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It is written:
Isaiah 8:20-To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Something that I am frequently asked about is the subject of dedicating or anointing your house to the Lord. Several people that I have worked with over the years have asked me to come in and dedicate their house to the Lord. While I am happy to help in this ministry, I always point out that unless the people in the house are dedicated to the Lord, then dedicating the house itself means nothing.
Yet the question which must be asked (as with everything that we do as Christians), what does God’s Word say about dedicating or anointing a house to the Lord?
The first passage that we will investigate deals with the dedication of the Tabernacle. God commanded the Jewish people:
Exodus 30:25-29-And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; 27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. 29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.
Leviticus 8:10-11-Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them.
We read here of how the Tabernacle (along with all of its’ instruments) were to be anointed with oil. This was done to “consecrate” them, which means to “set them apart” or “dedicate” them. By using this oil, the Jewish people dedicated the Tabernacle to God.
Please observe that the oil was not some kind of magic implement: rather, it was a sign of consecration to God. Indeed, there are Scriptures which make a direct connection between the anointing oil and the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 61:1-3-The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
Observe the connection between “the Spirit of the Lord GOD” and the anointing. It was understood throughout the Old Testament dispensation that the anointing oil represented the Holy Spirit.
We see another example of house dedication in the Book of Deuteronomy, where the Prophet Moses declared:
Deuteronomy 20:5-Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it.
Two renowned Bible scholars tell us about the historical nature of this type of house dedication:
“The Rabbins elaborated special ceremonies, among which Jonathan in his Targum describes the fastening of slips with sentences out of the law written upon them to the door-posts, as being the most important (see at Deuteronomy 6:9: for further details, see Selden, de Synedriis l. iii. c. 14, 15).” (C.F. Keil, Franz DelitzschCommentary on the Pentateuch, 24928 (Kindle Edition))
Again, we see another reference to a house dedication in regard to David.
2 Samuel 5:11-Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house.
The 30th Psalm has the superscript, “A Song At The Dedication Of The House Of David.” Some ancient Jewish rabbis believe that this Psalm was the song/prayer that David composed when he dedicated his house to the Lord:
Psalm 30:1-12-I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. 3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. 6 Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.” 7 LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. 8 I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication: 9 “What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!” 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
A final example of a dedication with oil is found in the story of Jacob. It is perhaps in this passage we come to a better appreciation of why dedication of a place was so important.
Genesis 28:11-19-So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” 18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
As one author reminds us:
“But for the Jewish people, heaven and earth meeting in the temple was not simply like the meeting of two negotiators on opposite sides of a table. Rather, the temple was a kind of “thin” place, a liminal space, a place in which the realms of heaven and earth overlapped. 22 Perhaps the central biblical image for this aspect of the temple is the ladder of Jacob: Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. . . . And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel . . . saying, . . . “this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house . . .” (Gen. 28: 11–12, 17–22) Jewish tradition understands that the very stone Jacob had put under his head became the foundation stone for the temple in Jerusalem. 23 The temple was like a ladder, allowing heavenly things access to earth and earthly things access to heaven. But what kinds of heavenly things are being extended into, or mirrored upon earth? A primary emphasis in Scripture is that certain patterns of activity, ways of being, acting and doing that are pleasing to God, are being communicated. As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 103, the angels are obedient to the ways and rule of God. These patterns of obedient heavenly activity are then extended into, or reflected on the earth. The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word. Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will. Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. (Ps. 103: 19–22) Given this, it makes sense that the temple in Jewish traditions was understood to be a symbol of the real temple in heaven. As a symbol, it participated in that which it points to, or was a manifestation of an essential reality, somewhat like a physical manifestation of a Platonic “form” (Gr. eidos). And, just as in Plato’s conceptuality, a “form,” such as “justice,” was more like a ratio or a way of acting than a “thing” or “substance.” The temple was like an incarnation of certain patterns of activity found in its heavenly prototype. As quoted above, the human worship practices mirrored heavenly ones: “And may the Lord . . . cause thee and thy seed, from among all flesh, to approach Him to serve in His sanctuary as the angels of the presence and as the holy ones” (Jub. 31: 14). Jon Levenson, in his masterful book Sinai and Zion, documents these connections between heaven and earth at length. 24 The temple’s decorations suggested that it was “‘ the meeting place of heaven and earth,’ the tangent of celestial and mundane reality.” 25 Commenting on Isaiah’s vision at the temple (Isaiah 6) he writes, “The earthly Temple is thus the vehicle that conveys the prophet into the supernal Temple, the real Temple, the Temple of YHWH and his retinue, and not merely the artifacts that suggest them. This Temple is an institution common to the heavenly and the terrestrial realms; they share it.” 26 These connections between the earthly and heavenly temples were also at the root of the Jewish mystical Merkavah tradition which developed in the second and first centuries BC. Rachel Elior, in The Three Temples: On the Emergence of Jewish Mysticism, documents how Jewish priestly writers understood the ark/ throne in the temple to be connected to the heavenly chariot-throne (Heb. merkavah) of God in heaven, and later, that the worship of the people on earth was a mirror of the worship of the angels in heavenly sanctuaries (Heb. hekalot). 27 Thus, in this Jewish theology of ascent and descent, as the Jewish people gathered at the temple, they understood that they were coming into contact with heavenly realms, and the heavenly realms were breaking into or overlapping with the earth. The temple was the meeting place of heaven and earth; it was the ladder of Jacob.” (David L. Stubbs, Table and Temple: The Christian Eucharist and Its Jewish Roots, 96-98 (Kindle Edition): Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
The dedicating of a house was a time to invite the Lord into a special relationship with the occupants of that home. Just like with the Jewish Temple, it was an intimate place of meeting with God.
Nothing in the New Testament that I am aware of discusses the idea of a house dedication: and yet, the fact that this has such a significant place in the Old Testament suggests that such is something to be carefully considered. Applying all of these principles that we glean from these passages, here are some suggestions for a person and/or family interested in dedicating their house to the Lord.
First, make absolutely certain that you have dedicated yourself to the Lord. If you have not become a member of Christ’s church, I encourage you to do so immediately (Acts 2:37-47). If you are an erring Christian, repent and confess your sins to the Lord today (1 John 1:9). Make it clear that you and your household are devoted to serving the Lord God (Joshua 24:15).
Second, display the Word of God. This may done in several ways. The Jews would keep Scripture written outside of their home and on their property (Deuteronomy 6:9). One Christian whose book I have read (Steve Hemphill, What Are The Stakes? God Markers On The Land) discusses something that he calls “Scripture Stakes.” These are stakes with Scriptures on them which he recommends placing around your house as a way of dedicating your house to God.
Third, the use of oil may be appropriate as a sign of God’s Presence. Usually when I help in a house dedication, I use oil to make the sign of the cross throughout the various rooms. There is an interesting connection here with something that happened in the Book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 9:3-4-3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; 4 and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
In the Book of Revelation, we see this passage symbolically applied to Christians:
Revelation 7:2-3-2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Revelation 9:4-They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Revelation 14;1-Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.
Bercot tells us:
“A third foreshadowing of the cross is found in the book of Ezekiel. However, this foreshadowing is not as apparent in our English Bibles…The passage goes on to explain that all those in Jerusalem were destroyed, except for those who had the mark on their forehead. As I mentioned, in English, few of us would see a foreshadow of the cross in this passage. However, in both Greek and Hebrew, the foreshadowing is a lot more obvious. That’s becuase what the text actually says is that the man with the writer’s inkhorn was to put the letter T or tau on the foreheads of those who were sighing and crying over the abominations in Jerusalem. And, of course, the letter T is in the shape of the cross. But our English Bibles inaccurately translate the passage by saying that the man was simply to put a ‘mark’ on the foreheads. The foreshadowing here was even more apparent to the early Christians because they frequently traced the sign of the cross on their foreheads to demonstrate that they belonged to Jesus. In fact, at least by the year 200, after a person was baptized, the bishop would anoint him with oil by tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead of the newly baptized person.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 295-307 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing)
Fourth, there is also precedent for a house dedication being done with prayer and other forms of worship. This is appropriate since the house is to be a meeting place with the Almighty God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.