Emblems and symbols for the Holy Spirit

Emblems & Symbols for the Holy Spirit


The Bible uses a number of symbols and emblems to represent the Holy Spirit. Each of these teach us about Him and His ministy.

Romans 1:20

:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Romans 1:20 – Twentieth Century New Testament

:20 For ever since the creation of the universe God’s invisible attributes-his everlasting power and divinity-are to be seen and studied in his works, so that men have no excuse;

As this verse shows, God has placed things about Himself in His creation. There are many things about creation which teach us about Him.

We also need to realise that creation has been affected by man’s sin which introduced death. The things which man’s sin introduced are not from God, so they do not show Him, but what God placed within His original creation can teach us about Him.

Just like when an artist paints a picture, there are things you can tell about the artist from the painting, like His mood or feelings at the time, so it is with God and His creation.

God’s invisible attributes can be seen in His works – creation

Jesus often used natural principles to teach things about God and the things of the spirit. He spoke of seeds, sheep and Shepherds etc.

In the same way the Bible uses emblems and symbols to teach us about the Holy Spirit. Each of these emblems helps us understand different aspects and attributes of the Holy Spirit.

We need to be careful not to take the emblems further than they are intended to go! The Holy Spirit is not the emblem, it is simply something that graphically illustrates certain attributes of the Spirit.

Lets examine some of these emblems and learn what they teach us. There are more than the ones listed below, but these are some of the most common ones:

Symbols for the Holy Spirit

 

1) The Dove:

Luke 3:22

:22 And the Holy Spirit descended, in a visible form, like a dove, upon him, and from the heavens came a voice–“Thou art my Son, the Beloved; in thee I delight.”

This does not say that the Holy Spirit IS a Dove, it simply says ‘like’ a dove. The dove is specifically chosen because it shows us some truths about the Holy Spirit.

He could have chosen an elephant, a lion, cheetah etc, but He chose a dove.

People have used this to teach all kinds of things about the Holy Spirit, however any symbol can be taken too far. Some teach the Holy Spirit is so easily offended and leaves at the slightest upset (like a dove). However this is not how the Bible uses this symbol.

Notice that we are not told The Holy Spirit mirrors every characteristic of a dove. We are told that He ‘descended’ like a dove. In other words it is primarily the way the Holy Spirit descended that was similar to how a dove descends.

We must balance this symbol for the Holy Spirit with the other ones, as each teaches us specific characteristics about Him

The Dove is a type of the Holy Spirit! It is an international symbol for peace. (God is God of peace).

Under the law it was a pure, clean bird and represented purity. The dove is a symbol of the nature of the Holy Spirit.

 

2) Fire:

Acts 2:3-4

:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In contrast to a dove, the Holy Spirit is also a fire!

God does not ONLY use a dove to show us about the Holy Spirit, because there are many things that the Spirit is that are not seen in a dove. For this reason God has used more symbols. It is when we put all the symbols together, that we get a fuller picture of who He is.

Some people might associate a dove with weakness, but the Holy Spirit is not weak, so we are also give emblems for Him which show strength and power.

When the Holy Spirit arrived on Pentecost, He came with a MIGHTY rushing wind and fire! (we’ll look next at the wind)

When fire sits on you, you know it! Spiritual fire isn’t natural fire! Things in the natural are patterned after realities in the spiritual, but the things of the spirit are so much more!

When Moses saw a burning bush, he noticed that the fire didn’t consume the bush – it wasn’t natural it was supernatural. The fire in response to Elijah’s prayer DID consume the altar! So supernatural fire has qualities that go beyond natural fire, but at their core, fire is fire. It is mighty and powerful.

The God we serve is a God who answers by fire! He is not weak. He is not a wimp.

He is so amazing because He does not abuse His power, but He certainly has it!

Having revelation of Him will cause you to have a fear of God – awe. Seeing how Big and Powerful He is.

We need to know something about the greatness of our God! Fire gives light, heat, burns chaff – it purifies. We have things that need to be ‘torched’ in our lives: purified! Fire burns up impurities, producing purity.

Fires can be small, bringing warmth; they can also be huge and powerful.

Fire refines metals and tries faith. Malachi 3:2,3. 1 Peter 1:7

Our God is a consuming fire and His Spirit is a Spirit of fire.

In the Old Testament fire was the symbol of God’s presence and an instrument of His power. We see a burning bush, pillar of fire, sacrifices consumed by fire. On the day of Pentecost, fire was a symbol of the invisible operation of the Holy Spirit on hearts

Deuteronomy 4:24; Exodus 3:2, 19:18; Exodus 13:21-22; Luke 3:16-17; Hebrews 12:29

 

3) Wind:

Acts 2:1-4

:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Holy Spirit announced His arrival with a rushing mighty wind and with fire. This was not a natural wind: It was blowing INSIDE – it filled the house. This was not just done for entertainment purposes, it was a demonstration of the power of the Spirit.

John 3:8

:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The wind is a force that cannot be controlled by man. People have tried to control the move of the Holy Spirit, but they cannot. Wind can be a gentle breeze or a strong overpowering force. It is an invisible force which has an effect upon the visible realm.

Wind is air in motion. Air is vital for life.

The Spirit brings life. Hang gliders and sailors have to learn how to catch the wind and ride the currents. It is the same with The Holy Spirit. He is not just sent to follow you around and blow your sail the way you want to go.

You need to sense when the wind is changing direction and adjust your sails. Learn to ride the wind of the Spirit and allow it to take you where He is going!

 

4) Wine:

Matthew 9:16, 17

:16 “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
:17 “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”.

Wine is a type of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out, people said the Apostles and other disciples were ‘drunk’. Peter stood up and said, ‘They are not drunk, this is the Holy Spirit being poured out as Joel spoke about…’

Ephesians 5:18

:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Here he says in a sense, ‘Don’t be drunk on natural wine, but be filled spiritual wine – the Holy Spirit’.

 

5) Water:

Water is one of the most common symbols of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit falls on people LIKE rain, He bubbles up inside, He flows out like a river – rivers are divers and varied – there are varied flows of the Spirit.

Water comes in so many different forms – mist, clouds, dew, a well, shower, rain, lakes, rivers, the ocean, floods. Water is used for cleaning, so the Holy Spirit cleanses. As water in the natural refreshes, quenches the thirst and gives life, so the Holy Spirit refreshes quenches spiritual thirst and gives life.

Water is absolutely essential to all physical life and God’s influence in our lives is absolutely essential for life!

Isaiah 44:3

:3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring;

The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit like rain.

He falls like rain. Rain is necessary for the harvest. (Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7).

The Book of Joel speaks of the dry, barren, lifeless land. It then speaks of God sending the former and the latter rain (Joel 2:23) transforming the land and producing a bountiful harvest. This rain is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and the effect He has upon dry, barren areas.

An area where there is no revival and no move of God can be transformed by an outpouring of Holy Spirit rain!

The move of the Holy Spirit is connected to bringing in the harvest of souls. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out, 3000 people got Born Again.

A river can be a powerful force.

John 4:14

:14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 7:37-39

:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
:39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

In John 7:39 it clearly states that these rivers are the Spirit.

Jesus spoke of two different applications of water in our lives: The fountain (well) and the River (Running water: flood, stream, river).
These show the dual working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer:

(1) The New Birth and
(2) The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

(we will study this dual working later in other articles)

 

6) The Cloud: (The glory)

2 Chronicles 5:13

:13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,

Numerous times in the Old Testament we see a could filling the Temple. This was not a natural cloud, but was indoors! In Ezekiel we see this cloud connected to the Glory of the Lord.

Ezekiel 10:3-5

:3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court.
:4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory.
:5 And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks.

Notice the connection between the glory of the Lord and the cloud. The Spirit of God IS the Glory of God as we can see by the following 2 scriptures of Jesus being raised from the dead.
Jesus raised from the dead by the glory

Romans 6:4

:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Raised from the dead by the Spirit

Romans 8:11

:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The glory cloud shows the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, and often was connected to the Temple, sacrifices and worship. Spending time in the glory of His presence can have an amazing effect upon a person, transforming them in areas and causing them to get free in areas they have struggled.

 

Take the time to study and pray about these symbols for the Holy Spirit more. Learn what it is that God is showing us through these emblems and make it your desire to experience the Holy Spirit in all His multifaceted manifestations.

 

This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.

(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.

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Owen Walton

About Owen Walton

Owen is a full time Minister and runs Exceeding Faith Ministries, which is an itinerant teaching Ministry. His desire is to help Christians understand the Bible and get established in biblical truths.