Understanding the biblical types of the Holy Spirit become essential to our gaining an understanding of what He’s like, not only in an objective way of analyzing truth, but also in the subjective way that He comes to penetrate our lives—ways in which the reality of the invisible penetrates the visible.
In this blog we will begin with the Holy Spirit as like water.
There are 722 references of water in the Scriptures. Typically, water speaks of natural and spiritual birth. In Genesis 1:20, we read of the first mention of life, and this life comes from water, “let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.”
In John 3:5 Jesus told Nicodemus, “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Notice here, the water birth (natural) comes before the Spirit birth (spiritual).
Water is involved when a woman is in labor and the baby is about to be born. The water that surrounds the baby must break before the baby can be born. Spiritually speaking, we cannot be spiritually born until the water of the Holy Spirit breaks over or into our lives.
Water speaks of the Holy Spirit’s cleansing. Concerning the Tabernacle in the Old Testament; Exodus 30:18-20 tells us that Moses was to make a laver of brass and put water in it. The laver was to be situated between the Holy Place and the brazen altar. The priests were to wash their hands and feet in the laver prior to entering the Holy Place “so they would not die.”
The metaphor used here reveals to us that the priests needed to cleansed or purified. Paul wrote in Titus 3:5 that we are saved “through the washing (Greek “laver”) of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” The reference, in this passage, speaks to the physical purity demanded of the Jewish priests when serving in the temple. Christians are a holy priesthood, and are cleansed not by water only, but, with the word (Ephesians 5:26); and by the renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). The feet-washing mentioned by Jesus is emblematic of the same thing (John13:10).7 Therefore, the laver and water in the laver speaks to us of the purification or sanctification that the Holy Spirit does in and expresses through the life of a believer.
The following verses also speak to this spiritual understanding.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. Ezekiel 36:25
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
The Holy Spirit not only washes us, but expresses purity and holiness through us as we live and walk in the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:25)
Water also speaks to us from the Scriptures as to the Holy Spirit being the basis of all spiritual life. In Genesis 2 we read of the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden. This garden was watered by a river (2:10). Water cannot be seen in the plants within the Garden, but the expression of the water is revealed in the life of each plant. Without water, the Garden would have died, first the plants, and then the animals and humans would have perished because the plants, animals nor humans are able to survive without water. The river that flows out from the midst of the Garden is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit filling, flooding and flowing out of the believer’s life. Consider the following verses that speak of this:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as (Or If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. And let him drink, who believes in me. As) the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39
Peter addressed the crowd on the Day of Pentecost from the Book of Joel and used words that bring more typical association of water and the Holy Spirit by declaring, “In the last days, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).
The idea is that the Holy Spirit was being “poured out.” On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was being poured out from heaven. Jesus, on the other hand, said in John 7:37-39 that the Holy Spirit would be poured out of the inner most being of the believer, after the Holy Spirit was poured out from heaven. This agrees with John 4 that with our salvation comes a well of water (from within) that springs up and must be allowed to flow out of the life of the believer.
Acts 2:17 refers to the “pouring out.” Peter’s use of the phrase at Pentecost is not an abstract use of the phrase because it has to do with the latter rain that brought about the hastening of the harvest and fruitful crops. Peter was saying that the Lord will send the Spirit from the clouds (believers) to the harvest fields (people) that are dry and barren (without God).
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. Genesis 2:10
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Isaiah 55:1
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13
In our next blog we will examine how the Holy Spirit is likened in Scripture to rivers.
Have a blessed day,