Saturday, April 27, 2013

Water and Oil: Cleansing and Holy Fire



I was about to enjoy a crispy salad for lunch when I was reminded that oil always floats on water. As long as I kept shaking the bottle of salad dressing, oil droplets swirled through the vinaigrette, but as soon as I stopped, the oil rose to the top in a smooth layer. That got me thinking about Bible references to water and oil, and their complementary qualities as symbols of God’s mercy and grace.

In Scripture, cleansing water (1 John 5:6,8) and burning oil may each symbolize the Holy Spirit, Who has qualities of Living Water (Jeremiah 17:13; John 4; 7:38) as well as of holy fire (Isaiah 10:17). John the Baptist practiced baptism by water as the forerunner to Christ’s baptism by the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:36). John’s baptism by water was an act of repentance for sin, but Christ’s baptism with the Holy Ghost was compared to fire (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).

Christ’s shed blood washed believers clean of all sins (Revelation 1:5). After Christ’s completed work on the cross and His resurrection, the Holy Spirit, like cloven tongues of fire, landed on the disciples at the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25) suggests that only those virgins with oil burning in their lamps – those who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit – will be admitted to the marriage supper, representing the Rapture to meet the Bridegroom in the air.

To be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we must be born again, first by water (the physical birth) and then by the Spirit (John 3:5-8). This requires cleansing from our sins through our repentance and God’s forgiveness due to the substitutionary death of His Son (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). We must place our faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Cornthians 15:1-4) as our only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). As we realize, and continue to learn more and more about, Who He is, our hearts will burn within us (Luke 24:32), and we will be on fire for the Lord.

Water is sometimes called the universal solvent, because its cleansing action dissolves impurities and flushes them away. In contrast, oil tends to adhere to small particles, keeping them in contact with the skin or other surface. First we shower and then we apply perfumed body oil or beauty cream – it wouldn’t make much sense to reverse the order!

Similarly, we need the cleansing action of the Living Waters before the oil in our Spirit-filled lamps can burn brightly with a sweet fragrance. God dealt with Jerusalem and His chosen people in a similar sequence – first He cleansed them with water, and then He anointed them with oil (Ezekiel 16:9).

We see a moving example of cleansing and anointing in Luke 7 (38-48), in the sinful woman who wept at Jesus’s feet, washing them with her tears. No doubt her tears were shed in Godly sorrow, in repentance for her sins, as were the tears of David (Psalm 6:60;119:136) and Jeremiah (9:1,18; Lamentations 3:48). First her tears cleansed His feet from the dust and grime of the dirty roads, symbolizing the sins of the world, for Jesus Himself had no sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Then she wiped His feet with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with precious ointment. The oil in ointment allows it to preserve and convey perfume, spices and other costly substances. This woman stored her ointment in a costly alabaster box, which may have represented her dowry or all her worldly treasure. Yet she broke open the box and bestowed all the ointment lavishly on Jesus without considering the cost, because her heart was ignited by the Holy Spirit with passion to serve Him.

In a rainy parking lot, we may see oil drops floating on the wet pavement, causing a striking, rainbow-hued, swirling pattern known as a fractal. The light would not reflect in this jewel-toned design were the oil not aligned in a thin film, buoyed up by the water beneath. Similarly, the light and beauty of the Holy Spirit are not visible unless carried afloat by the Living Water indwelling each believer.

Cleansing, purification and anointing, as symbolized by water and oil, are essential to true worship. Oil and water in Scripture also reflect God’s provision, blessing, power, and judgment, as we shall see in subsequent posts.

May currents of living water flow forth from each of us, supporting the oil of the Spirit to reflect His brilliant light!


© 2013 Laurie Collett
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36 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Denise! Love and prayers,
      Laurie

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  2. Hi Laurie,
    Love the way you characterized each of these; beautifully written!
    Blessings; may you shine in His brilliant light today sister!
    Denise

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    1. Thanks so much, Denise, for your sweet words of encouragement! May you have a blessed and fruitful life in Him!

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  3. Hi Laurie,
    I love the spiritual meanings of water and oil in the scriptures, and I love the way rainbow colours appear on the oil that floats in water. It reminds me of God's promises being 'Yes' in Jesus through the baptism of the Holy Spirit re-connecting us to God. God bless you for your inspirational writings.

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    1. Dear Brenda,
      What a lovely thought -- that each rainbow in the smallest puddle reaffirms not only His covenant never again to destroy the world by water, but to be reconciled to His children through His Son.

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  4. One day I was very sick - I had large fever. I had tried to use all medicines, but nothing helped. So I started to drink a lot of water and fever felt down.
    This gave me one idea - we forget about Living Water, in which is healing of our soul - Jesus Christ. Greetings for You! :)

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    1. Amen, Zim! Water is the most precious substance for our physical survival, and the Living Water is all we need for spiritual healing. Blessings & greetings to you too!
      Laurie

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  5. Dear Laurie,
    I have noticed that car oil spilt on ground recently made wet by rain brings out this rainbow effect. But until now I have never looked at it in the spiritual way in which you have highlighted it, instead I wished that the car owner would get his gaskets checked and replaced.
    But again, for a long time I see the caperpillar pupate, to emerge as a butterfly - to me this is like death of our present bodies to be resurrected into our glorious bodies fit and ready for Heaven.
    An excellent enlightening post.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      I have been meditating on the caterpillar to butterfly transformation and its spiritual significance for quite some time! I wrote a post on it about a year ago, and the dance that my husband and I most recently choreographed for our dance ministry is called "Transformed," showing the metamorphosis. I'm planning to post about it in the near future.
      It's amazing how God's creation truly does proclaim His glory!
      Thanks as always for your kind and insightful comment, and God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. Hi Laurie,
    I will never look at a bottle of salad dressing the same way ever again, LOL!
    Thank you for such a great lesson. These references to oil and water from the Bible make perfect sense and I can better appreciate how they are so connected to one another now!
    ~God bless~ Lisa

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    1. Thanks so much, Lisa, for your kind comment! I'm so glad you found the lesson helpful!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  7. It is amazing how a bottle of salad dressing can tell us a story about the spiritual cleansing and anointing of the Holy spirit doing the work of Salvation. :-) Thank you for sharing at "Tell Me a Story."

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    1. I love it when God speaks through small things in our daily lives! Thanks so much, Hazel, for your comment and for hosting!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  8. Love the way one little bottle of salad dressing sparked this post- and the way Jesus shows Himself in all the ordinary moments of our days. Thanks for the scripture references- a great launch into my day.

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    1. Thanks, Alicia, for your visit and comment! So glad you enjoyed the post and the Scripture.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  9. I've always loved the story of Mary anointing Jesus. Abundant loving. Extravagant loving. It's always an example of how I want to love my Lord.

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    1. Amen, Pamela! All we have comes from Him, and He gave us His all, so may we love Him extravagantly. Thanks for your lovely comment, & God bless,
      Laurie

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  10. I never thought of this combination before! Very beautiful reflection; thanks for sharing and for linking up with the Write Mama blog hop. :)

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  11. Thanks Bonnie, for your sweet comment and for hosting!
    Many blessings to you & your ministry,
    Laurie

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  12. Very good post Laurie, The Word and The Spirit must get together in a believer's life. Without The Word, a believer is empty and The Holy Spirit has nothing to work with or on.
    Thanks a lot for sharing, found you on Thursday Favourite Things. Do have a super blessed near-weekend!
    Love

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    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Ugochi! Very well said!
      May you and your ministry be richly blessed!
      Laurie

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  13. I'll be thinking of your post every time I see any of your examples. I like the symbolism because it's one of those things that will bring little reminders to me about God's love, and I like those. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rosey! I love it when God speaks to us in quiet whispers in our daily life.
      May you and your family have a wonderful, blessed weekend!
      Laurie

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  14. Amen! I had thought on this before but didn't realize the rich symbolism here! wonderful to begin the day with! Thank you for linking up at the Deep Roots at Home party!

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    1. Thanks, Jacqueline, for your lovely comment and for hosting! I'm glad this post helped to brighten your morning!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  15. Wow, Laurie, you've really covered the Scriptural application in a thorough way. I love all the examples and ways they intertwine...and to think this all started while fixing a salad. Isn't God good to reveal things to us? And I'm so glad to have you as the first link on T.G.I.F. blog hop : )

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    1. Thanks, Gail! It's an honor to be the first blog linked to T.G.I.F.! Welcome back & thanks for hosting!
      Laurie

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  16. I love it when God reveals his truth through simple everyday things like a salad. I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Praise God that He is faithful to teach us through His Spirit.
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  17. What a party last week on Friday Flash Blog! Thanks for joining us. I hope you're having a splendid week.

    Jennifer
    thejennyevolution.com

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting & for your comment! May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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