Types and Symbols of the Holy Spirit – Part 4

OIL. Besides its medicinal use in Bible times, anointing the head with oil symbolized divine blessing (Psalm 23:5-6). In the OT economy, oil was used to anoint priests and kings for office.

Take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle them on Aaron and his garments, as well as on his sons and their garments. In this way, he and his garments will become holy, as well as his sons and their garments (Exodus 29:21).

So Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD took control of David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13).

“Christ” is Greek for “Messiah,” which in Hebrew means “Anointed One.” Hence, there is an implied reference to the Holy Spirit, when Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18) and confirmed in Acts.

You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and curing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him (Acts 10:37-38).

The Christian is anointed with the Spirit also.

Now the One who confirms us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

In Zechariah 4:1-14, oil is a type of the Holy Spirit, depicting His power in strengthening Joshua and Zerubbabel for leading the Jews in the completion of the Temple.

So he answered me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of Hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

Thus, oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit typifies the setting apart and the empowering of a person for the work of God.

SEAL AND EARNEST. Generally, things sealed were at the disposal of the possessor of the seal and symbolized authority. Seals were used in religious and commercial transactions. For instance, sacrifices, cargoes, purses, decrees, deeds, wills, marriage contracts as well as divorce contracts bore seals.

A seal signified various things in biblical times:

1. Assurance
2. Guarantee
3. Security
4. Protection
5. Ownership
6. Authority
7. Authentication
8. Postponement
9. Pledge

Paul uses “seal” (sfragizw sphragizo) as a metaphor or symbol in three passages that speak of the Spirit as a seal or mark.

He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22).

In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation in Him when you believed were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the [a] day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

It is evident that the Holy Spirit is Himself the seal rather than the One doing the sealing. His very presence indwelling the believer is the sign and seal of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose in the individual down payment, deposit or earnest. Those who believe in the perseverance of the saints (eternal security) sight these verses as proof texts. They hold that this seal cannot be
broken, seeing the seal as a finished transaction. However, Peter taught the necessity of faith to complete the final transaction of salvation.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).

Lightfoot understands Paul’s metaphor of the Spirit as a seal and earnest relating to the recipient’s responsibility to maintain his obligation to God.

But the metaphor suggests, and doubtless was intended to suggest, another idea. The recipient of the earnest-money not only secures to himself the fulfilment of the compact from the giver, but he pledges himself to accomplish his side of the contract. By the very act of accepting the part payment, he has bound himself over to a certain reciprocation. The gift of the Spirit is not only a privilege, but also an obligation. This idea of an obligation is enforced in the context here, and in 2 Corinthains 1:22, by the mention of the sealing; and in the latter passage it is still further emphasized by the reference to the security. The Spirit has, as it were, a lien upon us (Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, Ephesians 1:14).

In reality, most seals can be broken by either the owner or recipient. Paul probably had in mind the words of the prophet Isaiah when he wrote Ephesians 4:30.

But they rebelled, and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He became their enemy and fought against them (Isaiah 63:10; cf. context, where Yahweh is their Savior and Redeemer).

A believer is assured of a day of final redemption if he does not rebel against God, thereby grieving the Holy Spirit, who is the believer’s down payment, surety, pledge or earnest. Therefore, Paul warns the believer against grieving the Spirit and forcing Him to leave, thereby forfeiting a day of redemption that comes at the time of death.

Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment (2 Corinthians 5:4-5).

In Paul’s theology, the seal is connected to righteousness and faith.

And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also (Romans 4:11).

Abraham’s circumcision did not convey the righteousness, but only gave outward confirmation of the patriarch’s faith, which he had while uncircumcised, which was credited to him as righteousness.

Commenting on the apostasy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had wandered from the truth, Paul employed the term “seal” to signifying God’s ownership and man’s responsibility.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” {Numbers 16:5 (see Septuagint)} and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2:19 NIV).

There are two inscriptions on the seal: One stresses ownership (“The Lord knows those who are his”), while the other emphasizes human responsibility (“must turn away from unrighteousness” adikia adikia). Theologically, the seal of the Holy Spirit is a two-sided transaction.

By baptism every believer has been sealed as God’s own in connection with God’s Spirit. Then and there by baptism the Spirit has given to us the seal; that is the connection expressed by “in.” How can we then think of grieving this Holy Spirit of God? Will this not force him to leave us? Shall we who once bore him as the seal blot out this seal from our hearts, deny God’s ownership of our souls? Paul stops with the grieving and does not advance to our losing the Spirit. The stronger statements are reserved for later treatment (Lenski, Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles, Ephesians 4:30).

To be sure, “grieving the Spirit” may not be as strong as “resisting” the Spirit (Acts 7:51); which, in turn is not as trenchant as “quenching the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Nevertheless, one step in the wrong direction easily leads to the next. Let the Ephesians, and all those down the centuries for who the epistle was intended, take this to heart! (Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Galatians and Ephesians, Ephesians 4:30).

Chapter 8 of Romans provides an excellent commentary on the Holy Spirit as a seal and down payment of the glory that will be revealed in those who are more than conquerors. Nothing can separate one from the love of God, except for one’s breaking of the seal by turning away from the truth and living unrighteous. God does not tolerate unrighteousness! Without the inward groans and testimony of the Spirit, one has no assurance or hope of the redemption of the body. As long as the Holy Spirit is present in one’s life, one is assured of a day of redemption.

Whether one understands the seal of the Holy Spirit as proof of the perseverance of the saints, the earnest of our inheritance, or the assurance of a day of redemption, John Eadie’s comments on grieving the Holy Spirit need to be taken to heart.

If Christians shall persist in falsehood and deviation from the truth if they shall indulge in fitful rage or cherish sullen and malignant dislikes if they shall be characterized by dishonesty, or idle and corrupt language they, though they may not grieve man, do they grieve the Holy Spirit of God, for all this perverse insubordination is in utter antagonism to the essence and operations of Him who is the Spirit of truth, and inspires the love of it; who assumed, as a fitting symbol, the form of a dove, and creates meekness and forbearance; and who as the Spirit of holiness, leads to the appreciation of all that is just in action, noble in sentiment, and healthful and eddying in speech. What can be more grieving to the Holy Ghost than our thwarting the very purpose for which He dwells within us, and contravening all the promptings and suggestions with which He warns and instructs us? Since it is His special function to renew the heart, to train it to the abandonment of sin, and to the cultivation of holiness and since for this purpose He has infleshed Himself and dwells in us a tender, watchful, and earnest guardian, is He not grieved with the contrary and rebellion so often manifested Against Him? (Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians 355).

SHEKINAH GLORY. Another type of the Holy Spirit is the Shekinah Glory. See comments under the Old Covenant above.

SERVANT. In Genesis 24, four persons are prominent—the father, the son, the servant, and the bride. Father Abraham sends his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac. This account is a typical illustration, a foreshadowing of salvation. Like the servant of Abraham, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to seek a bride for His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Abraham’s servant (the Spirit) is
successful in choosing the bride (the Church) and bringing her to Isaac (Christ). The length of this chapter (67 verses) shows how much God’s heart is occupied with the seeking of a bride for His Son—how He is absorbed in the work of the Spirit.

Like the Holy Spirit, Abraham’s servant bestowed upon the bride gifts.

Then he brought out objects of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious gifts to her brother and her mother (Genesis 24:53).

To become the bride of Isaac, Rebekah had to leave her family behind, as do many believers.

So they said, “Let’s call the girl and ask her opinion.” They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She replied, “I will go” (Genesis 24:57-58).

IMPLICATIONS. As we encounter these symbols and types of the Holy Spirit in our daily life, we should be reminded of the Holy Spirit’s character and ministry. If we think on these things, the Christian life should not become stale or boring since He is the source of freshness, vitality, and fruit bearing. If we focus on His character and ministry, we find the Spirit indispensable in experiencing the abundant life.

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