The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Part 1
1 Samuel 10:1–16
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #041
February 16, 2016
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to gather together, to come together, to assemble around Your Word, fellowship around Your Word, because our fellowship is with You by virtue of God the Holy Spirit. When we confess sin we are restored to fellowship. When we are restored to fellowship, then our fellowship is primarily with You, but also with others.
Father, we are thankful that we have the truth of Your Word that we can rely on. We pray that You would continue to encourage us and strengthen us in Your Word, especially tonight as we study about God the Holy Spirit—that He will be more real to us and that we can understand His role in the Old Testament in ways we have not before. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
I’ve got one other announcement I want to make tonight before I get into the lesson. Sometime last night Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, who for many years was the Chairman of the Department of Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, the head of the graduate school, and the author of numerous books, went to be with the Lord.
He was a great man. He was a tremendous believer. He was a scholar, and he was a gentleman. He had quite a distinct impact on students because of his style. He was a very quiet and frail-looking man. He was of slight stature, probably about five foot ten or eleven.
When I first met him, he was probably about forty-nine or fifty years old, and I thought if we were outside and there was a five-mile-an-hour wind, it would blow him over. He was forced to take early retirement from the seminary because he had been on a mission trip in South America where he contracted hepatitis, which almost killed him. It took him a long time to recover from that.
He wrote numerous books and many, many more technical articles. He was one of the most significant voices for dispensational theology. His book, Dispensationalism, is a basic textbook for dispensational theology. You have been taught a lot of it because of what I have done, that is my background. I didn’t have Dr. Ryrie for dispensationalism, but I had him for two courses in seminary.
I had him for Bibliology my first semester, and the first week I was there I just had to pinch myself thinking, I am sitting in a class that Dr. Ryrie is teaching. Then I had him in my last year for what was called Senior Theology.
What prepared me for Senior Theology was being in teen class at Berachah Church because of the way Senior Theology was set up. There were about fifty men in the class and you had assigned seats. He would just go down the row, and you knew that, “Well, I got called on last week, so I know I’ll have a break for at least one, maybe two class periods.”
But he would give you 3–4 byes per semester, something like that, where you could just say no, pass and that was okay. But you had a reading. You had this textbook that was an anthology of different articles related to all the different areas of theology. They were written by a spectrum of different evangelical theologians—some of which you agreed with, some of which you didn’t agree with, some of which you might agree with on some things. You would have to read those chapters and know everything.
You had to be conversant with what was in the footnotes. You had no idea what questions he would ask you. He would call on you and he would say, “Mr. Dean,” and he would start to ask questions: “So and so makes this statement on page such and such, and do you agree with it, or disagree with it, and tell me why. And then, what do you think about that footnote he uses on this page, and are you familiar with that work, and what do you think about that?”
He would grill you until he decided to move on to the next person. And he would grill them, and then move on to the next person. But it taught you a little bit about poise, just as the teen class at Berachah Church did. It taught you to be well prepared for every class, because you didn’t know when you would be called on. It taught you to develop your critical thinking skills because that was what he was going to ask you.
By the end of your four years at Dallas Theological Seminary, you would have gone through all the branches of theology, so this was the capstone, the review of all of the theology you had learned over the years. He is the one who had devised that course. So he was a good pedagogue. He was a good teacher.
He was a gracious man; he emulated that. There were numerous, and I don’t mean two or three or a dozen, I’m talking probably well over 100, or a couple of hundred students over the course of his time on the faculty who were able to continue their education because he anonymously paid their tuition bill. God graced him out with an independent income so he was able to do that. He would support missionaries, and he would pay the tuition bills for students who for one reason or another could not pay. He was a man who emulated graciousness and the grace of the gospel.
He was a man who did more for helping students understand the significance of dispensationalism. I told Tommy Ice today that three greats, Walvoord, Ryrie, and Pentecost are all now with the Lord. There is no one out there on the scene in the theological academic environment except for Mike Stallard, who is president of Baptist Bible Seminary up in Pennsylvania—he has spoken at the Chafer Conference before—who is really taking a stand.
There are probably one or two others here or there. There are a couple out at Masters Seminary, there are one or two others at the Bible college level, but we don’t have anybody in the seminaries of the scholarly stature of Walvoord, Ryrie, and Pentecost. They were a great triumvirate at Dallas Seminary that really put it on the map, and it was their dispensational theology.
Sadly today that is not looked upon with as much favor, especially with some of the men in the New Testament Department, in the Theology Department, and in the Old Testament Department. For them it is almost an embarrassment to be dispensational. This is sad.
Dr. Ryrie also taught a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church for many years. He had a unique ability to simplify and hone things down. The only thing I really disagreed with him about were his views on walking by the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. He did not follow Walvoord or Chafer, who were his professors. He did not follow them in their understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual life.
But outside of that, he contributed much. I know that many of you have a Ryrie Study Bible, which first came out when I was a student, and a revision came out in the 90s. He was always a diligent worker.
Tonight we are going to step back from our verse-by-verse exposition of 1Samuel (we are in 1 Samuel 10). We are going to look at a doctrine. I don’t think I have ever taught this doctrine in this precise manner over the years that I have been in the pastorate.
I have summarized most of this, but we are going to look at it in a little more detail tonight. It is the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
This is coming out of our study in 1 Samuel 10 because of the emphasis of the role of God the Holy Spirit coming upon Saul in 1 Samuel 10:10.
It’s also mentioned again in 1 Samuel 11:6, “the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words and he became very angry.”
And 1 Samuel 16:13, “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David …”
The phrase, “came mightily upon”, is the same verb, we’ll see it later on in the lesson, it is the same verb used to describe the way the Holy Spirit came upon Samson at the end of the book of Judges.
What is interesting is that there is very little mention of God the Holy Spirit in Genesis. In fact, there is only one, or maybe two, clear references to the Holy Spirit in the book of Genesis.
There is only a couple in the book of Exodus. There are more in Numbers. But where we really start seeing the Holy Spirit working in the lives of individual leaders in Israel is in the book of Judges.
This is now the end of the period of the Judges with the beginning of the monarchy, so in Judges, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel, we see this emphasis on God the Holy Spirit.
Also, there is a lot said about the Spirit when we get into Ezekiel and Isaiah, those prophets, and a couple of other references. But there are a huge number of references in Judges and in 1 Samuel as well.
We are going to begin by looking at the Holy Spirit and getting a little background on the basic doctrine of the Holy Spirit in terms of the identification of the Holy Spirit, and answering the question: who is the Holy Spirit? Is He a person, a force, or an influence?
Among liberal theologians, the idea is that the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, is just simply a phrase for the influence or the force of God. He is not a distinct Person.
Remember, nineteenth century Protestant liberalism has its heritage in an anti-supernatural worldview. It partly derives, in America at least, from the rejection of the Trinity by the Unitarians.
The Unitarians, by the early 1800s, began to move more and more in the direction of what became known as liberal Protestant theology. So within liberalism, there is always this anti-Trinitarianism—they don’t understand the role of Jesus as the eternal second Person of the Trinity. And they don’t understand the personhood of God the Holy Spirit.
We ask this question, and in order to answer it fully, we can see examples of it in the Old Testament, but the clear revelation of it doesn’t come until we get into the New Testament. The emphasis on three distinct Persons in the Godhead in the Trinity is seen in about four different passages in the New Testament. It is referenced other places, but there we see all three Members of the Trinity mentioned.
1. At Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist, as referenced in Matthew 3:16, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. John immersed Him in the water, and when he brought Him out of the water, the text says, “the heavens opened up and he saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove.”
So you have Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, the dove as the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, and then a voice spoke from Heaven. If you had had your MP3 recorder there, you could have recorded the sound of God the Father speaking to the people, “This is My beloved Son …”
All three Members of the Trinity were present at the baptism of Jesus.
2. When Jesus gives His parting commission to the disciples, often referred to as the great commission, He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The grammar shows that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are viewed equally. There is not a hierarchy, Father over the Son over the Spirit, but they are viewed equally as the one God.
3. There is another reference in 2 Corinthians 13:14 as Paul closes out that epistle, and he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (that is the second Person of the Trinity), and the love of God (that is the Father as the first Person of the Trinity), and the communion (or fellowship) of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” All three Members of the Trinity are again mentioned. The order is different —it’s the Son, then the Father, and the Holy Spirit, but they are viewed as equal.
4. Then in a passage that we studied not too long ago in 1 Peter 1:2, Peter writes, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (first Person of the Trinity), in sanctification of the Spirit, (notice here the Spirit is mentioned second) for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ …” Here you have all three Members of the Trinity mentioned again.
This shows us that there are three distinct Persons in the one God. The idea of the oneness of God is not a singularity. For those with a background in philosophy, God is not viewed as a monad as you had in some of the philosophers who came out of the enlightenment.
God is a multiplicity. He is three in one. Philosophically that shows that our ultimate metaphysical reality answers the basic question that plagues all philosophy, and that is the problem of unity and diversity, or the problem of the one and the many, I’ll just throw that out. We aren’t going to talk about that.
But this is the problem you have throughout history. It was recognized in the schools of Heraclitus and Parmenides in ancient Greek philosophy. One said that everything is the same; it never changes. The other said that everything is always changing. It’s the issue of the one and the many. Most contemporary or post-enlightenment philosophers ignore this because they can’t get there. They can’t figure it out, so they just ignore it. They drill down on microscopic details, and modern philosophy is just a pain to study.
So we have the Trinity. Within the Trinity each of the Members of the Trinity are viewed as distinct Persons, including God the Holy Spirit.
God the Holy Spirit has the characteristics of a person. He has intellect, He has will, and He has the ability to communicate to other people. He carries out the roles of a person, of an individual.
We have passages like John 14:16, where Jesus says, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper …”
Exegetically, the word for “another” means another of the same kind. The first helper, the first PARAKLETE is who? God the Son, it is Jesus.
“… and He will give you another helper (PARAKLETE) of the same kind.” Jesus is a Person, therefore God the Holy Spirit, to fulfill His role as a comforter, must also be a Person.
In John 15:26 (if you note, all of these are coming out of the upper room discourse, Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples before He goes to the cross), He says, “But when the Helper comes (the PARAKLETOS, the Comforter), whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
What kind of verb is testify? It is a verb of communication. That means He is going to communicate. That again indicates that He is a Person.
He also has will. He makes decisions. In Acts 16:7, as Paul is on his second missionary journey, he has come across from the southeast to the northwest into what is now Turkey, and he was trying to go into Asia, which would have been to his left, the west, and also Bithynia, which would have been to the north east.
But he says, “but the Spirit did not permit them.” This is a function of the will of God the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12:11 the Holy Spirit is the One who distributes spiritual gifts, “distributing to each one individually as He wills.” That shows that His will, the independent volition of the third Person of the Trinity, is involved again, indicating that He is a person.
Then we have a couple of other passages, for example, in John 16: 14, “He will glorify Me (talking about God the Holy Spirit), for He will take care of what is Mine and declare it to you.” This also indicates communication.
A lot of these verses I am using are the same ones, so they are overlapping, but in John 16:14, the “He” there is the Greek pronoun EKEINOS, which is a masculine pronoun.
But the word PNEUMA is a neuter noun. A masculine pronoun is being used to refer to a neuter noun, which is grammatically incorrect, unless you are talking about a person. The subtle use of this third person masculine pronoun here indicates the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
That is also true in John 14:26, “… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name He (referring back to PNEUMA, the Spirit) will teach you all things.” He uses EKEINOS to emphasize the personhood of God the Holy Spirit.
Also in these verses the term for comforter, PARAKLETOS, should be translated a helper, or a comforter, or an encourager. It is not correct to translate it comfort, counsel, or encourage. It is talking about a Person there, so just the way that word is used, and the word that is used, indicates this.
We also see that the Holy Spirit is used and talked about in a way that can only be true of a person. Walk by means of the Spirit is a concept. You are walking with someone. It makes sense if the Holy Spirit is a person, not a force.
You are walking by means of the Spirit; that fits within other verses. Acts 15:28 says, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us …” That shows that He is a person. He makes decisions, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit …”
In 1 Peter 1:2, the sanctification of the Holy Spirit is talked about.
In Jude 20, “But you, beloved, building yourself up on your most holy faith, praying by means of the Holy Spirit, …” So He is involved in our communication. All of these verses taken together reinforce the idea of personhood.
We also see that the New Testament emphasizes the full, undiminished deity of God the Holy Spirit. One example of this is in the book of Acts in the situation with Ananias and Sapphira.
You all remember that story in which Ananias and Sapphira sold some property and were going to give some money to the church. There is nothing wrong with that. They want to be well thought of. There is nothing wrong with that. But they wanted the church to think that they were giving one hundred percent to the church, so they lied about it and both died under divine discipline, because they were yielding to temptation.
In Acts 5:3 Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart …” Now, Satan is not the content. I have run into a few people over the years who think Satan is filling the heart as the content. No, Satan is the one filling the heart with the content of the desire to lie. He is tempting them. “Why is Satan filling your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit …” You can only lie to a person.
In the next verse Peter concludes and says, “You have not lied to men but to God.” He is defining the Holy Spirit as God. The Holy Spirit equals God—God equals the Holy Spirit.
He is also given or ascribed divine works. We know the Holy Spirit is divine because He is said to do things that only deity can do. He created. In Genesis 1:2 He moves on the face of the deep, and in Job 26:13.
In Job 33:4, He also is involved in breathing life into God’s creatures. He is involved in creation. We will look at those verses a little more.
He is involved in regeneration in John 3:5, 6. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us, Titus 3:5. And the Holy Spirit is also involved in bringing life to the dead in resurrection.
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” This emphasizes that God the Holy Spirit is involved in resurrection.
Divine attributes are also ascribed to Him. He is said to be omnipotent. Romans 15:19 says, “In mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God …” That is omnipotence, the power of God.
He distributes spiritual gifts. Only God can do that, 1 Corinthians 12:11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, …” He is omnipotent.
He is also omniscient, and this is mentioned in a number of verses,
Isaiah 40:13, “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord or as His counselor has taught Him?”
The implication is that nobody needs to teach Him because He already knows everything. He is omniscient and that is the focal point of verses 13 and 14.
Romans 11:34 says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
Again, it is the Holy Spirit in context. He is omniscient.
And in Psalm 139:7–10, as David says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit?” I can’t escape Your Spirit. Your Spirit is everywhere; He is omnipresent. I can’t go anywhere. This is an understanding and expression of God the Holy Spirit.
He is given honor of deity as He is mentioned along with the Father and the Son in passages we have already looked at like Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14.
We see the work of the Spirit in the work of the Trinity. There is a division of labor in the Trinity. The idea of the assembly line and the division of labor did not originate with Henry Ford as you were taught in your high school history class, or economics class.
It probably started with the Lord at creation, if not before. God the Father is the architect, the planner. He is the One who oversees everything. It is the Son who is portrayed as the project manager or construction supervisor and the One who reveals to mankind the Father.
John 1:18 says, “No one has seen the Father at any time. But He, the Son (the LOGOS) has (EXEGETED) revealed Him.”
The Holy Spirit is the project engineer. He is the One who has, as it were, boots on the ground, anthropomorphically speaking.
He also oversees divine revelation. He is the Agent of divine revelation.
And He is the one who brings to completion the plan of the Father.
So the Holy Spirit is involved in bringing together creation, regeneration, and divine revelation.
In the Church Age He is the One who empowers the individual life of the Church Age believer.
This gives us the background to understand that God the Holy Spirit is a distinct Person in the Trinity. He is clearly revealed in the Old Testament, and clearly understood to be a part of the ministry of God in the Old Testament. And yet that is not fully developed or clearly taught, in terms of specifics, until you get into the New Testament.
Let’s look at some terminology.
The word translated “spirit” is the Hebrew word ruach, which is very much like its Greek counterpart, PNEUMA. If you think about the word PNEUMA, we have brought that over into the English in a lot of ways. You have it in words like pneumatic drill, or pneumonia. A pneumatic drill operates on the power of air. Pneumonia has to do with your lungs and the ability to breath.
PNEUMA is expressed in a lot of different terms: its basic meaning has to do with wind, or breath, or a breeze, or spirit, or a mental attitude.
There are seven or eight different meanings for PNEUMA in the New Testament. And that is pretty much the same thing we find in the Old Testament. The word ruach is found over 387 times. The reason I put that in there is that it depends on the text. I consulted about four different sources and came up with different numbers, 387, 388, 389—over 387. So, that is generic, but there are a lot of terms there.
But it is used a lot of different ways. It can mean breeze or breath or wind or air. And in breath it is sometimes associated with the word neshamah which refers to the breath of life that is given from God.
Also, because wind and air disappear, if something goes into the breeze, you know we have this idiom, even in English, if some crook or somebody the police are looking for suddenly drops out of sight we say, he’s in the wind. He’s just disappeared, he’s gone; it’s vanity. So it refers to something vain or futile.
It refers to the breath of God, in some passages, which supports life. It is described as the breath of life and it is used in Genesis 6:17.
It is also used to refer to the human spirit. Whether it is talking about just the immaterial part of man where it talks about, for example, the spirit of Pharaoh—that is talking about his immaterial part. It could be referring to his mentality, but in this sense it is refers to the mind, the intellectual frame of mind or the mental attitude of somebody; their temperament. Sometimes it refers to the courage or specific attitudes of man, and that is one sense of ruach.
In terms of this study it is also used to refer to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, or the Spirit of Yahweh.
But there are also a small number of references that are just generic, I think. It could refer to just the force of God, the presence of God, not in terms of impersonal.
But these would be rare, maybe no more than two or three such sort of ambiguous references in the Old Testament. Usually it is very clear.
It talks about the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Yahweh. Those are very, very clear that it is talking about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes God just says My Spirit which can be a reference if somebody is talking about “my spirit was there,” they are talking about themselves being there. So that is one idiom.
Psalm 104:30 is one of the more specific passages that talk about a higher view of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. There are several references to the Spirit in the Psalms that are important, and this is one of them, talking about creation, the role of God the Holy Spirit in creation and the creation of the animals.
The Psalmist is saying, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created …” It is through God the Holy Spirit that things were created. It is referring to His role in creation. “You renew the face of the earth.” This refers back to Genesis 1:2, where the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of God is on the face of the deep.”
Another example, which shows the role of God the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the prophets, is that Elijah talks about the role of the Spirit in empowering Elijah, and Elisha requests that he have a double portion of the Spirit. That should be capitalized, it usually isn’t, when Elisha says, “Please let a double portion of Your Spirit be upon me.” He is asking for a double blessing of God the Holy Spirit in his life and in his ministry.
Ezekiel has a couple of really interesting references and what they show here is a strong view of the individual ministry of God the Holy Spirit—that this isn’t just a force. It isn’t some sort of impersonal representation.
In Ezekiel 3:12 Ezekiel says, “Then the Spirit lifted me up from that place.” The Spirit is lifting him up and moving him.
Ezekiel 11:1, “Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the Lord’s house which faces eastward and there at the door of the gate were twenty five men.” It is the Holy Spirit who is either physically transporting him or is giving him a vision.
One of the other more revelatory passages is Zechariah 4:6, “So he answered and said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel (this is after the return from the captivity in Babylon): “Not by might nor by power (that is human effort, human power), but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.’ ”
So there it is a distinction between the Lord of hosts, the Lord of the armies, and His Spirit, clearly showing a distinction that the Spirit is a distinct Person from Yahweh, but is viewed as fully divine.
There are a couple of other passages that refer to the Spirit in terms of creation and this gives us a good transition into the next section.
The next point I want to look at is at how the Holy Spirit appears in the Old Testament as we work our way from Genesis forward. The last two verses, these will show up again in just a couple of more slides, showing the role of the Holy Spirit in creation.
In Job 26:13, one of the friends of Job is speaking, “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens …”, showing that it is by means of the Holy Spirit that the actual engineering of the creation takes place. He adorned the heavens. This would relate to the creation of the stars and the sun and the moon on the fourth day in Genesis 1.
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” This is the role of God the Holy Spirit in working in the intermediate means of the creation of a human being. The immediate means are through the normal sexual procreative activity, but God the Holy Spirit is working in and through that particular process.
The next thing is to just go through the Holy Spirit. I did something interesting today, I have never done this before, and looking at it this way, how the Holy Spirit is referred to book by book through the Old Testament.
I was really surprised that the Holy Spirit is only mentioned clearly as the Spirit of God one or two times in Genesis. It is right at the beginning so you can’t avoid it. You can’t say, well, this is some sort of late development unless you are playing games with the text and saying, well, Genesis was cobbled together after the exile, which is a very liberal view.
We are introduced to the Spirit of God at the very beginning of the creation account in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (always a term for God the Holy Spirit) was hovering over the face of the waters.”
The oldest book in the Bible is not Genesis. Genesis gives the account of creation, but Moses wrote it in the period from 1445 to 1406 BC. In those forty years in the wilderness is when Moses put together the Pentateuch.
Job was probably written much earlier. Job lived about the time of the latter years of Abraham and the time when Isaac is alive and it is probably the earliest book, the first book, to be written, or to be revealed, and given. Job gives us several references to God the Holy Spirit in the oldest book of the Bible.
“By His Spirit He adorned the heavens …”, the verse we just looked at. Job 33:4, “the Spirit of God has made me …”
We also have references back in Isaiah 40:13, “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him?”
Then Psalm 104:30 also speaks of the role of God the Holy Spirit in creation.
We see some other references to the Holy Spirit come along. As we look in Exodus, we see the role of the Holy Spirit in giving wisdom or skill to the craftsmen Bezalel and Oholiab who built the furniture in the Tabernacle. What is interesting is that the text says, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God …”
I want you to pay attention to these words, I don’t know if we are going to get all the way there tonight. But, in Kings we are going to see how Hiram, the architect who oversees the building of the temple (it doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit per se in the verse talking about Hiram), but it says that “Hiram is filled with wisdom and understanding and knowledge in all manner of workmanship.” It just doesn’t mention the Spirit. But the implication is that if everything else is there except for the Spirit of God, it is very likely that just as God the Holy Spirit gave wisdom to Bezalel and Oholiab, He did so later with Hiram.
This is not a filling of the Spirit for spiritual growth. This is not a filling of the Spirit for regeneration. This is distinct. As we are going to see, God the Holy Spirits’ role in the Old Testament was not related to sanctification. It was related to leadership in the nation.
This is one of the big questions people ask, because they read in Psalm 51 that David prays, “Lord, don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me …”
And then they go to the New Testament and we are given the Holy Spirit as the seal or pledge of our salvation and that is part of our understanding of eternal security. Some people get the idea that since you did not have the indwelling or filling of the Holy Spirit, you could lose it in the Old Testament, that you could lose your salvation.
But that is a complete misunderstanding of the nature of regeneration. You’ve always had regeneration, and regeneration is a permanent irreversible transformation that goes far beyond what most people imagine in our lives. It is a complete makeover that takes place at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone.
In the New Testament we become a new creature in Christ as a result of that. But in the Old Testament they are still born again, they still receive a human spirit. Other aspects of the role of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, these things did not occur. But they are still a new creation. They have the new human spirit.
Exodus 31:3 says that God filled these craftsmen with skill and wisdom, which is the Hebrew word chokmah. Chokmah does not talk about wisdom in the sense of Greek wisdom—in the sense of being a Greek philosopher in intellectual academic pursuits.
Wisdom in the Scripture has to do with skill. This is where we go to find out what chokmah means. These guys were already skilled craftsmen and carpenters, but now they are going to get a divine enhancement, so that when they build the furniture for the tabernacle, it is going to be exquisite. It is going to be better than anything else on the planet because they have been guided and directed by God the Holy Spirit.
This shows that the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is to enhance the leadership of God’s covenant people. That’s why we don’t see much mention of the Holy Spirit prior to the giving of the covenant to Moses to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
Another reference we have is in relation to Moses. Nobody prior to Moses is spoken of as having this kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit.
In Numbers 11:17 God says, “Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them;”
Notice the prepositions. It is not “in you”. It is not a filling like God the Holy Spirit today in terms of a permanent indwelling or empowerment for the spiritual life. It is for guidance and wisdom for the leaders of God’s theocratic covenant people. It has to do with the leadership of the theocracy.
So Moses has this filling of the Spirit. Not only that, in Nehemiah we learn something that isn’t revealed anywhere in Exodus. This is an intriguing little passage, because in Nehemiah 9:20, it talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in instructing the Israelites in wilderness.
In Nehemiah’s prayer in vs. 20 he says, “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them …” That is the Exodus generation. How did He instruct them? Through the Torah. We often translate torah as law, but torah also has as its meaning guidance or instruction.
So here, “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them (showing the role of God the Holy Spirit in the giving of the Law) and You did not withhold Your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.”
So there is a role of the Holy Spirit in the giving of the Law.
But they rebelled. This is what Isaiah says in Isaiah 63:10, “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, so He turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them.” God fought against the Israelites in the wilderness.
Again we see that they rebelled against the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 63:11, “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: ‘Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them?’ ”
This is another intriguing reference to the Holy Spirit in the Exodus generation. Again this is not talking about the kind of indwelling that relates to the spiritual life, but in relation to the leadership and guidance of the nation.
This takes us up to a good breaking point. What I want do at this point is drill down a bit into how the Holy Spirit is spoken about once we get into the book of Judges and later as we develop our understanding of God the Holy Spirit.
So we will stop here and come back to wrap up this study next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things today and to reflect upon the role and ministry of God the Holy Spirit—that this did not begin in the New Testament church, but has a background in the Old Testament, in the Hebrew Scriptures where we see embedded there this great indication of the triune God, even in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Now Father, we pray that You might help us to recognize that we have a unique privilege in this dispensation with the indwelling of the Spirit and the filling by the Spirit, and that we are to walk by Him constantly, consistently, consciously relying on Him in all that we do. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”