Holy Spirit in the Old Testament By Tunde Olugboji
Jesus told his disciples, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26). And in Acts 1:8, He assured them that they “shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The promise started unfolding in Acts 2:4, when “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Many believers are familiar with the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, but some Bible readers wrongly assume, or are unaware, that the Spirit’s activity in Scripture is not limited to the New Testament. Granted, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was for a selected few. He came only on selected leaders such as the 70 elders (Number 11: 24 – 27), Othniel (Judges 3: 10), Gideon (Judges 6: 34), and Jephthah (Judges 11: 29). Each time the Spirit came, the recipient would immediately go on to complete a mighty act requiring power or wisdom, or to speak a prophesy.
This week, we will start examining some of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, starting with the following truths:
- The Holy Spirit participated in creation (Genesis 1: 2; Job 26: 13, Isaiah 32: 15).
- The Holy Spirit gave life to humanity and the other creatures (Psalm 104: 29, 30). It is interesting to note that when Genesis says God endows people with life by breathing into their nostrils the “breath of life” (Genesis 2: 7), the word for “breath” is the same word translated elsewhere as “spirit.”
- The Holy Spirit strove with sinners (Genesis 6: 3), which is perhaps related to his work in convicting people of sin (John 16: 8 – 11).
- The Holy Spirit came upon certain judges, warriors, and prophets in a way that gave them extraordinary power: for example, Joshua (Number 27: 18), Samson (Judges 13: 25; 14: 6), and Saul (1 Samuel 10: 9 – 10). However, the Spirit later departed from Saul because of his disobedience (1 Samuel 16: 14).
- The Holy Spirit played a prominent role in the long span of Old Testament prophecy. David declared that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23: 2). Ezekiel also reported that “the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezekiel 2: 2).
- The Holy Spirit inspired holiness in Old Testament believers (Psalm 143: 10). And Scripture promised that someday God would put his Spirit in His people in a way that would cause them to live according to his statutes (Ezekiel 36: 27).
- The Holy Spirit was crucial in helping the people of God foretell the ministry of the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 11: 1 – 5 provided a trinitarian preview of the working of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, who is the Branch of Jesse. Looking forward to the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to declare: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” (Isaiah 11: 2), inspiring God’s Chosen One with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, righteousness, and faithfulness. Thus, we come full cycle to the New Testament, where Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of this prophecy (Isaiah 61: 1, 2; Luke 4: 18, 19).
Our discussion on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament continues next week.
Have a great week!
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