Symbols of the Spirit
By Mark A. Finley
The Bible uses various symbols to describe the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit, each symbol revealing a distinct role. These symbols communicate facets of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to our hearts. God speaks to us through these symbols to encourage and strengthen our faith. In this month’s lesson we will study four of these symbols of the Holy Spirit: wind, water, fire, and oil. As you study each symbol, prayerfully ask God to apply the truths you discover to your own life.
How did Jesus describe the mystery of the new birth to Nicodemus? Why do you think Jesus used the symbol of wind? Read John 3:7, 8.
Read the vision God gave in Ezekiel 37:1-10. What spiritual condition is described here? What solution does God offer? How does this apply to us?
When Ezekiel saw the valley of dry bones, representing spiritual death, he was filled with despair. In response to God’s question, “Son of man, can these bones live?” the prophet’s response was “O Lord God, You know” (Eze. 37:3). What seemed impossible to the prophet was possible with God. God breathes new life into spiritually dead lives. The symbol of breath represents the life-giving power of God through the Holy Spirit to transform spiritual death into spiritual life.
At a time of severe drought what promise did God give His people? What is the deeper meaning of this promise, and how does it relate to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Read Joel 2:21-23, 28, 29 and Acts 2:1-3, 16-21.
The outpouring of rain during severe famine and drought in ancient Israel symbolized the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to launch the Christian dispensation. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power resulted in tens of thousands coming to Christ in the book of Acts. God promises to pour out His Holy Spirit again at the end of time to complete the gospel commission.
What counsel does God give His end-time people regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with latter-rain power? Read Zechariah 10:1 and James 5:7, 8.
Ellen White wrote: “The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close” (The Great Controversy, pp. 611, 612).
Why does God use the symbol of fire to symbolize the Holy Spirit? What does fire represent? Read Malachi 3:2, 3 and Hebrews 12:29.
In Scripture, fire represents the purifying presence of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord invites us to pray daily that the fire of the Spirit’s presence will consume the worldliness in our lives.
What facet of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is represented by oil in the Bible? Read the following passages and discover the meaning of oil: James 5:14, 15 and Luke 10:33, 34.
Throughout the Bible the symbol of oil is associated with consecration and healing. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus longs to heal the scars deep within and make us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually whole.
How can we receive in its fullness this precious gift God has for us? Read Luke 11:13.
As we come to Jesus, believing that He longs to pour out His Spirit to give us new life, purify our souls, and heal us within, we can have absolute confidence that He longs to give us the gift of His Spirit even more than we long to receive it. Coming to Him in faith, we can have the assurance that He always hears the pleas of His children for the Spirit, and will bless us beyond our expectations.