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The Old Testament prophets anticipated a day in which there would be an out-pouring of the Spirit of God.

These prophets were speaking to God’s chosen people who had, as a nation, rejected God and were worshipping idols. While there were some individuals within the nation who were genuine believers in the true God, the nation, as a whole, was unfaithful to their Covenant obligations. This wide scale unfaithfulness incurred on the nation the ‘curses’ of the Covenant defined in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. Those ‘curses’ were physical – diseases, drought and famine, defeat in battle, captivity, and so on.

In this context we find in some prophetic messages that both the spiritual problem (lack of belief in God) and the physical curses (which were the result of unfaithfulness to the covenant) are addressed. They anticipate both spiritual renewal and physical restoration.

The micro fulfilment of the prophecies about physical restoration can be seen in the physical return of Jews to Jerusalem after the seventy years exile in Babylon. But that restoration was rather minimal, and has never fully met the prophetic expectations.

Their macro and long-term fulfilment is threefold:

(1) Spiritual: The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing individuals, both Jew and Gentile, to saving faith; the New Testament refers to this as being ‘born again’ or ‘born of God’ or ‘born of the Spirit’. The Old Testament calls it returning the Lord, or seeking the Lord, in contrast to worshipping idols. This essential Spirit-generated restoration to ‘life’ is what changes an individual person from unbelief to true belief, regardless of whether they live in the Old Testament or New Testament era. This work of the Holy Spirit is essential in bringing salvation to us individually.

(2) Spiritual: God’s gift/out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost – a gift to those who believe in him, assuring them of their restored relationship with him, and enabling them to live for him and his kingdom.

(3) Physical: The permanent end of all physical suffering in the ‘new heavens and new earth’ following the final judgement. This is enjoyed only by those whose relationship with God has been restored by the Holy Spirit.

Here is what the prophets foretold about the Holy Spirit:

‘… till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest’ – Isaiah 32:15.

‘For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants’ - Isaiah 44:3.

‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh’ - Ezekiel 11:19.

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD’ - Ezekiel 37:14.

‘I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD’ - Ezekiel 39:29.

‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days’ Joel 2:28,29.

These prophecies about the Holy Spirit anticipate a restoration of our individual human relationship with God and our individual human response to God. We will look at these truths in later meditations.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2024