Lucia's Blog: THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ROLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, February 14, 2020

THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ROLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  3 And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."
Genesis 1:1-3


The subject of the Holy Spirit is one of those subjects of controversy and confusion. Some of our friends teach that the Holy Spirit is still imparting miraculous gifts to those who are followers of Christ.  Others believe that the Holy Spirit will overpower us, causing us to have a variation of joyful emotions. We have disagreements about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whether He personally dwells within the Christian and the extent of His influence over them.  There are many arguments about the work of the Holy Spirit and about His Person that are not very convincing.  One of the major problems is the lack of study, the lack of careful examination of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.   Do you suppose the audience on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 had no prior knowledge of the Holy Spirit? What do you think?  The Old Testament abounds with information about the Holy Spirit.  Sadly, ignorance of the Scriptures in the Old Testament is the root of this grave misunderstanding about the Holy Spirit and His work.  Let us examine carefully some Scriptures that can help us have a better and more precise understanding of this subject.



NAMES AND DESCRIPTIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

In the Bible, there are many names and descriptions given to this Person of the Godhead.  Let us consider some of those names and descriptions that we may recognize the Person of the Holy Spirit as we read about Him:
  1. The Holy Spirit:  Psalm 51; Isaiah 63:10, 11; Matthew 1:18, 20; 3:11; 12:32 and Acts 2:4,38
  2. The Spirit Numbers 11:26; 27:18; Chronicles 12:18; Ezekiel 2:2; 3:12; Matt. 10:20 and Acts 2:4
  3. His Spirit:  Numbers 11:29; Isaiah 34:16 and 48:16
  4. Spirit of God:  Gen. 1:2; Ex. 31:3; 35:31; Numbers 24:2; Matt. 3:16; 12:28
  5. Spirit of The LORD:  Judges 3:10; 6:34; I Samuel 10:6; 16:3; Isaiah 11:2; 61:1 Acts 5:9
  6. Spirit of wisdom and understanding:  Isaiah 11:2
  7. Spirit of counsel and strength:  Isaiah 11:2
  8. Spirit of knowledge and the fear of  the LORD:  Isaiah 11:2
  9. My Spirit Gen. 6:3; Isa. 30:1; 42:1 and Acts 2:17-18
  10. Spirit of Truth John 14:17; 15:26 and 16:13
  11. Helper:  John 14:16; 15:26
  12. Spirit of glory I Peter 4:14
  13. Spirit of Jesus Acts 16:6-7


THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Although we read of The Holy Spirit being very active in the New Testament, it might surprise some that the Holy Spirit was also active and vital in the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God rested upon the judges, King Saul and King David. The reason why the Spirit of God rested upon these men was to show Israel that these men were God’s designated leaders and also to show them the victory that He would give them.  We know for a fact that the Holy Spirit was dynamic in the early church, in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles.  Let us consider some Scriptures that show how the Holy Spirit engaged in active work in the Old Testament:


I.  CREATION:

We know that the Holy Spirit has always been in existence since He is God.  We see Him at work in the book of Genesis.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light'"  (Genesis 1:1-3).

This account shows us all three persons in the Godhead (the Trinity) active in creation.
  • God created the heavens and the earth.
  • The Spirit of God was moving...
  • Then God said... (The Word of the Son)

It is undeniable that the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Likewise, in Job, we read of the role of the Spirit in CREATION.  

"By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent"  (Job 26:13).  


The Spirit in this verse is the "breath of wind."  We also see a parallel of this verse in Job 33:4
"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life." 

This verse calls to our minds the creation account and the role of the Holy Spirit in creation, 

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'"  (Genesis 1:2).


Notice that the Holy Spirit is present when we read the words "Us" and "Our."  This is an undeniable TRUTH.



II.   THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS WITH JOSEPH WHEN HE INTERPRETED 
                                        THE PHARAOH'S DREAM


We all know the Bible account of Joseph and how his brothers hated him.  We also remember his father Jacob's love for him.  We know why his brothers sold him into slavery.  We read of Joseph's righteousness. What might be a surprise to many is that the Holy Spirit was at work and played an essential role in the life of Joseph.  Let us consider the role the Holy Spirit played in Joseph's life while he was in Egypt:
"The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same"  (Genesis 41:16).

We are all aware that Joseph gave all the honor and credit to God when he was about to give the interpretation of The Pharaoh's dream.  The following Scripture is what the Pharaoh, Egypt's leader said of Joseph:  
"Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?"  (Genesis 41:38).  

The Holy Spirit was working in Joseph the same way we see HIM working in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit is thus helping Joseph interpret dreams as well as revealing prophecy, as seen in the book of Acts.  One example of this in the New Testament is Acts 2:17-19.  Here the words "divine spirit" can be easily translated as "God's Spirit."


III.  THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPED DANIEL INTERPRET DREAMS:

The same way that the Holy Spirit helped Joseph interpret dreams, He also helped Daniel interpret dreams and reveal prophesy.  Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:  

"However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed"  (Daniel 2:28).

Also,
"But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, saying..."  (Daniel 4:8).

We can clearly see the Holy Spirit as a person of the Godhead here, as it is also mentioned in Luke 1:67-70 and 2 Peter 1:21.


IV.  THE BUILDING OF THE TABERNACLE:

When the Israelites were building the tabernacle, the Holy Spirit was at work.  Again, the Holy Spirit was working in the same consistent way as in the New Testament.  Let us look at the following verses:
  1. Exodus 35:3-36:  "Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, 'See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work.  He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.'"

We can easily see that these men were given gifts of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, which are from the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit assisted or helped them in the building of the tabernacle.  You can also find this regarding the Spirit's role in the building in Deuteronomy 34:9 and Numbers 27:15-23.


V.  THE SPIRIT CAME UPON A GENTILE PROPHET, BALAAM
  1. Numbers 24:2:  "And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him."  Also, Numbers 22:9, 13, 20, 22

VI.  THE SEVENTY ELDERS:
"Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone"  (Numbers 11:16-17).
"So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.  26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp"  (Numbers 11:24-26).

When Moses told the Lord that the burden to lead the people of Israel was too great (Numbers 11), God had the seventy elders of Israel come before Him to help alleviate Moses' burden.
“Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself” (Numbers 11:17).
“Then the LORD descended in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they never did it again” (Numbers 11:25).

We must consider this in our study.  When God put the Holy Spirit on the seventy elders, they began to prophesy for one day.  So why would they prophesy for only one day? What is the purpose of this miracle?  The purpose was to reveal to the people of Israel that the seventy elders received the authority of God. The miracle proved to the people that the seventy elders were designated by God as His leaders and representatives. The miracle of prophecy proved that God’s authority rested upon these men.


VII.  THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS IN THE DAYS OF THE JUDGES:
  1. Judges 3:10 "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim."  The person whom the Holy Spirit came upon was Othoniel one of the Judges of Israel.
  2. Judges 4:4:  "Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time."
  3. Judges 6:34:  "Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon."
  4. Judges 13:24-25:  "Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the Lord blessed him.  And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol."
  5. Judges 14:6 "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done."

VIII.  IN THE LIFE OF KING SAUL:
  1. I Samuel 10:10 "When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them."
  2. I Samuel 11:6:  "Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry."
  3. I Samuel 16:14 "Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him."

IX.  IN THE LIFE OF KING DAVID:
  1. I Samuel 16:13:  "Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah."
  2. I Samuel 18:12 "Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul."
  3. Psalm 51:11:  "Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me."
  4. Psalm 139:7:  "Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?"
  5. II Samuel 23:1-3:  "Now these are the last words of David.  David the son of Jesse declares, the man who was raised on high declares, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.  The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God... "

X.   IN THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE:
  1. Zechariah 4:6-7:  "Then he said to me, 'This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!'"

XI.  THE WORDS THAT THE PROPHETS SPOKE TO THE PEOPLE:
  1. Isaiah 61:1:  "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."
  2. Jeremiah 1:4:  "Now the word of the Lord came to me saying..."
  3. Ezekiel 2:1-2 "Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!”  As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me."
  4. Ezekiel 11:1 "Moreover, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the Lord’s house which faced eastward. And behold, there were twenty-five men at the entrance of the gate, and among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people."
  5. Ezekiel 11:24-25 "And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me.  Then I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me."
  6. 2 Peter 1:20-21 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,  for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

XII.  OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES:

Understanding the prophecies concerning the Holy Spirit is very important if we are going to understand what the Jews were to be expecting when the pouring out of the Holy Spirit took place.

  • Isaiah 32:14-18: “For the palace will be forsaken, the busy city abandoned. The hill and the watchtower will become barren places forever, the joy of wild asses, and a pasture for flocks, until the Spirit from heaven is poured out on us. Then the desert will become an orchard, and the orchard will seem like a forest. Then justice will inhabit the wilderness, and righteousness will dwell in the orchard. The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place, and in safe and restful dwellings.”   

Notice how the people should have understood the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Verses 13-14 describe the barrenness of the nation of Israel. The palace is forsaken, the city is abandoned, and the pasture is barren until the Spirit is poured out. However, when the Spirit was poured out, the desert would become an orchard. There would also be righteousness, peace, and safety.  We must stress that nothing in this prophecy suggests a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit or miraculous gifts or spiritual gifts. In this context, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was to be the restoration of the nation of Israel and God's blessings to restore His people.

  • Isaiah 44:3-5: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring. They will sprout among the grass like poplars by the streambeds. This one will say: I am the LORD’S; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand: The LORD’S, and name himself by the name of Israel.”  

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 44 is the same as in Isaiah 32.  God's blessings were going to return to the people of Israel.  The thirsty land and dry ground would become fertile for the nation.  Isaiah is describing the restoration of the nation as God pours out His blessings on the people.


  • Ezekiel 37:13-14:   “And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”   
This prophecy is the vision of the valley of dry bones.  It shows Israel as a broken, shattered nation. God would put His Spirit within them. Ezekiel foresaw the restoration of the nation of Israel (giving new life to the nation) and blessings of God returning to His people.

  • Ezekiel 39:28-29:   “‘Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD.”  

This prophecy is the same as Ezekiel 37.  God would no longer hide His face from His people as He poured out His Spirit on them.  Israel would have a favorable relationship with God again. He will not turn His back at them, but instead, they will receive God's favor and blessings.


  • Joel 2:28-3:1: “After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe–inspiring Day of the LORD comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised, among the survivors the LORD calls. Yes, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem….”  

This prophecy speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit as a miraculous outpouring.  Joel is prophesying that Israel would know when the Spirit was poured out. The sign that the nation/kingdom would be restored, receiving God's blessings through the miracles that would be performed. This point is easier to understand in Joel 3:1, where he says that when these signs happened, the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem would be restored. These signs were to be a warning to the people that the “great and awe-inspiring Day of the LORD” was about to come. Judgment would follow the restoration of the kingdom of God and the return of God’s blessings. We will examine the fulfillment of this prophecy when we study Acts 2 and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.


CONCLUSION:

The role and involvement of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was evident and vital.  This must not be a surprise to us since the Holy Spirit is God, and our God is always actively involved in the lives of His children.  The prophets promised the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many have made that promise mean something different that the prophets never intended. The prophets spoke of the restoration of the kingdom, which had been destroyed because of the sins of the people.  The hope of Israel was that the covenant relationship with God would be restored at the coming of the Messiah (Jer. 31:31-34). These are the ideas that the prophets captured in the phrase, “the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the promise of the Holy Spirit is the restoration of the kingdom, the covenant, and God’s blessings.

In my next study, I will consider the questions of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.


Luci

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