Role of the Holy Spirit in the saving faith of OT saints

(Lakshmi Mehta) #1

As I tried to answer a question about indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the " Baptism of the Holy Spirit" thread, I realized I need more clarity on the role of the Holy Spirit in the OT. We know that OT saints were credited righteousess through faith ( Rom 4:3). But Jesus says that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again by His Spirit ( John 3:5-6). Then it follows that the Spirit of God had to be involved in regenerating the hearts of the OT saints. Did the Holy Spirit accomplish this externally in the OT believers but now does it internally in the NT believers? Hebrew 9:15, Heb 10:16 point to a new and better covenant in Christ where the Spirit of God writes the law in the hearts of believers paving way for eternal inheritance. When do the OT saints receive the Holy Spirit in their hearts? Is it at the time of resurrection? Is this what Ezekiel 37:13-14 is referring to?

The Privilege of Redemption
(SeanO) #2

@Lakshmismehta What a profound question. While I’m sure we could probe much deeper into the exact nature of the Spirit’s work in both testaments (and we may do so), it does seem clear that God’s Spirit worked in the lives of both OT and NT believers. So there is a continuity between the covenants in that sense.

We see that King David and characters like Simeon / Nicodemus (who were before Pentecost) experienced or were expected to have experienced the Spirit. A few articles as food for thought below.

Psalms 51:11 - Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

2 Chronicles 32:31 - But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

Luke 2:25-26 - Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.

I think that’s helpful. I think we also need to look at John 3 and Nicodemus. This is always very fascinating. You’ve got John 6, where John gives that editorial, “the Spirit has not yet been given.” But then you have John 3, where Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You should have known this. You should know that you need to be born of the Spirit.”

So there is this newness to Pentecost, but also this continuity, this unity. And looking at those two texts, which are just three chapters apart, is helpful for us to put that in a good perspective.

Now let me suggest an analogy to illustrate the experience of the Spirit before and after Pentecost. Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt’s President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn’t completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.

Well, Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God’s Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added to enable the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #3

@SeanO, thanks a lot for directing me to this article. I will have to spend some time thinking and reading about it. One thought that is not mentioned in this article but have read in other places is that the empowerment of the OT saints was temporary for the task and we have examples of the spirit leaving after the task in the OT stories. I might get back to you on this if I have more questions. Thanks again!

(SeanO) #4

@Lakshmismehta That is an interesting thought and does occur, but David seems to infer that he expected God’s Spirit to be with him in some way if he walked in righteousness. Deep stuff!