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The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is eternal. He is not a New Testament, post-Pentecost, late arrival on the scene. He was present and active in the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2); he has always been active in sustaining life on earth (see Psalm 104:30). He moved the Old Testament writers and prophets to write and speak the words of God. He acted in conviction and judgement.

This confirms the deity of the Spirit. He is God. He does what only God has the authority and ability to do. Creation, providence, revelation and judgement, which are ascribed to God in multiple verses, are also ascribed to the Spirit. What God does, the Spirit of God does. Wherever God is, his Spirit is.

We find in the Old Testament a unity and identity between what the ‘Spirit’ does or says and what ‘God’ does or says:

When God sends his Spirit to renew the earth, it is God renewing the earth.

When God cleanses, it is by his Spirit that he cleanses.

When God is patient with his people it is by his Spirit’s consistent verbal admonishment that he exercises this patience.

When the Spirit of God speaks through the prophets, it is God himself speaking through the prophets.

When the Spirit leads a man of God, it is God teaching that person.

The presence of God is the presence of the Holy Spirit.

For example, David, the Psalm writer, understood the presence of God with him as an individual and the presence of the Holy Spirit with him as an individual to be one and the same thing. This is evident in these two verses, where the parallel thoughts of Hebrew poetry make this identification clear:

‘Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me’ - Psalm 51:11.

‘Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?’ Psalm 139:7.

The presence of the Spirit was the presence of God. The presence of God was the presence of the Spirit.

In addition, there are a number of verses in which, by means of the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, the deity of the Spirit is expressed, where God says of his Spirit the same things he says about himself:

‘ “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD,
who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin …”’ [Isaiah 30:1]

‘For it is his mouth that has given the order,
and his Spirit will gather them together’ [Isaiah 34:16]

‘…who has understood the mind (Hebrew = Spirit) of the Lord,
or instructed him as his counsellor?’ [Isaiah 40:13].

All of this tells us that Old Testament believers understood that the Spirit of God was God himself. This awareness of the divine, personal, identity of the Spirit is evident in the way they spoke of the Spirit. When they spoke of God’s Spirit they were speaking about God.

Jesus Christ affirmed this truth that the presence of the Spirit is the presence of God. In John 14, when Jesus promised that he would send the Spirit to live in those who believed in him, he said:

‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth’ – verses 16, 17. Then, having thus promised that the Spirit would come, he said:

I will come to you’ – verse 18,

‘on that day you will realize that ... I am in you’ – verse 20; and

‘we (Father and Son) will come to him and make our home in him’ – verse 23.

This is the reality of the unity of the Trinity in both the Old and New Testaments: that where one is all three are present. Wherever God is, there also is his Spirit.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024