The Anointing and The Powers of the World to Come
The anointing is the bringing to bear of God's presence and power upon earthly life in its numerous expressions and applications. It is the action and activity of God in and about His universe. Hebrews 6:5 refers to this work as the "powers of the world to come." The anointing entails every work of the Spirit outside the actual transforming process of the work of the cross. It relays the interaction of God with every facet of His creation outside His essential union with His "new creation" in the heart of man. As such, the anointing is the secondary, supportive, and facilitating work of God in the earth.
The anointing is evidenced wherever the Holy Spirit manifests Himself to and through men in a way that does not originate from their new identity in Christ. It operates not only on the lives of believers, but also on the lives of all men as well as upon the entire created realm of time, space and matter. It acts upon or through human personality, but not from within our personality.
The anointing is creation-centred in its ministry. Like the work of transformation, it is spiritual. But it emanates from the creative qualities that God possesses, not from the essential heart of Who He is. Whereas the work of transformation brings us into eternally living relationship with the Father through the Son, the anointing links us with the impersonal creative powers of the Spirit. These powers minister to the redemption of creation and are part of man's "laboratory garden" for growing up into Christ.
Because the Spirit's work of anointing is oriented to creation, it is not to be glorified. It is given to point to the Lord and support the work of transformation.1 Being creation-centred, the anointing's work serves as tools which function according to impersonal laws and principles of God. They are the laws of the highest order on which man can encounter God short of truly Knowing Him through transformed identity.
As laws of creational operation, the works of anointing are not at the center of eternal life or spiritual growth. They cannot save except in an external sense. They cannot transform the heart, change us into Christ's image, or bring us near to God's heart. They can only assist in these. Like the cloud and pillar of fire that led
through its earthly sojourn
yet left people unchanged, so the anointing leads us through mortal life as we
travel the highway of transformation,
yet is not the actual agent of our transformation. Israel
II. The Acts of the Spirit in the Old Testament
The best source for clear evidence of the Holy Spirit's anointing ministry is the Old Testament. Before Christ came, the inward work of transformation had not been established. The Spirit "had not been given"2 to abide within believers and execute the new birth with the forming of Christ in the saints. Therefore, virtually everywhere we read of the Spirit's work in the Old Testament, we are reading about the work of the anointing.*
From the time that the Spirit first "brooded over the waters" of creation to the last utterance of Malachi, we see the Lord working upon and among both His own people and the remainder of mankind. All of today's evidences of anointing ministry were seen in abundance at times during that period. Examples of the work of anointing include supernatural healings, abilities, prophecies, revelations, provisions, and other miracles of deliverance.
Certain key words are used throughout the Old Testament to describe the action of the anointing. These include the words, "came upon," "fell upon," "poured upon," "filled, " and "with:"
The Spirit of the Lord came upon [Samson] in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands... Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power... Jdg 14:6,19; 15:14`...It came to pass ...as I sat in mine house, and the elders of
sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell upon me.... And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me ... Ezk. 8:1; 11:5 Judah
Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of
... til the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.... For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams of the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring. Ezk. 39:29; Is 32:15;44:3 Israel
...I have filled [Bezalel] with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.... Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the Spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. Ex. 31:3; 35;31; Dt. 34:9The Lord said to Joshua... "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you....Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul.... In everything he did he had great success because the Lord was with him.... When Saul realized that the Lord was with David... [he] became still more afraid of him. Josh. 1:1-5; I Sam. 18:12,14,28
This same work identified by the same key words is part of the New Covenant experience in God. The key word pour provides the link between the Old Testament expression and the New Covenant experience of the same work. Joel 2:28-29 prophesies concerning the New Covenant era:
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
Peter refers to this same Scripture to explain the new manifestations of the Spirit that were being poured out in the last days.3 Really, the manifestations were not new. They had just not been seen for hundreds of years prior to Christ. All the manifestations of the Spirit's anointing recorded in Acts were seen in the Old Testament in one form or other. But Peter's proclamation shows that this same anointing is to be a regular adjunct to the main work of transformation in the lives of the saints. From Acts forward, we see the same key words used to describe the work of anointing in the Church:
The circumcised believers... were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. Ac 10:45
When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Ac 19:6
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word... "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them , as on us at the beginning." Ac. 10:44; 11:15
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them ....Be filled with the Spirit. Ac. 2:4; Eph 5:18
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it. Mk 16:20
Inasmuch as the period of the last days embraces everything from the time of Acts til the second coming of the Lord, the work of anointing remains in force. It is part of the complete heritage of all saints.
III. Old Testament Types: Rainfall and Oil
Two Old Testament types provide us some insight into the nature of the Spirit's present anointing. Both types are interchangeable with the concept of "pouring out" already seen.
Two Old Testament passage refers to the promised coming outpouring of the Spirit in terms of rainfall:
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring....Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain. Isa. 44:3; Hos. 6:3
Other Old Testament passages which speak of rainfall are interpreted in this light, including the passage of Joel which speaks of the coming pouring out of the Spirit:
...For He has given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause for you to come down the rain, the former rain and the latter rain.... Afterward... I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Joel 2:23, 28
Ask of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain... Zec. 10:1
Peter has this picture in mind when He speaks of the coming "times of refreshing from the Lord."4 The word translated refreshing properly means "revival," but comes from a root word meaning "to cool off." Such is what rains do. From this we understand that what we call revivals are displays of the anointing ministry of the Spirit. Revivals are the refreshing rainfall of the Spirit.
The picture of rainfall helps us understand somewhat the nature of the work of anointing. Rainfall is external, seasonal, and temporal. It comes from above, stays awhile, refreshes, and then evaporates. This contrasts to the work of transformation which is pictured as a river or underground spring which come from within the ground and are ever abiding.**
The far more significant Old Testament type of the anointing is oil. It is from this type that we derive the word "anointing" to describe the outpouring of the Spirit. The English word anoint means "to put oil on," as in consecrating. This word or one of its forms appears over 140 times in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament. The two main root Hebrew words used to translate this word are: 1) mashach, which means "to rub with oil", and 2) cuwk, which means "to smear over (with oil)." One of the derivatives of mashach, "mashiyach" refers to a gift or a person consecrated by oil. This is the word we translate "Messiah." In other words, the Messiah is one who is consecrated by oil.
When we study the Old Testament accounts of anointing with oil, we find the anointing was used to consecrate men and objects to the purposes of God. The first application of this was on the priests who were set apart to minister in the tabernacle.5 Eventually, anointing oil was applied to anyone set apart by God for service, including kings and prophets. Significantly, the anointing was administered by pouring out.6 This answers to the pouring out of the Spirit which we have already examined.
-- New Testament Spiritual Anointing
Isaiah 61:1 provides our first link between the Old Testament rite of anointing and the anointing work of the Holy Spirit. Here, Isaiah uses the word to refer specifically to the operation of the Spirit of God on His life:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners.
Later, Jesus quotes from this verse7 to proclaim the arrival of His ministry. Yet Jesus was never consecrated for ministry by oil. His only anointing was that of the Holy Spirit coming on Him at His water baptism:
...Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, Whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Now Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry... Lk. 3:21-23
Immediately after the Spirit's oncoming at age thirty, Jesus begins His ministry, quoting Isaiah 61:1 to describe His commissioning. The age of thirty is significant because this is the age at which all Levites were set apart for ministry.8
The second connection between Old and New Testament anointing is in the name of the Messiah. We saw that the Hebrew word mashiyach translated "Messiah" means "one anointed with oil." The Greek equivalent of mashiyach is "chrio" which the Authorized New Testament translates as "anoint." It too means "to smear or rub with oil, and (by implication), to consecrate to an office or religious service." Its derivative, "christos" is the word we translate "Christ." Thus, the "Christ" or "Messiah" is one who is consecrated by oil. So the very title of Jesus as the "Christ" is linked to the Old Testament rite of anointing. Yet as we pointed out, the "Christ" was never consecrated by any literal oil, but by the Holy Spirit.
When we take all this together:
the coming of the Spirit on Jesus at age thirty (the age of Levitical
that this coming on marked His consecration and launch into ministry
(a consecration normally performed with oil),
that Jesus applied Isaiah's word of anointing to describe His ministry,
that His title, "The Christ", means "The Anointed One",
and yet that He was not anointed with literal oil at this event,
we clearly understand that oil is a type of the Holy Spirit, and that anointing with oil was a foretype of the Spirit's New Covenant work of anointing. This work is essential to all that Jesus came to impart to His People, and thus a driving force behind the execution of the New Covenant.
Later on, we find that the Spirit is "poured out" upon all the believers.9 By extension then, the work of anointing is transferred to all the Church so that, even though there is almost no direct teaching on this work in the New Testament***, yet the Spirit's anointing is an essential work that marks all ministry carried out in the New Testament and should be evident in the Church today.
IV. Characteristics of the Work of the Anointing
The anointing belongs to the realm of the properties which describes God's activity. They are only secondarily associated with the knowledge of God in the inner heart. The fact that the anointing functions primarily from outside the heart rather than from within gives it characteristics that in some cases are markedly different than those governing the work of transformation.
A. Sovereign Appointment of God
All the Spirit's anointed manifestations are under God's sovereign control in such a way that they are not necessarily linked to human cooperation and faith. The powers of the world to come are brought to bear on the earth because God wills their demonstration, much of which occurs quite independently of any human willingness. The Spirit falls upon many who express no prior evidence of faith or desire for the anointing. The classic Biblical stories are those of Saul and Caiaphas who, with hearts bent on murder, come under an unction to prophesy.10
Even where the anointing functions through human vessels in conjunction with their faith, the vessels are still subject to the will of God respecting their results and manifestations. The spiritual gifts of the New Testament are good examples of this. We are encouraged to "desire" spiritual gifts and express our faith for them, yet we are still dependent on the Lord's sovereign bestowal of them.11 We cannot force ourselves into a gift. Once a man has a gift, he can stir it up through exercising his spirit according to his present measure of faith given by God, but he cannot conjure its results.12
As the given measure of faith is exercised, it is increased.13 Yet no matter how great the measure, the operation of faith is always subject to obedient submission to the Lord. Those with healing anointing can only release what they have, but the result is with the Lord. Healings cannot be given or received by force of will. Prophets cannot try to discern things about others. They can only see what is revealed to them. 14
In some cases, the Lord will reveal certain principles involved with the functioning of His anointing power. But those principles can never be forced by application of human will to bring forth results. They must be followed under the Spirit's immediate sovereign direction. Where the Lord reveals operational principles behind His power, He always reserves to Himself a certain measure of sovereign discretion in which no principle can ultimately explain every resulting manifestation or lack thereof. No understanding of principles regarding anointing can ever replace the ultimate element of sovereignty God reserves to Himself in executing His power, "lest any man should boast."15
As a man's faith grows and becomes increasingly aligned with the will of God, he can speak in terms of his own will when releasing anointing faith. Elijah was able to say, "As the Lord the God of
lives whom I serve, there will
be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."16 In Revelation 11:6, we read of a company of
saints so aligned with the will of God that they have power to "strike the earth with every kind of plague whenever they want." Nevertheless, even from these God
strategically withholds knowledge that prevents them from exercising the
anointing out of an independent will. Elisha, who had double
the anointing power of Elijah, found himself perplexed concerning the death of
the Shunamite's son saying, "the Lord has
hidden it from me and has not told me
Possession of faith for releasing anointing does not absolutely guarantee the immediate or predictable release of anointing. There are some situations where no matter how strongly faith is expressed, no manifestation of anointed result is forthcoming whether for healing or for changing a situation. While faith is necessary as a conduit for the anointing, there is a sovereign point where God's gift and man's faith for the gift must meet for the anointing to be released. The factor of God's grace is the factor of sovereignty that ultimately leaves the result of the anointing's effects in His hands.
B. Unmerited Favor of God
The anointing often operates without respect to the merits of the lives the Spirit touches or works through. He also ministers without regard to the worthiness of the situations He affects or alters. The anointing is an expression of pure grace and determination of the Lord as He reaches out to touch His creation with the powers of the next world according to His own will. His touch is usually unrelated to one's moral standing with God or his degree of transformation.
Based on the metaphor of rainfall, we learn from Jesus that the anointing falls on the just and unjust.18 Joel's prophecy concerning the anointing shows us that the Spirit is poured out upon "all flesh." All tells us there is no moral distinction in this outpouring. Flesh tells us that the anointing specifically operates on that part of man's nature marked by temporality and even sin.
The writer of Hebrews also tells us that the anointing falls on bad ground and good ground. Ground is a type of the human heart.19 The anointing can cause evil in an already evil heart to sprout as well as help water the fruitful heart undergoing genuine transformation.20 But a heart does not necessarily have to be good or in right standing with God before it can be chosen by God as an instrument for conveying or receiving the anointing.
Throughout Scripture as in the present day, the anointing is displayed amidst the good and the bad. Jesus healed all who were sick regardless of their standing before God.21 He did not check to see if they were worthy of receiving healing before healing them. In one case, He healed a man whom He knew was in sin, and warned him to sin no more lest a worse illness come upon him.22
We also see where the evil King Saul came under an unction to prophesy as he was on an errand to murder David.23 The wicked high priest Caiaphas uttered an inspired prophecy in spite of himself while conspiring to kill Jesus. Anointing for leadership was even given to heathen kings of the Old Testament such as Cyrus and Hazael.24
Not only will the anointing come to unworthy people, but it may even operate through them. Balaam served as a prophet through whom came one of the Old Testament's most spectacular prophecies concerning the Messiah.25 Yet his gift was used for personal greed, and he mingled it with sorcery to become one of the most notoriously condemned men in the New Testament.26 Even Judas, the Lord's betrayer was a vessel for the anointing during Jesus' ministry.27
In certain cases, the Lord will reserve some displays of his anointing only for those who have attained a certain degree of transformation. Yet because many levels of anointing are dispensed from the Lord without relation to a man's state of transformation, the anointing's presence in one's life or ministry cannot alone prove the final truth concerning his holiness. Those who experience the anointing without transformation often end in ruin like Samson who grew haughty because of his anointing for strength. Jesus teaches us that at the judgment, many will mistakenly offer their anointed works as proof of their righteousness, but will be banished from His presence as workers of iniquity.28
C. Ministry to the External
The work of anointing operates upon the external realities of present life. This includes the outer world of space, time, and matter. The anointing acts upon and through the outer realms of human personality common to all men which lie outside the transformed nature of the new creation. It changes earthly situations and circumstances, but not the heart. Hebrews 11:33-35 lists a sample of earth-changing displays of the anointing:
"[they] conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;... shut the mouth of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;... weakness was turned to strength;... became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies... received back their dead raised to life again."
The best Old Testament display of corporate anointing is the supernatural provision for
by cloud and fire in the wilderness.
This included guidance, provision, and
supernatural extension of materials and clothing. We note that, in the face of
this provision, the anointing did
nothing to transform the people eternally. All but two were disqualified from
entrance into the promised land though they had partaken of miracles for forty
years.29 Similar external effects of the anointing are seen
throughout the book of Acts. Israel
The anointing does touch the external realms of human countenance, nature, and ability. The presence of the Spirit brings joy, gladness, laughter, and other various positive qualities of personality.30 The anointing upon David's harp playing affected the countenance of Saul.31 Such effects on the personality do not make permanent heart changes as we have already seen with Saul. Nevertheless, the anointing touches every avenue of human personality that must interface with the present world.
D. Ministry to the Temporal
The anointing makes no permanent changes in anything it touches. It's results upon the earth fade and wear out. While it brings eternal powers to bear on the temporal, it alters nothing eternally. The anointing is a "seasonal" spiritual reality. This means that its particular applications come to an end and must be replenished if they are to continue. From this we derive such terms as "fresh anointing" (based in scriptural metaphors such as "times of refreshing"32 and "new wine."33) The Scriptures refer and exhort to repeated fillings of the Spirit in believers for ongoing ministry.
The work of anointing is extremely time-focused. Its ministry is to the need of the moment. Once the temporal need is met, its work is done. But it does not eliminate the state of ongoing need. We see in the Old Testament where miraculous provisions through Elijah and Elisha ran out.34 The provision of manna ceased once
Israel reached Canaan. 35
The same is true in healing and deliverance. Bodies are healed, but not
transformed by the anointing. They will become
sick again and die. Demons are cast out of a personality, but they can
The outstanding corporate manifestation of temporal anointing is "revival" which we linked earlier to the concept of rainfall. A revival is a seasonal outpouring of anointing designed to water the seed of transformation ministry producing a harvest of conversion or entrance into maturity. During the course of revival many miraculous manifestations occur including the subduing of evil in the spirits of all men. A revival may last a day, a week, or a few years. Saints are also empowered for enduring ministry that their bodies normally would not endure,-- praying, fasting, preaching and worshiping hours upon hours at a time.
Eventually, revival subsides and fades away, together with all the effects not rooted in the work of transformation. Laws of nature return to normal force. Restraint of evil and outer personality of men is removed. Only those who benefit from the work of transformation are left with permanent result. Revivals presage the permanence of the coming age when the anointing will be the common medium of exchange for executing life's affairs and the subduing Presence of God puts a check on all remaining evil in those yet mortal.
V. Manifestations of the Anointing, Yesterday and Today
The chief type of the Holy Spirit in Scripture is oil. By looking more closely at the many uses of oil in Bible times, we will gain an understanding of the scope of the anointing's work in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and in the present era. As we consider each application, we will also see the interactive effects of all the preceding characteristics.
A. Anointing for Leadership
Oil was used in Bible times to consecrate leaders in
including priests, prophets, and kings. Aaron and his sons were consecrated to
the priesthood.37 Samuel
anointed both Saul and David to become kings.38 Elijah was commissioned to anoint Elisha to
become the leading prophet in his own place, as well as to anoint Jehu king of
Israel and Hazael king over Syria.39
In every case, whoever was anointed was set apart by God for
accomplishing a certain ministry or purpose by the power of the Holy Spirit. The
Lord was with that person in a
unique way, moving obstacles and
providing supernatural ability for the work of that office. The Spirit was with
a leader for circumstantial intervention on his behalf and for imparting wisdom
and guidance for leadership. Israel
The same anointing is seen upon the New Testament apostles. Mark 16:20 tells us that the Spirit was with the apostles for carrying out their ministry. They were appointed by Jesus, but it was through the anointing of Acts 2 that they were empowered and became recognized for their leadership. At one point, the anointing was so strongly upon them that no man dared to join himself to them for fear of their power.40
Today, the anointing still functions in raising up church leadership as well as human national leadership. God's Spirit is with certain church leaders through whom He evidences signs of power and facilitation of ministry. Each of the fivefold ministry offices carries a specific anointing which enables a man to execute it. The Lord is also with particular national leaders, both Christian and non-christian whom He protects and guides according to the purpose for which He has elevated them to power.
As in Bible times, God anoints men for leadership without respect to their merit, or whether they demonstrate worthiness of His blessing. David proved himself worthy of the Lord. Saul did not. The heathen king Hazael was a murderer, yet anointed by the Lord. Today, there are many Sauls in church leadership as well as Hazaels in international leadership. They are unworthy of their calling, and eventually the Spirit will depart from them. Nevertheless, the Spirit has raised them up, and they must be respected by today's Davids and Daniels for their anointing until the Lord Himself removes them.
B. Anointing for Healing
Oil was also important for its medicinal use in the ancient world. 41 In the New Testament, oil and wine are used together for healing.42 According to Mark and James, anointing oil was used in ministry to the sick and mingled with prayer for healing.43 These latter examples directly tie the anointing to the divine healing ministry. They are the first mention of oil relative to healing that was not necessarily medicinal, but clearly presents a type of the Spirit.
It comes as no surprise then that the most visibly recognized manifestation of spiritual anointing today is the ministry of divine healing. Healing was a part of the ministry of Old Testament prophets,44 the New Testament apostles,45 and since 1880 has been the leading work of anointing in the modern Church. It is from this particular work of anointing that all other contemporary anointing movements have come forth.
The healing ministry clearly shows the anointing's temporality. The anointing does not change a body into an immortal state, but only reverses the death process for a time. Depending on the strength of the anointing, or if it fails to minister to root causes of sickness (such as bitterness of spirit), a divine healing may not even permanently last and sickness will return. Nevertheless, the healing anointing gives strong testimony to ultimate glorification and the coming liberation of creation from sickness and disease.
This ministry also shows the unmerited and sovereign nature of the anointing. Because it is not intrinsic to the work of transformation, divine healing may be received by some who live with known sin in their lives. Jesus healed one man with known sin, warning him to sin no more lest his healing should be lost. Even Jesus could work healings that did not last!
This gift may also be ministered by those unworthy of it. Today many have bona fide healing gifts who also have "off the wall" theology and desperately lack the fruits of transformation. Some use the gift for personal and financial gain. Yet the gift is real and the Lord heals though them. Their worthiness as a vessel has no bearing on God's sovereign will to use them as His instruments.
C. Anointing for Revelation
Another primary use of oil was for lighting. The tabernacle of Moses was lit in the
Holy Place through oil-fed
bowls.46 Oil was, in fact, the only source of artificial lighting
during Bible days. Even today, where electricity is still unavailable in the world, oil such
as kerosene is used for lighting.
Scripture references to light as a type of spiritual understanding, illumination, and revelation are common. Consider such familiar passages as "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," and "The entrance of Thy words giveth light", and "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."47
As oil was the fuel for the lamp, so the Holy Spirit's anointing provides spiritual illumination and revelation. By the Spirit, God supernaturally reveals spiritual truth to and through men. He anoints our understanding of Scripture. He speaks specific words to and through our spirits. The many avenues of spiritual revelation include dreams, visions, and impressions. Even inadvertent speech can be seized by the Spirit to communicate spiritual revelation. While plotting to kill Jesus, the high priest Caiaphas unwittingly gave a prophecy under the unction of the Spirit.48
The anointing for revelation and supernatural spiritual communication is not limited to men. Scripture tells us that the Spirit of God once spoke through a donkey.49 Jesus tells the pharisees that stones are capable of praising God.50 This opens to us a whole dimension of spiritual reality in which the inanimate universe is capable of bearing the anointing for revelation and prophecy. The Spirit of God can appear at times through nature itself as we see in the burning bush.51 This is why the Psalms and other passages speak of the creation as singing and declaring the praises of the Lord.52 Much more than metaphor is intended here, certainly more than we are able now to comprehend.
Anointing for spiritual revelation is clearly visible throughout the Bible and is even today in great resurgence. Indeed, the entire Bible is prophecy, the spoken word of the Lord given through and illuminated to men by the Spirit.53 All the Old Testament prophets were anointed to speak the word of the Lord. Occasionally, the Spirit came on others such as kings and even common people for prophesying and dreams. Records show both kings Saul and David uttering prophecy. In one situation, the Spirit of prophecy fell on a number of ordinary Israelites.54
The New Testament shows the apostles functioning by dreams and visions. Not just apostles, but ordinary believers were filled with the Spirit of prophecy.55 The prophetic anointing was so common that the apostles refer to it very matter-of-factly in their exhortations to believers.56 Paul offers instruction concerning the prophetic gift and other revelatory gifts.57 Together, Moses and Paul witness to God's desire for prophetic anointing upon all saints under both covenants.58
All the manifestations of prophetic anointing seen in the Bible are visible today. The great modern restoration of prophecy has been entwined with the restoration of divine healing. Since the Latter Rain revival of 1948 and especially since the mid 1980's, the prophetic anointing has exploded on an unprecedented scale becoming with divine healing the anointing's most prominent demonstration in today's Church.
As in all other works of the anointing, we clearly see the four characteristics of anointing in Biblical prophetic ministry. The Spirit is given sovereignly, falling on the just and the unjust, given without merit on the part of those who receive it. We see unregenerates and degenerates such as Caiaphas, Saul and Balaam as well as spiritual men ministering under an anointing for prophecy. We also find the prophetic anointing of yesterday and today ministering to very external and temporal situations which ultimately pass away.59
D. Anointing for Prosperity
Oil was and still is used as a commodity of exchange throughout the
Middle East. Elisha worked the miracle of creating oil so
a widow could pay her debts and live in prosperity.60 Solomon annually gave 20,000 measures of oil
to Hyram of Tyre for his help in building the temple.61 Oil was kept in the royal storehouses with
other precious commodities, and was used for payment of tribute.62
Jesus refers to oil as a medium of exchange in the parable of the unjust
steward.63 Today, oil still excels as a world commodity due to its
importance in driving modern industry. Entire national economies rise and fall
on its availability.
As a precious commodity, possession of oil was considered a sign of prosperity in the Bible. Moses marked it as an evidence of
blessings while Joel prophesied of oil as a future blessing.64 Job laments for the days when he was
considered prosperous for his oil.65 The prosperity of today's civilizations are
deeply affected by possession of oil. Middle east sheiks who have nothing but
sand for land and blistering sun for climate are yet fabulously wealthy because
they have oil. Israel
This points as a type to the anointing of the Holy Spirit for natural prosperity. The story of Elisha and the widow demonstrates that God's power ministers prosperity for His people. Such miraculous prosperity is seen in the manna that fell nightly on the desert floor to feed
. We see it in the spoiling of
the Egyptians as they left for the Promised Land. Paul uses Israel Israel's desert provision to explain how God yet
wishes to bless the with
prosperity.66 The apostle John also prays for a prosperity of the
Church that includes the natural things of
life.67 New Testament
Today, God is ministering to and through prophetic businessmen whom He is raising up to finance His work on earth. All spiritual ministry is carried out through earthly bodies,-- bodies which must be fed, clothed, and sheltered because of subjection to death. The Spirit's anointing for prosperity sees to it that these temporal needs are accounted for in the process of ministry. Prosperity anointing ministers to the temporal needs of the body in the same way that the healing anointing ministers to the temporal health of the body.
As with all anointings, the superficial and sovereign nature of this anointing is clear. The prosperity anointing ministers only to the temporal realm. The body's needs are met for a time, yet it is still subject to death. Moreover, this anointing is also ministered by those who use it for their own ends. While all anointing is designed to serve the work of transformation, many use this particular aspect of it to cancel out that work.****
E. Anointing for Warfare and Other Skills
1. Warfare, Protection, and Destruction of the Lord's Enemies
In the Old Testament, weapons of war were anointed with oil.68 The anointing of weapons with oil typifies the anointing of the Holy Spirit for warfare, both natural and spiritual. Throughout
's history, a spiritual
anointing for doing battle and for
protection is especially seen on individuals such as Joshua, Samson and David.
David said, " Praise be to the Lord my
Rock, Who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle" and "You are a shield around
me."69 In all three cases, the Scripture says that the Spirit of
the Lord was "with" these men or "came upon" them for the defeating of their
enemies.70 It was at the
departing of the anointing that Samson
became weak and unprotected.71 Israel
The Old Testament prophets were also given anointing for the destruction of the Lord's enemies. The premier examples are Elijah and Elisha who at times called down fire on enemies or else watched as their anointing resulted in a supernatural routing or destroying of enemies.72 These stories reveal an intertwined relationship between natural and spiritual warfare. In the II Kings 7 story of the defeat of the Syrians, no human hand was laid to the army. An act of spiritual war in the heavenlies resulted in a natural outcome.
In the New Testament, the main thrust of warfare shifts from natural to spiritual, and from corporate to personal.73 Yet the Spirit's anointing is the same. We behold the anointing on Jesus and the apostles for casting demons out of individuals. Notably, there is a holding back of the anointing for destruction of the Lord's human enemies. Jesus emphasized destruction of spiritual enemies while showing mercy and forgiveness toward the human agents of opposition.74 Even so, a few examples of destruction of the Lord's human enemies as well as supernatural deliverance from them is found in the Gospels, in Acts and in the writings of Paul.75
To the present day, spiritual war has remained the thrust of the warfare anointing. In recent years, there has been an increase in the anointing for personal "deliverance ministry." This anointing has gone on to become corporate where intercessory ministries now receive anointed strategies for tearing down spiritual strongholds in cities, regions, and nations. The results have spilled over into the natural realms where the course of events in nations have been altered.
Though the thrust of warfare anointing in this age is spiritual, the Spirit will occasionally anoint natural men and armies with supernatural strength and/or strategies for winning natural battles according to His own purposes. Sometimes the Lord anoints individuals for accomplishing superhuman feats of strength in moments of immediate natural crisis and danger. In the annals of missionary history, stories of supernatural protection and deliverance from immediate physical dangers abound. Finally, though this age has been marked by restraint of the anointing for physical destruction, the book of Revelation tells us that this anointing will be released again in force at the very end of the age.76
2. Creativity, Skill, and Craftsmanship
This is a further application of the warfare anointing. Warfare is a skill.77 By extension, we find that the Holy Spirit anointed various men for skilled tasks. In Exodus, Bezalel and Aholiab were anointed by the Spirit "with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts--, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship." 78
The Spirit's anointing can fill anyone He chooses for excelling in the performance of any given skill. It matters not whether the skill is applied to church ministry or to daily life in the common world. The Lord not only anoints men for speaking and preaching, but for playing music, fixing cars, and building homes. Proverbs 8:12 tells us that God's gift of wisdom produces inventiveness and creativity.
In short, there is an anointing of the Lord available for every imaginable and unimaginable skill or talent. That anointing usually operates in tandem with our own human training and practice. At other times, the Lord may suddenly anoint an unskilled person with a skilled ability for which he was never trained.
F. Other Anointings
There are many other uses of oil which typify the work of anointing in the life of the Church. Of these, we will briefly comment on four.
1. Anointing of Consecrated Objects
The tabernacle together with other objects was consecrated with oil to the Lord.79 The anointing of the tabernacle corresponds to the cloud of glory that filled it.80 In Genesis 28, Jacob received a visitation of God while sleeping on a rock. Upon awaking, he anointed the rock, recognizing it as a place that corresponded to a heavenly gateway.
Likewise, the Spirit of the Lord anoints places and objects consecrated to Him with His Presence and power. These may include homes, building sites for ministries, and rooms in public convention places and hotels where Christians gather. The Lord may even transmit specific anointed ministry through smaller objects. Such transfer of anointing is seen in the mantle of Elijah,81 the woman healed by touching the robe of Jesus,82 and the many who were healed when handkerchiefs and aprons were handed out by Paul.83 This is not to say that the anointing makes an object holy in its own right or that anyone who experiences the anointing through an object is transformed. Yet the transfer of anointing through objects witnesses to the Presence and power of God to all who come under its influence in this way.
2. Anointing for Spiritual Refreshing and Hospitality
A lesser yet common use of oil was for cosmetic purposes in baths,84 beauty treatments,85 general skin care, and cleanliness.86 Oil was also used as a sign of hospitality. Banquet guests, for example, were anointed with oil.87
These cosmetic uses typify the work of anointing for personal refreshing and uplifting of countenance in the face of daily stress. It is a touch of the Lord upon the surface of our personality. Isaiah says that God gives us "the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."88 Psalms 45:7 declares that the king is anointed with the "oil of gladness."
Gladness and joy are just two of the anointing qualities with which the Lord may touch an individual or a church on the surface of their walk with Him. These touches come notably during times of great personal struggle and pressure associated with overbearing responsibility, relational fracture, and tragedy. This is part of the anointing referred to by Peter as the "times of refreshing."89
The use of oil as a mark of hospitality speaks to the ministry of social service, ministry to strangers, and other ministries of helps and mercy where refreshment is brought to others. These ministries are listed and encouraged throughout the New Testament.90
3. Anointing for Relational Harmony: Personal Favor and Body Unity
An extension of the refreshment and hospitality anointings is the anointing for relational harmony. This is indicated by Ps 133:1-2, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head..." There is a work of the Spirit that produces favor and goodwill between people and within corporate bodies including churches and nations. This is the anointing that temporarily altered Saul's angry personality and motivated the Egyptians to grant favor toward the Hebrews.91 The anointing for favor answers to the Proverb that says the Lord can change the heart of a king. 92 The prayer for this anointing is offered wherever the New Testament writers invoke the "God of peace to be with you" at the opening of their letters.
The anointing for personal favor and relational harmony cannot replace the working of love in the heart which alone produces lasting foundational unity. Nevertheless, the Spirit does work peace among people on the surface of personality. This peace enables saints to move forward in their relationships with the world for accomplishing the Lord's purposes. It also helps believers overcome together in the difficulties of the transformation process without unnecessary acrimony.
4. Anointing for Martyrdom
The last use of oil we will note is that of anointing for burial. All four gospels record the story of the woman who anointed Jesus' feet with an oil-based perfume used in Biblical days for embalming.93 This anointing for burial is a type of anointing given by the Spirit for those appointed to martyrdom for the Lord. It is a grace that enables martyrs and those under torture to pass through these experiences without "cracking" under the intensity of pain, functioning like a supernatural anesthetic.
The first Church martyr, Stephen, was totally consumed by this enabling anointing while being stoned to death.94 Paul was immediately raised after a stoning to return to preaching in a city.95 Church history is filled with accounts of supernatural grace upon many who, amidst the greatest sufferings, continued to preach and minister as if unaware of their surroundings. Isaiah 43:2 aptly describes this anointing:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you will not by burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.
VI. The Anointing in the Life of the Believer: The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit
While the work of transformation and the work of the anointing are very distinct in their properties and effects, they are very intertwined. From the very point of regeneration when we receive our new identity in Christ, there is some anointing present at work helping to further the work of transformation. This is pictured by the initial anointing of the tabernacle with oil the first day it was set up.96
The manifestations of anointing at conversion vary. Some receive immediate healing or deliverance from lifelong oppressions. Some receive an impartation of revelation or else encounter the Lord through dreams or visions that lead them to the Lord. It would seem that all receive some degree of illumination of Scripture. Many notice very little other particular evidence of anointing at their conversion. Nevertheless, every believer receives some basic degree of anointing for guidance and instruction by the Spirit's leading from the beginning of new life.97
A. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
It is not however until the baptism of the Holy Spirit that the anointing becomes a full, activated part of the believer's development in Christ. In the last chapter, we noted that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is related to the work of transformation as that key moment in spiritual life when the Father breaks through to fully inhabit His saints, gaining in them a place of certain maturity. It follows a measure of sanctifying work when inward dying yields to the resurrection life of Christ bursting forth from within. This soul invasion is pictured by the invasion of the tabernacle by the cloud of glory after it was initially anointed.98
But the baptism of the Spirit is also the moment at which the pouring dimension of the Spirit comes about, accessing the believer to the various expressions of anointing ministry. This full anointing comes on the wings of the habitation of God so that the glory of God's love breaks forth with power for supernatural ministry. The record of that first baptismal experience in Acts 2 becomes the central account for showing us this outpouring. All the great works of the Spirit seen in the book of Acts originate from this event. The baptism of the Spirit was accessed not only by the apostles, but by all believers so that to all was given some capacity for receiving and in turn ministering the work of the anointing.
B. The Gifts of the Spirit
The primary manifestation of the anointing proceeding from the baptism of the Spirit is the ministry of spiritual gifts. These giftings or endowments are appointed spiritual ministries given to facilitate the main work of the cross in our lives. Paul states that God has sovereignly bestowed spiritual gifts and gifted offices to the Church for bringing us into the full image of Christ.99 Following is a list of the various gifts and gifted offices unique to the New Testament work of the anointing:
12: 6-8; I
Cor. 12:8-10; 28-13:3)
giving to others word of wisdom discernment of spirits
serving word of knowledge different kinds of tongues
ability to help healing human
mercy prophecy angelic
teaching miracles interpretation of tongues
exhortation faith understanding of mysteries
Gifted Offices (I Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11)
Apostles Prophets Teachers Pastors Evangelists
- Sovereignty and Faith
The operation of spiritual gifts is subject to a mysterious interplay between sovereign appointment and human faith with desire. On one hand we are told that the gifts are given by sovereign appointment of God.100 On the other we are told to desire certain gifts by faith and to stir up what gifts we do have.101 In some cases, God imparts gifts without any human desire or faith expressed for them. In other cases, faith and desire are stirred by the Lord for the obtaining of gifts.
Any gift or calling for which God imparts faith and desire can be obtained. Yet all is of the Lord. In some cases, gifts are received on first desire and attempt at expression. In other cases, a process of faith must be endured with unsuccessful attempts at expression before gifts may be released. This is especially true of the gifted offices which usually require extensive preparation before they can be successfully inaugurated. Some gifts can only be released once certain barriers of unbelief are removed while others come despite remaining barriers. Some gifts come by personal waiting on the Lord. Others come via impartation by another believer already functioning in that gift.
The inconclusive number of variables pertaining to the release of anointing assures that no gifts are able to be appropriated by sheer human will, and what gifts are obtained through faith-desire remain under the Lord's sovereign control because it is the Lord's faith within us seeking them. Therefore, wherever we find desire within us, it is simply for us to ask, and where necessary, to keep on asking, and then to receive according to the grace of God given us. But it is in the hand of God to actually give the gift.102
- Other Characteristics
The manifestation of spiritual gifts is marked by the other characteristics common to the anointing throughout Scripture and evidenced today. The gifts minister within the confines of the temporal, external world. Our possession of the anointing does not transform us or others permanently even though the anointing is given to aid that work.
Though it comes from God, the anointing is not the same as the knowledge of God which brings eternal life. It does not convert the heart in terms of eternal communion with the Living God even though it operates in and through the spiritual dimension of human personality. The effects of the gifts remain limited to creation and the outer realms of personality. They wear out and need replenishing. Paul tells us that the expressions of the gifts as we know them will come to an end.103
The gifts are also bestowed without certain respect to one's degree of progress in transformation. Some gifts are given only after a certain depth of sanctification is obtained making one fit for the stewarding of that particular anointing. But more often than not, the gifts come upon those who are immature and retain even known sin in their lives. Today, most recipients of the baptism of the Holy Spirit receive only the impartation of anointing without having obtained the mature breakthrough of the Father's sanctifying love.
We remember the promise that the Spirit would fall on all flesh. This means that, as in the Old Testament, anointed giftings may fall on unworthy men who abuse their display for their own ends. Though the gifts are essential tools for facilitating the process of transformation, their display is no guarantee that transformation is being or has been accomplished in anyone touched by them or through whom they are ministered.
VII. The Anointing: Medium of Expression in the Coming Age
What the transformation is to the heart of man, the anointing is to the creation. As glorification is the end of the transformation process, the anointing's ultimate manifestation will be as the medium of energy by which all work is accomplished in the next age. The Spirit who first hovered over the original creation will permeate the restored world. His yoke-breaking Presence104 will oversee the liberated earth in all its functions. The world will no longer be driven by the technology of man, but by the glorified Church exercising the Spirit's anointings for creativity, industry, and transmission of creational understanding presently unthinkable to carnal man.
All the universe is finally held together by the power of the will of Christ.105 The anointing is the expression of that power with the capacity to touch the entire natural creation. Today, what we call an anointed miracle is simply an expression of Christ's power which transcends what man is accustomed to seeing by repeat observation. But in the next age, the pure will of Christ expressed through His saints by the anointing will become the new standard of "natural law."
As we proceed toward the Kingdom Age, more and more anointing is being released in the earth for the altering of physical, temporal reality according to His will. These increasing supernatural alterations witness to the nearing change in world administration. They are actually preparing the earth for that time by making changes in land masses, bodies of water, and weather patterns that anticipate the coming will of God for every part of the earth.
By the anointing, the very powers of the heavenlies are now being shaken.106 This refers not only to the natural heavenlies, but the spiritual heavenlies where previously unchallenged rule of principalities and powers is being confronted by an anointed sainthood rising in the earth. In the Old Testament, Joshua caused the sun to stand still and Elijah brought down literal fire from heaven to earth. According to Revelation 11-12, such days are nearing and are here already, days in which God's fire falls and satanic thrones are displaced. These previously unseen displays of the anointing are beginning to liberate the creation, preparing to become the rod of iron by which the glorified Church shall exercise its rule with Christ in the Kingdom Age.