The Power of Symbols

Simple stories and parables sometimes explain spiritual truths better than intricately worded essays because parables shine light on the inexplicable. Metaphors, or word pictures, are the language of God in the Old Testament, the language of Jesus in the Gospels and the Holy Spirit in the Epistles because images bypass the sceptical reasoning of our human minds and pierce our hearts.display_image




Myadoratnstery cannot be explained and understood  with the intellect alone. That’s why the Educated Scribes and Pharisees could not grasp Jesus’s message. Rather it was simple, uneducated people and little children who understood His message with their hearts because they were humble and hungry; they needed more than their mundane life could supply. The simple stories which Jesus told did not explain spiritual truths intellectually but His parables reached their hearts and fed their inner spirit.

Analogies are still the most effective way to reach the human heart because  people learn deep, spiritual truths intuitively. That’s why symbols and word pictures speak right to our core and move us , change us




I discovered a fascinating list of biblical symbols at based onDictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009.

Objects, actions or creatures that have a deeper significance and are so understood by those who see them or use them.Symbolic objects

The rainbow: a symbol of God’s covenant See also Ge 9:13Eze 1:28Rev 4:3

A stairway: a symbol of the way to God Ge 28:11-13Jn 1:51

Thunder, lightning, cloud and smoke: symbols of God’s majesty Ex 19:16-18Ex 24:17Ps 97:2,4Rev 4:5Rev 8:5Rev 11:19

Thunder: a symbol of God’s voice Ps 29:3Ps 68:33

Trumpets: a symbol of God speaking Ex 19:19Rev 8:6

The pillar of cloud and fire: a symbol of guidance Ex 13:21Ravenna.sheep

A throne: a symbol of God’s glory Isa 6:1Eze 1:26Rev 4:2Rev 22:3

Dry bones: a symbol of spiritual death Eze 37:1-2,11

White hair: a symbol of wisdom Da 7:9Rev 1:14

The wind: a symbol of the Holy Spirit Jn 3:8Ac 2:2

Fire: a symbol of the Holy Spirit Ac 2:3

Stars and lampstands: symbols of God’s ministers Rev 1:20

A signet ring: a symbol of authority Est 8:10Hag 2:23

Arrows: symbols of God’s judgments Ps 38:2Ps 120:4

A sceptre: a symbol of God’s rule Ps 2:9Rev 2:27Rev 19:15237814_f248

The capstone: a symbol of pre-eminence Mt 21:42 pp Mk 12:10-11 pp Lk 20:17Ps 118:22

A rock: a symbol of stability Ps 18:2Ps 40:2

The human body: a symbol of interdependence 1Co 12:27

Grass: a symbol of human frailty Ps 90:5-61Pe 1:24

Symbolic creatures

The serpent: a symbol of Satan’s subtlety Ge 3:1Rev 12:9Rev 20:1-3

Locusts: a symbol of God’s judgment Ex 10:12Joel 1:4Rev 9:3

Beasts: symbols of earthly kingdoms Da 7:2-7,17Da 8:20-22

A dove: a symbol of the Holy Spirit Mt 3:16 pp Mk 1:10 pp Lk 3:22

A lamb: a symbol of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice Rev 5:6

Symbolic actionszzz78

Breaking a jar: a symbol of the destruction of Jerusalem Jer 19:10-11

The cursing of a fig-tree: a symbol of judgment Mt 21:18-19 pp Mk 11:12-14

Washing hands: a symbol of innocence Mt 27:24

Being thirsty: a symbol of spiritual need Ps 63:1Jn 7:37

Baptism: a symbol of salvation in Jesus Christ Ac 22:16Ro 6:3-41Pe 3:21

The Lord’s Supper: a symbol of union with Christ Mt 26:26-29 pp Mk 14:22-24 pp Lk 22:19-20 pp 1Co 11:23-26

Anointing: a symbol of empowering by God’s Spirit 1Sa 16:13Lk 4:18Isa 61:114_subcat

Harvesting: a symbol of judgment day Joel 3:12-13Mt 13:29-30Rev 14:15

Tearing garments: a symbol of anger and sorrow Ge 37:29,34Jos 7:6

Spitting: a symbol of contempt Isa 50:6Mt 26:67 pp Mk 14:65

Shaking off dust: a symbol of rejection Mt 10:14 pp Lk 9:5Ac 13:51

Sitting in sackcloth and ashes: a symbol of repentance Ps 69:11Isa 22:12Jnh 3:5-6Mt 11:21

Lifting of hands: a symbol of prayer Ps 63:41Ti 2:8

Covering the head: a symbol of submission 1Co 11:3-10Symbols expressing God’s nature and character

God’s face: a symbol of his presence Nu 6:25-26Ps 34:16

God’s arm or hand: a symbol of his power Ps 21:8Ps 89:13

God’s eyes: a symbol of his awareness Pr 15:31Pe 3:12

God’s ear: a symbol of God listening Ps 31:2Isa 59:1


6 thoughts on “The Power of Symbols

  1. Beautiful work Melanie, I’m sure it took awhile to make that list of symbols. They are outstanding. I love stained glass. I think it has to do with the richness of the colors, and blue is my favorite. Blue is also a very prominent color in the Jewish tradition (I’m not Jewish though).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.