Symbols of the Holy Spirit
Lesson 83

The Scripture use several symbols to represent the offices, functions, and ministrations of the Third Person of the Godhead. These emblems, figures, and representations help to portray the magnitude of the Spirit’s power and work.


Oil: The oil used in connection with the ancient sanctuary symbolized the Spirit’s presence. God commanded that anointing oil be used at the dedication of the Tabernacle to signify its setting apart for holy purposes. In Israel’s economy, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed for holy office. God thus indicated that the Holy Spirit would guide these men in discharging their duties.


For example, God instructed Elijah to anoint his successor, Elisha. (1 Kings 19:16.) Samuel anointed David in the midst of his brethren, and ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13.) At Aaron’s dedication to the priesthood joy prevailed. David commented, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, … even Aaron’s.” psalm 133:1,2.


Similarity, the gospel provides an unction or an anointing of the Spirit for every believer. The Spirit sets apart every born-again soul to live a dedicated life. (1 John 2:20,27.)


Water: People living in the Near East call water the gift of God. As there can be no life without water, so there can be no spiritual life without the Holy Spirit. Paul not only associated the Spirit of life (Romans 8:20, but he even declared, “The Spirit is life” (Romans 8:10). Isaiah equated water with the Spirit; “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour out my spirit upon thy see.” Isaiah 44:3. Of Jesus’ statement about “rivers of living water” that were to flow from each believer, John commented, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” (John 7:38,39.) In vision, John saw “a pure river of water of life… proceeding out of the throne of God.” (Revelation 22:1.)  Over a millennium, earlier Ezekiel had seen in vision waters issuing out of the restored sanctuary. (Ezekiel 47:1-7.) Both prophets picture the blessing as coming from the throne of God.


When Israel asked for water, God told Moses to strike a rock. When he did so, water flowed freely from the rock. (Exodus 17:1-7.) Paul later explained, “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4. Christ sustained and led Israel. At the cross, He bore the stroke that He might provide the sustaining Spirit for all who thirst.


Bible writers associated water with regeneration (Titus 3:5) and the new birth (John 3:5). Thus in a special sense, baptism, immersion in water, symbolizes spiritual cleansing. (Acts 22:16.)


Allusions in the Bible to springs, fountains, wells, rivers, dew, showers, and rain in many cases refer to the ministry of the Spirit. Not only are the faithful to drink out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3), but also they are to dispense living waters to others; that is, they are to let the Spirit in them flow out as rivers of blessings for other (John 4:14; 7:38).


Wind: The rushing wind at Pentecost announced the presence of the Third Person of the Godhead. (Acts 2:1-4.) The wind also portrays the new birth. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. The Spirit, like the wind, works invisibly only its effects are seen.


Fire: Fire consumes the dross and refines the gold. When the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with a “live coal… from the altar,” the Lord said unto him. “thine iniquity is taken away.” (Isaiah 6:6,7.)


Fire denotes spiritual energy, divine fervor, penetrating enthusiasm, and holy inspiration. The passive soul touched by the fire of the Spirit becomes possessed with a burning passion to save souls. Neither education, training, nor environment brings about this change. The Holy Spirit creates it.


John the Baptist, whom Jesus described as a burning and shining light (John 5:35), prophesied of the Messiah, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Luke 3:16. After Christ’s return to heaven, He did baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit.  On the day of Pentecost cloven tongues of fire sat upon 120 disciples of Christ, and they went forth as blazing torches and set ablaze 3,000 other converts that very day. (Acts 2:1-4, 41.)


When persecution later broke out in Jerusalem, the disciples “went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4.) Thus, fires were lighted here and there and continued to spread until within thirty years salvation’s thrilling story had encompassed the Roman world. (Romans 1:8.) Bible prophecy depicts in time’s last hour yet another gospel conflagration when the message of Christ’s return will be heralded with power “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6.)


God needs more such flames of fire today. How can one become a firebrand for Christ? By fully accepting Christ and His Spirit, as did the totally committed Paul, who said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22.


Total commitment led Martin Luther to testify before the Diet of Worms, “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, … I cannot and I will not retract … Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”


Total commitment led John Knox to pray, “Give me Scotland or I die.”


Total commitment led John Wesley to exclaim, “I look upon the world as my parish.”


Total commitment led William Carey to reply, “Serving Christ is my business, and I cobble shoes for a living.”


Total commitment led David Livingston to insist, “I will place no value on anything I have or may possess except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ.”


Ministers ablaze for Christ and “fervent in spirit” will cross the hottest deserts scale the steepest mountains, defy the densest jungles, pierce iron and bamboo curtains, penetrate Muslim and Hindu strongholds, invade the most forbidding cities, to conquer the unconquerable. They will scorn the unheroic, the mediocre, and unchallenging, to spend and be spent, do and dare, give and go, in utter abandon following the Spirit’s direction for the salvation of souls and the glory of God.


Memory Verse:

Romans 8:10.   “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.


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