Friday, March 28, 2014
The Holy Spirit, Part 10
The final mention of the Spirit of the Lord by name in 2nd Chronicles occurs in 24:20. We read “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’’”
This seems to be the same Zechariah whom Jesus Himself confirmed as a prophet when our Lord said “that on you (scribes and Pharisees) may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar,” Matthew 23:35. Zechariah was protesting the rebellion of Israel, and for that he was stoned to death, 2nd Chronicles 24:21. His death had even been ordered by the present king of Judah. Jesus our Lord, speaking what His Father gave Him to say, condemned religious hypocrisy in scathing terminology. The Holy Spirit comes within and changes inside/out. As we grow in our walk we become more Christ-like and the liberal religionists and churchians by default become enemies. They oppose the fundamental, Christ-dependant Spirit in a born again saint and we, by reason of our new birth and devotion to God’s unfaltering truth, must oppose all that such false teachers promote.
A similar incident parallels our current passage. The disciple Stephen had just finished giving a lengthy oratory to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7. Finally, he accused his accusers of always disobeying God and resisting the Holy Spirit, Acts 7:51. In their anger they drag Stephen out to stone him to death. Before they take hold of him we read that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit who gave him the comforting vision of a victorious Christ resting at the Father’s throne, standing to receive him, Acts 7:55-56. The end result was the same; Zechariah and Stephen were martyred for preaching an inconvenient truth to a hostile audience. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin, and when conviction arrives we may only do one of two things: repent and listen or remove the source of agitation from our sight. We can’t remove the Holy Spirit, but His messengers can be silenced. In both cases it was sadly so, confirming more than ever the prophetic words of Jesus our Lord that He spoke to the liberal Pharisees and religious leaders of His day.
Looking ahead to the book of Job we find an interesting pair of verses that we shall consider simultaneously. First we have Job 33:4, which states “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Next we go forward one chapter and read “If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust,” Job 34:14-15. There is a dichotomy being taught here. God’s breath and His Spirit are being referred to. The Hebrew word for breath used here is “neshamah” and literally means “a breathing being.” By inference it means “puff, wind, or breath.” The Hebrew word for spirit here is a little more involved. It is “ruwach” and essentially means “the expressive, functional spirit only of a rational being; i.e. only a being with intelligence.” Paul sums it up better perhaps when he writes “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God,” 1st Corinthians 2:11.
Next, note that there is a difference between “His Spirit” and “His breath.” They are mentioned as separate entities. Again, Job 34:14-15 states: “If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” We know that in Christ all things consist, Colossians 1:17. Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power, Hebrews 1:3. The verb used in the NKJV for Colossians “consist” means “to be based on or defined by something.” All things, the sum of reality, is based on and defined by God’s existence and interaction with His creation. To withdraw from His creation would certainly result in universal death, as this passage alludes to. Solomon, writing about death as it approaches, says this: “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed…then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:6-7. There is an interesting allusion here. Solomon writes congruently with Genesis, saying that man’s body was formed of the earth, or rather the various chemical elements found in the earth. When we perish our spirit departs to go to its eternal home (Ecclesiastes 12:5) and our flesh breaks down into the elements that comprise it. It is not destroyed in the sense that the body is annihilated; rather the body’s purpose and function have ceased working properly.