is “anointed one,” or one who is “smeared” with oil. We must say this reverently but the Messi-anic Kingdom is thus a rather “messy” affair. It is messy with the anointing. We see this so vividly illustrated in Psalm 133:2. We simply must get the full impact of this picture. Aaron, the first High Priest, was clothed in some of the most magnificent garments ever made. They were designed by God himself. Yet, after Aaron donned these beautiful garments, he was immediately anointed with olive oil (Lev. 8:1-13). The scripture says in Psalm 133:1-2, it literally ran from his head “…down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.” What a holy mess!
In Christianity we like to keep things staid and proper. In this sense, we like to keep the beautiful garments of salvation all pressed and properly displayed.
I remember in a meeting some years ago that a lady came forward for prayer. She may have been expecting some sort of “proper” prayer. Yet, the minister had been talking about this very subject of anointing. In response to her request, the brother took a bottle of anointing oil (Jas. 5:14-15) and impulsively poured it out over her hairdo. The lady was in absolute shock. There was an embarrassed silence. After a few moments she chuckled at the absurdity of it all, and then she broke into holy laughter, and into victory. She got her request from the Lord.
There are several things we can say about the anointing and about the olive tree, but the mysteries of this subject are great. Let us probe a little.
THE ANOINTING TEACHES US
John says: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him”
(1 Jn. 2:27).
Thus we believers have an anointing that teaches and instructs us. That anointing is the Holy Spirit living and working within our lives. He literally teaches us and guides us into all truth (Jn. 16:13). Now, there is one thing this verse does not mean. It does not mean that we should refuse to submit ourselves to other teachers. In fact, if we feel like we know everything and have no need to be taught by others, we have an un-teachable spirit and have missed the message of the Bible. God has placed teachers in the Body of Christ to teach and perfect us all (Eph. 4:11-13). We had better listen to them.
Yet, the anointing of God will teach us daily if we allow it. It is much like having a private tutor. He will lead us into wisdom, but not the wisdom of this world. Paul expresses it in this wise: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:12-14).
THE ANOINTING ENABLES US TO DO THE LORD’S WORK
Yeshua taught his disciples carefully for some three years. They witnessed his miracles, his atoning death, his resurrection and his glorious ascension. They were surely prepared to do his work. Not so! After the resurrection, and shortly before his ascension, he gave this instruction to the disciples: “…Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). The disciples needed the anointing to do God’s work. They had to wait until that anointing came.
There is a beautiful picture of this in the Tanakh (Old Testament). When God’s people returned from Babylon and sought to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem there was much discouragement. The work went slowly and then finally ceased altogether. They were in a similar situation as many churches are in today. At this bleak hour, two anointed ones stepped forward, inspired by God’s prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. It is likely that these anointed ones were none other than Joshua son of Jehozadak the priest and Zerubabbel the governor. Zechariah speaks of them as “…the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth” (Zech. 4:14).
These men arose and built the Temple of God, even in the most adverse circumstances. However, they did not build by natural strength. This was the instruction of the Lord to Zerubabel in Zechariah 4:6: “…Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
Zechariah pictures these two leaders as two olive trees standing beside the golden lampstand (Menorah). He sees them as pouring golden oil into the menorah (4:12). What a picture! God’s anointed people will pour precious Holy Spirit oil into his church and into Israel. That oil will light the world and help bring about the completion of God’s
THE ANOINTING BRINGS HEALING
Yeshua is known as the one anointed of God. As God’s anointed he went about healing the sick and breaking bondages of all types. In Acts 10:38, Peter tells “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Those oppressed by the devil were freed as the scripture says, “…And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil” (Isa. 10:27 NKJV).
It is interesting that the scripture connects olive oil with healing of all types. Of course, olive oil was used on a daily basis in biblical times for medicinal purposes. In addition, it represents something in the spiritual realm of healing. Here is the simple instruction of James 5:14-15: “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” God has given his people the right and authority to heal the sick through the anointing of the Holy Spirit
For those grafted into the olive tree through Jesus, healing is a part of their heritage. As the scripture says in another place, healing, even healing of a complicated spiritual nature, is the “children’s bread” (Matt. 15:26). It comes with the anointing, along with revelation, spiritual power and the other things we have mentioned. It is just another of the many bonuses and side benefits of being grafted into the olive tree.
– Jim Gerrish
This updated article is presented courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem (orig. pub. date – 1997).