In the Old Testament “anointing oil” was used in the consecration of the Levitical priesthood AND the Tabernacle. Leviticus 8:30 reads, “And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him, and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.” In Exodus 40:9 it says, “And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.” The “oil” was not magical; it was simply used symbolically to show that the priests and the tabernacle were “set apart to God,” which is what “holy” means. It was NEVER to be used for personal use. This is borne out in Exodus 30:30-32, “And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto Me throughout your generations. Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured.”

In the New Testament anointing oil was used in connection with physical healing, but here too we believe the oil itself was a symbol and NOT the means of a cure. Mark 6:13 tells us, “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” Matthew 10:1 informs us that Jesus had given His disciples the power to heal, “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” He does NOT mention “anointing them with oil.” I believe some were anointed with oil to mark them out as those who were to be blessed with healing. It symbolized the power of the Holy Spirit that was to be demonstrated in their being healed. James 5:14-15 provides a similar example, for it reads, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” Notice, the sick one is anointed with oil BUT the “prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” The oil has no healing properties in it for it is clear that the Lord will heal them based on the prayer of faith. So here again the oil is simply used to mark them out as those who would be blessed with divine healing.

Should Christians use oil today along with prayer for healing? The portion in James 5 may encourage us to do so, but it MUST be accompanied by the “prayer of faith.” For many years I have prayed for dear ones who have been gravely ill and after praying for the Lord to grant them healing mercies I usually end my prayer with the words, “Thy will be done.” I can’t recall one instance where I was absolutely assured that the Lord was going to heal them. Let me add that I find it striking that in all of the other New Testament epistles there is no mention whatsoever of anointing the sick with oil. I say this because IF anointing oil was vital in the healing process, one would think Paul, Peter, John and Jude would have surely mentioned it when speaking of physical healing. Their silence on this issue speaks loudly to me. (167.6) (DO)