Symbols of the Holy Spirit 4:
This blog has been published out of sequence because the planned blog, about the Holy Spirit as a mighty wind coincided with the landfall of Hurricane Dorian.
Please pray for the people of the Bahamas and Florida and those in the hurricane’s path. You can donate to the appeal fund through the Red Cross.
7 [John} said to them, 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:7, 11–12 ESVUK
3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:3–4
The earlier blogs on this series on symbols of the Holy Spirit, dove, breath and wind, linked all the way back to the Spirit working in creation. This image of fire does not go that far back, but first I am looking forward. The symbol of fire in the Bible is a symbol of judgement. When John the Baptist spoke about Jesus baptising with the Holy Spirit and with fire as a baptism of judgement. The chaff will be burned away.
The fire of judgement is one of refinement, burning away impurities and making you pure. And it hurts so we fight back. But God’s judgement may not be what you think it is. Far from the angry spiteful God of the hellfire and damnation preachers, God’s judgement has always been when humans rebel against him to say, ‘Have it your own way.’ On insisting on their own way free from God, mankind has judged themselves. But even then God has offered the way out of repentance and forgiveness through the refining fire of the Holy Spirit.
God’s Spirit like a fire was encountered by Moses in a bush that appeared to be on fore but was not consumed by the fire. A sign of freedom to the Hebrews but a sign of judgement to Egypt. The Holy Spirit appeared like a fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day, a sign of the presence of fire, during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. God was refining the people into a nation, his nation, by the Holy Spirit’s power.
All Christians have a choice. The Holy Spirit always respects our decisions and will not come into any part of our lives without our permission. Are you going to submit yourself to the Holy Spirit and let her fully into your life to refine, change and perfect you? It’s a long process and can take a lifetime. Or are you going to resist God’s Holy Spirit and be judged? It’s your call.