What was the Purpose of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? THE PURPOSE...
The term “Holy Spirit” is actually only used 3 times in the Old Testament – once in Psalm 51 and twice in Isaiah 63. But the terms “Sprit of God” and “Spirit of the Lord”, and other similar terms which are used to identify the Holy Spirit, are used frequently.
#1. To give life
We see this clearly in the Book of Genesis during creation...where the Holy Spirit makes His first appearance in the Scriptures...
Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”
This idea is confirmed by Job in Job 33:4 where he says, “For The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
So in Genesis when God spoke...”Let there be..” With those words (breathing & speaking) He gave life to ALL of creation! Remember, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!!!”
And knowing that breath is required for life just further confirms the idea that the Holy Spirit is the giver of physical life. And in the New Testament we find that He is the giver of spiritual life as well. So like we said, the Old Testament foreshadowed what was to come!
Now the Holy Spirit draws us to salvation and when we invite Jesus into our hearts the Holy Spirit comes in to give us new life...in the rebirth...we are born again!!!
#2. To reveal
In Nehemiah 9, the people of Israel gathered to worship and Ezra the scribe got up and began to recount how God had blessed His people throughout their history.
As he reminded them of how God had blessed them in the wilderness even after they had forsaken Him, He pointed out how God had revealed His ways through the Holy Spirit.
He says in Nehemiah 9:20, “You sent your good Spirit to instruct them and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.
Yet because of Jesus, I believe his purpose has become more personal NOT being limited to His Kings, prophets, and priests...so that today He reveals truth to ALL believers!!!
Imagine we have direct access to God & He wants to reveal His truth to us!!! That's AWESOME!!!
#3. To rebuke
The Holy Spirit has ALWAYS been involved in the process of revealing sin and rebuking us when we rebel against God and His ways.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit often did that through the prophets...
Nehemiah 9:30 says, “In your love, you were patient with them for many years. You sent your Spirit, who warned them through the prophets. But still they wouldn’t listen! So once again you allowed the peoples of the land to conquer them.”
God used the prophets to point out Israel’s sins and to warn them of the consequences of that sin. Those prophets spoke as they were led by the Holy Spirit. The prophet Micah also expressed his reliance on the Holy Spirit as God used him to rebuke His people:
#4. To equip
And we see this purpose operating in the lives of His people in two broad areas:
A.) To serve God
Throughout the Old Testament we see God giving His people a task and then equipping them to accomplish that task through the work of the Holy Spirit.
When God gave the instructions for the construction of the tabernacle, His Holy Spirit equipped the craftsmen to be able to carry out those instructions:
So we see the Holy Spirit equipping His people ...A.) To serve God and...
B.) To represent God
By far the majority of the accounts of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament involve equipping men to be God’s representatives in the world.
We’ve already seen that in the life of the prophets, who spoke on behalf of God. But the Holy Spirit also equipped many others to be God’s representative in some way.
Numbers 11:25 says, “And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Then he gave the seventy elders the same Spirit that was upon Moses. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied.
1 Samuel 16:13 says, “So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
So let's briefly look at the process of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. THE PROCESS...
#1. The work of the Holy Spirit was limited and temporary
regardless of whether the Spirit was upon someone or in them, that was, as a rule, a temporary work of the Holy Spirit that was limited to certain tasks.
For instance, we read that once Saul no longer served God in obedience, God removed His Holy Spirit from Saul’s life:
And 1 Sam. 16:14 says, “Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul and the LORD sent a tormenting Spirit that filled him with depression & fear.... (allowed that spirit to come NOT that He was the source of that spirit)...
We also see that in Samson’s life, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him on a number of different occasions, indicating that His presence in Samson’s life was not permanent.
#2. The work of the Holy Spirit was the sovereign choice of God (spell sovereign :)
The men who experienced the Holy Spirit in their lives neither expected the Holy Spirit to come upon them nor did anything to prompt His work in their lives.
None of them prayed for the Holy Spirit to come or tried to engage in some kind of religious activity that would bring His presence.
It was God who took the initiative to give the Holy Spirit and there is certainly no clear reason given why the Holy Spirit came upon some and NOT on others.
There clearly wasn't some formula or method that someone could use to ensure that they would receive the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
NEVER forced Himself upon anyone. So when Saul rebelled against the leading of the Spirit, the Spirit departed from his life.
And this aspect of the process by which the Holy Spirit operated in the Old Testament is actually very relevant for us. Cause even though the Holy Spirit is present in our lives, there's no guarantee that we're automatically going be a “spiritual” or godly person. And this is Key!!!
*We have to choose to plug into the power He provides and make sure that we don’t hinder His work in our lives.
And when we put everything together that we’ve learned about the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, we find that He's the same Holy Spirit who works on our lives today.
The Holy Spirit gives us God’s divine power to accomplish God’s divine work. WE NEED HIM!!! Every day! Every hour!!!