The second word in the passage I dealt with was OIL. The word oil, like many biblical words, has layers of meaning and interpretation. Shepherds would use oil to anoint the heads of each individual sheep. This heavy oil could be used as an insect repellant, providing relief from flies and other insects. Oil was also administered on the heads of sheep who were aggressive. If two rams, for example, were vying for a particular ewe, they might “slug it out” by ramming each other. The oil would lessen the impact of the blows as the oily rams would glace off of each other. Another use was for medicinal purposes. Scrapes, scratches, and cuts would be treated with the application of oil.
Oil in the Bible was also used as a sign of hospitality. If a guest entered your home, you would welcome them by anointing their heads and feet with oil. This practice of hospitality is chronicled in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
My favorite use of oil in the Bible, however, is its use as it related to the consecration of a person for special service. Prophets would anoint kings and priests with oil as a symbol of the sacred nature of their calling. Those persons were dedicated to God for some special task, and oil represented the presence of the Holy Spirit who would energize their work.
I believe that its important for each follower of Christ to see himself or herself as called by God for some special service. For too long we’ve made much about those who are called to vocational ministry and not enough about the calling and gifting of everyone else in the church. Being called by God has nothing to do with paychecks, ordination credentials, and seminary diplomas. It has everything to do with understanding the fact that as a believer God has gifted and empowered you to serve him in some important way. If you’re a Christian, you’ve been called by God to serve in his kingdom. If you’re not sure what that calling entails, begin to ask God to reveal his special plan for your life.