The Oil Of GladnessSeries: Turbulence
THE OIL OF GLADNESS
Sermon By Terry Siverd / December 06, 2020 / Cortland Church of Christ
We want to commend everyone for your generosity regarding our 11/29 quarterly offering. Last Sunday Roseann send an email saying our total was $1,630. Then on Monday, she emailed saying she received additional funds of $1,360 dated for 11/29. That brought the total of our special quarterly offering to $2,990 - - for which we are most grateful. Your faithfulness in giving throughout this pandemic has been truly noteworthy.
The Sacred Scriptures are sprinkled with various references to OILS & SPICES.
A baker's dozen of the more popular among them would include the following: Cassia … Calamus … Cedarwood … Cinnamon … Cypress … Frankincense … Galbanum (Althea) … Hyssop … Myrrh … Olives ... Rose of Sharon … Spikenard (nard) … and Sandalwood (Aloe). While all of these products were not native to the Bible lands, they all came to be employed in some fashion. Some were indigenous (i.e., home-grown), while others were obtained form trading caravans originating from Asia's far east) and/or certain regions of the continent of Africa. Many of these essential oils and spices were frequently derived from trees and plants - - from the roots, gum, resin, bark, leaves, flower petals, etc., or a combination thereof. These oils and spices were highly desirable and quite often very costly. In the ancient world, these items were “precious” commodities. In Ps.133:1-2a David declares - - Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head.
This may seem like a strange kind of sermon for this time of year, but stay with me and you'll catch my drift. I'm imagining that many of you are already speculating as to where I'm headed.
In the daily lives of those who lived during Biblical times, oils and spices had a wide-range of usages. Food - - olives & olive oil was and is a staple of the Mediterranean world (Kgs.17:12 & 2Kgs.4:2). Condiments were created adding zest to daily diets. Cosmetics - - after a bath; anointing one's head, hair & beard; perfumes (Ps.23:5 & Lk.7:46). Funerals - - the body of a deceased person was washed and anointed with oil and perfumes. Medicinal - - for baths and caring for wounds (Mk.6:13 and Lk.10:34). Illuminant - - it fueled their lamps to provide light (Ex.25:6; Mt.25:8 and Lk.12:35). Rituals - - for burnt offerings and dedication services (Ex.29:40; Num.7:13). Oils were used in the temple and to make incense for worship in temple. Tithing - - oil could be tithed (Deut.12:17 and Ek.45:14). Consecration - - for kings and priests (Ex.29:7; Sam10:1 and 1Kgs.1:39).
Figuratively - - in both OT & NT oil was a metaphor for the endowment of the Holy Spirit (Lev.8:12 & Acts 10:38). The lack of oil signified sorrow or humiliation Joel 1:10) - - The field is ruined, the land mourns, for the grain is ruined, the new wine dries up, fresh oil fails. On the other hand, an ample supply of oil was indicative of joy and gladness (Isa.61:1-3 and Act 13:52). In the song of Moses, written prior to his death and recorded in Deut.32:3-4 & 12-14, with colorful lyrics Moses applauds Jehovah God's constant care for His people. He writes - - For I proclaim the name of the Lord; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He...The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride on the high places on the earth, and he ate produce of the field, and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, curds of the cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lamb, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat - - and the blood of the grapes you drank wine.
In the New Testament we see “oil” in almost every nook and cranny of life. Mk.6:13 / (the apostles) were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. Lk.10:34 / (the good Samaritan) came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them... Mk.14:3-9 / At the home of Simon the leper...there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over (Jesus') head. Mt.25:1-12 / the foolish (virgins) said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out...' Mt.27:34 / during the crucifixion soldiers gave (Jesus) wine to drink with gall...but He was unwilling to drink. Mk.16:1 / after Jesus' crucifixion, women brought spices, that they might come and anoint (the body of Jesus). Js.5:14 / the sick were to call for the elders of the the church, and let them pray...and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord.
The text that I want to concentrate upon this morning is found in Isa.61:1-3.
It is a prophetic utterance regarding the redemptive work of Jesus the Christ. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
It seems to me that in a nutshell this text provides a forward glimpse of the gospel.
We see tightly compressed within these three verses the message of the gospel. It is good news; it brings healing and liberty and freedom; it provides comfort; etc. If we ponder this text a bit more deeply, I think we also see the medium of the message. In this season, which is often characterized by the giving and receiving of gifts, nothing could be better than to receive and give “the oil of gladness”.
How tragic it would be if we, as carriers of the glorious gospel of Christ, testify to others of such good news, but do so without having been thoroughly washed in this OIL OF GLADNESS. How inappropriate (and very likely, impotent) it would be to imitate the heavenly angel in Lk.2:10, by proclaiming a message of glad tidings of a great joy - - but to do so with a long face and a cold heart.
We cannot be true oaks of righteousness without the oil of gladness.
Matthew's gospel (Mt.2:1-12) records the story of the visit of the Magi around the time of Jesus' birth. Guided by a bright star, they traveled from the east to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem they made inquiry - - Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? This inquiry troubled King Herod and he consulted his scribes to investigate the precious location of “the birth”. Although his intentions were devious, Herod feigned genuine interest, saying to the Magi (Mt.2:8) - - Go and make careful search for the child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too, may come and worship Him. So the Magi continued in their quest to find Jesus with Mt.2:10f noting - - And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.
One of the gifts given to Jesus was frankincense. Frankincense was “the king of oils”. Or, stated another way, it was “the holy grail of oils”. In the time of Christ, frankincense was more precious than gold. There is much symbolism behind the gift of frankincense. It was the oil used in the OT to anoint priests. It speaks of sacrifice, and sinless perfection (Lev.5:11). It was a gift reserved for the holy and righteous God.
The very best gift we can give to others is to be the oil of gladness.
Let's use the balance of this season and beyond to consider how we can be the oil of gladness in telling others about Jesus.