In order to fully understand the Old Testament, we must also use the New Testament. The New Testament scriptures are like a “lens” that often helps give focus and clarity to the Old Covenant (“Testament”) scriptures.

The New Testament explains that the Old Testament (the Old Covenant or Old Agreement) of the Law is the Word of God (Matt 5:17,18; 2Pet 1:20,21). However, we now live under the New Covenant (“testament” or “agreement”) of grace and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. We no longer live under the Old Covenant of Law and we cannot attain salvation through our own works (Gal 3:21-25).

The New Covenant has superseded the Old Covenant (see Hebrews Chapters 7-8). This New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant (Matt 5:17,18; Luke 24:25-27) and establishes a “new and living way” (Heb 10:20) as a basis for man’s relationship to God.

However, the Old Testament scriptures are still part of God’s eternal Word (Isa 40:8). As we study the Old Covenant, we can still learn many important principles that can apply to our lives under the New Covenant.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians (1Cor 10:1-13), explains that the history, events and lessons recorded in the Old Testament should be studied, understood and applied to our lives as New Testament believers. “Now these things became our examples…” (1Cor 10:6).

Thus, we can gain valuable insights about the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is now available to New Testament believers by studying the pictures or “types” of anointing foreshadowed in the Old Testament.


The Hebrew word for anoint in the Old Testament is masah, and is used 69 times. This word means to apply oil by pouring, spreading or smearing it upon the object or person being anointed.

The practice of anointing was common among many cultures and people of the ancient Middle East. This practice had both an ordinary and a sacred use. For instance, anointing guests as an act of hospitality was done even in Jesus’ day (Ps 23:5; Luke 7:46; John 12:3).

But the practice of anointing had a far more profound use in the Old Testament for the people of Israel. We encounter anointing for the first time when Jacob memorialized his first meeting with God. Jacob anointed the stone on which he had laid his head while he dreamed (Gen 28:10-18).

Later, oil was used to anoint the altar and other objects used in the worship of God in the Tabernacle (Ex 30:26-29; Lev 8:10,11). The Priests were also anointed with oil (Ex 28:41; 30:30; Lev 8:12). (There was also a ram’s blood anointing for priests, which we will examine later in this article when studying Old Testament foretypes of anointing.)

The practice of anointing was also extended to kings (1Sam 9:16; 15:1; 16:3,12) and occasionally to prophets (1Kings 19:16).

Anointing was used for three important purposes in the Old Testament. First, it was used to consecrate: to set aside for a holy use, as in certain physical objects. This included authorizing the object for service to God (i.e., the implements used in the Tabernacle for worship, Ex 30:26-29).