IV. THE EMBLEMS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Bible in our hands is a book that is to be interpreted literally and understood literally. When there is no interpretation needed it is better not to interpret the Bible. But God has also spoken to us in visions and used similitude (Hosea 12.10). There are also similes, metaphors, allegories,
parables, types and emblems in the Bible.
A simile is a figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another. When the psalmist says, “I am like a pelican of the wilderness” (Ps.102.6) he is comparing himself to that bird.
A metaphor is a figure of speech where one thing is called another. When the suffering servant is compared to a lamb brought to the slaughter (Isa.53.7) Isaiah is using a simile but when John says pointing to Jesus “Behold the Lamb of God” he is using a metaphor (Jn.1.29).
An allegory is a story told in metaphoric language. Paul says that the two systems of law and grace cannot co-exist. He uses the illustration of the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael born to the bondwoman Hagar, and Isaac born to the free woman Sarah. The former is of the flesh and the later by promise. This Paul says is an allegory, for these are two covenants (Gal.4.19-31).
A parable is the truth illustrated by a factual story or as sometimes said “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning”. There are several of them told by the Lord in speaking about the Kingdom of God (cf.Matt.13).
A type is an object, event or thing used to prefigure another object, event, or things. The Passover Lamb in the Old Testament is a type of Christ (1 Cor.5.7).
An emblem is a visible sign of an idea or an object or the representation of an object, which serves as a recognized symbol. Though some calls these symbols types and others emblems, what we intend to discuss in this section is the figurative representations of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Conservative students of Scriptures have said that it is only correct to see a type in the Old Testament if we see an anti-type in the New Testament. In his books on the “Emblems of the Holy Spirit”, F. E. Marsh discusses fourteen emblems of the Spirit.
In this section we will mention seven of them viz. 1. Dove, 2.Fire, 3.Oil, 4.Seal, 5.Water, 6.Wind, and 7.The Earnest.
1. The Dove
Mathew and the other gospel writers record that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ at the time of baptism in the form of a Dove. “And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightaway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him” (Matt.3.16; Mark.1.10; Lk.3.22; Jn.1.32).
While sending His disciples Jesus told them, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless (innocent) as doves” (Matt.10.16). One of the characteristics of the dove is its innocence. It is harmless. Holy Spirit is harmless. He is a comforter like Jesus who comes to our help.
Gentle as a dove is a common expression. The gentleness of Jesus is expressed in the words that he would not “break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick” (Matt.12.20).
In the book of Genesis the Spirit is mentioned as hovering or brooding over the waters (Gen.1.2). Probably it is the picture of a bird (possibly a dove) brooding over the eggs to hatch it. The life giving or energizing work of the Spirit in portrayed here.
After the flood Noah sent out a dove from the Ark three times to discover whether the waters had subsided from the face of the earth. Here we have of an emblem of life returning to the earth after the ravages of the flood.
The eyes of the Beloved is described by the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon thus: His eyes are like doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set” (S.o.S. 5.12). Here we have a picture of purity.
The emblem of a ‘dove’ signifies therefore, innocence,gentleness, purity and life giving nature of the Spirit.
This is one of the prominent symbols of the Holy Spirit. When Moses went to see the burning bush, he was trying to see why the bush does not burn. But God called him from the midst of the bush. The fire signified the presence of God (Ex.3.1-6). Our God is a consuming fire (Heb.12.29). The cloven tongues as of fire came and sat on the believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.1-4). This signified the presence of the Holy Spirit with them.
Fire is a symbol of judgment. John the Baptist prophesied that the One who was coming after him will baptize them with the Holy Ghost and fire. He explained that, His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt.3.12). The Lord sent thunder, hail and fire and judged the land of Egypt (Ex.9.22).
Fire also is a symbol of purification. Job said when he has tested me I shall come forth as gold (Job 23.10). In the year King Uzziah died, prophet Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, when he confessed his sinfulness. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar and he touched my mouth with it and said: Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away and your sin purged” (Isa.6.6-7).
In their wilderness journey the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire led the children of Israel (Ex.13.21, 22). This is a sign of God’s protection and guidance of His people. The Spirit guides His people. As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Rom.8.14).
The Lord consumed the sacrifice by fire. When the priestly ministry began Aaron offered the sin offering, the burnt offering and the peace offerings. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar (Lev.9.22- 24). Thus God accepts the sacrifice offered by the High priest. The fire is thus a sign of God’s acceptance of His people’s sacrifice. On Mt. Carmel when Elijah offered the sacrifice fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.
Oil is used for anointing the prophet, the priest and the king of Israel. God told Elijah to anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah as prophet in his stead (1 King 19.16). Aaron the High priest was anointed with oil (Ex.30.25, 30). David the King also was anointed (2 Sam.2.1-4, 11. Oil is a symbol of anointing.
When Jesus came to the synagogue of Nazareth He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book He found the place where it was written; ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor….”(Lk.4.17, 18; cf. Also Acts 10.38). Jesus was anointed by the Spirit. A believer has also the anointing in him. John says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all things” (1Jn.2.20).
Figuratively the oil is used for joy and gladness (Isa.61.3); brotherly love (Ps.133.2); and grace (Matt.25.4). The Spirit is a Spirit of Joy, love and grace.
Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph.1.3). This is the guarantee of their inheritance. The earnest of the Spirit is given in our hearts (2 Cor.1.22). Believers are asked not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby
they are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph.4.30).
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, if anyone thirst let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit (Jn.7.37-39). Jesus told the woman of Samaria, “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” (Jn.4.14). The water is a symbol of life and cleansing. The Lord has promised that, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isa.44.3).
“The Spirit of God was moving over the waters” (Gen.1.2) is sometimes translated, the wind of God. Both the words (Hebrew ruah; and Greek pneuma) have the same meaning. In His discourse with Nicodemus on spiritual birth Jesus said, “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” (Jn.3.8). The wind is gentle and invisible. So is the Spirit of God.
The gentle Spirit is also powerful. That aspect of the Spirit is pictured in the words “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like then rush of a mighty wind’ (Acts 2.2). The Spirit of God is mighty in power.
Another translation of the Hebrew word ‘ruah’ is ‘breath’. God made Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. In the vision of Ezekiel the Lord told the dry bones in the valley “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live. This is the symbol of the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of life.
7. The Earnest
An earnest money is the advance payment. The believer is saved already. He is redeemed. Yet he is waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body. The Spirit of God, which is the earnest, is the guarantee that one day the salvation will be complete and he will be redeemed. God has given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor.1.22; 5.5) until the redemption of the purchased possession