Saturday, January 18, 2014
The Holy Spirit, Part 2
We shall now attempt to establish a pattern of activity for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, as already touched upon in both Genesis and Exodus. So, the first question relating to the Holy Spirit that we shall attempt to answer in any exhaustive manner is whether or not He can be found in the Old Testament and in a manner consistent with New Testament teachings. This we shall do, God willing.
We shall skip ahead in our search for the Holy Spirit’s activity and presence in the OT to the book of Numbers. We find in the account of Israel’s wilderness wandering an incident where Moses complains to God about the monotony of the duties given him, and how he cannot bear them, see Numbers 11:10-30. God listens to Moses, and tells him this: “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel…I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you,” Numbers 11:16-17. Again we see the mention of the Holy Spirit in reference to empowerment for service; in this instance God had given Moses of His Spirit, and now was going to do likewise with the 70 chosen elders. What was the immediate result? “The Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to them, and took of the Spirit that was upon [Moses], and placed the same upon the seventy elder; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again,” Numbers 11:25.
This tells us two things. First, The apostle Peter was correct when he wrote “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” 2nd Peter 1:20-21. Only God can reveal prophecy and rightly interpret it; without the leading of God’s Holy Spirit we have only fallen human reasoning to rely on; and Peter, under inspiration of the Spirit, warns that such reason cannot manufacture God’s inspired will and mind. We are left with human conjecture and imaginings of what we believe God to be, rejecting the revelation of who God is telling us He is. The elders, moved by the Holy Spirit, prophesied. This is much like a visible sign to Israel, like tongues was to the first century church, that the Holy Spirit had filled certain people, see Acts 2:3-4, etc.
Second, it reinforces the idea gathered from Genesis and Exodus that the Holy Spirit comes upon someone, or fills them, for the purpose of ministry. I use the term “ministry” here in a very plastic sense. In whatever capacity God chooses to use one of His saints, it is to that end that the Holy Spirit will enable them to perform the service, the good work, God ordained for them to do, Ephesians 2:10. Joseph needed to understand a dream. Bezazel was being made ready to construct the tabernacle. The elders with Moses were judging the six hundred thousand men (besides women and children) who were wandering outside Canaan, Numbers 11:21. As a side note we find Joshua, son of Nun, later in the book of Numbers. God says of him “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hands on him,” Numbers 27:18. To what end? “You (Moses) shall give (Joshua) some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of Israel may be obedient,” Numbers 27:20. Joshua was being made ready for service, but no man can enter into God’s service and perform a spiritually useful task unless the Spirit is in them. In truth, if we have not God’s Spirit we are not God’s, Romans 8:9. How many today who consider themselves Christian and deny the Holy Spirit’s existence! They do so even with blatant warnings such as this to deter such foolish and carnal thinking.
Moving a little ahead in Numbers, we come to the confrontation of Balak, king of Midian and the people of Israel. Balak hires the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam’s reputation as a prophet was apparently renowned, as was his ability to do as he performed, which meant that Balaam had access to power. I believe Balaam was truly once a prophet of God gone astray after filthy lucre, but he was a prophet still, and one God deigned to speak with even when Balaam was seeking to have his own way, even at the risk of God’s chosen people. It is a sad testimony to know that worldly vice and ambition can make a fellow saint even do harm and despite to his own spiritual brethren for the sake of gain. Balaam, seeing the whole of Israel encamped before him had the Spirit of God come upon him, Numbers 24:2. Four times Balaam speaks, and each time blesses Israel, curses their enemies, and even foretells of the Coming One, the Messiah who will arise from Jacob, Numbers 24:17. Since we have confirmed that only the Holy Spirit can give genuine prophecy by His will (again, 2nd Peter 1:20-21) we know that God is speaking through Balaam. We see this another time at least when Caiaphas, the high priest in Jesus’ time, foretold that the Christ would die for the sake of saving Israel, John 11:49-52. Neither man wished to say what they said (although Balaam later relented and willingly spoke) but prophecy only comes by the will of God and the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture and prophecy, 2nd Timothy 3:16.