What does the Scriptures say about Hyssop?
Hyssop In Scripture
At The Messiah's Death -
Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it to His mouth.
When YAHUSHUA therefore had received the vinegar,
He said, "It is finished." He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.
You might be wondering why one should even consider hyssop in relation to YAHWEH's Word. This is not a term most people even recognize. What is hyssop? Why is it important? In order to gain some insight into the answers to these questions the following summary of its place in the Word of YAHWEH is provided. Read on, you just might find this rather interesting. And if you've never looked into it, hyssop is available as essential oil today. It has some very interesting health properties.
Exodus 12 is the first place hyssop appears in Scripture. It finds this first place in the story of the Exodus, specifically in the Passover account. It's important to note that several familiar items appear in this account that also show up in most of the other places where hyssop is mentioned.
As you review these I'm sure you will be struck by the recurring themes.
- Selection of a ‘clean’ animal – a "lamb"
- Sacrifice – of a ‘clean’ animal
- Sprinkling of blood – on the door posts and lintel (three places) – as a symbol of protection, deliverance, and belief
- The wood of the door frame (perhaps cedar?) - symbolic of the cross, upon which the blood was shed
- The lamb/animal is consumed completely, its leftovers burned with fire as whole burnt offering, representing the complete sacrifice of The Messiah, YAHUSHUA.
- HYSSOP – dipped in blood, which is sprinkled on the door posts and lintel
- None to go out ‘until the morning’ – must wait for its effectiveness to take place.
- An ordinance FOREVER - to ‘believers’ who obey these instructions. To be taught to your descendants.
It shows up next in Leviticus 14. Here the hyssop appears in the ritual for the cleansing of a leper. A leper was "unclean" from a ritual or spiritual standpoint. Lepers were expelled from society and forbidden to have any part in anything that was holy. This "uncleanness" is symbolic of our own state of sin. We, like the lepers, are unclean. Here again are we find some very familiar things to note.
- Leper brought to the Priest for cleansing - Messiah is our High Priest
- Priest inspects the leper to make certain he is "clean", and in fact, if he is, he pronounces him clean.
This is symbolic of our own cleansing through the redemption of Messiah.
- Sacrifice of two live, ‘clean’ birds – one is killed in an earthen pot over running water
- The second bird is dipped along with the cedar, scarlet, and hyssop into the blood of the killed bird and the leper is sprinkled with the blood seven times. Yahshuah's shed blood is needed for our cleansing.
- Living bird is let go - symbolic of the spirit?
- Cedar wood - symbolic of the crucifixion stake?
- Scarlet - symbolic of Royalty - the robe placed on The Messiah, denoting His Kingship.
- Hyssop - the instrument by which the blood is sprinkled - Does it represent The Messiah?
- Washing with water - symbolic of baptism, into The Messiah, YAHUSHUA.
- Unclean for seven days – on the seventh day he shaves his body entirely, washes with water, and is clean - symbolic of our own purification, and of our waiting for the coming of The Messiah.
- Eighth day – another sacrifice (trespass offering) is presented, blood is placed upon the person, he is sprinkled with oil seven times, then anointed with it. Eight is the symbol of new beginnings.
There were a number of eighth day events in the life if the nation of Israel.
- Yet another sacrifice is made (sin offering). With the new beginning our sin is taken away.
- Finally, the priest makes atonement for him – and he is cleansed. Atonement is accomplished by the priest - even as YAHUSHUA does for us.
Next. we find hyssop mentioned in Numbers 19. Here we find the ordinance for the sacrifice of the Red Heifer. This heifer is sacrificed in order to prepare the ‘water of separation’, also known as the water of purification. Note the similarities found here with other places where hyssop is mentioned.
- Red heifer – without spot – ‘clean’, never yoked for work - perfect sacrifice, without blemish.
- Taken outside the camp and slain - just as The Messiah was.
- Blood sprinkled seven times before the Tabernacle - blood shed
- Burned totally - complete offering
- Priest takes cedar wood - The Cross
- Hyssop - The instrument of sprinkling
- Scarlet – royalty
- Cast into the midst of the fire of the sacrifice - "descended into Hell"
- Priest must wash himself and clothing in water - purification of the priest
- Remains unclean until evening (Same must be done by the one who slays the heifer and the one who gathers its ashes.)
- Ashes are gathered, in a ‘clean’ place, outside the camp - The Messiah was outside the camp for His sacrifice, and after His sacrifice.
- Ashes are kept for the congregation, as a ‘water of separation’ (purification) from sin - our redemption is kept for us until we're ready for it.
- Used to purify anyone or anything that has had contact with the dead - death defiles, corrupts.
- It is to be used on the THIRD DAY - resurrection day
- but it is not clean until the SEVENTH DAY - seven is the number of perfection, completion.
- Anyone not purified is cut off from the congregation. (Remember Passover and the leper) - non-believers are cut off from among the faithful.
We find hyssop mentioned next in 1 Kings 4:33. This passage is different from all the others in which hyssop is mentioned. Here it's mentioned in reference to Solomon and his great wisdom. It's mentioned only in relation to cedar wood. Perhaps the significance lies in the positioning of it along side the great cedars of Lebanon, where by reference it is seen as but a mere lowly shrub growing out of a wall. Here it could be seen as a symbol of humility or lowliness, even as The Messiah came as a humble servant and not as a king.
Next we find it in Psalm 51. In this wondrous Psalm we have the prayer of a sinner, a backslider before YAHWEH. It involves a significant recognition of his sin before Him, and a deep repentance along with an earnest plea for CLEANSING from that sin. It's in this regard that we once again find hyssop mentioned. Note the references made in the passage to cleansing, forgiveness, purification, restoration, sacrifice.
- Plea for mercy
- Based upon God’s tender mercy
- Seeking to be cleansed from sin
- Request to be purges with HYSSOP
- Request to be WASHED – for ‘cleanness’
- Request to have the ‘uncleanness’ removed and to be transformed and restored to fellowship with YAHWEH
- A recognition of blood guiltiness
- A recognition of the need for sacrifice
– this time of a broken spirit and a contrite heart
Now we move to the New Testament (or, Renewed Covenant). We have the drama build to a climax in the Gospel of John where he relates to us the story of the Messiah’s crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension. In John 19 we find the use of hyssop once more, seemingly innocent or obscure in its appearance, yet rich with meaning when placed in the light of the previous uses we've seen.
- The LAMB is selected – days ahead of time
- He is without blemish, ‘CLEAN’
- It is during the celebration of The Passover (remember its themes and the use of hyssop in it)
- YAHUSHUA , the Perfect Lamb of YAHWEH, is taken outside the camp
- He is killed on the cross of wood - cedar?
- His blood is shed
- and in effect sprinkled on the whole earth, past, present, and future
- There is a SCARLET robe involved in His death
- There are WATER and BLOOD which flow – from his side
- He becomes our complete, pure sacrifice – for sin
- He is killed between two thieves (blood on both sides, and over the top)
- And as He is dying upon the cross of cedar, with His blood being shed for us, He is offered vinegar to drink (bitterness) upon a stick of HYSSOP.
- When He has drunk from it He pronounces the immortal statement of our redemption and restoration to fellowship with the Father through His complete act of submission and obedience on our behalf. He fulfills the role of High Priest, cleansing us from our sin.
- "IT IS FINISHED!"
- Again, there is a waiting period – on the THIRD DAY – He is raised up from death!
- Afterward He told His disciples to WAIT in Jerusalem – until they received "power from on high"
- THEN, they were to go out and proclaim salvation in The Messiah, The Lamb of YAHWEH!
Finally, hyssop shows up in Hebrews 9.19 The writer to the HEBREWS ( the Jewish people) is reminding them of the giving of the Old or first Covenant through Moses. And we find that though it is not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament, hyssop was known to have been used in the giving of the First Covenant. Let’s look at the familiar themes once again.
- A death is involved, in this case a sacrificial death again
- Blood was shed
- Moses had taught the people everything God had spoken to him
- He took the blood
- With water
- And scarlet wool
- And hyssop
- And he sprinkled the book of the law and the people
- He sprinkled the tabernacle and its vessels
- And he noted (v 22) that NOTHING is purified without the shedding of blood!!!
- He affirms that these thing are a pattern, a symbol, of the real things which are in Heaven itself, so we might understand YAHWEH’s involvement in our lives.
- Then, he identifies THE MESSIAH as the Perfect High Priest, who Himself was sacrificed for sin, and was the only perfect sacrifice.
- And once again there is reference to the need to WAIT for the completion of the full effectiveness of our salvation, redemption, and restoration to fellowship with YAHWEH in the eternal kingdom.
Hyssop, a humble little shrub that you’ve probably never seen, and know virtually nothing about, is yet used by YAHWEH to teach powerful lessons about the very nature of YAHWEH's sacrificial love for you and me. Hyssop, once it touched the lips of our Savior. Throughout Biblical history it has been used by YAHWEH to help us identify the reality of His plan of redemption. It’s not necessary for you to be a "mighty cedar" in the world. It was the mighty cedar that was used to torture and crucify our Messiah. Instead, you can be like the obscure little hyssop – that touched the lips of The Messiah Himself, and bore witness throughout the history of Israel to YAHWEH’s plan of restoration and redemption from sin!
Are you bearing witness to YAHWEH’s plan of restoration and redemption? Are you willing to remain obscure in order that The Messiah might be honored and glorified? Or do you need to be cleansed with hyssop as David was?
Glory, HalleluYah, Praise and Thanksgiving be to YAHWEH, The Almighty, and to the LAMB!!!
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