Article based on a Sermon given 20 May 2018

Symbols of God's Holy Spirit

by Joseph Forson

(PLAY FROM START)

Today is the Feast of Pentecost. It reminds us of the time God inaugurated or officially started the New Testament Church by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon the one hundred twenty assembled for the Feast. There are many things that Pentecost should remind us of. We covered seven of them in a message that is on the website, but today I want to do something different.

Let's start in Romans 11:33. There Paul was concluding his treatise on the plan of salvation: how God called Israel, and because of their disobedience, allowed them to be blinded and brought in some Gentiles to graft into the tree of Israel. Eventually, all Israel will be saved. He concluded then by saying:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33 NKJ){1}

Paul is saying here that the things of God are not easy to grasp in full detail. God's ways are past finding out. But God expects us as we come together from Sabbath to Sabbath or Holy Day to Holy Day, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; so that we can build the Holy righteous character necessary to be in the Family of God. As well as be ready to teach the things we learn from Sabbath to Sabbath. One very important area to grow in, is the understanding of God's Holy Spirit.

We know it is not a third person in a Trinity. We know also, that it is not a third force that God takes and uses. In Nigeria, when a Chief is ordained or, put in office, they have something they call the OFOR, just like the sceptre, that the Queen will hold when she is sitting on the throne, in official situation. And and the king whenever he is there holds that OFOR as a symbol of his power. If he wants anyone executed, he points it at the person, and that is for you, because he has the power in his hand.

The Holy Spirit is not something that God holds in His hand to point at people to carry out His will. We know that God is Spirit, God is Holy; so God is Holy Spirit. Our Lord and Saviour when He was resurrected and joined the Family, became Holy Spirit too. So, it is an area we need to grow in understanding. We that when we read passages like Acts 13:1:

"Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger [a Nigerian], Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" (Acts 13:1-2)

Now people who believe in the trinity, or that the Holy Spirit is a third person say; "You can see; it talks, the Holy Spirit 'said'." But we can have a better understanding if we look at I Corinthians 1:1 and then Galatians 1:1. Firstly I Corinthians 1:1 Paul writes:

"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother," (I Corinthians 1:1)

Then in Galatians 1:1:

"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)," (Galatians 1:1)

So, when we put that together with Acts 13 we see when the Holy Spirit spoke, we could correctly assume it was Jesus Christ, who is the Spokesman, who said it; and it was the will of the Father. So, it is not that the Holy Spirit as a third force or other Being that speaks. It is quite possible, brethren, that God allowed the Bible to be written this way, so that those He is not calling because they are not yet ready to submit to God's truth and obey Him, will not come to a knowledge of the truth, and then become condemned. James 4:17 says:

"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)

Now if someone comes to know some of the things God is commanding us or requiring us to do, and they don't do it, James 4:17 says that it is sin. We know; "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). So, to avoid killing people who are not yet ready to go God's Way, God may have allowed the Bible to be written in this way. But we, when we come together from Sabbath to Sabbath, are expected to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, because we are going to be teachers when we are born into the God Family. So, the understanding of the Holy Spirit is one of the things that we need to make sure that we properly understand and are ready to teach.

Let's turn to John 3:1-10. Here we see a teacher of the law, which means he was supposed to understand the law; Nicodemus came to Jesus Christ by night and started asking questions:

" 'Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not [be surprised] marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. [And spirit is like...]. 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.' Nicodemus answered and said to Him, 'How can these things be?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not [understand] these things?' " (John 3:1-10)

So we, if we are going to grow to be teachers, beginning with Israel and then later the rest of the world, we have got to understand these things. We have got to be able to rightly explain what God's Spirit is. Spirit is not something that we can see, or smell, or taste, or hear, or touch, using our five senses. So, because of that, God has used different symbols to help His people understand how He works in us and for us. So, today in this sermon, entitled; 'Symbols of God's Holy Spirit' we will look at the following seven symbols so that we can grow in our knowledge and understanding of how God works for us and in us through His Spirit. The seven symbols we will be looking at are:

1) The Breath of God

2) Wind

3) Water

4) Oil

5) Lamp or Fire

6) Dove

7) A Seal

1) THE BREATH OF GOD (PLAY FROM 10:44 )

Let us start with the breath of God as the first of the seven symbols that teach us how God works in us through His Holy Spirit. We start in Genesis 2:7 where we see that the Breath of God brought Adam to life:

"And the [Eternal] God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)

Some translations say; "...living soul [nephesh]." (Genesis 2:7). So, just as man breathes to live, that is how the Breath of God gives us life, eventually eternal life. In Psalm 104:30, we see other things the Breath of God can do:

"You send forth Your Spirit, they are created [God through Jesus Christ spoke, the Breath that came out of His mouth was Holy Spirit, and it created whatever He spoke into existence]; And You renew the face of the earth." (Psalm 104:30)

In Psalm 33:6 we see the same thing, how God uses the Breath that comes out of His mouth, to accomplish His Will:

"By the word of the [Eternal] the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." (Psalm 33:6)

So His Breath gives life, it a creative force, it brings things into being. His Breath, or the words that came out of His mouth, brought creation into existence; Jesus Christ said in John 6:63: (and He was the One that God created all things through - Colossions 1:16)

"It is the Spirit [that] gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63)

So, the Breath that comes out of His mouth gives life; if that is what He intends. We can see this again in the Old Testament in Job 33:4. Here Elihu got into the discussion and was explaining to Job and his three friends:

"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4)

So, we see that God's Breath, or God's Spirit that proceeds from Him when He speaks creates life, it gives life. We can therefore conclude that; God uses His Breath as a symbol to teach us how His Holy Spirit works in us as a life-giving agent, divine life in this case. Which means that - since Christ said; "...The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) - that if we study the Bible, if we continue to study, we are taking in the Breath of God. What we are studying will produce eternal life eventually in us.

Of course, if we do not study, then we are dying spiritually. He said the same thing; "...Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53). We are committing spiritual suicide if we neglect Bible Study.

So, let's remember this first symbol; that God's Spirit - as breath - represents a life-giving agent. If we want more of God's Holy Spirit, we must study His Word daily, otherwise we will gradually be dying.

2) WIND (PLAY FROM 15:56)

The second symbol that God uses to teach us how His Holy Spirit works in us, is to liken it to wind. Meaning that it is an invisible, yet a very, very powerful force; invisible yet very, very powerful force. Let us look at Exodus 14:21 this is the opening of the Red Sea. God told Moses to spread out his hand;

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the [Eternal] caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided." (Exodus 14:21)

Not only did the water coming down stop, the water also flowing the other way stopped and was held in position; because He wanted again to use that crossing of the Red Sea as His symbol of baptism, which we can find in I Corinthians 10:2:

" all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea," (I Corinthians 10:2)

So the water was standing there, which is unnatural. If He stopped the water coming down, the water this way should flow. That happened in the Jordan River when they were crossing. Once when the priests stood in the water the water coming, stopped, but the water going down, continued. The Israelites walked on dry ground. But in this case to picture baptism, God allowed the water to stop and stand on both sides and to cross, and with a cloud over them, it was like they were covered or enveloped by water. So, it pictured a kind of baptism. The power of the wind is different from the Breath of God. This is an incredible power to make that happen at the Red Sea.

If we turn also to I Kings 19:11 this was when Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel who had threatened his life after he caused all the prophets of Baal to be slain:

"Then He said, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain before the [Eternal].' And behold, the [Eternal] passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the [Eternal], but the [Eternal] was not in the wind..." (I Kings 19:11)

This wind that produced would break rocks. So, you can imagine in the Kingdom when we have to level various places, we just cause a strong wind to come and the mountain will come down. Just by the Word of God it will be fragmented and broken into pieces. These things are going to be possible when we are made members of God's Family. Whether it is opening of the Red Sea, or just making rocks fly here and there by speaking. I Kings 19:11:

"...and after the wind an earthquake, but the [Eternal] was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the [Eternal] was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." (I Kings 19:11-12)

So, the wind is another symbol that God uses to let us understand the power of His Spirit that proceeds from Him.

Wind power like in a hurricane or a tornado, scientists tell us, is incredible. They say that when a hurricane immediately starts building up, to when it diminishes, can generate as much power as is generated on the whole planet. It said the power of the hurricane is about the same as ten thousand nuclear bombs. One hurricane! So if you imagine what one bomb did to Nagasaki or Hiroshima - we can understand the kind of power God is trying to tell us He has, and He can use it to defend us or open up a way for us. That is enough power as I said, to supply many countries with electricity for many years.

We all remember what hurricanes are like - having been in the US - beginning with the most destructive one, Katrina and then recently, Hurricane Harvey. Even in the Philippines, we all remember the hurricane that came in Tacloban and the kind of damage it did. So, when in Acts 2:1;

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come [because, some people were keeping it on the wrong day], they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." (Acts 2:1-2)

So strong, that people heard the rattling and the shaking of the building all over the city and came running to see what was going on. Of course, then the fire, which we will come to, also one of the symbols. So when we read in Acts 2:1-4 about the power of God that came as a mighty, rushing wind on Pentecost, God was demonstrating His awesome power to the new Church; power to open our minds, to understand!

We see what happened to Peter, he was called a Galilean; "...for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it." (Mark 14:70). That is an illiterate. Galileans are not supposed to have much education. Here was Peter, quoting from the Old Testament and making prophetic statements in the message he gave that day. That is the kind of power that God's Holy Spirit can produce in an individual. When it comes like a wind indoors, suddenly Peter was able to give the kind of sermon he gave. In John 16:8, our Lord told us something of what the Spirit can do:

"And when [it] has come, [it] will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." (John 16:8-11)

Like the rocks that were flying left, right, centre when Elijah was going to stand there and watch the demonstration of God's power, through the power of His Spirit - no matter how hardened our minds are - our hardened minds can be opened to understand God's truth and be made soft so that we can be convicted; as Peter's message convicted those who were listening to him.

The power that opened up the Red Sea and held back the Jordan, that's God's Holy Spirit. That is the power that will come from us when we are born into the Family as sons of God. So, wind is the second way God lets us understand the kind of power that His Holy Spirit represents.

3) WATER (PLAY FROM 25:01)

The third symbolic way that God uses to teach us how His Holy Spirit works is to liken it to water. Water has cleansing, purifying and thirst-quenching qualities. In Hebrews 9:9 Paul was talking about the Old Covenant, a symbol of washing; how it involved a lot of cleansing of sin:

"It [the washing, the cleansing and so on] was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience - concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time [when we'll begin to understand what God's Spirit can really do]. But Christ came as a High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh," (Hebrews 9:9-13)

When one is declared unclean, maybe carrying a dead body, or whatever; and washed with water and the ashes {2} of the red heifer, they were pronounced clean, and could then come back into the city. If that could happen, to clean somebody to be physically accepted back again into Israel, Hebrews 9:14:

"how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered..." (Hebrews 9:14)

Not just the blood of an animal, He was an ever-living Eternal Being. When He accepted to come and be the propriation, the sacrifice for sin, He gave up eternal life. Life that had no beginning but was going to be terminated at the point of death.

Christ came and He was Spirit, and that Spirit-life was converted and put into the egg in Mary's womb so that when that child was born and grew up to a man, and that blood was shed - it was the eternal life that He had before He became a man, that was wasted. So His Eternal life is enough to pay for all the sins of all the people in Britain and Nigeria and everywhere in the world many times over. That is why He had to die by being pierced with a spear and the blood shed. He could have been killed in other ways. He could have died from the flogging He received but; "For the life of the flesh is in the blood..." (Leviticus 17:11). The blood has to be shed. So, it was His Eternal life that He gave up! Philippians 2:8 says the same thing:

"...He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:8)

Christ did not hold onto His Godhead as something to be grasped but gave up that Eternal life; so that we can be forgiven for our sins when we repent. In Ephesians 4:25 we read, talking about the new man now:

"Therefore, putting away lying, 'Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,' for we are members of one another. '[You can] Be angry, and do not [let it lead you to] sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath [go to your brother, get the issue settled], nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:25-30)

Paul here, is showing how we can be de-leavened by God's Spirit. When we become a new person, we can be cleaned up through the Spirit because symbolically the Spirit is like water that washes and makes us clean before God when we repent.

Another symbolism in using water as one of the symbols of God's Holy Spirit is in Matthew 5:3, when Christ began His preaching He started with what we call the Beatitudes:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:3-9)

Notice; "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..." (Matthew 5:6). Do you remember, many of us in those days, how when we began to understand the truth? We were reading the magazine 'The Plain Truth'; it was surprising for us, we couldn't get enough, we couldn't wait for the next issue of 'The Plain Truth' or 'The Good News' to come! We were truly hungering and thirsting to know God's Way, to practice righteousness. It says; "...For they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6). How does God fill us? By His Word, which again we see is God's Holy Spirit.

So, water is a good thing to use as a symbol for God's Holy Spirit because that's what quenches the thirst of the Christian who is hungering and thirsting for God's righteousness. In John 4:10, this is where the woman at the well was asking Christ to give her water so that she would never thirst again. Christ said to her:

"Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

So that you would never thirst again. You will never have to come to this well. So, water is used as a symbol for one of the ways that God acts through and in our lives; quenching our thirst for righteousness, and our thirst for understanding. In Psalm 23:2, the shepherd's Psalm, we read that:

"...He leads me beside the still waters." (Psalm 23:2)

Quiet waters, not troubling waters; and then makes us drink there so that our thirst is quenched. These are some of the reasons why God uses water as a symbol for how His Holy Spirit works.

4) OIL (PLAY FROM 34:08 )

The fourth symbol that God uses to teach us how His Holy Spirit works, is oil. Oil has healing, and soothing, and preserving powers. Certain things that are put in oil can keep for some time. Remember; "Is there no balm in Gilead [that will heal the wounds] of my people?" (Jeremiah 8:22). Oil can be a symbol of God's Holy Spirit because of its healing, soothing and preserving powers.

We all know how if our car does not have engine oil in it, iron rubs against iron and you won't get very far before the engine conks out. Cars, generators, things that have moving parts rubbing against each other, need engine oil to smooth out the iron-to-iron contact. Psalm 133 Mr Armstrong said was his mother's favourite Psalm. It talks about the unity, the peace, the working together that we can have in the Church. Why? Because we have God's Holy Spirit which works like oil in an engine to smooth our relationships:

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon..." (Psalm 133:1-3)

The engine oil cools when it meets with metal to metal contact. Not burning up the engine; it also cools the engine because the oil picks up some of the heat and then passes that to the water that runs through the cooling system.

What we are seeing here is that Church members can dwell together and live together in peace and in unity if they allow God's Spirit to do its work like oil. We may be from different backgrounds with different traditions. In some countries people are very brusk in their ways, very rough in the way that they handle situations, and they have to grow and overcome that. If we allow God's Spirit to work amongst us like oil, we will not easily take offence as many have done.

They leave this group to go to that group because they took offence over one thing or the other. I know there are some people who may hear this sermon and they are offended because something happened to them here or there. I won't mention where so they won't know who I am talking about. But, the Spirit of God, if we allow it to work like oil in us, we should be able to smooth out these problems and work together in unity as Psalm 133 tells us. It is through God's Holy Spirit that the love, the joy, the peace, the patience with each other, the kindness we can show. The goodness, the meekness, the faith and the self-control can flow through us and make it possible for us to dwell together in unity.

Hydraulic jacks are used to lift heavy loads. A trailer can be what? - twenty some feet long and it can have a flat tyre. You bring out a jack and it can lift it without even dropping the cargo that, that truck is carrying. How does it get the power to do that? Oil, hydraulic oil in the jack. You just pump the handle and the truck begins to go. That is how powerful the Spirit of God as represented by oil, can be. You can lift a car, you can lift a truck. It is again pointing to the fact that a member who is full of God's Holy Spirit can carry more of the burden in the Church than those who don't have as much Spirit. They can carry more of the burden in God's Work; and they can do it without complaining. Galatians 6:2 we see Paul talking about bearing burdens in the Church:

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself [if you think you are full of God's Holy Spirit, when you cannot demonstrate this in how you relate to one another, then you are deceiving yourself]. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load [yet God expects us to support one another]. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Galatians 6:2-7)

So, the oil as a symbol of God's Holy Spirit teaches us that we, as hydraulic jacks can carry more of the burden, the work load in the Church if we have the Spirit of God backing us up.

Anointing oil was used for sanctification on occasions. We read in Exodus 30:22:

"Moreover the [Eternal] spoke to Moses, saying: Also take for yourself quality spices - five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting [to make it holy; the oil in this case represents the Holy Spirit of God] and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. You shall consecrate them [set them apart], that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests." (Exodus 30:22-30)

So, here oil representing God's Holy Spirit, sets people apart. It makes the material, the things they have in the tabernacle holy. So, oil is a good symbol, a good representation of God's Holy Spirit. When King Saul was anointed in I Samuel 10:1;

"Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: 'Is it not because the [Eternal] has anointed you commander over His inheritance?' " (I Samuel 10:1)

He was set apart and consecrated for that office. He told Saul where to go and he would see certain signs that God had set him apart. When you see those things I Samuel 10:6:

"Then the Spirit of the [Eternal] will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be [changed] turned into another man." (I Samuel 10:6)

You will be converted. So Saul had God's Holy Spirit. After he failed several tests, the Spirit of God left him and another spirit entered him and he began to have suicidal tendencies and murderous intentions against people who he thought were his enemies. Anointing oil is used to sanctify us, so God's Spirit can be pictured as oil.

In Mark 6:13 and James 5:14 are two examples of people who are sick being anointed with oil; again for God to heal them because it is a symbol of God's healing power. Mark 6:12 says:

"So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them." (Mark 6:12-13)

And James 5:14, we know what that is:

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." (James 5:14)

Again, a symbol of God's Holy Spirit that will do the healing. We lay hands on the individual to show that you are submitting to the power of God, the healing power of God, to His ministry that He works through. The laying on of hands, and healing is part of the foundational doctrines that we come under and into a Church where the government flows from the Father through Jesus Christ to the ordained ministers. So, they don't just anoint with oil, but they lay hands on; showing they are willing to submit to God and wait for His healing.

In Matthew 25 we have the parable of the ten virgins; and again, oil there oil symbolizes God's Holy Spirit. So that is the fourth symbol of God's Holy Spirit. We have looked at the Spirit as Breath, Wind, Water and now Oil.

5) FIRE (PLAY FROM 46:08 )

God's Holy Spirit is symbolized by fire in lamps; or fire that can destroy. Again, teaching us how His Spirt works, whether in us or in carrying out His will. When we look at Revelation 4:1 where we see God's throne in heaven:

"After these things I [John] looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.' " (Revelation 4:1)

Immediately it was 'like' being spirit, because of course you cannot as a human being stand in heaven and before God. He was taken in Spirit before God. Revelation 4:2:

"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald [like shimmering glory, maybe the same thing as the Jews call the Shekinah glory]. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps [what do they represent?] of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." (Revelation 4:2-5)

This can be compared to; "...The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:2) where it talks about Christ coming back to rule. The Spirit of God will be on Him. The Spirit of counsel and might and the attributes of God's Holy Spirit described there. So, the seven Spirits of God are pictured here as lamps burning before the throne of God Revelation 4:6:

"Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back." (Revelation 4:6)

So, right there we see around God's throne what was happening and fire plays an important part. The lamp plays an important part. You will remember how Mr Bowles explained in one of the sermons; how a lamp, even though it has a wick - a thread that burns - unless it is continually soaking the oil, the flame goes out. So, the oil really is what causes it to burn. The oil, representing God's Holy Spirit. That is a lamp burning - again, we see that with the virgins.

But apart from the lightning and thunder and lamps of fire, which all picture how God's Holy Spirit works; in Hebrews 12:18 we read about the experience of Israel when God gave the Ten Commandments. We will just read a few passages to illustrate the point that God's Spirit is not just a fire that gives light, but that God's Spirit is also, as the chapter concludes, it is a consuming fire:

"For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire [Exodus 20:18, Mount Sinai; whether there was a volcanic eruption or what, we don't know, but there was fire because God, as Spirit, appeared there as a consuming fire],{3} and to blackness and darkness and tempest," (Hebrews 12:18)

It might have been like the mountain that was spewing out volcanic eruption in Hawaii that is still going on, but that is what is described here. A mountain that spews out black smoke, ash and so on. Hebrews 12:19:

"and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore." (Hebrews 12:19)

That's where they decided "God we want you to set up a ministry, work through apostles, help them to understand the truth, and pass it down to the ministers and let the minister teach. 'Cos if you continue to speak to us directly, you will destroy us. We are seeing your presence; your Holy Spirit can appear as a destructive fire." They begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. Hebrews 12:20:

"(For they could not endure what was commanded: 'And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.' And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.')" (Hebrews 12:20-21)

He trembled and quaked at the very sight. Paul was telling the New Testament people, you are not coming to something physical like that. When God has called you into His Church, this is a most serious business. We are talking about the reality now of God's Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:22:

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant..." (Hebrews 12:22-24)

We are seeing here something that is even more powerful. God's Spirit in us is even more powerful than the physical things that they saw when God gave the Commandments. Hebrews 12:25:

"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks [let the Word of God dwell richly in you, listen to what you are learning from your Bible study or from the sermons]. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, 'Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.' Now this, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain [we are looking for a new heaven and new earth probably spiritual, totally]. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace [ let us grow in grace and in knowledge, receive the gift of God and all these things that grace can mean], by which we may serve God [in the correct way] acceptably with reverence and godly fear [why?]. For our God is a [destroying] consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)

God is a consuming fire. In II Peter 3:3:

"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days...saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? [They willfully forget what God has done in the past, verse 5] For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water [God just spoke and it happened like that, God's Spirit represented as water], by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (II Peter 3:3,5-7)

So, let's not forget this one thing, that it may take a long time, for to God one day is like a thousand years, but it will still happen. Our God is the consuming fire! Let's turn to Hebrews 10:26 God will destroy stubborn people and He will cleanse the earth with fire:

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries [our God is a devouring fire]. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law [in those days] dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:26-29)

I tell people who treat the Passover lightly when coming to observe the covenant in the blood, as Christ said; "For this is My blood..." (Matthew 26:28). If you treat it lightly how much sorer punishment do you think that you would deserve? If you disgrace, insult the sacrifice that Christ made for us? Hebrews 10:30:

"For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.' It is [and it will be] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30-31)

Why? Because He is a consuming fire. Malachi 4:1 also shows us about this end-time fire:

"For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, Says the [Eternal] of hosts, 'That will leave them neither root nor branch [a consuming fire, total destruction]. But to you who fear My name The Son of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,' Says the [Eternal] of hosts." (Malachi 4:1-3)

So, God's Spirit is pictured as a consuming fire which will consume the wicked, the disobedient, the stubborn and they will be like ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous.

One last thing that fire pictures - that is this fifth symbol, the symbol of God's Holy Spirit as fire; it pictures the zeal that we must all have. We must be on fire for the Work of God. We must be on fire when we participate in services. What do we have to do? We struggle to stay awake. Zeal is an important quality that God's people should have. I was explaining this to them before I left so that the Church members will look to the three people we have that oversee, and look after, and help the brethren there. God expects them to be respected - we are all men under authority - it is going to be like that for eternity. Unfortunately, anybody who doesn't like authority when Christ returns - what does He say? The parable of the talents Luke 19:27:

"But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27)

I think Psalm 110 also talks about kings and others that He will execute when He comes. So, we are all men under authority. You are not just submitting to this individual, even though they are not ordained; but you should be looking to God who works through all of us and has caused me to give them this responsibility.

So, we are all men under authority and God always backs the people who are holding office. I started from the beginning, from Noah. He got drunk, and his grandson violated him. God didn't say; "Noah why did you do that and allow this young man to sin?" No, Noah cursed him and God upheld that, and still upholds it today! We still remain a servant of servants because that's what Noah said. And God supported him and upheld that curse. That is the third world, the descendents of Ham. And that is what it still is today.

Abraham and Lot; remember how Lot - if he was Nigerian, he would respect his uncle as a father, but he didn't. He was causing problems and supporting his men to fight against the men of Abraham. Abraham said; "Look, we don't need to quarrel. The whole land is before us. You go to the rightm, then I go left. You have the first choice." Lot should have said; "No, uncle that's not how it's done. You are older and make the first choice." But, he looked and saw where the water was and so on, and he said, "I'm going this way."

What happened to Lot? God upheld Abraham and the promises to Abraham. God is always behind His chosen leaders. First, the five kings attacked where Lot was living and took him captive. God allowed Abraham to go and deliver him. The next time, he went to live in Sodom and Gomorrah and this time he came out with 'zip', just his two daughters. What did they do? They caused him to get drunk again and produced Ammon and Moab. How many people in Jordan today? I don't think the population is over ten million. But immediately Lot left, what did God do? God took Abraham out to count the stars - "that's how your children will be".

"Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' " (Genesis 15:5)

Most people don't know. It's not just the three hundred million in America, the sixty million in the UK, and a few other places like Australia, Canada. Abraham's children are in the billions! While the descendants of Lot are less than ten million in Jordan today. God is always behind His chosen leader. I reminded them of that. We are always going to be people under authority as I Corinthians 15:28 says even after Christ has put down all opposition He, Himself will be subject to the Father, that the Father will be all in all.

"Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." (I Corinthians 15:28)

So, if you don't like to be under authority, because these men are not ordained, better think again; because Christ wants us to remember that we are men under authority. I gave the example of what a man under authority should understand, the Roman Centurion: (Matthew 8:9-10) He said, "I have people, I know what it means to be under authority", and Jesus looked at him and said "In the whole of Israel I haven't found someone who understood govenement like that. And you sitting down there, you children of Israel, you will see gentiles in the Kingdom; because they understand what authority is. They understand what it means to be a man under authority. I say; "You go" and you go. I say; "You come" and you come." When God says something, we don't begin to argue and say; "Well God; I think the better idea is..."

So, I explained that to them on the last point. The last point was that leaders have been chosen because of the 'A', the 'B', the 'C' and the 'Z'.

A - for the attitude of humility. God says; "...But on this one will I look..." (Isaiah 66:2).

B - for Bible knowledge. I gave examples of Paul writing to Timothy and so on.

C - for character. Character has to do with how we react, with dependability. The fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 all describe character.

Z - for zeal. We must be on fire for God's work. The Holy Spirit as fire represents that fire. It reminds us that if you have God's Holy Spirit you must be on fire. Jesus Christ was zealous for the work of God. In John 2:16 when He first drove out the people selling in the temple:

"...'Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!' Then His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.' " (John 2:16-17)

Sometimes in the Old King James, it would say; 'Our God is a jealous God' but it means; our God is a zealous God, Z for zealous. Being zealous "...has eaten Me up. (John 2:17). We want to be eaten up by it; if we have God's Spirit it must be working like that. We must be zealous for the things of God. We must be on fire for God.

How did the priesthood passed from the line of Aaron and was given to Phinehas? This is in Numbers 25:6-13. They - Israel- had gone to play the harlot. Balaam was trying to destroy Israel, one way or the other. The only way he could get them, was to get them to offend their God, and He will deal with them.

And they were crying and moaning, one young man brought his woman and they passed in front of Moses and the others and went into the tent and they were doing the unmentionable. How do we know that? When Phinehas went in with a spear, it said he pierced the man and it went through him and the lady. The only way you can do that is when one is on top of the other. God said; "I like Phinehas. The zeal he has for my house, my holiness, I am going to give him and his family line, the priesthood." (Numbers 25:6-13 paraphrased).

We must be on fire for God and the things of God. So, fire is used to picture the fact that we have God's Holy Spirit.

6) A DOVE (PLAY FROM1:08:17 )

In John 1:32 when Christ was baptized, John said:

"And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and [it] remained upon Him [God uses the dove, we see later the olive branch, as a symbol of His Spirit, emphasizing the aspect of peace and reconciliation]. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me how to recognize Him" (John 1:32-33 paraphrased)

John's main mission was to identify the Messiah. Remember when they came to him; "Who are you?" "No, I'm not this, I'm not that." "Then who is it?" "That man is the Messiah." He came to identify Jesus Christ.

So, this was one of all the prophetic fulfilments that Christ had to fulfil - e.g. they knew He was to be born in Bethlehem. When the kings came to Herod, he called the Jews and asked them; "Where is the Messiah to be born, the One that is to be King of the Jews? Here in Bethlehem?" So, they knew hundreds of prophecies that Christ fulfilled.

John was sent to give one final identification, and he was told; "When you are baptizing, look up, you will see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove." God did not choose a chicken or a raven or any other animal, but to look out for a dove as a symbol of God's Holy Spirit. Whoever you see that dove stand upon, He is the person.

Let's go to Genesis 8:6 and see where this first happened; the idea of using a dove as a symbol of peace and reconciliation and the earth having been cleansed by God's Holy Spirit as water:

"So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that [the trial, the flood, the destruction of mankind had ended; peace and reconciliation, God's Spirit was finally satisfied]." (Genesis 8:6-12)

Is it any strange thing that the United Nations uses the dove and the olive leaf as a symbol of peace? When two people are quarrelling you say; "Give him an olive branch" or something like that. Meaning, let's talk peace. So, God uses the dove and the olive branch as a symbol of peace. Peace is one of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit.

So here we see symbol number six. As I said, God could have used any other thing, but he chose to use this. Even when we look at the bird, we will see that its behavior is different; what it eats is different.

Last year when we travelled, where our electricity meter was in a nice quiet corner. These two doves decided to make their home there. By the time we came back they had a house. Every time we come from the living room, they flap around and give my wife a little bit of a scare. She wanted to drive them away. I said, "Uh huh, remember the Old Testament...when two doves are there and are having children, you can't take them down. Leave them until the birds begin to fly and they will eventually go and we will cover the spot. Sure enough, after the younger birds had grown up, the female dove, every time we came looking around where they can see you, that place to lay the eggs for the next season, they find that the place is covered.

We have water tanks high up and when the government water comes once a week or whatever, usually we aren't home, and the water begins to drop, so there is always water for them to drink and the neighbours around don't have a proper way of disposing their trash, so when they wash the food, they throw the water out, so there are grains of rice. So, there is food and water for them and they love the place. They are quiet birds. Early in the morning you hear them cooing and making nice love sounds and I tell my wife I hear the love music they are playing for us.

At any rate, the dove is a bird that rightly portrays these aspects of God's Holy Spirit. The peace and the reconciliation that God restored on the earth after the flood. In Matthew 5:9 we see how important it is to demonstrate the fact that we have God's Spirit and we are people who make peace:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9)

People who lead a peaceful life, who are peaceful in the conduct with their neighbours, who love doves and allow them to make their home around them even if they scare you when you come out! It is usually at night or late evening when you come in to fetch water.

Running water is something you cannot be sure you have all the time. We don't drink the water from the tank because it can grow algae and so on, so we have a special reservoir. Sometimes when we need water - we call it a shower, but it's not really a shower - you just take a bucket of water and get some hot water in it and then you apply the soap and just sponge around you. With a smaller bowl you take from the bucket, and you become the shower head and pour it on yourself! We have those experiences in Nigeria!

So; "Blessed are the peacemakers [we, if we live in peace with one another, are going to] be called children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

7) A SEAL (PLAY FROM 1:16:34 )

The final symbol of the seven that we will go through is the Spirit represented as a seal. God calls His Spirit a seal by which He has sealed us to teach us how He views us, how He wants others to look at us and so on.

The seal is not something very common these days, but when we were young growing up, if you had a registered letter, you want nobody to open it up or mess with the contents, you put a red seal on it. In fact, they used it for certificate of occupancy and so on. They put some red wax on it and put a rubber stamp. If the letter comes to you and the seal has been broken, then it means it has has been tampered with.

So, this is one of the symbols that God uses for the Holy Spirit. Being sealed by God's Spirit means that we belong to Him. II Timothy 2:15:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness [they begin to argue with which day to keep Pentecost, and various other things - solar, lunar calendars and things like that]. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past..." (II Timothy 2:15-18)

Probably remembering that after Christ died, some people came out of their graves. We don't know whether that is the reason Philetus and Hymenaeus were thinking of preaching that as doctrine. Anyway Paul said don't listen to such things. II Timothy 2:19:

"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His..." (II Timothy 2:19)

The minister can baptize them, the minister can lay hands on them, but; "...by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (I Corinthians 12:13). It's not by the laying on of hands where we are put into the Church; "...by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (I Corinthians 12:13). That is immersed, pushed into the Church of God. So, it is only God who knows whether that counselling has been properly done; whether that person has really repented. When He knows that the person is responding to His call; then when they are baptized and hands laid on them, God will give them the Holy Spirit.

I keep telling them; "Look, not everybody who is baptized should assume that you are part of God's Church. You should be sure that you are doing the right thing. You should be sure that you are studying. You shouldn't make excuses for that."

Paying tithes - you will understand that the money you earned, the whole earth belongs to God. You take out the first ten percent and give it to the Church. You take out a second ten percent and you keep it for the Feasts. Even if it is not enough for the Feast, the Church will then help you. People with excess second tithe will help you. When you have done that, then God says you can take the eighty percent, otherwise you are stealing from God. Check I Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10)

And also Revelation 21:8:

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire..." (Revelation 21:8)

So you say, you don't think you can afford to pay the tithe and so on; you are deceiving yourself. The Bible says; "...Don't be deceived..." (I Corinthians 6:9).

So, God uses a seal to set apart His people. He is the One who gives the Spirit, as we just read; "...The Lord knows those who are His..." (II Timothy 2:19). When we are sealed by God, it tells the whole world - this is in Psalm 105:13:

"When they went from one nation to another, From one kingdom to another people, He permitted no one to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, 'Do not touch My anointed [My sealed] ones, And do My prophets no harm.' " (Psalm 105:13-15)

It says the same thing in I Chronicles 16:22:

"Saying, 'Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.' " (I Chronicles 16:22)

So, we are God's private property, personal property. He says, "Look, this letter that has the seal, or this individual that has My Spirit, don't touch him. You touch him, it's like putting your finger in my eye. You are touching the apple of my eye." We have that special protection, that a letter in those days, may be sealed with. That when you put a wax on it and put a stamp, you have that special protection. In Revelation 7:4-8, we remember how 144,000 will be sealed; will be protected from the destruction of The Day of The Lord. So, sealing sets us apart that if we have God's Holy Spirit, we belong to Him. Ephesians 4:30 says:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

The day that God is going to come and claim His purchased possession; purchased with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brethren we can now better understand how God is working in us through His Holy Spirit, and how He works for us, defends us as He defended Israel. He can open up our own Red Sea.

You say; "There is no job opportunity." You have gone there several times, you can not get a contract. God says; "You are mine. Just go back there and you WILL get a job." God defends His people. If we are having problems, the Holy Spirit in us, if we both have it, it should be like oil and smooth our relationships and make it possible for us; "...to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1) and peace and so on.

We can better understand how God is working in us through His Spirit. First, as a life-giving power - the breath of life. Eternal life in our case. Let's read Romans 8:9-11:

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His [not a Christian, not a member of God's Church]. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness [because we are keeping God's laws and trying to live a righteous life with the help of the Spirit]. 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." (Romans 8:9-11)

So, we have seen that the Spirit of God is an eternal life-giving power in us.

We have seen God's Spirit as wind power. We have seen the power of hurricanes and so on. Unbelievable power! One hurricane can release more power than ten thousand atomic bombs from the time it begins to build up as a hurricane until it dies. This is real power.

It can open up difficult areas for us and give us opportunities and so on. If we have some area where we are stubborn as the wind before Elijah was breaking the rocks and so on that's how God can break down with the Spirit. We read John 16:8, He will convict us of sin, convict us of the need to be righteous because our judgment is coming. So, God's Spirit is pictured as wind power.

God's Spirit is pictured as water - to clean our minds and our consciences to serve the Living God and of course to quench our thirst for God's truth.

It is pictured as oil to smooth things out in His Church; to create unity and to heal wounds. We remember the parable of the good Samaritan cleaning the wound with wine to disinfect it and to put oil on it to mollify the skin to make it possible for the cuts to come together and heal and bind. Oil can do that. So, to smooth things out in the Church, God pictured the Holy Spirit as oil. It can do that. If you are a burden bearer in the Church, people will see that you are filled with God's Holy Spirit, like a jack that can lift a truck up.

We have also seen that the Holy Spirit can be like fire. A consuming fire that will burn up people who make a mess of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

We have seen it as a dove, a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Peace is one of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit.

Finally, we have seen the Spirit is like a seal. When God seals us for the day of redemption, He tells people; "Touch not my anointed and do my servants no harm."

So, let us allow God to do His work in us and through us so that we will eventually be in His Kingdom as His children.


Footnotes:

{1} Mr Forson uses the New King James Version throughout.

{2} Numbers 19 describes the ordinance of purification. It was its ashes mixed with water rather than its blood that did the cleansing.

{3} Mr Forson said The Mount of Olives instead of Mount Sinai.