Public Worship: Spiritual Anointing
Who Needs the Anointing, Anyway?
It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. NKJV
In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat. NIV
Anything that is “fat-free” is better, right?
Recently I re-encountered a treasured scripture that had been lost to me. “The anointing breaks the yoke” was a staple theology of Pentecostal / Charismatic life. By this my forbears meant that the proof of one’s ministry was found in the flow of God’s power. Opposition would be silenced by the obvious blessing of God upon the minister, the plan, or the method. This came from Isaiah 10:27 KJV:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
When my study of scripture grew beyond the King James Version, I lost this verse. In its place was a really ugly promise.
In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat. (Isaiah 10:27 NIV)
Yuck, yuck and double yuck! The jolting journey from the triumph of the power of the Holy Spirit to bursting one’s bonds because of obesity was a trip I didn’t want to take. So I didn’t. I limped along in ministry without the beloved verse. I had enough problems with fat without seeking it in the spirit-realm.
“Oil,” not “fat.”
But, the word that is rendered (pun intended) “fat” in the modern translations is the word for oil, especially from the olive. (OT:8081 shemen) In most places in the Scripture it follows the word for anointing which refers to a gift. (OT:4888 mishchah) In this verse, the word for anointing is not present, leaving only the word for oil. Modern translators chose to interpret this as human fat rather than the fat of the olive. That’s too bad. I’m sticking with the olive oil (pun intended, again).
How does this apply to worship?
Our worship can be “fat-free:” clean and crisp, well-prepared and tasty to the palette but devoid of the Spirit’s power. The post-modern world is on a rampage against fat. Concern for our national obesity has reached the White House and rightfully so. Physical leanness is the modern ideal. But spiritual leanness is poorly spoken of in the Bible. Here are two examples.
- Isaiah 17:4 NKJV In that day it shall come to pass That the glory of Jacob will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean.
- Psalm 109:24 NIV My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt.
Spiritual health is depicted as fatness:
- Jeremiah 31:14 KJV And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.
- Isaiah 55:2 KJV Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
- Psalm 36:8 KJV They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
The fat of the olive is also mentioned in the Word.
- Judges 9:9 KJV But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
- Romans 11:17 KJV And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
Don’t miss the irony here:
While the current culture worships leanness of body, it craves fatness of spirit.
Thinking biblically, this is not an unhealthy condition like obesity, but a robust spiritual health that sets us free to run the race with patience and endurance.
My brother liked to think of this verse in this way:
“Satan fashions a yoke for us that fits us just so. Then, as we tend the altars of worship in the Secret Place and in the Sanctuary, we grow healthy and strong. We grow so strong, we break the bonds Satan designed for us—the yoke is broken by the abundance of oil.” (James D. Phifer)
Back to you and me leading worship.
What must we do? Seek the anointing!
- The power of the Holy Spirit flows in True Worship: worship in Spirit and Truth.
- We need the truth of our excellence and truth of the Word of God in the songs we sing.
- We also need the complete focus of the inner musician—the spirit we each possess.
- But this is still not enough to break the yoke. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to rest upon our worship.
When this happens we will see miracles, signs and wonders. There are so many kinds of yokes fashioned by hell to hinder the heart of man. There is only one remedy for them—the power of the Holy Spirit.
How do we have this power?
The Anointing comes in specific ways:
- Humble ourselves. The first is the repentant and humble heart. Jesus told the disciples that the world cannot receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (John 14:16-17) Worship leaders who are not believers cannot carry this oil. God still resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
- Focus on Jesus. Jesus said the ministry of the Spirit was about taking the things of Christ and delivering them to the believer. (John 14:26-27; 15:26; 16:14-15) When the content of our worship is all about Jesus, we are candidates for the anointing of the Spirit because we are trying to do what He wants to do—exalt Jesus and deliver His victory to His church.
- Do our very best for Jesus. Personal excellence plays an important role in ministering with the Anointing. We should not be perfectionists—we should be excellentists! (I made this word up. Perfection is out of reach, but excellence is within our grasp.) You cannot half-heartedly prepare and present worship and expect the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
We need not settle for “fat-free” worship!
No matter what tradition we operate in, if we are humble before the Lord, if we are full of truth about the Lord, and if we are ministering at the utmost level of our talent and energy, we can expect the power of the Holy Spirit to rest upon our leadership.
And the anointing will break the yoke.
Who needs the anointing? We all do! Worship Leaders need the power of the Spirit and all worshipers need the ministry of the Spirit.
Psalm 63:5 NLT
You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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