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Bible verses about Oil as Symbol
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 2:1-2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Oil is a widely understood symbol of the Holy Spirit and thus does not require a detailed explanation, but one scripture will suffice to link the Holy Spirit and oil directly:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. . . . (Luke 4:18)

"The Spirit of the Lord" and the oil of anointing are directly linked. The oil of anointing stands as a physical representation of Jesus being given the Spirit to perform these functions for God in His service to man.

Acts 10:38 reveals another aspect of this symbolism: ". . . how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." Again, reference is made to anointing—an act normally done with oil—with the Holy Spirit, and Peter adds "with power," a characteristic not included in Luke 4:18.

Though Jesus was bruised in service, He never lacked power. By contrast, we are rarely bruised, broken, or ground in service, but we are usually powerless. The truth is, the greatest zeal and knowledge are useless without God's Holy Spirit providing the right perspective, attitude, and intention for any service we perform.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Three): The Meal Offering


 

Zechariah 4:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

An angel is explaining to Zechariah the work of the Spirit. God's Spirit, moving and producing works (or results, visible signs of God's inspiration and involvement in His servants' activities), is shown as flowing into the church. Here is a short quotation from Keil & Delitzsch.

Oil ... is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the Spirit of God [notice this qualification], not in its transcendent essence. . . .

The Holy Spirit often appears in the Bible, not in is pure form (the essence of God's mind and power), not in its raw form, we could say. Here it appears as oil. Continuing:

. . . not in its transcendent essence, but so far as it works in the world, and is indwelling in the church.

The oil that is flowing through these pipes is not the raw Spirit of God, but it is His Spirit seen in its works, that is, in its manifestations. We are not seeing, necessarily, God's Spirit as God's Spirit. We are seeing God's Spirit as it manifests itself primarily in spoken and written words, but also in things like miracles, healings, casting out of demons, acts of faith, good works, etc.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 4)


 

Matthew 25:1-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins pictures the church waiting for the Bridegroom's return. Because of an unexpectedly long delay, He finds half the virgins unprepared when He finally arrives.

In weddings of that time, the bridegroom traditionally led a procession of bridesmaids from where they waited to his home. Since the procession almost invariably took place at night, each bridesmaid was expected to supply her own torch or lamp. If the bridegroom came later than expected, the bridesmaid needed to be prepared with extra torches or oil for her lamp.

The difference between the wise and the foolish virgins in the parable is not that one group did not have oil, but that one group did not have enough for the unexpectedly long delay. When the cry went out, their lamps were still burning, but they were sputtering and going out. Oil, of course, represents God's Holy Spirit. The wise virgins, like the faithful and wise servant of Matthew 24:45-51, are prepared. They make sure that they remain in contact with the dispenser of oil, as is implied when they say to the foolish virgins, "No, . . . go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves" (verse 9). The wise had been in recent contact with the dispenser of oil, whereas the others apparently had dallied around. Going frequently to the dispenser, the wise, when the bridegroom arrived, had an adequate supply to trim their lamps and go into the marriage supper. The lesson is preparedness through vision and foresight.

Because it is an internal state, preparedness cannot be transferred. That is evident in the reaction of the virgins. It is a matter of the heart, an intangible that accrues by spending long periods of time under many circumstances with the Dispenser of the Holy Spirit. What cannot be transferred to those who are unprepared are matters of attitude, character, skill, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. They are personal attributes that are built and honed over months and years.

When one needs a skill immediately, how much time does it take to learn it? If a man suddenly needed the skill to repair an automobile, and he had never done any work on one, he may as well have no hands at all! It works the same way with spiritual attributes. Preparing for eventualities is the lesson of this parable. The wise virgins prepared for the eventuality that it might take longer for the bridegroom to come—they showed foresight and vision, and they entered the wedding feast. The others did not.

The oil cannot be borrowed either. In no way can it be passed from one person to another. We cannot borrow character or a relationship with God. The parable teaches us that opportunity comes, opportunity knocks, and then opportunity leaves. The foolish failed to face the possibility that the bridegroom would come later than expected, and when they were awakened, they had no time to fetch any oil and fill their lamps.

No one can deliver his brother. Each person determines his own destiny. No matter how close we are, even if we are one in flesh as in marriage, a husband cannot deliver his wife, and a wife cannot deliver her husband. Nor can we deliver our children. Everyone stands on his own in his relationship with God. God makes this clear in Ezekiel 14:14: "'Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,' says the Lord God." Though it is a hard lesson, it should motivate us to discipline ourselves, to exercise self-control, to be alert, and to give our attention to our spiritual priorities. Thus, each person determines his own destiny.

Equating the foolish virgins with their modern counterparts, the Laodiceans, their faith is perfunctory. Their church membership is routine, merely going through the motions. They have enough faith that they at least show up for church services. They have beliefs and character and motivation—but not enough!

The Bridegroom's refusal to admit the five foolish virgins (verse 12) must not be construed as a callous rejection of their lifelong desire to enter the Kingdom. Far from callous, Christ's rejection is entirely justified because these people never make preparations for their marriage to Him. In the analogy, though they realize they have met their future mate and admire Him, they never develop the relationship. In a sense, they have already rejected Him. Thus, an additional lesson in this parable is that our relationship with God must be worked on continually.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church and Laodiceanism


 

Matthew 25:1-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Our responsibility today is not just mental preparation, as in the case of a diligent athlete. Nor is it physical preparation, as in David's case. All the same, our responsibility is much like David's in that we are gatherers. Our duty is to gather: to gather faith, patience, wisdom; to gather God's Holy Spirit. How much do we need? Well, Christ tells us that a "night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). In His Parable of the Ten Virgins, He says that the Bridegroom came at midnight (Matthew 25:6). Midnight is well into the night. The wise virgins were those who had enough oil - representing God's Spirit - to last the night. Indeed, we ought to gather God's Spirit like David gathered bronze, "in abundance beyond measure."

Charles Whitaker
On Your Marks . . . Get Set . . . Go!


 

Matthew 25:1-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Because of its abundance of well-known symbols, the Parable of the Ten Virgins is perhaps the easiest to understand in a prophetic light. The Bridegroom, of course, is Christ. Virgins are often symbols of churches or individual Christians, most likely the latter in this case. Lamps are vessels that contain oil, a common symbol of God's Spirit, thus they represent our minds, which, when filled with the Holy Spirit, provide illumination for the path to the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 2:10-16). The wedding refers to the marriage of the Lamb to the church (Revelation 19:7).

Jesus flatly states that this parable deals with conditions just before His second coming (verse 13). It does not take much interpretation, then, to understand what will happen - maybe has happened in part. All of God's people will go to sleep spiritually, but only half of them have enough spiritual strength to prepare for Christ's return. When He does return, our Savior shuts the door on the other half, proclaiming that He has no relationship with them (compare Revelation 3:7, 20). The warning to us is to draw close to God now because we do not know when Christ will come back.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables and Prophecy


 

Matthew 25:3-4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is a strong contrast in the diligence of the two groups. One takes sufficient oil with it, but the other does not. Since the procession is at night, and the lamps have only a small oil reservoir, they have to replenish the oil periodically. The wise virgins prepare by carrying extra oil for when the lamps run low. This pictures readiness for future needs, which requires forethought, planning, and dedication. The foolish virgins do not prepare, content to carry only enough to appear wise. They carry out God's instructions with the least amount of effort they think they can get away with (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The foolish are not spiritually concerned about their future, but the wise are, even though they have to carry the extra weight of an oil container. However, this extra preparation gives them the hope and faith they need to meet the bridegroom successfully and enter the marriage feast.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Ten Virgins (Part Two)


 

Matthew 25:10-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

While the foolish are busy trying to get their spiritual lives in order at the last minute, Christ comes to take the wise, and the doors to the marriage feast are shut (Matthew 25:10-13). Only those virgins who have a regular supply of oil and combine it with the lamp of God, the Bible, can hear the true voice of their Shepherd calling to them through His true ministers, including the Two Witnesses. The foolish virgins, representing many ministers too, will at first scoff at these two men and ignore their warnings. But when the Two Witnesses begin performing miracles, the foolish virgins will start to wake from their deep sleep; they will begin to repent and ask God for His Spirit.

God the Father has the authority and Jesus Christ has paid the price to enable us to have oil in our vessels. Everyone called by God must pay a price, obedience to God, to receive His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). This means we must repent and overcome sin on a daily basis.

Staff
Y2K: You-2-the-Kingdom


 

Acts 5:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse is unclear on the nature of the Holy Spirit, and it must stand in the light of verses from other parts of the Bible before it is correctly understood. For instance, nowhere in the Bible is the Holy Spirit shown to have manlike shape. The Father and the Son are revealed to have body parts like us—they even sit on thrones—but the Spirit is described to be like wind, oil, fire, and water.

The only shape it is ever given is that of a dove (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32), and some dispute that the Spirit looked like a dove but rather in a visible form descended like a dove. Nevertheless, the Spirit is never described to have a humanlike shape. Man was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), so man looks like God. If the Spirit were also a person in a "trinity," it too would look like a man just as the Father and Son do (John 14:9). Yet, at best, the Spirit had a dove's shape in one instance, and a man and a dove have never been mistaken for each other.

Other verses show the apostles giving praise, glory, and honor to the Father and Son without mentioning the Spirit (Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:1-4; Galatians 1:1-5; and so on through the epistles). If it were part of the Godhead, this would be a grave omission.

Many of the Spirit's attributes can be shown to originate in the Father or the Son. For example, the Spirit is named "Comforter" in John 14:26 (KJV), yet the Father is called "the God of all comfort" in II Corinthians 1:3-4. Other examples include making intercession: Romans 8:26I Timothy 2:5 and Hebrews 7:25; and enabling spiritual understanding: I Corinthians 2:10I Corinthians 2:16 and I John 5:20.

In addition, the Spirit has no familial relationship to Christians. God is our Father and Christ is our Elder Brother. Paul says "Jerusalem above . . . is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26). The Spirit, though, is not a person but a gift of God, the mind and power of God working in and through us (II Timothy 1:7).

Finally, the history of the trinity doctrine is open knowledge. The true church never accepted the idea, and even the false church did not embrace it until three centuries after Christ! Even then, it was only accepted as a political concession to the Roman emperor, Constantine. Add these facts to its absence in the Scripture, and it is no wonder the Catholics and Protestants call it a mystery!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Lying to the Holy Spirit


 

2 Timothy 1:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Holy Spirit is described generally as the power of God, which is certainly correct, but power comes in a number of forms. There is a flowing power caused by the movement of an object. Thus God uses water to illustrate an aspect of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). There is healing and nourishing power, so God uses oil to symbolize His Spirit. Words, symbols we use to represent ideas, the raw material of our thoughts, have awesome power to influence. Thus God says through Jesus that His words "are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Words give us the power to communicate ideas from one mind to another or to many minds. They carry the power to instruct, encourage, discourage, mollify, anger, vilify, inspire, exhilarate, create, or destroy. They can make a person change his mind, motivate him to stop or move, do, undo, or redo. The power of words is almost limitless.

If we examine the fruit of the Spirit, we find that they all have something to do with our minds. Words are a large portion of the mind's working material and therefore play a huge role in what the person produces with his life. It is no coincidence that Jesus is the Word of God, and the Bible, the written revelation of God and His purpose, is also the Word of God! God is trying to tell us something. He is concerned about our minds because what goes into them will determine what we produce with our lives. Will it be fruit leading to eternal life or fruit leading to death?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit


 

Revelation 11:4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse tells us that these two are the two olive trees and the two lampstands "standing before the God of the earth." Why are they described as "the two lampstands"? Timing is vital to understanding this. Revelation 10 and 11 are internally chronological. At this time, the seven thunders have ceased, and the Two Witnesses have been raised up. They are the sole effort God has going as far as witnessing, preaching, and proclaiming His way on the earth.

What does a lamp do? It gives light (Matthew 5:14-16). What are the Two Witnesses doing at this time? Revelation 11:4 says that they are the two lampstands that stand before the God of the whole earth. What are they doing? They are lighting the whole house, as it says in Matthew 5. What is the house? Who comprises the house of God? The church! The two olive trees put their oil in the reservoir, and it feeds the whole church - to do what? To make light! At this time, though, the church is hidden in a Place of Safety, and not even Satan can get to them, as far as we know. We know that certainly no men can get to them.

So, we could say that the church's light is at that time under a basket. Who is left to be light to the world? The Two Witnesses! They are, at this point, the two lampstands. All the eyes of the world will be drawn toward these two prophets. They are the only ones that will be doing good works at that time; they are the only ones that will be publicly glorifying God in heaven.

That is why they are called the two lampstands. They are the only ones remaining to shine spiritually during Jacob's trouble and the Day of the Lord. They will be, in effect, raising Cain all over the world. The whole world hates them, and they will rejoice when these two are dead - because they cannot stand the fact that these two shine so brightly for God.

At this point, the seven churches are out of the picture, so the lampstands cannot represent churches. They picture these two bright lights for God. Not only will they be supplying the church with oil, but they will also be shining brightly as witnesses to the world as a result of the good works that they do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 5)


 

 




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