The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Many Christians believes that the Holy Spirit was a stranger to the Old Testament and to the Old Testament saints. If the Holy Spirit’s coming was a matter of the Father’s promise, then that promise should be clearly indicated in the Old Testament. In reality, the Spirit of God is more evident than the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God because we see evidence of God in the Old Testament but only hear of the Son who manifests in the New Testament.
Why do we celebrate the Holy Spirit?
From my research the early Church used the Holy Spirit to account for biblical data concerning God. The Bible speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in ways that make it clear that all three are God, yet there is only one God. To the unlearned reader, this may be difficult to understand? But don’t worry; I shall attempt to made clear.
I have complied a listed scripture from both Old and New Testament; clearly identifying God. There could also be many other texts in which the Ministry of the Spirit is clearly at work or referred to, but using other terms than the Spirit of God.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Psalms 51:11AV
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, the redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken. Isaiah 61:10-12 AV
The term, “Holy Spirit,” seldom occurs in the Old Testament. Here are some frequently used terms or expressions for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament are:
• The Spirit of the Lord
• My Spirit
• The Spirit
• The Spirit of God
• The Spirit of … (Judgement, fire, justice, etc.)
• Your Spirit
In nearly all of these cases, the reference to the Holy Spirit is clear, there are some instances where the Holy Spirit and the human “spirit” seem almost to merge, so that the Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Spirit of Elijah” 2 Kings 2:9-15KJV. This is also the case with the “Spirit” which was on Moses, which also came upon the seventy elders who were to help him Numbers 11:17-29. If there was any doubt in our minds as to whether or not the “Spirit” of the Old Testament was the same person as the “Holy Spirit” in the New Testament. The evidence is available if we read the inspired New Testament references to the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament, both by our Lord Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36, and by the apostles and others Acts 1:16; 4:25; 7:5, Hebrews 3:7
Regardless of the infrequency of the exact term, “Holy Spirit,” the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament times is much more noticeable. The Spirit of God is almost immediately introduced in the Book of Genesis.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And Spirit moved upon the face of the waters Genesis 1:2 KJV
He is repeatedly mentioned in the writings of the prophets. The Holy Spirit had a significant role in the creation of the world as mention in chapter one and in striving with sinful men. He inspired men who revealed God to men, either in word, or in work. He instructed and guided men, focusing directly on the Israelites; His chosen people.
The Spirit of God instructed and guided not only the nation of Israel as a whole, but men as individuals; in order for His people be led accordingly by David, 1 Samuel 16:13-14; Psalm 143:10. He enabled and empowered men to do that which was humanly impossible e.g., working through the Prophets, Priests and the Judges. The power of God was manifested through men; but the presence of God among men.
The Public Relationship the Holy Spirit has with Man
In the Old Covenant, His work in the heart of men was operated differently to how it does now. The Atonement for the sins of man had not yet been completed, Christ wad yet to come and die and the Prophecy had to be fulfilled in order that the Counsellor would come and live within us. Without this He was unable to make members of the Body of Christ, nor baptize them into one body nor live within them eternally The Spirit had yet to find purified hearts and make them His Temple. Christ, being without sin, was the first in whom the Spirit dwelt. The fact that He now live within us because of the Sacrificial Blood of the Lamb, which cleanses us from all our sins. But under the Old Covenant, the Atonement was not yet accomplished for believers.
The Holy Spirit therefore appears to be the agency through which God works. God used men to reveal His will and His word (e.g. the prophets), but these men were inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that the words they spoke were clearly the “Word of the Lord.” When Prophet spoke in the Spirit, they spoke as an Oracle of God. When men disobeyed the Word of God, they were regarded as having not only resisted God, but His Spirit as well and death was punishment.
The Spirit of men was the sovereign work of God, rather than God’s response to the initiative of men. Generally speaking, men could not ask God for a role, and many had no expectation that they were being chosen. The Spirit of God to come upon them, their role was to fulfil their task. God was in complete control. God took the initiative, and men responded accordingly. Men did not dispose of God or of His Spirit; rather God disposed of men, using His Spirit to do so.
In the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was dictated by the nature of God and the nature of man. God is infinite, man is finite, man would never think God’s thoughts apart from a Divine work of God in man, which is what the Spirit did and what He continues to do, even the thoughts of man are no comparison to the thoughts of God. Beyond this, men would not be able to accomplish God’s purposes, even if we comprehended them and were committed to achieving them. God’s work is a Divine and thus the need for Divine power is a must. Even men of Faith have a limited grasp of God’s ways, and they also have limited power. Thus, the ministry of the Spirit was necessitated by the greatness of God and by the ignorance and impotence of men. The Holy Spirit was God’s way of assuring that His will was accomplished through Him using His Spirit through men.
When I consider the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, I am taken back by the prominence of the third person of the Trinity. Before Jesus was glorified and before Pentecost, the Spirit was not poured out on all flesh. While the Spirit of God may not be clearly distinguished from God, so that the doctrine of the Trinity was crystal clear, He is described as being God, and as the agency which God used to accomplish His purposes in the world. The frequency of the references to the Holy Spirit is much greater than I expected and the extent of His ministry much broader.
In the Old Testament God dwelt at the Ark of the covenant, in the Temple, near, His chosen nation. The people’s relationship with God becomes progressively more personal under the Law in the Old Testament, which is also different in the New Testament relationship under grace, and finally, to the intimate relationship that one now experiences with God when we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Here are a few Bible Verses on the Holy spirit taken from ESV
For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning’s too deep for words Romans 8:26
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 1Corinthians 6:19
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
Read and be blessed!!!