The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
Sunday, November 25, 2012 -
In this first of a series of studies dealing with the Holy Spirit, we will consider the work of the Holy Spirit prior to the birth of Christ. The Old Testament is abundant in its references to the early work of the Spirit of God. What you will see in these early texts is a relatively undeveloped pneumatology, or theology of the Holy Spirit, His activity is stressed in these passages (sometimes almost impersonally) rather than His person. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit will be developed with New Testament revelation.
1) ENABLEMENT AND REVELATION FOR ASSIGNED TASKS - Exodus 31:3-5 - “....and I ( the LORD) have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,  to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze,  in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”
This text merely serve as one illustration. In both the building of the Tabernacle (Exodus) and later in the construction of the Temple (1 Chronicles) the specific plans and designs were God's alone. The Holy Spirit is sent to key persons in the task. The Holy Spirit, while in these people, worked over and above whatever natural talents and abilities they possessed.
2) PROPAGATING AND ENABLING LEADERSHIP FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD - Numbers 11:16-17 - “Then the Lord said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.  And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.”
In this instance we see the Holy Spirit endowed individuals for the special task of leading God’s people. This activity is repeated both through the wilderness and into the promised land. These people weren't chosen by democratic elections. Rather, God chose and anointed specific people for these important tasks through very specific anointing activities by the Holy Spirit.
3) THE SPIRIT IN THE WORK OF THE JUDGES - Here there are too many passages to list. Some examples are found in 6:34, 11:29, 13:25 - “But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.....11:29....”Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites....13:24-25....” And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him.  And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.”
Again, this is tied in with previous points on the Holy Spirit’s direct involvement with the selecting and enabling of key positions of leadership over God’s people. Especially at critical times, the Holy Spirit came upon chosen people who had the task of correcting God’s people from their wickedness and also, at times, delivering God's people from their oppressors.
4) THE SPIRIT AND THE CHOOSING OF KING DAVID (and other kings) - While initially the idea of kingly rule arose from the people, and while in later years Israel went the way of the surrounding nations (installing kings on the basis of earthly natural succession), there were times when God revealed candidates specifically anointed with the Holy Spirit for the task of rulership.
1 Samuel 16:1-3,12-13 - “The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."  And Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me." And the Lord said, "Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.'  And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you....”
....“And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he."  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.”
Then note the strange words in 1 Samuel 16:14 - “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” What can this mean?
5) THE SPIRIT IN INSPIRED/PROPHETIC UTTERANCE - This work of the Spirit is most commonly evidenced among those in positions of spiritual leadership. Again, there are many, many references. A brief example can be seen in the case of Moses and his helpers - Numbers 11:25, 28-29 - “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it........ And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, "My lord Moses, stop them."  But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!"
The same can be seen in Saul - 1 Samuel 10:5-6 - “After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying.  Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.” This is fulfilled in 1 Samuel 10:9-13.
See also David - 2 Samuel 23:1-2 - “Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:  "The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.”
As is also the case in the New Testament, the specific content of the prophecy (the words they said) is rarely made known to the reader of Scripture. Why might that be?
6) THE SPIRIT EMPOWERING - There are many passages where the Holy Spirit works mightily as the dynamic, strength giving energy for those with God given tasks. See the familiar words quoted from Zechariah 4:6-7 - “Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.  Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!’”
These words were initially given to Zerubbabel as he faced the task of rebuilding the ruined Temple back in Jerusalem. See also Haggaia 2:1-9 where the Holy Spirit will also provide all the funds needed for the task!
SOME LESSONS FROM THESE TEXTS:
FIRST - The Spirit is given to enable people to accomplish God's purpose for their lives. Whether it's a judge, king, priest or prophet, the Spirit is given not so much for blessing as for service.
SECOND - Generally, the activity of the Spirit is seen to be temporary in the lives of these people. The Spirit could temporarily "take possession", but would not be "permanently possessed" by individuals.
We’ll continue a bit more with the Old Testament work of the Holy Spirit next week, particularly in the preparatory work for the coming of Christ.