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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : SYMBOLS FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT by Jim Cymbala

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 SYMBOLS FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT by Jim Cymbala

The Bible has several symbols for the Holy Spirit. One is wind, which in the original Greek in the New Testament is the same word as breath. Wind helps us to visualize the invisible and mysterious movement of the Spirit (see John 3:8).

A dove symbolized the Spirit during Jesus’ baptism. “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” (Mark 1:10). The Holy Spirit is all-powerful yet strangely gentle and sensitive in His dealings with us. We can all too easily grieve Him.

Oil is a symbol often used for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is likened to the oil that was put on almost everything in the tabernacle. When it was built as a place of worship, not only were the temple objects anointed with oil, but so also were the priests. Later the elders of the early church were instructed to pray for the sick and to anoint the ailing believers with oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (James 5:14).

Fire is one of my favorite symbols for the Holy Spirit. It is used to represent the power and presence of God. When John the Baptist came on the scene before Jesus appeared, he said, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16, emphasis added).


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