Truth, Understanding, Insight

Holy Spirit

9th August 2009, mgh


1) The work of the spirit in the New Testament

The New Testament begins a new phase in the work of the Creator. The English New Testament text frequently uses the expression Holy Spirit (often translated as Holy Ghost). As we have shown the term is used somewhat less than is thought. However at even 11 instances this expression 'the Holy Spirit' is significant. And the 20 times that 'the spirit the holy' is used in the New Testament far outweighs the three times it appears in the Old Testament (Psalm 51;11, Isaiah 63:10-11).

The reason for the outpouring is explained by Isaiah, who deals with aspects of the spirit of the Lord. The quotation from Isaiah that follows speaks of the love, pity and compassion that the Lord had for the nation of Israel. He showed great mercy and performed miracles to show his love for the people so that they would believe in him and worship him with reverence and fear. When the nation was 'afflicted', the Lord in compassion was afflicted. Isaiah presents the mind of the Lord, and, the Lord as having feelings.

He loved his people and pitied them in their afflictions, but when they rebelled against him, it 'vexed his holy spirit'.

In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed (even /namely) spirit holy-his therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying , Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put (even /namely) spirit holy-his within him? That led by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? (Isaiah 63:9-13)

In the same way, Paul in writing to the Ephesians refers to the attributes that cause 'grief' to the Spirit of Yahweh.

And grieve not 'the spirit the holy' of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

From the Proverbs the two aspects of an excellent spirit are 'knowledge' and 'understanding' and are related to men of understanding..

He that has knowledge spares his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. (Proverbs 17: 27)

The spirit in these verses reveals an intimate understanding of the mind of Yahweh and his relationship with his people.

The Old Testament records many extraordinary occurrences in the life of the Israelites such as the plagues poured out on Egypt and amazing victories in battles against their enemies. The holy sacred ruach of Yahweh relates to both personal attributes of the Creator and the specific power that he reveals in miraculous events and the way he has worked through the faithful, such as Moses, Elijah and Elishah.

The inspired writers of the New Testament found it essential to differentiate between the profane and the holy, that is between the all embracing 'spirit' of the Greeks and the specific 'spirit of the Lord', that is, the 'spirit' of the holy of the Hebrew Old Testament. They often described the spirit as 'holy' so there was no confusion in the minds of Jews or converts familiar with the Greek language and ideas.

The New Testament begins a new stage in the working out of God's purpose with the earth. To achieve his purpose, spectacular events were to occur in the land of Israel, ushering in the culmination of the process of redemption.

Just as the ancient nation of Israel had witnessed miraculous events at the institution of the nation, a new generation was to also witness amazing things as a new era was to begin in God's purpose. The covenant of the Law of Moses was to be replaced by a new covenant and the nation of Israel were to meet their Messiah and future king, who was ultimately rejected by the majority of people in the nation of Israel.

A special power (or tool) of the Creator was given to humans that Yeshua called 'the Holy Spirit'. This was to play a crucial and demonstrable role in showing to the people the power of their God and the identity of their Messiah. The holy spirit with the Apostles (and in their gifts given to others) ensured the knowledge of the Messiah was spread to the known world.

John the Baptist, Forerunner of the Messiah

Late in life, Zacharias and Elisabeth were told that they would have a child who had a special mission. This child was to be filled with a Spirit that was holy from 'his mother's womb' and just as Elijah had had Yahweh's spirit with him, John had a special work to prepare the hearts or spirit of the people to receive their Messiah.

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with a spirit holy, even from his mother's womb... And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1 : 15-17)

John the Baptist's father had knowledge and faith and believed the promises and the words of the prophets. Like the prophets, he prophesied

And his father Zacharias was filled with spirit holy, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people, And has raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; ..To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; (Luke 1: 67-72)
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with spirit holy and with fire.(Luke3:16-17)

Yahweh's power and intervention in the lives of two families was to begin the process that was to culminate in the fulfilling of the Law and the beginning of the New Covenant to bring all mankind into the redemption process and the hope of life eternal. A Spirit came upon Mary and through the power of Yahweh she conceived Israel's Messiah.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Yeshua. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, a spirit holy shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1: 31-35)

Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist was also faithful and realised her son had an important role to play in introducing Jesus (Yeshua) who would open the way to salvation to Jew and Gentile.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled of spirit holy: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Luke 1: 41-42)

Because Simeon had faith and knowledge of prophecy, Yahweh's spirit came upon him and he was given information to identify the Saviour before his death,

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was (the prophet)Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and spirit upon him was holy. And it was revealed unto him by the spirit of the Holy One, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke 2: 25-26)

There was a visible sign given that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel.

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And 'the spirit the holy' descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3: 21-22)

A power that came out of, and from, the Holy One, from Yahweh, was seen to descend like a dove and was given visibly to Yeshua. From this point he possessed greater powers and skills than he had known previously.


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