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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

The Holy Spirit

Movement is at the heart of every Biblical picture of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God was there, at the beginning of time, hovering over the dark, empty waters.

water in rapids representing the Holy Spirit

There are so many pictures of the Holy Spirit in the bible. We are going to look at this theme running throughout the Word of God. The aim is to build up a more complete picture, or understanding, of The Holy Spirit.

As a former mathematics teacher and a westerner, I like to clarify, to understand everything, to reduce reality to a formula. The scientific method is a powerful tool, but it is useless when considering the triune Godhead, three in one.

The God who invented arithmetic is above its rules.

Our minds are finite. By definition, it is impossible to limit the infinite.

Why do we think that we would ever be able to fully comprehend the divine?

God, himself, has chosen to reveal something of his nature to us, but clearly he is more than a person, not less.

Even in the physical realm we don’t understand everything and we use metaphors and pictures to try to explain concepts - for example: Is light a wave or a particle?

The Lord has chosen to use many pictures to reveal something of the nature of his Spirit.

Today we are going to look at these pictures.

This is a thematic approach to studying the Word of God.


breathe on a window representing the Holy Spirit

When the Lord God created Adam, he ‘formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.’ Genesis 2 v 7

Job recognised that ‘The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.’ Job 33 v 4

After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to his disciples and he breathed on them, saying ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’

John 20 v 22


rushing wind blowing through palm trees representing the Holy Spirit

Shortly after this, on the day of Pentecost, there was a sound like a rushing wind which filled the whole house. Acts 2 v 1-4

A pharisee, called Nicodemus, visited Jesus under the cover of darkness. In their discussions Jesus said ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ John 3 v 8


Tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit

Moses saw a burning bush which was not being consumed.

John the Baptist baptised with water, but he saw that someone greater was coming who would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Luke 3 v 16

At Pentecost ‘They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire which separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Act 2 v 3

A Dove

Original inspirational Picasso painting of a dove

When Jesus was baptised ‘…as he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on in him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’’

When Noah was finding out if the flood had receded, he sent out a dove, which returned with an olive branch in its beak.

This dove has become an international sign of peace.


olive oil being poured into a dish representing the Holy Spirit

The priests, kings and prophets were anointed with olive oil, for example 1 Samuel 16 v 12-13, and the sick were anointed with oil for healing.

Olive oil was believed to have medicinal properties, but it was mainly used for lamps in the ancient world.


Same photo of rapids as a picture of the Holy Spirit

A scripture that has become a promise to me for my children says, ‘For I will pour water on thirsty land, and streams on dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and blessing on your descendants.’ Isaiah 44 v 3

When Jesus met a woman at a well in Samaria, he offered her living water, and explained -

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

If you are thirsty, and want to hear more about how to drink and receive the Holy Spirit, Jeremy Simpkins explains this clearly in his talk.


All of these pictures are dynamic and indicate movement.

If you want to study this further,

you could consider the fruit of the Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit clothes us in power. He convicts us of sin and leads us into all truth.

He searches out the depths of God. He is our teacher, our guide, our counsellor, our comforter and our advocate. He breathes life into the Word of God.

Jesus said:
‘All this I have spoken to you while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14 v 25-26

If the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are in touch with the true author of the Holy Bible - the one who inspired it. He is our teacher and he reminds us of the word that will sustain us. When we read the bible, let's ask for help and inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit pours oil into our lives, bringing comfort from the scriptures.

He sets our hearts aflame as we realise how God loves us.

He comes like a wind, refreshing our souls.

He breathes life into His word, so that it lives.

Let your living waters flow – Hlengiwe Mlaba

Hlengiwe Mlaba sings with feeling. Having attempted suicide as a young woman she has experienced pain and trouble. Now she campaigns for awareness of depression for young people in South Africa. Composed by John Watson, who was born in Zimbabwe to missionary parents.

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