Church Education Trust

Christian Belief



The Emblems of the Holy Spirit.

As a study of the names and titles applied to Christ is profitable so also is the study of the emblems used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit both profitable, interesting and helpful to devotion. Only brief mention can be made here as a basis for further study.

a. The Dove

This is used in both Old and New Testaments. The dove is primarily the spirit of peace; it is said to have no gall, thus speaking of the lack of bitterness. It reveals the gentleness of the Spirit's working. The dove was constant in love (Cant.5:12), swift and strong of wing (Psalm 55:6).

It was also clean in its nature. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Spirit brooded over the waters. Wiley points out an interesting parallel between the dove sent out by Noah at the time of the flood and the dove settling upon Jesus at the time of His baptism. At the first time of being sent out by Noah the dove found no resting place and likewise the Holy Spirit found no permanent resting place in the hearts of men in the Old Testament times.

The second time he returned with an olive leaf "plucked off". The word in other places is rendered in a way that infers a violent death. Thus the Spirit gives hope to the world in the violent death of Jesus on the Cross.

At His baptism the dove lighted on Him and John tells us that the Spirit abode upon Him. Thus in Our Lord the Spirit found a permanent resting place and "without measure", and this is continued through the gift of Christ, in the Church.

b. Water

Our Lord uses this symbol both in John 4:13,14 and John 7:38,39 speaking each time of life, fruitfulness and sufficiency. In the Old Testament rain is used of the refreshing and reviving influences of the Spirit - Deut.32:2; Ps.72:6 Hos.6:3; Zech.10:1.

Dew speaks of mellowing and fragrance - Isa.18:4; Hos.14:5. Two other outstanding references to the Holy Spirit under the symbol of water are found in Ezek.36:25-27 and 47:1-12.

c. Fire

For this symbol (Malachi. 3 : 1-3 and Matt. 3 : 11-12.) The fire was always God's sign of acceptance of the sacrifice in Old Testament times. It was so in the time of Elijah (1 Kings 18). The Shekinah glory also comes under the same category. It was one of the emblems of Pentecost and signifies the purifying, penetrating, energizing influences of the Holy Spirit.

d. Atmosphere

God breathed into man and he became a living soul (Gen.2:7); likewise Jesus breathed on His disciples and said "receive ye the Holy Ghost". The same type is revealed in Ezek.37 where at the prophecy of Ezekiel, God breathed on the dry bones from the four corners of the earth and they lived.

The rushing mighty wind was also one of the emblems of Pentecost. Wiley has a most interesting passage concerning this symbol, "The atmosphere exerts a pressure of approximately fifteen pounds to the square inch, or about 32,000 upon an ordinary man. So the Spirit is said to have fallen upon the disciples, the term indicating pressure (Acts 8:16; 10:44).

The balance of pressure within and without maintains a proper equilibrium. Without the inward pressure of the Spirit, the outward pressures of life would crush men; with the true inward strength of the Spirit, man needs outward tasks to challenge his efforts." The atmosphere is also physically the means of communication, so there is the communion of the Spirit.

e. Oil
The oil was used on kings, prophets and priests for anointing for service. So the unction and anointing of the Spirit is essential for service for the Lord. The formula and use of the anointing oil in Exodus 30:23-33 is very instructive.

It was a criminal offence to counterfeit the oil, neither could it be used for profane purposes. It could never be placed on man's flesh, unless the blood had been placed there first, and so the oil of the Spirit's anointing must always follow the application of the atoning blood.

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©2008 Church Education Trust