Part 2 November 2023
In the October installment of the GPS we began to look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. This month we will continue that study. In the December issue we will conclude the Old Testament part of our study and also look at a way in which His ministry in the Old Testament differed from His ministry in the New Testament.
Another ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was His involvement, one way or another, in the process of giving revelation. In the case of Ezekiel, He changed the physical position of the prophet so he could receive revelation more efficiently, and in some cases He actually spoke to him. (Ezekiel 2:2; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1) In other instances it appears that the Holy Spirit so overcame people that He seems to have controlled the very words that came out of their mouths. Balaam is one example (Num. 24:2). Micah claims that, in contrast with the false prophets, he is controlled by the Holy Spirit. “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” (Micah 3:8, ESV)
The New Testament confirms the ministry of the Holy Spirit in communicating revelation in Scripture in three passages (Acts 1:16; 4:25; 2 Peter. 1:21).
A few passages tell us that the Holy Spirit was with the Israelites through the Exodus and wilderness wanderings.
Isaiah looks back at that period and describing Israel’s behavior, he says, “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.” (Isaiah 63:10–14, ESV) Regarding the same period, Nehemiah records a time when several Levites exhorted the people to praise the LORD for what He had done for them. They actually gave them the words they should use in their praise. Speaking of the days of the Exodus, the words included: “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20, ESV) A few verses later we read, “Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” (Nehemiah 9:30, ESV) Haggai adds his testimony to the same time as a part of his words encouraging the returnees to continue the rebuilding of the Temple. “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” (Haggai 2:4–5, ESV) During the entire time of the Exodus, the wilderness wandering and the entrance into the land the Holy Spirit was working with the nation.
The Old Testament also has passages that prophetically relate the Holy Spirit to the ministry of the Messiah. Isaiah says the Spirit will rest upon Him. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (Isaiah 11:1–2, ESV) Later in Isaiah the Messiah prophetically claims that that prophecy has been fulfilled in Him. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1–3, ESV) In the New Testament, Jesus claims that this prophecy was fulfilled in Him. “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:16–21, ESV)