Study 2 HIS ACTIVITY BEFORE THE INCARNATION
THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Judges 14:1-20)
The Holy Spirit is mentioned in the very first verse of Genesis, for here the word ‘GOD’ is a plural Hebrew word. The word ‘CREATED’ is singular, so in Genesis 1:1 the Triune God is revealed as being engaged in one single act of creation. Compare the word ‘US’ in Genesis 1:26; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8. In these, as in many other scripture references, the Trinity is referred to. See also Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14.
Broadly speaking, there are three divisions of time:
- The period before Christ, from Creation to the Incarnation.
- The period covered by the 33 years of our Lord’s earthly life.
- The period of time since Pentecost, the period in which we live.
In each of these periods one member of the Godhead is especially active, though each member is present. In the Old Testament scriptures, before the Incarnation, God the Father is active; in the Gospels, God the Son is active; in the period since Pentecost, covered by the Book of Acts and the Letters and up to the present day, God the Holy Spirit is active.
In the Word of God, (not outside it), there is a progressive revelation or unfolding of truth. Nothing is completely told at once. The principle is - ‘First the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear…’ (Mark 4:28). In no doctrine is this gradual unfolding of truth more apparent than in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, not very much is revealed about His Person and work in the Old Testament in comparison with the far fuller revelation in the New Testament.
The Old Testament references to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit reveal His activity in the great work of CREATION and in relation to MANKIND.
1. He is associated with the Father and the Son in CREATION.
- The Creation of the Material Universe. Read Genesis, chapters 1 and 2 (and particularly notice Genesis 1:2); and compare Psalm 33:6; Job 26:13.
- The Creation of Man. We get this in Genesis 1:26; Job 33:4.
“Creation is OF the Father; He is the source - by Him will all things have had their being.
Creation is THROUGH the Son: He is its medium. And Creation is BY the Spirit: He is the Executive Agent of the Godhead by whom the creative work is done. Creation is one work, wrought by one God, and yet to give full scriptural account of the divine action, we must say it is OF the Father, THROUGH the Son, and BY the Spirit.”
The Bible is the history of REDEMPTION rather than CREATION, therefore not much is said about the work of the Holy Spirit in Creation. But enough is said, and how satisfying is the little we are told!
2. He is actively engaged in relation to MANKIND.
Look up the following selected (sample) references:-
- (1) Genesis 6:3.
(2) Exodus 28:3.
(3) Exodus 31:3.
(4) Numbers 11:26.
(5) Numbers 24:2.
(6) Numbers 27:18.
(7) Judges 3:10.
(8) Judges 6:34.
(9) Judges 13:25.
(10) 1 Samuel 10:6.
(11) 1 Samuel 16:14.
(12) Nehemiah 9:30.
(13) Psalm 51:11.
(14) 2 Peter 1:21.
From a study of the above references we learn the following facts:-
1. In Old Testament times it was the exception rather than the rule for the Holy Spirit to come upon men.
He came upon comparatively few, even of the godly people. How different it is today! Today, every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17 - note the words ‘… in you…’ and ’for ever’; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19); and He is willing to come ’upon’ every Christian to give power for witnessing and testimony (Acts 1:8). Look up Acts 2:39!
2. In Old Testament times He only came upon men for the accomplishment of special tasks.
For example: He came upon BEZALEEL in order to make him skilful in his work ‘in gold, silver and bronze’ (Exodus 31:4); He came upon ELDAD and MEDAD, and they prophesied (Numbers 11:26); He came upon GIDEON, and he blew a trumpet (Judges 6:34); He came upon SAMSON, giving him physical strength (Judges 14:6 and 19).
3. In Old Testament times He came upon all kinds of men, sometimes bad men.
The one outstanding example of this is BALAAM (Numbers 24:2). How this magnifies the sovereignty of God!
4. In Old Testament times, having fulfilled His purpose in coming upon men, He frequently departed when that purpose was accomplished.
It would seem clear that the Holy Spirit’s ‘anointing’ or ‘empowering’ lasted only long enough to enable Bezaleel to finish his work; Eldad and Medad to prophesy; Gideon to blow his trumpet, and having achieved His divine purpose He then withdrew.
5. In Old Testament times, SIN drove the Holy Spirit away.
This is made very clear from the reference in 1 Samuel 16:14 to Saul, and also by David’s petition in Psalm 51:11. Today, sin does not drive Him away from the believing heart, but it grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30), and this restricts His operation in and through our lives.