Wind and fire are symbols of the Holy Spirit, symbols associated with God throughout the Bible. The word ‘breath’ and ‘wind’ are the same (ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek) and it is not surprising that one of the first signs of the Spirit’s arrival on the Day of Pentecost was ‘a sound like the blowing of a violent wind…from heaven.’ (Acts 2:2) Just as God’s Spirit had come upon the valley of dry bones as Ezekiel prophesied, bringing new life from dead bones (Ezek 37:1-14), the Holy Spirit’s arrival is likened to the wind which cannot be seen but which can be felt and experienced (see also John 3:8), bringing new life and power to people.
Fire is a symbol of God’s appearances to mankind in the Old Testament. Moses experienced the wonder of the burning bush from which God spoke (Ex 3:1-22) and God guided His people through the wilderness by a pillar of fire at night (Ex 13:21). When the Law was given, Mount Sinai was covered in smoke because the Lord descended on it with fire. (Ex 19:18) Elijah saw the prophets of Baal defeated when the fire of God descended on his sacrifice. (1 Kings 18:24, 38-39) John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). Jesus said that He had come to cast fire upon the earth (Luke 12:49). The final place of judgment is the lake that burns with fire forever and ever. No wonder the writer to the Hebrews tells us ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ (Heb 12:29) Fire symbolises purity, for the heat of fire consumes the dross, as well as zeal (we are required to be zealous for God rather than being cold or lukewarm.) It also brings light into our lives.
These two symbols, therefore, illustrate something of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He is the wind who brings new life and who sweeps away all that is old and not of Him; He is the fire who purifies, brings light to us and inflames us with zeal. We simply can’t do without Him.