Judges Part Three Dive
IS THE HOLY SPIRIT FOUND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
I love teaching because it really shows you what you do and don’t know about the Bible. Students come up with the best questions, that can challenge the way you think as a teacher. One great question was from a student in my Luke-Acts class. I was teaching on Acts 2 the coming of the Holy Spirit and the student raised their hand and asked "The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in Acts 2 and as Pentecostals, we make a big deal of this moment. The chapter is called The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost, so I’m guessing that there was no Holy Spirit in the Old Testament at all?" What a great question!
How many times have you heard it preached, 'and then the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost' and we see this incredible moment of the birthing of the church in Acts 2 (or re-birthing as I like to call it!), and we can give off the impression that the first time the Holy Spirit entered the stories of the Bible is in that Acts 2 moment. I have heard some Pentecostals say that they only like the New Testament because they are people of the Spirit, not the Law. But that is not true – when you read the Old Testament don’t miss these incredible statements about the Spirit of the Lord. He is there from the beginning, we find in Genesis 1:1, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.' From the beginning, the Spirit of God was there, and we find him throughout the Old Testament; so as you read Judges don’t forget to notice the seven times the Spirit of the Lord is mentioned.
Let me give you a quick background. We have come out of the Wilderness and have just followed Joshua into the Promised land, and I read in one commentary a statement that said “in a special way we have stepped into the Old Testament age of the Spirit. God’s Spirit enabled people to accomplish feats of victory in the Lord’s war against the powers that threatened his kingdom.”
Let me show you:
The Spirit of the Lord came on him so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.
and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home.
As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.
When the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Old Testament, you need to look at the key words around it to understand the relationship of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Can you see in the above verses that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon people? They are clothed in the Spirit of the Lord like a coat – being draped over their shoulders, the coat comes upon a person but is not in that person.
The Judges are anointed by God to do a specific task, and the Holy Spirit comes on them for the time that they are doing the task.
We are going to read in 1 Samuel where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Saul and he prophesies, in fact in 1 Samuel 16:14 it shows how the Spirit of the Lord departs from Saul. And in 1 Samuel 16 we find the Spirit of the Lord coming powerfully on David.
So is it the same in the New Testament? If we have a look at Acts 2, we find the language has changed – rather than being clothed or the Spirit of the Lord coming “upon” people the language is different. In Acts 2:4 'All of them are filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.'
Now, this is a new day, rather than the Spirit of the Lord coming on specific people for an appointed task and time, the Holy Spirit has filled everyone, and out of this infilling, they are speaking in tongues. This is a new day of the Holy Spirit using and filling people. So when we say the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost we mean he came on all people to total infilling not just anointed for a specific time and purpose.
That is why the Pharisees were so upset that the Samaritans were baptised in the Holy Spirit, actually why the Jerusalem Christian church was so upset as we find in Acts – because the Spirit of God in the Old Testament was a sign of God using that person to do great works for his glory and at this stage it had only come upon key people. Then “once and for all!” Jesus died for our sins, the Spirit of God raised him from the dead, and we can be filled with the Spirit of God as vessels for his glory. The Holy Spirit was on everyone, male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free – this was very new!
So as you read the Old Testament and especially Judges you are going to see these men and women, that are human, they have fears like Gideon, they have morality issues like Samson, they fall away from God, but the Spirit of the Lord anoints them for his purpose, coming upon them like a coat. This reminds me never to take for granted the honour it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and, as Paul says, to keep being filled (Ephesians 5:18). A privilege that these Judges that we are reading about did not have.
Enjoy your last week in Judges!