The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament


Gracie has just arrived. We’ll go ahead and have a word of prayer.

[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the privilege of the study of the word and we ask Thy blessing upon us now, tonight, as we consider, again, the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Enable us, Lord, not only to learn something for our minds, but also may it be a motivating factor in our lives in a practical way.

We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Message] Now, we are coming to that portion of our study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in which we shall be looking primarily at the biblical texts. And I’m delighted that you have hung in there with me through those parts of the study which were introductory and are not quite as interesting, in some ways, but yet are as important.

For tonight, our subject is: The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. And, the outline that I put on the board, as I looked at it, I have constructed it on the basis on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, but if I did not tell you that, my outline wouldn’t reveal it too well. So I hope you’ll remember that as we go along, the spirit of God in the world, we’re talking about the spirit of God in the world as he is seen in the Old Testament. And the spirit of God in the theocracy, that is, as he is seen in the Old Testament. And all of the other points have that in mind.

So tonight the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and for Scripture reading, turn with me to two verses in the Book of Judges; and then we’ll read a few verses in the 51st Psalm. Judges chapter 6, verses 33 and 34. And while you are finding these two verses, let me remind you that they are set in the context of the story of Gideon. And Gideon has been appointed by God as the judge who is to deliver Israel. And in the course of God’s dealings with him, we arrive at that point in his story in which he is empowered by the Holy Spirit for his task of driving out the Midianites.

Now, chapter 6 in verse 33 reads:

“Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.”

Now, we’ll say more about this later on. I want you to notice the expression, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon.” Now, let’s turn to the 51st Psalm, and let’s read a few verses in this great psalm of confession. Remember, David had committed his sin in the case of Bathsheba, and in the 51st Psalm he writes us a psalm of confession. And in verse 1, he writes:

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; [There is a good text on original sin] and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. [Now, notice these verses that we are coming to now] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; [Notice it is the “joy” of salvation, not salvation.] and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Now, I think we can stop at that point for our Scripture reading for tonight. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament…

Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield was one of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century. He was professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. And in one of the articles of a theological character, which he has written on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, he began by saying, “The doctrine of the Spirit of God is an exclusively biblical doctrine. It is foreign to Hellenism. It is foreign to thought outside of the world of the Bible. You do not, for example, find that the Mohammedans have any doctrine of the Holy Spirit. You do not find other false religions, not connected in some way at least with the Biblical Judaism of the Old Testament, and that of the teaching of the New Testament; you do not find in any of these religions a doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

It is something that has its roots in the Bible and is developed in the books of the Old and the New Testament. And so it is something that is unique to Christianity. And others only have a doctrine insofar as they may be influenced by Christianity. It is an exclusively Biblical doctrine.

Now, it is a doctrine of the whole of the Bible and not just the New Testament or the Old Testament. Let’s think for a moment of the name, “The Holy Spirit,” and I want you to turn with me for a moment to the first chapter of the Bible. In Genesis chapter 1, in the first verse of this book of beginnings, Moses writes:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

And so, here, in the second verse of the Old Testament, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit appears. And the Holy Spirit appears unannounced and unexplained as if, in Moses day, it was no novelty to speak of the Holy Spirit. He did not have to say, “Now I’m going to mention something that I need to devote two or three paragraphs of explanation for.” He just simply says, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” And I think it is fair to say that he expected his readers to understand what he was talking about.

The frequency of the mention of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is interesting; it is not surprising for us to find that in the New Testament there is a great deal more frequent use of the Holy Spirit than in the Old Testament. We should not expect the Old Testament to have as much about the Holy Spirit as the New Testament for the simple reason that this doctrine is one of the doctrines of the Bible in which there is development; not change, but development.

I think it is true to say that there are more occurrences of the term, “The Holy Spirit” in the Epistles of Paul than there are in all of the sixty-six books of the Old Testament.

Now, not only is the name “Holy Spirit” not as frequently mentioned in the Old Testament; but it is not as pervasive; that is, it is not generally throughout the Old Testament. It appears in numbers of books but in other books it does not.

I think that there are sixteen books of the Old Testament in which the Holy Spirit does not appear at all. Whereas, in the New Testament, I think, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit appears in every book except the book of Philemon and 2nd and 3rd John; three chapters of the New Testament.

So you can see, that there is a much more frequent and a much more pervasive use of the term “Holy Spirit” in the New Testament than in the Old. But, if we were limited to the Old Testament, and we had only two books, Isaiah and Ezekiel, we could construct, almost, a complete doctrine of the Holy Spirit as it is taught in the word of God because, these two books, Isaiah and Ezekiel, give us almost all of the structure of the doctrine of the Bible.

Now, of course, it does not give us some of the peculiar things that we find in the New Testament; but even they are anticipated by prophetic references to the doctrine of the Spirit.

Now, one last thing that I want to say under these opening words — this is not all the opening words that I have, but this particular thing. The New Testament writers identify the Holy Spirit, about which they speak, with the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament. In other words, it is impossible for us to say that the Old Testament speaks about someone called the Holy Spirit and the New Testament writers speak about someone called the Holy Spirit; but we are not sure that they are really the same persons.

Now, that, I think, is forestalled by the fact that the New Testament writers referred to Old Testament experiences, which are references to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, such as, Stephen’s reference in Acts 7. And, also, they refer to statements made in the Old Testament and attribute them to the Holy Spirit, about which they speak.

To take Stephen’s case, for an example. After Stephen has gone over the major part of his message, you’ll remember, when it becomes evident that they are resisting the message that he is giving, he in the last words of his sermon says,

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.”

And Luke when he records this does not let us know, does not expect us to question the fact that the Spirit that Stephen was speaking about is the same spirit about which the Old Testament is written.

Now, in the New Testament, in the writer — in the Episitle to the Hebrews, the writer of that Epistle in the 9th chapter of his book, when he describes the service of the Tabernacle, he says, in the 8th verse about the furniture and about the services of the high priest, he said:

“The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:”

And so he looks at the tabernacle of the Old Testament and says that we learn certain things about the Holy Spirit by the Old Testament. And so he too sees the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament as the same spirit that is called the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. And I think that we have already referred to the fact, when we were talking about inspiration, that our Lord refers to Psalm 110, a psalm written by David, and says that, “he spoke in the Spirit.” And, again, he does not say that the Spirit who motivated David moved David to speak is a different Spirit from the Spirit known as the Holy Spirit in New Testament times.

So we find what we expect to find. We find a unity in the doctrine. We also find a progressive revelation of it as the Scriptures unfold. In both Testaments, he is the executive of the Godhead. He is the Name of God working.

So if we were to say, “What name would you give to God in his works? Or, what name would you give to God as the God who works?” It would be “The Holy Spirit.” He is God working. And it is the same Holy Spirit. More things are revealed in the New Testament, but that’s what we expect. Now, that is what we find about almost all of the doctrines of the Bible; that there is a progressive revelation in Scripture. And as the ages unfold, God continues to tell us more and more about the doctrines that are his.

The Old Testament doctrine of the Holy Spirit reveals that he operates in three spheres. And I’ve listed the three here in the three parts of my outline.

He operates in the sphere of the world. He operates in the sphere of the theocracy. Now, the theocracy is a term for the nation Israel, because it was a group of people who, ideally, were to be ruled, prastateo, the Greek word means to rule. Theos ruled by God. So Israel is the theocracy.

And the Spirit operates in the sphere of the individual in the Old Testament; the individual within the theocracy. So he operates in three spheres.

In the first sphere, in the world, his operations is global and natural. He works in the first creation, the physical creation about us. And in the second sphere he works in the theocracy, that is national and spiritual. This is his work of preparing a kingdom for a people. And so, he works to prepare this kingdom for the people — the people, Israel. That is a redemptive work, and so we should expect this to have to do with redemption, the spirit of God in the theocracy.

And, finally, the third sphere is in the individual. This is personal and also spiritual. This is his work, not of preparing a kingdom for a people but of preparing a people for a kingdom. And so he works in the individual. This work impinges especially upon his work in us today. For today he is preparing us for a kingdom also. And so he works in us individually in the church, and he works in us spiritually. And it is safe to say that there is no doctrine of the Bible, which it is more important for a Christian to know than the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in relation to his daily life.

And, unfortunately, many Christians not only do not know this doctrine, they do not know what it is to be filled with the Spirit; they do not know how to be filled with the Spirit. Often they want to do things to please God, but they do not have the knowledge or the experience to do what they would like to do. It is important that we come to understand what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit.

There is an old story about two men who were standing by Niagara Falls. They were fascinated by the exquisitely beautiful and awe-inspiring spectacle of those waters rushing down over the falls. And one of them turned to the other — and this was before the great hydroelectric plant was built there — and he said to the other, “That’s the greatest unused power in all the world.” And the other, who was also a Christian said, “No, it’s not. The greatest unused power in all the world is the Holy Spirit.” And I think that’s true, among Christians, at least.

Now, tonight, we want to look at The Spirit in the Old Testament. So the Spirit of God in the world, Roman 1, and capital A, the creation of the world.

Now, let’s turn back to Genesis 1, and we’ll have just a few words to say about this. Most of us are familiar with this text. Genesis 1:2 again:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

That word “moved” is a Hebrew word which means to hover over as a bird hovers over its young. And so it is the picture of the Holy Spirit as a mother bird, fluttering over its nest. And I think if we were to translate the idea that is here, because we read in the next verse, “And God said, let there be light: and there was light,” that what we have is the picture of God, the Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, hovering over the chaos and hearing the word of God, the word, the Second Person — hearing the Second Person speak, “Let there be light,” he responds and lo, there is light as a result of the work of the Spirit. So to God transcendent in the heavens, the God who is over all, God imminent, who is the one in whom we move and have our being, to God transcendent, God imminent responds, and there is light, the magnificent miracle of creation.

Now, as a result of the teaching of the Old Testament on the creation, I think it becomes plain that the Holy Spirit is the source of all of the activity of God in the world. Now, I’m sure that there are many passages in which we have specific works that are said to be the work of the Son, and there are works that are said to be the work of the Father. But, generally speaking, it is the Holy Spirit who is the source of activity. He surely is the source of order. He surely is the source of life. And he is the source of light in the world.

Now, I think in this very verse right here, where we have chaos; the earth was without form and void. Suddenly we have a cosmos, order. That’s the real meaning of the word back of our English word “cosmos,” order. So from the chaos to the cosmos, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brooding upon the face of the waters, hearing the voice of God and, as a result of the voice of God transcendent, God imminent works and we have order, light, and, the remainder of the things that take place here.

Job says in chapter 26 of his book in verse 13:

“By his spirit has he garnished the heavens.”

Again, the same idea of making beautiful, bringing order out of chaos. He is the source of life. In Job chapter 33 in verse 4 and in Job chapter 34, verses 14 and 15, reference is made to that.

I think I’ll just read one of these passages. Now, if you can find it in a hurry, you can read it with me. But if you can’t find it, I’m not going to wait for you. Job chapter 33 in verse 4. Now, I have an advantage, of course, because I know what I’m going to turn to, and you have to guess my mind. Job 33 in verse 4. And we read, in the words of Elihu:

“The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

That seems to be the uniform testimony of the Bible; that the Holy Spirit is the source of life. Now, he is the source of life in the world about us, and he is the source of life in the New Birth, too. So in the realm of the spiritual, he operates. Jesus, speaking to Nicodemus says that, “when a man is born again, he is born of the spirit.” So it is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit to give life. He gives order, he gives life, and he also gives light. In Job chapter 32, verse 8, we read:

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”

And here the implications of the text are that it is the Spirit who is the source of man’s thought. So it is — then, to sum up the work of the Spirit in the creation of the world, he is the one who provides order. He provides life. He even provides light and understanding to men. And I think that text, apparently, applies — or at least this idea — to those who are not even Christians; that what light we have is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now, capital B, the preservation of the world. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to preserve his creation. Turn over to Psalm 104 in verse 30. Psalm 104, verse 30. Here we read:

“Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”

Again, most of the students of the Psalm 104 feel that this latter clause is also a reference to the ministry of the spirit; and it is he who renews the face of the earth. So the Spirit who creates, who brings order, who brings life, who brings light, is the spirit who preserves. And this is all related, of course, to our Christian doctrine of providence. It is because we have a Godhead who creates and who preserves that we have a doctrine of providence so that there is nothing that happens to the Christian that is not foreseen by God.

Now, there is something greater than foreknowledge, of course, but this is involved in his providence. The way in which he knows what is going to happen and the way in which he works all things so that they serve his purpose in our lives. You know, it’s a wonderful thing to know the doctrine of providence. What would we do, really, if we did not know that God was providential in his dealings with us?

Capital C, the restraint of sin in the world. Let’s turn back to Genesis chapter 6 in verse 3. In Genesis chapter 6 in verse 3, we have a text, which is really a hard text, but it does seem to suggest that one of the duties of the Holy Spirit is to restrain sin in the world. This is the days before the flood and Moses writes:

“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

In other words, he’s going to give him a time of probation. And at the end of that time his Spirit is no longer going to strive with man and judgment is to come. The implications seem to be very plain that one of the works of the Holy Spirit in the present time is to restrain sin. I think one of the reasons that the world is in the condition that it is is because the Spirit has been restraining sin. Now, people have been saying, “My goodness, Dr. Johnson, could it be any worse?” Yes, it could be a lot worse. Some say it has been worse in the past. I wasn’t living then. But, even now, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to restrain sin.

Now, we would have just utter absolute chaos and jungle life if the Holy Spirit did not preserve some kind of order in the world today. One of his works is to restrain sin. He’s the source of all ethical life. And if he were to leave, there would be no morality except satanic morality in the world.

Now, Roman II, the Spirit of God in the theocracy.

Now, we are talking now about the Holy Spirit in the nation Israel, remember, in Genesis chapter 12. Isn’t it striking in the Bible how so many thousands of years have passed by with just eleven chapters of the Bible and suddenly in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis, God begins to speak about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And in a relatively short period of time he devotes the many, many chapters of the Old Testament.

And, in fact, when we come to the age of the law in the Book of Exodus, we have an even greater concentration of Biblical revelation devoted to a much smaller period of time. Why is that? Why, it’s because Israel is so important in the program of God. We cannot understand the Old Testament or the Bible if we do not understand how important Israel, the theocracy, is in the program of God.

Now, the Holy Spirit is the source of all the supernatural activities directed to the foundation, the development, and the preservation of the Messianic Kingdom of God. It is he who is responsible for the foundation. It is he who is responsible for the development of the Messianic Kingdom. It is he who is responsible for preserving that testimony through the Old Testament because he is engaged in fitting a kingdom for a people; in making a kingdom for a people.

Now, this is his work in relation to a second creation; a spiritual, redemptive creation. His work in the Nation Israel. And capital A, his endowments with power. I’ll pass over these with just a few comments. I wish we had time to look up all of the passages, but I’ll just have to expect you to do some of that. Capital A, his endowments with power. In the Old Testament, the leaders of Israel were given strength for their duties. They were given courage to fight the enemy. They were given energy in order to do the will of God. They were given wisdom for the fulfillment of their functions. Which functions were of a theocratic character? For example, the Holy Spirit is the one who worked in Othniel, the Judge. The Holy Spirit worked in Gideon, the Judge. We saw that the Spirit clothed himself with Gideon.

Now, it is Gideon who works, of course, as Israel’s judge, but it is the Holy Spirit who empowers Gideon. It is the Holy Spirit who works in Samson — several times in Samson’s story in Judges chapters 13 through 16. Reference is made to the work of the Holy Spirit in Samson. It is stated in the Old Testament that it is the Holy Spirit who energized David. It was the Holy Spirit who energized Bezalel, the one who was responsible for the — one of the skilled men responsible for the construction of the tabernacle.

And so God worked in endowing his servants with power in the Old Testament in order that the theocratic functions may be carried out. It is specifically said that he gave Moses wisdom for the government of Israel. So we can presume from these things that it is God who governed Israel through his servants. It is God who directed the foundation and the development and the preservation of the testimony to the Messianic king.

Capital B, his endowments with prophecy. I think that this is the most prominent of all of his theocratic gifts because, as a result of the endowment of men with the gift of prophecy in the Old Testament. Now, we have all of these books of the Old Testament which we might not have had. And so we like to think of this part of God’s activity in the Old Testament as being supremely important.

And I guess that it is probably right to say it is the most prominent of the theocratic gifts. It is a free gift to special organs for the revelation of God’s mind. And all those great men of the Old Testament — Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea — these were men who were given a special gift by God that they might be the organ, the instrumentality, for the communication of God’s mind to Israel, and not only to Israel, but also to us, who read the word of God.

To Hosea, in his prophecy in the 9th chapter in the 7th verse, we could say, “The man that hath the spirit” To use his words — “The man that hath the spirit” is just a synonym for prophet as that text suggests. So there are in the Old Testament, then, evidences of this great work of God in endowing men with the gift of prophecy.

You know, wouldn’t it have been a wonderful experience to have been a prophet? Wouldn’t you like to know what went on in a prophet’s mind and heart as he wrote the word of God? Well, that’s one of the things I’m going to ask when I get to heaven. How did you feel, Isaiah, when you got all of those wonderful messages from God?

I’m sure he must have felt a lot different from the messages that I give, although I think mine are pretty good, too. I gather, from the way in which men have responded to his that they are better than mine, and I’m willing to grant that. But I would like to know how he felt. I’d like to know did he have any conscious sense of ecstasy. I know that, occasionally, the prophets had visions, and I would expect that to be a little different. But when he said, “The word of the Lord came unto me,” how did it come? Was he meditating? Was he busy? Was he interrupted? How did it come? Sometime we’ll have to study the prophets.

Now, there are two general passages in the Old Testament which are regarded as classical passages, regarding prophetic inspiration, and I’m going to turn to them because I think we have time to. And, further, I haven’t had you turn to the Book of Nehemiah in a long, long time, and everybody ought to know how to find that book. So the 9th chapter of the Book of Nehemiah. And here Nehemiah is speaking about the Old Testament experiences. And in verse 20, Nehemiah chapter 9 in verse 20 and then verse 30, we read these words. Listen to them carefully. These are general words, which have to do with prophetic inspiration. Verse 20:

“Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.” [Verse 30] “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gave thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.”

Now, you can see that the prophets are regarded as the official messengers of God who speak to the nation. And while the nation rebelled against them, they, nevertheless, are the mouthpieces of God.

Now, turn to one of the books of the Minor Prophets; the Book of — I’ll be nice to you tonight. I won’t ask you to turn to Obediah because what I’m trying to say, Obediah doesn’t say anything about, I don’t think. But we’ll turn to the Book of Zechariah. And, anybody who cannot find Zechariah, goes to the bottom of the class. Zechariah chapter 7. Stand in the corner and write; Zechariah is the next to the last book of the Bible, five hundred times. That’s right, isn’t it? Yes. All right. Zechariah chapter 7. And did I tell you what verse? Guess? Verse 12. Zechariah 7, verse 12. Now, see, I wanted to give all these people, like Dick Parker, a chance to find this text. Zechariah chapter 7, verse 12:

“Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”

Now, both of these passages express this: that it was God, the Spirit, who spoke through the prophets to the nation Israel. He was the executive of the Godhead within the nation, and he was working through his messages through the prophets toward the instruction and protection and guidance of the theocratic nation to its destined goal. He is, in a sense, the presence of God in the midst of his people, the Holy Spirit. That’s why, in the Old Testament, we read, “Not by might, nor by my power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD.”

Now, in the New Testament the other night, we read a text, which, in a sense, sums up this. And I think that if we had Peter here and we were to say to him, “Peter? Remember, you wrote in the 1st chapter of your second Epistle?” He would interrupt me right there and say, “I’m glad, Lewis, that you know that I wrote that second letter, because there are a lot of contemporary theologians that don’t.” But I’ll say, “Peter, you remember you said the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit?”

He’d say, “Lewis, it was spake in the Authorized Version.” [Laughter] All right. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Now, if I’d said to Peter, “Where did you get that idea, Peter? Where did you get that idea that the Holy Spirit spoke, moving men to write? Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit?” Well, he would have said, “Lewis, I got in Zechariah chapter 7, verse 12; Nehemiah chapter 9 in verse 20 and verse 30…”

Well, that’s what these texts say; that the men of the Old Testament, the prophets, spoke. But, they spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is one who endows with prophecy. I think this is related to, by the way, the ministry of the Spirit to us today. I don’t want to get into that because we’re going to spend all of next spring on the details of this, but you cannot help but make an application every now and then. And we must remember, that while in the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophets and moved them to give messages to men. In the New Testament he indwells every Christian and is our power for all of our work.

And so when we read in the New Testament that we are to walk by the Spirit, well, this is a similar kind of thing to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the prophets as they gave us the revelation of God.

Now, thirdly, capital C, his endowment of the Prince. And the reason I said Prince instead of the Messiah or the Lord, is because Agnew has popularized alliteration. And so we have power, prophecy, and the Prince, and I am referring to our Lord. Now, he is called the Prince that shall come. He is called the Prince in the Old Testament, and so it is proper to say, “his endowment of the Prince.”

The culmination of the work of the Holy Spirit in the theocracy is future from the standpoint of the Old Testament, but it is a prophecy of the Old Testament that the King who is to come is to be anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And I don’t think that we are true to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament if we do not point out that in the Old Testament it is prophesied by the prophets that the Messianic King and the Holy Spirit is interested in the development and the preservation, the founding of the Kingdom of God. It’s not proper for us to talk about this doctrine unless we point out that there are great passages in the Old Testament, which, in a sense, are the capstone of all the revelation of the Spirit that say that the great king who is to come is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And I’m going to turn to these three passages, real quickly. They are not all of them but they are the three most significant ones. They are all in the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 11. And I want you to listen as I read, beginning with verse 1 through verse 5. Now, this work is future from the standpoint of the Old Testament, but it is in the Old Testament as a prophecy. And Isaiah, who is one of the great prophets of the Holy Spirit, says:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 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 of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, [This, of course, is the second coming of our Lord to the earth] and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked one. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

Now, this is the Messianic King, and he is characterized as having the Spirit of the Lord resting upon him.

Now, let’s turn over to chapter 42 of Isaiah, another of the Messianic passages. This one of the servant of the Lord. This is the first of the great “Servant of Jehovah” passages that we looked at two years ago, when we were expounding Isaiah. Some of you listened then. Isaiah chapter 42 in verse 1:

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”

Now, we could read through verse 7 because this prophecy has its first paragraph ending there, but for the sake of time, let’s turn to chapter 61 and read verses 1 through 3. Here, again, another Messianic prophesy, this one of the king, and this one quoted in the New Testament by Jesus himself and applied to himself. And, we read in verse 1:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;”

And, for the sake of time again, I’ll not read that third verse which is the conclusion of that statement. I do want you to notice this: this is a prophesy of our Lord. Now, three times it is said, concerning the Messianic king, “The Holy Spirit will rest upon him.” And his ministry is the product of the Spirit’s activity within him. When he preaches good tidings, when he binds up the broken hearted, when he proclaims liberty, when he proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord, when he comforts all that mourn, it is the work of the Holy Spirit within our Lord.

Now, listen, my dear Christian friends, isn’t it a striking thing that God, the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, when he became incarnate took to himself an additional nature so that God the Son became the God-man — Isn’t it a striking thing? Isn’t it an instructive thing that God the Son felt it necessary to do all that he did in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Now, if our Lord felt it necessary to do what he did in the power of the Holy Spirit, how much do you poor, frail, sinful mortals need the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How do you expect to ever do anything that will be pleasing to God in the power of human flesh? We are completely dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit if we are to do anything that is pleasing to God. We cannot please God in the power of our human strength, our human wisdom. We can only rely on the Holy Spirit and please him.

Now, I think that we see here that all the endowments given separately to others unite in our Lord Jesus Christ. If Isaiah had a certain spirit and a certain ability given him by God and if Ezekiel had a certain ability given to him, and if Amos had a certain ability given to him; they were, of course, the genuine messengers of God but each has his own little emphasis. Amos was the herdsman. Isaiah was the man of the court. Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. Hosea was the great prophet of love. Malachi, the only thing we know about him was that he was a messenger. That’s all.

Well, all of the strains of prophecy meet in our Lord, Jesus, who is the prophet. It’s as if he were standing below Niagara Falls, about which we were speaking, and you were able to identify all of the sources of that water, that gigantic mass of water that came over the Falls, all from the little streams all up above it from the rivers. And then as they unite in that great stream that comes down toward those falls, if you could just say, well, that came from Trinity Creek. That came from this or that. Well, all of the strains of the prophets meet in our Lord, Jesus, who is the Prophet. And the Old Testament speaks of him.

Now, we want to say a few words about the Spirit of God in the individual. In capital A, the work of sanctification. Now, in this aspect, the Holy Spirit is preeminently the Spirit of grace, and here he fits people for the Kingdom. Now, the work of sanctification is referred to in Psalm 51 in verse 11. There, the Psalmist writes, Psalm 51, verse 11, David is speaking:

“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

In verse 10, he had said,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

David cried for — with a cry of penitence. He asked for mercy. He asked for the creation of a new heart within himself and a renewal of a right spirit. And he went on to say, “Take not they holy spirit from me.” He relates this restoration to the favor of God and the creation of a new spirit and disposition within him to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. For, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is a ministry of sanctification.

By the way, you can see some of the difference between the Old Testament doctrine and the New Testament doctrine here. Do you ever find any New Testament writer saying, “O God, take not thy holy spirit from me”? Suppose I was to pray, “O God, take not thy holy spirit from me,” would that be a biblical prayer?

No, that would not be a biblical prayer because, you see, in the New Testament we read in John chapter 14, verses 16 and 17, that Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter; and he shall abide with you forever.” So if we were to say, “O God, take not thy holy spirit from me,” as a believer, we would really be questioning the promise of God. He has said that we have the Holy Spirit forever.

Now, in the Old Testament, they did not have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And so David writes,

“O, take not thy holy spirit from me.”

Now, he is the secret of the joy of David’s salvation. But, his presence is not a permanent presence.

The second that the Holy Spirit does is the work of enduement. Now, when we say “enduement,” we mean empowerment. Enduement with power. There are three great words in the Old Testament that are used to describe the Holy Spirit’s work of empowering individual Christians. These three great words are the word “filled,” first of all — this is an Old Testament word, “filled.” The second word, this great word is “to rush upon,” rushed upon; and the third is “clothed himself with.”

These are the three great words that are used in the Old Testament to describe the coming of the Holy Spirit upon an individual. Some are said to have been filled like Exodus chapter 31, verses 4 and 5. Bezelel getting ready to construct the Tabernacle was “filled” with the Holy Spirit.

It is said of David that the Holy Spirit rushed upon him; that means to rush upon, to possess him. 1 Samuel chapter 16, verse 13. That word is also used of fire burning; and so, it is the idea of to rush upon like a fire and to possess and consume.

And, finally, “clothed himself with,” and we read that of Gideon in Judges chapter 6, where we read, “The Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon.” But, the Hebrew word is labasha, labash, which means to clothe oneself with. It’s like putting on a garment. Now, before you got ready to come to the meeting tonight, you men, you put on your coat. Now, to describe that in Hebrew, you would use the Hebrew word labash and that is the word that is used here. “The Spirit of the LORD clothed himself with Gideon.” So the picture is of the Spirit picking up Gideon and putting him on, just like putting on a garment, so that the Spirit is the energizing force of the life of Gideon.

It’s no wonder Gideon with three hundred men is able to destroy three hundred thousand, or a hundred and thirty-five thousand. That was an evangelistic exaggeration. There were actually only a hundred and thirty-five thousand Midianites. But it’s still a pretty good victory, three hundred against a hundred and thirty-five thousand. Well, you see, it was the Holy Spirit who had Gideon. And since he had put Gideon on, it’s no wonder that the battle was won by the Lord.

Now, in the New Testament, it is said of us, in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 and 20 that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And it’s not the same metaphor, but it’s a similar metaphor. It’s the metaphor of the power of God being resident in a person. They’re in a place, the figure, the temple. God is there. And God is here. Now, this is the great work of enduement.

And, finally, capital C, the work of indwelling.

Now, this forms one of the most interesting parts of the Old Testament teaching, and I like to divide it into two parts: one, in the past and then, two, in the future. Let me just say this about the past. Indwelling is mentioned in various places in the Old Testament. For example, Genesis 41, verse 38, Joseph is said to have been indwelt by the Spirit.

In Numbers chapter 27 in verse 18, Joshua is said to have been indwelt by the Spirit. Now, were men in the Old Testament indwelt by the Spirit? Well, now, Jesus said in John 14:17, he was going to pray the Father, and he would send them another comforter who would abide with them forever. Now, he said, you don’t know him. You cannot know him. He dwells with you, Jesus said, and shall be in you.

In other words, in the time of our Lord, when he was speaking to the apostles who were living in the Old Testament age, for remember, the Cross had not taken place. He said, “The Holy Spirit is with you” but the time is coming when he comes that he shall be “in you.” John 14, verse 16.

Now, in chapter 7 of John, John said, when he mentions the Holy Spirit — Now, the Holy Spirit had not yet come because Jesus had not yet been glorified. But we’ve read all these references to the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. He was there in the Old Testament. He did work in the Old Testament. He did empower men.

What then is the meaning of these scattered references — there are not many of them — in which it is said that the Holy Spirit was in someone like Joseph or like Joshua? Well, I think you will discover, if you look at the contexts of each of these references, that it is always with a view to some specific activity that it is stated that the Holy Spirit was “in” men of the Old Testament.

And I think the explanation of this on the surface contradiction to our Lord’s words, is simply this; that when in the Old Testament men were empowered by God, endued with the Holy Spirit for some particular work, it could also be said that the Spirit was in them to do that work. Just like Gideon, the Holy Spirit came upon Gideon, clothed himself with Gideon. It could be said that the Holy Spirit was in Gideon. But it was not permanent. It was for a specific task.

And so, actually, in the Old Testament, never do we have the work of indwelling in the New Testament sense, permanent indwelling, universal indwelling of all Christians. That is not known in the Old Testament. And those few references to the Spirit being “in” someone are with a view to empowering them for a specific work.

Now, secondly, about the future, indwelling in the future.

Now, the gift of the Spirit as the abiding presence in the heart of the individual is the crowning Messianic blessing. In the Old Testament, it was stated in more than one place that when the King comes and the Kingdom is set up, then everybody in the Kingdom shall have the Holy Spirit.

The passages are passages like Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10: “I will pour upon the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced.” Isaiah chapter 32 in verse 15, which speaks, also, of the outpouring of the Spirit. Isaiah chapter 44, verse 3. And then, Isaiah chapter 59:21, in which we have not only the outpouring but the result of it:

“As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”

Universal, permanent indwelling is promised as a result of the coming of the King. Ezekiel chapter 37, verse 14… Ezekiel chapter 39, verse 29. And, especially, Joel chapter 2, verse 28 through 32. And — are you getting all of these? Some of you are just looking dazed. That’s all right. You won’t remember them, perhaps, but I think it’s good to look at them.

I’m going to read one now, which is in the New Testament, and I want — you know, this text always puzzled me, I must confess. I used to make such a disjunction between the Church and Israel that I failed to understand the Bible in a number of places. And, in verse 13 and 14 of Galatians 3, we read these words:

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; [That’s justification by faith] that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

That’s part of the blessing of Abraham, too, the promise of the Spirit. And so when our Lord said, in the Upper Room Discourse, “I’m going to pray the Father, and he’s going to give you the Holy Spirit.” And he’s going to be with you forever, that was part of the Abrahamic Blessing, which is ours now because we have become sons of Abraham by faith and possess those promises. We have been grafted into the olive tree, as Paul puts it in Romans chapter 11. In the future shall be the greatest experience of it when Israel as a nation and, ultimately, the believers of the world shall enter into these Messianic blessings. But, it was the crowning Messianic blessing.

Now, just to conclude — I want to conclude by just saying these things. First, the Spirit is a necessary help in every age. We can never do anything without the power of the Spirit.

Second, in New Testament times, we have superior privileges. We have universal indwelling. We have general indwelling. We have eternal indwelling. And yet isn’t it a sad thing in a way, that the Old Testament saints are often superior in their accomplishments to us in New Testament times? Why? Well, because of the principle of appropriation. You know, it’s one thing to know you have great blessings. It’s another to have experienced them.

This past week I read an illustration by the old teacher of mine; one old teacher of mine. He said that he had often used the illustration of a perfume bottle. Now, all of us men know about L’Heure Bleue and Shalimar, and things like that. The first gift I ever gave my wife was a bottle of Shalimar. I was no cheapskate when I was fifteen years old. That was all of my money for a month. But, anyway, we all know that a perfume bottle, after the perfume is gone, still smells like perfume. My friend used to like to tell the illustration in this way that, you know, there are lots of people that are like a perfume bottle. He said, if you stand around them, you get the impression, perhaps, their grandfathers were Christians but they are living as a kind of “perfume bottle” Christian. The thing is gone but the smell is still there.

And he said he was telling that illustration once in a church, and when the meeting was over he walked out, and he was walking behind two ladies. And one said to the other, “That was an interesting story that Donald told today, wasn’t it?” The other said, “Yes. It reminded me of a bottle of perfume that I have on my dresser.” She said, “I’ve never opened it. And I just love to look at it.”

And, Dr. Barnhouse came up about that time and they turned and blushed a little. He said, “I want to interrupt your conversation. You’ve given me another part of the illustration. He said, here you have a perfume bottle, with all of the essence of sweetness in it, and you’ve never even used it.”

And a lot of Christians, really, are like that. With the power of the Holy Spirit within them; all of his powers — look at all of these ministries that the Spirit has: the power of God, and, we know the Lord. We are not like an empty perfume bottle. But we’re like a person who has never taken the stopper out to use what we have; the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Spirit is the greatest unused power in all the world. Let’s close in prayer.

[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for Thy word. Undertake for us, particularly, Lord, in the appropriation of the blessings that we have. And, O God, may we not live on the perfume, the smell, the odor of the perfume bottle, but enable us to know the reality of the presence of God in a practical way.

For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Posted in: Pneumatology