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Lesson 2: The Holy Spirit Symbolized in Scripture *

Introduction: Guys, has anyone ever compared you to an elephant, a bull, a rooster or a chicken? Ladies, has anyone ever compared you to a flower, a tiger, a vision or a "tomboy?" We make such comparisons to help others get a better picture of the person we are discussing. God does this same kind of thing with the Holy Spirit. To help us better understand His nature, the Bible compares the Holy Spirit to several things which we will explore this week in our study. Let's plunge right into the Bible!

  1. Dove

    1. Read Luke 3:21-22. We read here that the Holy Spirit can take the form of an animal. Why would the Holy Spirit appear as an animal?

      1. Why take the form of this particular bird?

      2. Read Numbers 6:10-11. This chapter in Numbers describes what should be done if a person wants to especially dedicate himself to God for a period of time. This dedication is called a "Nazarite" vow. During the time of this vow you could not be in the presence of a dead body. If you were, the text we read described what should be done. Why do you think doves were sacrificed?

        1. What significance do you find in the fact that the Holy Spirit sometimes takes on the form of a sacrifice? (We think of Jesus as the Lamb of God - to remind us of His sacrifice for us. Another member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, takes on the form of another acceptable sacrifice. I think it helps show the Spirit's attitude towards us.)

    2. Read Matthew 10:16. Think back to the text we just read about Jesus' baptism. What connection can you see between Jesus and the Holy Spirit coming in the form of a dove? (This symbolized the innocence of Jesus and the role of the Holy Spirit in helping to keep Him that way. Compare John 3:14-15.)

  2. Water

    1. Read John 7:37-39. What does water do and why is it a good illustration of the Holy Spirit? (My brother lives in a home he just had built in Rancho Mirage, California. When I was walking in this new development dirty sand would fly around in the undeveloped lots, but where homes were built (and the land watered) it looked like a garden. Water completely transforms this desert area.)

      1. Look at John 7:38 again. What would it mean to have streams of living water flow from you? (You would help change those around you from dry, dusty Christians to vibrant, alive Christians.)

      2. Think about your local church. What could the Holy Spirit do to transform the people in your church? To transform you?

      3. Look again at John 7:39. What does it mean that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to the people because Jesus was not yet glorified? (Read John 16:7-11. The Holy Spirit did not come in power on the people until Jesus returned to heaven.)

      4. Has the Holy Spirit been given to the people in your church?

        1. Has your church felt the streams of living water?

  3. Oil, Fire and Light

    1. In Zechariah 4 we find God giving the prophet Zechariah a vision to encourage the people about rebuilding the temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Read Zechariah 4:1-3. Describe this oil lamp seen in vision? (It has a bowl, an oil tank, at the top. This feeds by gravity down seven channels to seven wicks to give seven lights.)

      1. What is the purpose of the two trees on each side of this lamp? (Read Zechariah 4:11-12. We learn that each of these olive trees has a golden pipe tapped into it. Each golden pipe feeds oil into the oil tank at the top of the lamp.)

      2. Do you have the picture of this lamp in your mind? What would you have to do to keep this lamp burning? (This is an "automatic" lamp. The tap in the trees supplies the oil and it could, theoretically, just keep burning. It seems like a wild and wonderful invention.)

    2. Zechariah wants to know the point of this description of the lamp. Let's read Zechariah 4:4-6. What is the power of this lamp? (The olive oil represents the Holy Spirit.)

      1. What does this illustration teach us about the power of the Holy Spirit? Who made the trees? (This shows us that the power of the Holy Spirit is unlimited. Since God made the trees, we can see that we do not need to supply the power of the Holy Spirit.)

      2. What is the end result of the power of the Holy Spirit in this analogy? (Continuous fire and light! The fire creates light which pushes back the darkness and allows us to see.)

      3. What do you understand the phrase, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," to mean? (Consider the context. The neighboring nations did not want the temple to be rebuilt. God says to Zechariah that it will be rebuilt not by the might of armies or the power of an individual, but rather it will be done by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

        1. Friend, do you need to have your church spiritually built or rebuilt? Do you personally need more fire and light in your spiritual walk? If so, what is the first step? (Inviting the power of the Holy Spirit into your life and the life of the congregation.)

  4. Deposit

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 1:18-20. What do you think is meant by a "yes and no" person? (Someone who cannot be trusted. Someone who tells you what they will do and then does something different.)

      1. Why is God always a "Yes" God? (God keeps His promises and so do His followers.)

      2. What do you mean when you say, "amen?"

      3. What is the "amen" in verse 20? (Paul writes that the "amen" is spoken through Jesus. When we say, "amen," we affirm what has just been done, right? Jesus affirmed the promises that God had given humans. Paul tells us that Jesus proves that God keeps His promises. That God is "yes and yes" when it comes to His dealings with humans.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. How does the Holy Spirit further confirm the honesty of God? (Do you see the argument that Paul is constructing? He points out that Jesus fulfilled the promise of a coming Messiah. Now that Jesus has come, the Holy Spirit begins to confirm the promise of a coming heaven, a Second Coming of Jesus.)

      1. Let's bring this down to you. How does Paul say that you can know that you are going to heaven? (The Holy Spirit is God's "seal of ownership" on you. If the power of the Holy Spirit is evident in you, this is a sign that God will take you to heaven with Him.)

    3. We have been learning that the analogies of the Holy Spirit to different things teaches us more about the nature of the Holy Spirit. What does the analogy of a "deposit" in 2 Corinthians 1:22 teach us about the nature of the Holy Spirit? (A deposit is a legal term. It guarantees performance. It demonstrates just a small percentage of what is to come. The Holy Spirit exemplifies a portion of God's power to come.)

      1. Tell me some of the things that the Bible records the Holy Spirit did in the early church? Explain how these activities are a small example of what God has promised in the future?

    4. Friend, as we learn more about the nature, power and work of the Holy Spirit, it becomes clear that we cannot get anything done in the spiritual realm without Him. Will you invite the Holy Spirit to become your partner and your power in promoting God's will?

  5. Next week: Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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