I heard a snippet from Joel Osteen’s message from June 01, 2014 “You Are Anointed” (not completely by choice, Chris Rosebrough did a quick review of it in his Friday episode of Fighting For the Faith). Joel misquotes Isaiah 10:27, but it isn’t completely his own doing. I’ve heard this misquote before, so I thought I would chase down its origins and share that today.
For starters, true to form, Joel doesn’t go on to teach anything Biblical in his sermon. In previous blogs, we’ve looked at the meaning of the words “Christ” and “Messiah” and how they both mean “the anointed one” of God, which points to Jesus. Therefore, whenever someone talks about “the anointing” they are indeed invoking very strong imagery, on the level of King Saul, King David, and Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus warned of false christs, and anti-Christs. To keep the language as plain as possible, it should be read as “false anointed ones” and those who are “anti-God’s anointed”. However, Joel doesn’t explain any of this, nor is his definition of the so-called “anointing” that rests on everyone in his audience fit anything found in scripture. He’s just repackaging his narcissistic drivel about “positive thinking”. I mean, he opens up with the notion that this anointing was the most powerful thing on Earth, but then he says your negative thoughts can invalidate it. Anyway, the point of this post the text he used, not the false notion he preaches.
The partial verse I’ve heard quoted is as follows: “the yoke will be broken by the anointing” or “it’s the anointing that breaks the yoke”. It comes from Isaiah 10:27… but ONLY if you read the KJV (and the NKJV maintains this mistranslation). First, let’s look at the verse in its immediate context in a couple of good translations including footnotes (feel free to search others you like):
Isaiah 10:24-27 English Standard Version (ESV) 24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. 25 For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. 26 And the Lord of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. 27 And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”[a]
Footnotes: [a] Isaiah 10:27 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
Isaiah 10:24-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 Therefore thus says the Lord [a]God of hosts, “O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian [b]who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. 25 For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction.” 26 The Lord of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. 27 So it will be in that day, that [c]his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness.
[a] Isaiah 10:24 Heb YHWH, usually rendered Lord
[b] Isaiah 10:24 Lit he
[c] Isaiah 10:27 I.e. the Assyrian
So, what does the KJV (and NKJV) have (see this link to view ESV/KJV/NKJV parallel)?
Isaiah 10:24-27 King James Version (KJV)
24 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
26 And the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.
27 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.
Isaiah 10:24-27 New King James Version (NKJV)
24 Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt. 25 For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction.” 26 And the Lord of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; as His rod was on the sea, so will He lift it up in the manner of Egypt.
27 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.
So how did this get translated this way? The word in question is “shamen“. The short definition is “fat” or “to grow fat”. Here is another case where I really like the approach taken by the ESV. There isn’t much in the text to fully explain the meaning of the word “shamen” here, so they went with its short definition “fat” and left the footnote. In this case, and in the greater context of Isaiah 10, I tend to agree with the NASB and even the NIV where it is translated “And the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat (Is 10:27 NIV)”. The MSG (I strongly recommend you stick to a Biblical diet that is MSG-free!) just avoids it outright and leaves the thought at “the yoke will be broken”. So what is going on here?
Well, what we have here is an example of someone trying too hard to connect dots. The Hebrew word “shemen” (strongs.8081) also translates to “fat” and “oil”. So, if the KJV folks had confused shamen with shemen, they might have wanted to translate it “oil” rather than “fat”. Unfortunately, the leap from “oil” to “anointing” isn’t really justifiable in the Hebrew. It’s a connection that requires too many steps. Sure, you can make oil out of rendered fat, but that is not the only source of oil, and anointing oil most likely had other ingredients (I may look into that further sometime) or oils from herbs or spices where the rendered fat might be a carrier oil. Still… do you see how far away from the text we have to go to “justify” this KJV translation? For me, it’s just too far a jump to work in “anointing” and the vast majority of solid translations are in agreement with the definition of this word pointing to fat or fatness.
Now, let me be very clear, Jesus did come to set the captives free (Luke 4:14-21 ESV), and said that His burden is light and His yoke was easy (Matt 11:28-30 ESV); therefore, I am not saying that yokes cannot be broken by the Anointed One of God (Messiah, Christ, Jesus). But this verse is rarely cited as a reference to God the Son. It is most often cited to justify the “anointing” of an individual claiming a special anointing from God (contemporary apostles, evangelists, prophets, etc). We need to stop accepting the misquoting of Scripture simply because the general idea “sounds about right”. Misusing Scripture is its own sin and it is very dangerous, and must be corrected. If what you are teaching cannot be plainly taught in Scripture (in context) then you should not be teaching it (Titus 1 & 2).
May the Lord bless you and keep you,