Many people incorrectly believe that we first encounter The Holy Spirit in Matthew 1:18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” If the question was “When was the first appearance of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament”, that would be the correct answer. But we actually meet the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. He is a co-equal part of the Trinity; He is called God’s Spirit to show He is the same as God.
As Christians, we are taught to pray to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. While many of us forget that our prayers are powered by The Holy Spirit, by praying this way, it shows us that the Three Persons of the Godhead are one, and are co-equal. God uses progressive revelation to show us who the Holy Spirit is. By using the Old Testament alone, there are some who might question whether or not the Holy Spirit is actually a Person. This is cleared up completely in the New Testament, as The Holy Spirit is referred to as Ekeinos the Greek word for “He” 17 times. Matthew 12:31-32 further clarifies the Personhood of the Holy Spirit when it states. 31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come”. No one can sin against an “It”.
The Holy Spirit chose to manifest Himself slightly differently before and after our Lord Jesus died and was resurrected. Just as our Lord Jesus is, was, and will always be the “Logos (Word)”, He did not incarnate during the Old Testament times. While Jesus did interact with Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, and others directly, He was usually referred to as The Angel of the Lord during those encounters. The Holy Spirit decided to interact, before Jesus’ resurrection, by inspiring, assisting and empowering those that He chose, while not indwelling any of the Old Testament saints..
The fact that the Holy Spirit chose to interact with humans in this way amazes me. We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; yet He still chooses to interact with us in different ways, in different dispensations. Changing how one does something does not change who one is. God, like His created beings (humans) has the freedom to change His methods whenever He chooses. Look at the different ways the Lord Jesus chose to heal blindness in the New Testament. He didn’t use the same method twice. In the Old Testament dispensation, The Holy Spirit came upon those He chose to interact with. He came upon Moses, Joshua, Samson and the other Judges. He came upon Samuel and stayed with David for a considerable amount of time. David asks in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Thy Presence” David also prayed in Psalm 51:11 “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me”
In Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is actually called Ruach HaKodesh. HaKodesh is easy to translate. It means “The Holy”. Ruach, however, can be translated among other things as wind, spirit, or breath. So in English, we call the part of God that resides in all believers (in our current dispensation) The Holy Spirit. A while ago, I was in my car and the wind was really kicking up. I saw the clouds moving through the sky very quickly; something we don’t really get to see very often. Usually the sky is calm and the clouds are moving slowly or it is too overcast to see any movement. At that moment, I realized that a storm was coming and the strong wind moving the clouds reminded me of how quickly The Holy Spirit can move in our lives. He usually is gentle and caring and doesn’t rush us, but when a storm is coming, He may move more quickly and powerfully than we can imagine.
We usually look at the approaching storm and fret and worry. We forget that the Creator of the Universe, the One who allows and forms the storms of our lives, is also the One residing within us. He is there to be our anchor, our help, and our hiding place. I don’t like storms, neither the physical nor spiritual kind. I prefer to get out of the rain, because I don’t like getting wet and windblown. While I would love to get out of the spiritual storms in my life, I’m glad the Lord allows them. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to grow in Him and learn to depend on Him. For without His Guidance, His Grace, and His Help, I would surely be lost in the midst of the storm.
I started looking at the Old Testament Saints. The Holy Spirit had an unique relationship with Adam. According to George Smeaton, Adam was filled with the Spirit until he sinned. Based on the glimpses we are shown in Scripture between God and Adam, I believe it was a pre-incarnate Jesus who interacted with Adam and Eve, both before and after that first sin, As for Abraham, Scripture points to the interactions between God and Abraham and even God and Hagar as with a pre-incarnate Jesus, as God is referred to either as LORD, or The Angel of the Lord, both titles point to Jesus. The Holy Spirit was most likely involved in Abraham’s story, when He came as a dream to Abimelech when Abraham was trying to pass off Sarah as his sister.
The Holy Spirit empowered Moses to do what needed to be done, in Egypt, Sinai and the wilderness. The Holy Spirit also inspired him to write the Torah. I don’t see The Holy Spirit communicating verbally with the Old Testament saints. I believe that Moses spoke to Jesus, or quite possibly the Father on top of Mt Sinai. A pre-incarnate Jesus came to Samson’s parents and spoke to them. Judges 13:20-21 states “20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord”. In the New Testament, God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her The Holy Spirit would come upon her and that she would bear a child. Luke 1:26-35 tells us this story:
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”29 But when she saw him,[d] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
I believe that these show that the Holy Spirit chose not to “talk” to us directly before Jesus resurrection.
2nd Timothy 3:16(a) tells us “16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”, from this we know that it was the Holy Spirit who inspired Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Luke, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and the other authors of the Old and New Testaments. We are blessed to be able to read Books where words of God are written. As the Inspiration for the Bible’s Authors, The Spirit has been pointing us to Jesus, since Scripture has been put to parchment.
We find many references to Him in the Old Testament. Some of these include chapter 33 verse 4, of Job, where Elihu tells us “4 The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life”. Genesis 6:3 tells us “3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive[a] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Numbers 27:18 tells us: 18 And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;”. Scripture tells us that the Judges were also inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While his parents were visited by a Christophany, Samson himself was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Judges 14:6 tells us this about Sampson: 6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.”
We know that the Spirit was with Samuel and also with David. While David wanted the Spirit of the Lord to remain with him, The Spirit probably left David, when David sinned. He was able to leave, because He wasn’t indwelling David. As God, the Spirit cannot abide sin, yet in New Testament believers, He resides within us, giving us additional strength to do the Lord’s bidding. As I write this, it is hard to think that the Holy Spirit has to live with my sin, until I repent, even if it is only for the short periods of time between my sin and my repentance. I need to be more mindful of His Presence
So what changed after Jesus died and rose again? He sent us the Helper, the part of God that would reside in us, teaching us, helping us and convicting us when we do wrong. He has always convicted believers and unbelievers of their sins. This is consistent throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Once Jesus had risen, He told the Apostles in John 20:21-22 “21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” While the Apostles received The Holy Spirit before Pentecost, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit on that day. Since then, the two events can be simultaneous, or baptism can be prayed for at a later date. Acts 2 verses 1-4 tells us: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance
Acts 10:44-46 shows The Holy Spirit falling for the first time on the Gentiles. “44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God”. These are the only two times that speaking in tongues were a sign that the Holy Spirit was poured out onto someone in the New Testament.
Another Gentile who received the Lord was the Eunuch from Ethiopia. We see his story In Acts 8 verses 26-29.26Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot, and 34-38 “34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Here we see The Holy Spirit speak to someone for the first time and we also see someone being converted without speaking in tongues.
The Spirit is very active in the Book of Acts. In Chapter 5, we see the extreme punishment that can be given for lying to the Holy Spirit. “1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things
In Chapter 16 of the Book of Acts, verses 6&7 tell us that Paul and his companions were redirected by The Holy Spirit. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit[a] did not permit them”
We are blessed to be living in a time when the Holy Spirit is alive and active. When we ask Him, He will direct us onto the paths we are meant to travel. We can depend on His Strength to get us through even the most difficult situations, as long as we are following God’s will for our lives. An example of this can be seen when the Apostle Paul asks for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. God answers him thusly in 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
I’m not sure who “My” is in the verse cited above. It really doesn’t matter. What I have to remember, as do many others, is that The Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus and Jesus always points us to the Father, so the “My” could be any of the three Persons, or all of them.
Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 08/15-08/22
Class Notes and PowerPoint accessed 08/15-08/22