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We have seen in previous meditations that the Holy Spirit is God, that the presence of the Spirit is the presence of God. It is not at all surprising then that we find in the Old Testament that the Holy Spirit does what God does. Indeed, it would be surprising if he didn’t.

The Old Testament affirms that the Holy Spirit was involved in:

The creation of the world.

The on-going sustenance of the world, and of life.

Striving with humans to bring them to repentance and faith.

Moving the Old Testament prophets and writers so that what they said and wrote was the world of God.

Judgement and justice.

The Old Testament reports further that the Holy Spirit enabled and empowered humans in various ways:

The Holy Spirit so enabled individual humans that Pharaoh, commenting about Joseph’s wisdom and administrative ability, said – ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’ – Genesis 41:38; and Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel ‘the spirit of the holy gods is in you’ – Daniel 4:9. Although speaking in terms of their own pagan beliefs these men recognized in one way or another that Joseph and Daniel owed their abilities to a divine Spirit.

God, speaking about the artistic ability of Bezalel, said – ‘I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills ...’ and then detailed his various skills in metalwork, stonework, woodwork and ‘all kinds of craftsmanship’ – Exodus 31:3 – 5.

God told Moses that he would empower others to share Moses’ burden of leadership – ‘I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them’ – Numbers 11:17.

In Judges, we read about ‘The Spirit of the LORD’ coming on various people enabling and empowering them to rescue the Israelites from various enemies: Othniel – Judges 3:1; Gideon – 6:34; Jephthah – 11:29; Samson – 13:24, 14:6; 15:14.

When Samuel anointed David ‘from that day the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David’ – 1Samuel 16:13.

David, in his last words, said: ‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue’ – 2Samuel 23:2.

The Spirit moved Amasai, chief of the Thirty, to affirm the allegiance of his band to David – 1Chronicles 12:18.

The Spirit came upon Azariah, moving him to give God’s message to Asa and to all Judah and Benjamin – 2Chronicles 15:1ff. Similarly, upon Zechariah – 2Chronicles 24:20.

Ezekiel repeatedly relates how the Spirit spoke to him (2:2; 3:24), lifted him up in various visions through which he revealed God’s messages (8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1; 43:5), and commanded him to speak the word of God (11:5).

The presence of the Holy Spirit was also part of God’s historical covenant relationship with the people of Israel. This was not mentioned at the time in their early history and when the covenants were ratified, but it is mentioned in retrospect when the prophets reminded the people of that history and of those covenants.

Isaiah 59:21 – ‘As for me, this is my covenant with them … My Spirit who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever.’

Isaiah 63:11- 14 – ‘… where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses” right hand … they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord …’

Haggai 2:4, 5 – ‘For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty. This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear’

In the Old Testament covenant context the presence of the Holy Spirit was associated with the words of God, the power of God and the presence of God among them.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024