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O.T. Spirit

20th July 2009, mgh

 

1) Introduction to Spirit

This article is written at the request of a reader. This very important topic is an extremely controversial one and is approached with prayer and much thought as to its presentation. The approach will be as in all articles. It is essential to let the Bible speak for itself and that we should not be swayed by popular philosophy or man's imaginings. In writing this article no reference is made to the work of other authors but is based on an exhaustive analysis of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.

Spirit in the Old Testament

We need to begin by looking at the use of the word 'spirit' (Hebrew 'ruach'), which occurs 346 times in the Old Testament. Sometimes this word is concealed in the translation.


The opening verses of Genesis introduce the 'spirit' (ruach') of God. This word 'ruach' has also been translated as 'cool', 'breath' and 'wind' as well as 'spirit' in the verses below that have been taken from the beginning of the book of Genesis. The effect of the movement of air relates to the action of breathing. The following verses from Genesis reveal that there are multiple Hebrew definitions of 'spirit' (ruach).

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit (ruach) of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1: 1-2)
They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool (ruach) of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
The 'cool' would have been a pleasant time of day. Adam and Eve would no doubt have enjoyed the cooling breeze, provided in the Creator's scheme for mankind's comfort at the end of the day. Breeze and wind are essential in the control of weather and bring variation within the limits of climate and weather patterns. It is essential to the cycles of the earth.


In the time of Noah the Creator brings judgment on the people for their wickedness. The following verses show the varied use of the word spirit as 'mind', 'breath/life' and 'wind'.

And the LORD said, My spirit (ruach) shall not always strive with man... And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath (ruach) of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. (Genesis 6: 3,17)
They went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath (ruach) of life.... All in whose nostrils was the breath (ruach) of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. (Genesis 7:15,22)
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind (ruach) to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; (Genesis 8:1)


Although we have no simple definition for spirit from the context of these verses, certain principles seem to be emerging. There are unseen forces at work. A breeze or wind cannot be seen, but they cause very visible effects. In the wind, the trees bend or sway and waves appear on the surface of a lake. A breeze will cool and cause our hair to be ruffled, leaves to move and the water of a lake to ripple. Inexplicable pneumatic laws and the air we breathe create the breath of life by which we are able to survive .

2) Spirit as Mind and Emotion

The next group of verses from Genesis do not necessarily relate to the Creator, but to the 'mind' and emotions of people.

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind (ruach) unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Genesis: 26:34-35)

Rebekah and Isaac were troubled. 'Grief of mind' conveys emotion, perplexity and the thoughts that resulted in physical and mental distress. Our 'being' and 'mind' are the result of that complex physical reaction from the air we breathe and the laws that govern our physical nature.

The following verses, also from Genesis, are taken from the time when Joseph had been sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt.

And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit (ruach) was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. (Genesis 41: 8)

Pharaoh was upset. He did not worship the Creator but he was a partaker, like all men and animals, of the unseen forces that govern all creation. Pharaoh had a spirit, even though he was not a righteous man.

And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit (ruach) of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God has shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou. (Genesis 41: 38-39)

Here a clear distinction is made. Pharaoh, having learnt from his butler that Joseph could rightly interpret dreams, sees a superior power in Joseph, which he attributes to Joseph's God. The same word 'ruach' was used in both cases to refer to Pharaoh and to Joseph, but there are clearly two distinct levels in the mental state of each. Joseph's mind was enlightened by knowledge and faith in his God, and Pharaoh attributed to him wisdom, which he saw in no other man.


Jacob in Genesis 45 here shows emotion as he has learnt that his son Joseph is alive and he sees the evidence in the entourage that Joseph sent to transport him to Egypt,

And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit (ruach) of Jacob their father revived: (Genesis 45: 27)

Again 'ruach' is used to reflect Jacob's mental and emotional state. It was a description of the natural reaction of relief and joy in knowing his son Joseph was still alive.


3) Developing the Definition of Spirit

The early chapters in the book of Exodus also show the word 'ruach' as a word that has multiple uses.

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD. And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit (ruach), and for cruel bondage. (Exodus 6:8-9)

Moses found that the people of Israel did not listen to the hope of escape from slavery in Egypt because of the great burden they bore. The word 'ruach' again expresses the strong emotion felt by the people.


The following verses, also from Exodus, show the word 'ruach' again used to refer to the natural phenomenon of the unseen forces that exist every day in our experiences. We cannot see the wind but we can feel and see its effects. The wind (ruach) in the following account is carrying out the will of Yahweh to punish Egypt with the plague of locusts.

And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind (ruach) upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind (ruach) brought the locusts... And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind (ruach), which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. (Exodus 10: 13,19)

What is emerging is a set of intangible unseen energising life forces. This study of the various uses of the Hebrew word reveals what Yahweh Elohim intended. The word spirit describes the effect of our emotions and also the very different special work of Yahweh miraculously moving locusts. The two must not be confused. The word 'spirit' (ruach) has a set of specific applications, all speaking of effects with an unseen cause.

There are levels of application. The spirit of the Creator results in a set of all pervading energy forces, from miraculous winds, to the wind of daily weather and all life.

The air we breathe gives life, and, the blood of the body is the life in man. (Genesis 9: 4; Deuteronomy 12: 23; Leviticus 17: 14). The breath of life stimulates the heart, lungs and brain, which then allows the creation in humans of motivation, mind, intellect, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Man's complex physiology produces what becomes the spirit of man.


Summary of the set of applications of Spirit

Based on the scriptural evidence before us so far, the following conclusions are suggested.

Just as the unseen wind produces movement, the energy forces around us are complex beyond comprehension. Who can fully explain the air we breathe with its complex components, the waves we describe as light, sound, radio, the electricity that is essential to our modern lifestyle but indefinable, electromagnetism and other energy forces. Who can really understand the many forces we harness and utilise? Electricity, light and sound waves, and radio waves, are all associated with movement

As the text is analysed it becomes increasingly apparent that the word 'ruach' must be examined in the context of the text because of its multiple applications.

4) Spirit as an aid to Teaching:

Moses and the 70 leaders

Numbers 11 gives an interesting and enlightening account demonstrating the function of the spirit 'ruach'. Consider the following verses.

The LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou know to be the elders of the people..
I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit (ruach) which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not...
And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit (ruach) that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that , when the spirit (ruach) rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and ..the other Medad: and the spirit (ruach) rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. (Numbers 11:16-26)

Moses, burdened with the rebellious attitude of the Israelites, had appealed to Yahweh and confessed his inability to deal with the problems that had arisen in his leadership. Yahweh tells Moses to choose seventy reliable leaders of the people to assist him govern the people. Moses in his wisdom would have selected men who revealed a dedicated attitude to their God. The spirit that rested on Moses also then rests on the selected 70 men. Though two men remained in the camp, they also reveal evidence of bestowal of the spirit.


What was the function of these 70 men?

Having had the spirit from Yahweh placed on them, they prophesied, which revealed their understanding of the Law and the promises to the nation.

We note here that there were no miraculous or healing powers given to these men.

Their function was to ensure the welfare and survival of the nation of Israel in the guidelines of Yahweh's commandments.


Also in this chapter, the word 'ruach' again appears as 'wind',

And there went forth a wind (ruach) from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. (Numbers 11: 31)

This is a miraculous event, but we note here that this is an act of Yahweh and not of the chosen men on whom the spirit had rested.


5) Psalms and 'Ruach'

The Psalms also reveal the variety of translations given for the Hebrew 'ruach' from wind, and breath to the mind and the power of God.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind (ruach) driveth away (Psalm 1: 4)
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest (ruach): this shall be the portion of their cup. (Psalm 11: 6)


And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind (ruach). (Psalm 18: 10)
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath (ruach) of thy nostrils. (Psalm 18: 15)
Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind (ruach): I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets. (Psalm 18: 42)
Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. Let them be as chaff before the wind (ruach): and let the angel of the LORD chase them . (Psalm 35:4-5)
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit (ruach) within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit(ruach) from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit (ruach).... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit (ruach): a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51: 10-12, 17)


Who lays the beams of his chambers in the waters: who makes the clouds his chariot: who walks upon the wings of the wind (ruach): Who makes his angels spirits (ruach); his ministers a flaming fire: ... Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou take away their breath (ruach), they die, and return to their dust. Thou send forth thy spirit (ruach), they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (Psalm 104: 3,4,29-30)
Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind (ruach) fulfilling his word: (Psalm 148:8)

Again in the Psalms the same pattern occurs. The word 'ruach' has been translated in a similar way to Genesis and Exodus. The word has multiple functions. Wind, tempest, breath and spirit are used in the preceding examples. The Psalms are poetic and produce in a colourful way principles that give instruction. The wicked and ungodly are destroyed by the same power that revealed the foundations of the world and created and sustains life. Breath can be taken away. Yahweh can, and does, control and use the forces of his all pervading spirit in the employment of the natural elements of wind, fire, storm and tempest to bring about his will.

6) Spirit in the Prophets

The word 'spirit' in the Old Testament text is always the Hebrew 'ruach', except when it is referring to what was described as 'familiar spirits' (Hebrew: obe) . Other books of the Old Testament have the word 'ruach' translated in words other than 'spirit'. The following quotations show the word translated as breath, wind, courage, blast, air, vain and whirlwind.

'Ruach' as 'Breath'

The concept of judgment of nations is captured in a figurative way by the use of 'ruach' as 'his breath' in Isaiah.

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath (ruach) of his lips shall he slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11: 4)
His breath (ruach), as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. (Isaiah 30: 28)

Jeremiah applied the absence of 'ruach', life and understanding, to images and hence the foolishness of idolatry.

Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath (ruach) in them. (Jeremiah 10:14)

This is repeated in Jeremiah 51:17 showing it is important.

Ezekiel produced a vision of the latter day revival of the nation of Israel, a once scattered and downtrodden people, but now since 1948 once again established as a nation in their homeland. He uses 'ruach' to describe their revival as Yahweh causes breath to enter into the dry bones.

Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath (ruach) to enter into you, and ye shall live And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath (ruach) in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
When I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath (ruach) in them.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind (ruach), prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind (ruach), Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds (ruach), O breath (ruach), and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath (ruach) came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37: 5-10)

Ezekiel shows the close connection between what we call wind and life. This connection is an important understanding about the work of God which is lost in translation.

Habakkuk also uses 'ruach' to emphasise the uselessness of idols and contrasts Yahweh's power over all the earth.

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath (ruach) at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2: 19-20).

To the prophets 'ruach' described all the aspects of a living Deity, who from his life could give life.


'Ruach' as 'Vain'

In the following verses the word 'ruach' is used for a lack of substance, such as something so insubstantial it would be blown away by wind. It describes something that should be there but is not.

Should a wise man utter vain (ruach) knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? (Job 15:2)
Shall vain (ruach) words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? (Job 16: 3)
For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind (ruach) and confusion (Isaiah 41:28-29)
And the prophets shall become wind (ruach), and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. (Jeremiah 5:13)
Ephraim feeds on wind (ruach), and follows after the east wind: he daily increases lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.(Hosea 12:1)



'Ruach' as 'Wind'

'Ruach' translated as 'wind' is often a poetic representation of the character of the Creator or of his presence and power, but it is so diverse in its usage that it can also refer to the unseen forces that move people to act positively or negatively.

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind (ruach). (2Samuel 22:11)
Whoso boasts himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind (ruach) without rain (Proverbs 25:14)
The wind (ruach) shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. (Jeremiah 22:22)
And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind (ruach)(Isaiah 7:2)
And the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind (ruach) shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. (Isaiah 11:15)
For, lo, he that forms the mountains, and creates the wind (ruach), and declares unto man what is his thought, that makes the morning darkness, and treads upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name (Amos 4:13)
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind (ruach) was in their wings.. (Zechariah 5:9)

The Hebrews were certain that the power of God that they called 'ruach' produced the wind. This is still the best explanation for the inexplicable variation in storms and weather patterns. When we understand that 'wind' is 'ruach', the same as for the pneumatic life force, there is a deeper understanding of the role of Yahweh in our life on earth.

Hence we understand why Jesus rebuked his disciples in the storm, for their scriptures clearly stated that Yahweh controlled the wind.

His disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8: 25-26)


'Ruach' translated as 'Courage'

And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage (ruach) in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. (Joshua 2:11)


'Ruach' as 'Blast'

'Ruach as 'blast' generally relates to a demonstration of Yahweh's power in the destruction of Israel's enemies.

And with the blast (ruach) of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (Exodus 15:8)
Behold, I will send a blast (ruach) upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. (2Kings 19:7, repeated exactly in Isaiah 37:7)
For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast (ruach) of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. (Isaiah 25:4)

The word is the same, it is the translators understanding based on the context that the word means a strong wind.


'Ruach' as 'Air'

One is so near to another, that no air (ruach) can come between them. (Job 41:16)

'Ruach' as 'Whirlwind'

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind (ruach) came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. (Ezekiel 1: 4)


The preceding examples of the use and translation of the word 'ruach' show there is not one simple definition of the word, rather a set of meanings from the mind, to breath, to wind; all effects connected to the power of Yahweh Elohim.


7) Spirit (ruach) of God (Elohim)

To understand what is meant by the spirit of God we backtrack to the beginning of the Old Testament, to the first mention of the 'spirit'.

The first occurrence of the phrase 'spirit of God' is in Genesis 1:2, where the spirit of God moved over the waters beginning creation. This phrase occurs only 14 times in the Old Testament. The term 'God' is Elohim or 'mighty ones', such as the angels/messengers who do the work of the Creator, Yahweh, or in a few cases men who administered the laws in Israel.

We will take a representative selection from those 14 occurrences of the phrase to determine any pattern in their use. The following quotations describe men who were given specific work to do and special abilities, particularly related to the welfare of the nation of Israel.

See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, (Exodus 31: 2-3, also Exodus 35: 30-31)
And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. (Numbers24: 2)
And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? (1Samuel 10: 10-12)
And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. (1Chronicles 15: 1-2)
And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. (2Chronicles 24:20-21)
Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me. Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me. (Ezekiel 11: 24-25)


These representative examples of the use of the phrase, 'the spirit of Elohim', have similarites. In each case these men worked for the well-being of the nation of Israel. Bezaleel, a highly skilled craftsman, ensured that the Tabernacle was built and furnished in accordance with Yahweh's will for the worship of Yahweh. He was endowed with wisdom and understanding. Balaam, against the instructions of Balak, prophesied of Israel's destiny instead of cursing the nation. Saul was given the power to prophesy, but when he failed to do God's will, that was taken from him. Azariah was given the special task of encouraging the people and warning them that if they did not seek Yahweh, he would forsake them. Zechariah and Ezekiel were given the role of Yahweh's spokesmen to prophesy and warn the nation of Israel. In each case these men were appointed to ensure the moral welfare and survival of true teaching of the nation as a whole.


Spirit ('ruach') of the LORD (Yahweh)

This section will take a few representative examples of the use of the phrase the spirit of the LORD, Yahweh, who is the all powerful mighty one and Creator. The first occurrence of this phrase is in Judges and it is used 26 times in the Old Testament. It is related to men such as Joshua, Gideon and David who were valiant in warfare for Israel.

They were great leaders and because of their faith in Yahweh won great battles against enemies and at times witnessed amazing victories where Yahweh intervened and in miraculous ways destroyed armies. These men all had a very important role in the preservation of the nation of Israel. They were inspired to fight for Israel's survival.

Elijah and Elisha were of the few who demonstrated the power to bring life back to the dead, to heal, perform a limited number of miracles and to reveal Yahweh's power to the nation at a time when the worship of Baal threatened to overwhelm the people. Othniel and Gideon were two outstanding men who fought to defend the nation of Israel.


And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. (Judges 3:9-10)
Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. (Judges 6: 33-34)

David was a warrior and by amazing feats brought peace and nationhood to Israel. He also wrote much prophecy.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. (1Samuel 16: 13-14)

Elijah was noted for his faith and dedication to Yahweh and his attempts to turn the people from idolatry.

And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here .
And it shall come to pass, as soon as I (Obadiah) am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. (1Kings18:11-12)

Before a battle in which the nation witnessed their enemies destroy each other, the people were encouraged to have faith in Yahweh, who would bring victory to the nation of Israel without their having to fight.

Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2Chronicles20: 14-15)

Isaiah prophesies of one upon whom the spirit of Yahweh would descend at a future time and describes the work he would accomplish. He also enumerates the characteristics that he would possess. The following quotations refer to Jesus (Heb. Yeshua) who would have the spirit of wisdom, understanding and judgement.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11: 1-4)
The grass withers, the flower fades: because the spirit of the LORD blows upon it: surely the people is grass.... Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor has taught him? (Isaiah 40:7, 13)


TheSpirit of the Lord GOD (the Lord Yahweh) is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (Isaiah 60:1)


The prophets were moved by Yahweh's spirit to warn and to prophesy of Israel's destiny.

Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man. And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them. (Ezekiel 11:4-5)
Truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. (Micah3:8-9)

The power of God was demonstrated to the people on many occasions in the Old Testament. The nation of Israel witnessed the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and their deliverance from Pharaoh's army, food and water provided in the wilderness wanderings, enemies destroyed miraculously, the raising of the dead through men such as Elijah and Elisha, and healing of Namaan the Syrian and widows sustained in drought time. Selected men also revealed prophecies and gave warnings to the people about unfaithfulness and lack of obedience. The function of the Spirit of Yahweh was to ensure Israel's survival, often in battle, and to educate the nation with remarkable prophecy.


Such displays of power were to again occur during the ministry of the Messiah. The New Testament was not unique in the occurrence of miracles. The spirit and power of Yahweh was to be displayed to confirm his covenant with Israel at a crucial time in their history and before judgement came on the nation.


8) Yahweh's Spirit and the Prophets

Yahweh used his spirit to move the prophets to record and write for the teaching and admonition of the nation of Israel and for future generations' enlightenment.

Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit (ruach) in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. (Nehemiah9:30)
But there is a spirit (ruach) in man: and the inspiration (spirit) of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32: 8)

Job is playing on the meaning of 2 Hebrew words as the Hebrew word for 'inspiration' is related to ruach. Humans have been given the spirit of life, but it is the spirit of the Creator that comes upon the prophets that makes them understand the principles that lead to eternal life.

Diagram of the applications of ruach

The New Testament writers also support this.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God (Theo/pneustos), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:...That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (Timothy 3:16-17)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Spirit holy (2Peter 1: 19-21)
That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:(2Peter 3:2)

The power of Yahweh moved a very few chosen men to write to ensure that his purpose with the earth would not be forgotten. Inspired writings reproved, rebuked, instructed and still today give wisdom and understanding to those who seek to learn of Yahweh and his plan.



For more Spirit in the New Testament

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