If we read the entire Bible, we find that the Holy Spirit manifested himself, or was symbolized, in about nine different physical things. They serve to reveal to us the many facets of his personality and unlimited power. Those symbolic manifestations are the following:
1. Hand: “And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” Ezekiel 8:1-4
The Holy Spirit is like a guiding hand that directs us toward revelation, like he did for Ezekiel. In Ezekiel’s case, he exposed something that Ezekiel would not have seen with his own physical eyes–secretive things being done behind closed doors that God wasn’t pleased with. The exposure of those things made Ezekiel more determined to serve God and encouraged his loyalty to him. We experience that same determination and loyalty when the Holy Spirit grabs hold of us like a hand.
2. Fire: “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:” Luke 3:16
“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:3-4
Like fire, the Holy Spirit of the Lord purifies us so God’s righteousness will have its place in our hearts and manifest in our lives. Also like a fire, he ignites in us power to exercise spiritual gifts with zeal.
3. Dove: “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:” Mark 1:10
The dove is symbolic of the gentleness and peace of the Holy Spirit. If we look at the first mention of a dove in scripture, pertaining to Noah (Genesis 8:8-12), we know that a dove symbolizes trustworthiness, reliability, faithfulness, and the ushering in of genuine rest. The dove Noah released displayed all of these traits and so does the Holy Spirit.
4. Wind: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” [John 3:8]
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2
The regeneration the Holy Spirit brings to a person’s spirit is a deep mystery that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but like the wind we can see, hear, and feel the effects he brings about in a person’s life. We can’t know the exact time he will come to bring about the change, or under what exact circumstances he’ll bring the changes, or the exact destination he’ll take someone in this life with the changes, but when he makes changes, the results are clear and tangible.
5. Water: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” John 7:37-39
The Holy Spirit is like a never-ending stream providing constant refreshment to the believer when they need it and he fills us with his spiritual resources as he dwells in us.
6. Oil: “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.” 1 Samuel 16:13
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38
Oil symbolizes how the Holy Spirit anoints us in preparation for his service.
7. Seal: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30
Like a seal, the Holy Spirit vouches for our authenticity and that we are God’s property. He serves as bona fide proof a transaction has taken place between God and us that has no expiration date and cannot be nullified.
8. Horns: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6
Horns symbolize power. Seven horns referring to the Spirit testify of his complete power he exercises all over the earth to affect the hearts and affairs of men as he sees fit.
9. Eyes: “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6
Eyes speak of insight–knowledge teamed up with wisdom and understanding. Seven eyes symbolize how the Spirit sees everything that goes on throughout all of creation, including the motives for people’s actions and the spirit(s) behind all actions.
Harry A. Gaylord