The Holy Spirit in Old Testament Typology

In the Old Testament we find typology that refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is especially true in relation to what is commonly called ‘The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.’ Our study is not meant to be exhaustive, but is designed to highlight just three areas of the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit can be seen.

The Feast of Pentecost
In Leviticus 23 we read of the various feasts which the Lord ordained as memorials for the people of Israel. These were meant to be reminders of the past and pointers for the future. See our studies on ‘The Feasts of the Lord’ for more information. 

The Feast of Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after Passover. We understand that Passover speaks of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He alone is our Passover Lamb (John 1:29 with Isaiah 53). Without the Passover there could not be a Pentecost. Many claim to have the Holy Spirit in their lives without ever coming to Christ for salvation.

Exactly fifty days after the death of the Lord, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon those waiting in the upper room … “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:1-4).

The Anointing Oil
We have mentioned the symbolism of oil in a previous study, but it is fascinating to view this alongside the use of blood during the anointing of a leper. In Leviticus 14 we read of blood and oil being used for the cleansing of lepers. A lamb must slain as a sin offering, “And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot” (:14). After this the oil was applied to the same spots … “And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering. And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD” (:17-18). We see how the oil is poured out after the blood, and that it must be applied to the same place the blood was. This is symbolic of the sinner’s need of cleansing through the blood of Christ, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They are treated as a single act in Leviticus, therefore every believer should receive in infilling of the Spirit.

The Pillars of Cloud and of Fire
During the journey around the Wilderness, the Jews were guided by the presence of God. During the day they had the pillar of cloud, and during the night, the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21; Numbers 9:15-23). The Apostle Paul referring to this says, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). Paul is using the story as types of baptism the believer must experience. The Jews were baptised in the Red Sea (the blood of Christ), but also in the cloud (the Shekinah glory of God). On the Day of Pentecost what looked like tongues of fire rested upon the believers (Acts 2:3), representing the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He would led and guide them … “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

The need for the Holy Spirit’s presence and ministry in our lives should not be questioned. We are not discussing Pentecostalism or the Charismatic Movement here, for the Holy Spirit is vital for all who claim to be Bible-believers. Would it have been satisfactory for the Jews to celebrate Passover but ignore Pentecost? Would the leper be cleansed if the priest failed to administer the oil? Could the Israelites have reached the Promised Land without the ‘Cloud’? Nor can we truly be the children of God without having the Holy Spirit in our lives … “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:9,14).