At The Messiah's Death
Now a vessel full of vinegar
was set there.
And they put a sponge
full of the vinegar
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
Why should one ever consider hyssop in relation to YAHWEH's Word? Most people don't have a clue about what hyssop is, let alone its significance in Scripture. Yet this plant plays a very important role at several points in YAHWEH's plan for things.
Let's take a close look and see what Scripture teaches us on this subject. Please take time to look up and read the passages cited. See for yourself what’s there. They are most interesting.
Hyssop is available today as essential oil. As such it has some very interesting health properties.
Exodus 12 is the first place hyssop appears. It occurs in the story of the Exodus, specifically in the account of The Passover event. Several other familiar items appear in this account also. They show up in most of the other places where hyssop is mentioned. Please take note of the recurring themes. Here are the key events in Passover related to hyssop:
- 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 torture stake,
upon which the blood of The Messiah 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 the 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 it appears in the ritual for the cleansing of a leper. A leper was "unclean" from a ritual or standpoint. Lepers were expelled from society and forbidden to have any part in anything that was sacred (set apart). 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 - The 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
- 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.
YAHUSHUA's shed blood is needed for our cleansing.
- Living bird is let go - symbolic of our freedom
- Cedar wood - symbolic of the crucifixion torture stake
- Scarlet - symbolic of Royalty - the robe placed on The Messiah, denoting His
- Hyssop - the instrument by which the blood is sprinkled - Does it represent The
- 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 second 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 Yisra'el.
- Yet another sacrifice is made (offense offering). With the new beginning our sin is
- Finally, the priest makes atonement for him – and he is cleansed. Atonement is
accomplished by the priest - even as YAHUSHUA, The Messiah, 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 improperly 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,
- 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 - symbolic of the torture stake
- 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
- It is to be used on the third day - the day of the resurrection
- but it is not clean until the seventh day - seven is the number of perfection,
- 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 where it's 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 Psalms 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 YAHWEH'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 inner essence and a
Now we move to The New Covenant. We have the drama build to a climax in the Book 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, even 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 torture stake of wood - cedar?
- His blood is shed
- And it is 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 torture stake, 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
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 Covenant through Moshe. Hyssop was known to have been used in the giving of that Covenant. Let’s look at the familiar themes once again.
- A death is involved, in this case a sacrificial death again
- Blood was shed
- Moshe had taught the people everything YAHWEH 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 Tent of Appointment 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 Redeemer.
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 Yisra’el 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?
Hallelu-Yah, Praise and Thanksgiving
to YAHWEH, The Almighty, and to The LAMB!!!
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