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Faith Basics: The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Posted by Dan Jarms & Mark Frankian on November 8, 2023
Faith Basics: The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
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Mark Frankian and Dan Jarms discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and address some of the misconceptions about the differences between the Spirit's work in the Old and New Testaments.

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  • Dan Jarms 0:00
    Today on faith matters, we are continuing our faith Basics series on the Holy Spirit. I have Mark Frankian In the studio with me and we're going to be talking about the Holy Spirit's role in the Old Testament.

    Dan Jarms 0:16
    I'm Dan Jarms, and you're listening to faith matters a podcast to help update you on matters of faith Bible Church, as well as equip you in matters of the Christian faith.

    Dan Jarms 0:36
    welcome Mark, I do as a leadoff I just want to say often, I and maybe I might be guilty of this, I know a lot of my very cerebral friends might be very guilty of this, we think of the Holy Spirit in personal terms, especially when we use the personal pronoun it for the Holy Spirit instead of he, on the other side, I've got a little bit of a charismatic background. So the other error is that the Holy Spirit is, you know, magic incantation, juice, or he's the special power. And we're going to, we're going to try to clear that up. Here's one thing mark that I want you to hear and take away is that the Holy Spirit of the three members of the Trinity, his role is the most intimate in the world, and in the believers life. And we can take that from lots of places, but one of those we can take that from is Romans eight, where we know Christ is interceding for us, he is interceding for us in heaven, Holy Spirit's interceding for us within. So there should be a lot of interest in the Holy Spirit, He is the closest member of the Trinity to us in this world in all the Trinity's work, now, that's just saying the rules of the Trinity, because God, the Father, God, the Son, God, the Holy Spirit, are all equally present everywhere. So we're not trying to say about that. But when we think of the Holy Spirit's role, he is intentionally very intimate with us. So what struck me was rereading Genesis one, two, where it says that the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the face of the waters. So here what you have God's powerful Ruach, that's the Hebrew word, wind power, hovering over the face, and that portrays a very intimate connection with creation. So from the beginning, the Holy Spirit has been the member of the Trinity has been most intimately connected to the material of the world and intimately connected to our lives. Mark, you're interested in this has been somewhat theological about the difference between what happens in the Old Testament what happens in the New Testament? And there's some mistakes we can make with that? Why don't you talk about some of that general work

    Mark Frankian 2:57
    for me, I mean, honestly, I don't remember exactly where it came from, or what I was taught specifically over the years. But I do remember some time ago, just reading through the Old Testament, I've been doing that for a long time now reading through Scripture every year, and just being struck with a variety of things in the Old Testament, and how intimate they were, you know, even Psalm 139, Yahweh, you've searched me and known me, you know, when I sit down and rise up, you understand my thought, from afar, and, and so on. There's just a lot of Psalm 42, you know, thirst for God as a deer pants for water, just just a lot of maybe different terms, but a lot of the same concepts as we read through the Old Testament and consider what the original author mean to the original audience. And in those issues and how we understand a believers life, then that's really been the catalyst for me over the years, as I keep reading and keep growing and my understanding of that topic. Yeah, yeah,

    Dan Jarms 3:56
    maybe I think it's out of Genesis five, where we find that men began to call him the name of the Lord, or Enoch walked with God, there was an intimate personal connection. So sometimes you can get the idea that the Old Testament saints had a very distant relationship with God. And I think we get that because many of the Old Testament figures, like the nation of Israel, was generally indifferent to God or idolatrous. So when we look at the whole of the nation, we can confuse the whole of the nation with the remnant are the true believers and the true believers did have an intimate walk with God. Holy Spirit's vital,

    Mark Frankian 4:36
    right, no question. And we don't want to commit the fallacy. You mentioned the word thing fallacy that if a certain word is not used in the Old Testament, then then it's not there in any way, shape or form. So that's just that's just not the case. Yes, the New Testament does provide greater detail in a lot of ways and even uses some different terms. And honestly, I'm not saying everything is identical and we'll get to that but To but there there is an intimacy with believers in the Old Testament, I think that's very similar to the new. What

    Dan Jarms 5:07
    are the ministries of the Holy Spirit? What is it? What did he do in the Old Testament saints?

    Mark Frankian 5:10
    Yeah, I'd say you mentioned one being present in creation and having a role in creation. Genesis one, two, for example. Being active in salvation and regeneration, Romans four speaks of Abraham as his faith, being what brought about righteousness in his life in the same way as New Testament saints. So nothing has changed there. So creation, salvation, restraining sin is, is ongoing, both in old and new, inspiring the scriptures. Second Timothy three, Second Peter, one speaker, that eliminating a believer, even Psalm 119 18, again, Old Testament verse opened my eyes at me behold wonderful things from your law. Like that's the same. And then again, whatever you call it, in dwelling, or biting or spiritual dynamics of unbelievers, life, I think, some real similarities there, if not identical things here, I

    Dan Jarms 6:07
    remember starting to reason through this. On on my way to seminary in seminary, and, and that was the thought from Ephesians two, for instance, you are dead in your sins and trespasses, and you've been made alive in Christ. And he's continued to unpack that made alive is by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells Nicodemus, you should have known better that you needed to be born again, aren't you an Old Testament teacher, so something about the Old Testament, but my old testament props? Dr. Chris Auntie would say, an Old Testament saint was dead in sin, something someone needed to make him alive to God. So, naturally, the Old Testament saint, the true believer in the Old Testament, had to be born again, had to be had to have the operation of the work of the Holy Spirit, to help them be born again, help them to see help them to have faith. All of those works that are really clear to see and the New Testament had to be true in the Old Testament. Otherwise, you would have people who could believe on their own, but then fall away from the faith. So it's an it's a natural connection, you have to man's not changed. If you really read the Old Testament in a very plain way, you'll actually find that true over and over Deuteronomy 30, verse six promises that any any genuine believer needs to have a circumcised heart, right? So God promises to circumcise the heart the inside of a person.

    Mark Frankian 7:39
    Yeah, I think just like the Trinity is an example we see aspects of the Trinity in the Old Testament, but it's, it's clarified and expanded in the new so it doesn't change what's in the old even if different terms and different ways of saying it, or they're, if you call it a circumcised heart in some places in the Old Testament, or indwelling, in the new or are born again. Yeah, yeah, same idea.

    Dan Jarms 8:01
    There are some things that are fun to see. I wouldn't necessarily say unique, but we get our start from them in the Old Testament. So we talked about indwelling, where the Spirit of the Lord comes to and dwell inside a believer, what we see in the Old Testament are some specific functions. So filling, for instance, what do we see when God fills different people in the Old Testament? And

    Mark Frankian 8:28
    the Old Testament, the way it's worded, it seems to limit itself to craftsmen or workers as the Spirit coming on them or prophets or kings or priests? It doesn't, doesn't speak of an otherwise normal, believing Old Testament saint that way.

    Dan Jarms 8:46
    Yeah. And we wouldn't say that they weren't. But what we see in the record is that when God wanted to work, he would fill or empower a person or a set of people for some specific tasks. So yeah, the, the craftsmen who made all the furniture for the temple were were empowered by the Holy Spirit filled with the Holy Spirit with special wisdom. special skill was one of the ways you see that then profits were filled, you find you see pop profits were filled with with the Lord. When you look at Elijah, sometimes he's filled with the spirit he speaks and then sometimes the Spirit just literally picks him up or allows him this supernatural running ability to run away like we see these special operations of the Holy Spirit in the filling. So David's filled with the Spirit, even some, some very disobedient servants are filled with Holy Spirit like salt a number of times is filled with the Holy Spirit to prophesy. And and that's almost comically, that's almost how God keeps Salford doing so many horrible things. He just overpowers him with the Holy Spirit and he he can't go kill David. He prophesies instead. So there's some there's some interesting things So we have that special feeling. One of the aspects that's then often considered is, can, can a person in the Old Testament lose their salvation? And David makes that statement. Psalm 32. You know, don't take your spirit from it. Yeah, don't take your Spirit from me. And I'm in, I'm in the camp of the commentators that would say, don't take your theocratic anointing. So, kings in the Old Testament were anointed with special power by God to rule effectively. And I think when David's saying taken out your Holy Spirit for me, he's saying, Don't remove me as king. There's, there's some debate about that. But But I look at that as that, that filling that was part of his theocratic anointing and says, I don't want to lose my place as king, you promised the Messiah to come through my line, I don't want to lose that. So I would, I would take it that way. And then with that filling, you'll see a variety of things. People who did not have the Spirit, suddenly anointed by the Spirit had special abilities to speak for God, prophets. Sometimes, sometimes kings were also prophets, where they could speak for God, we would see special miracles that they had the Moses had those Elijah, Elijah, Elijah, who asked for a double portion of what Elijah had. And then when you read in Second Kings, he had this interesting extra power. And, and it's almost as if, before it happened, and after it happened, all the people around could see something was different. Oh, you've been anointed by the Holy Spirit. So it's a unique kind of situation in the Old Testament that we, that we see there. And that does lead us to some thoughts about the New Testament, or the New Covenant. Mark, what are your What are your thoughts on what we see starting to change? Or what do we see about realities from how the Holy Spirit operated in the old testament to the New Testament?

    Mark Frankian 12:04
    Well, I think we see in Acts two, the start of the church. So with, with all the events in Acts two, in the works of the Spirit, they're beginning this new people of God, the church, and bringing people baptizing them in the spirit into the church. So I think that's one I think, related to that, or that is the gifting of the Holy Spirit for the church. Each each member of a church, each believer in the New Testament, I think those are probably two of the biggest, immediate differences between mosaic or Old Testament, Holy Spirit's work in New Testament. Yeah,

    Dan Jarms 12:46
    yeah. And it's, it's really a matter of scope, as opposed to specifics, because the Holy Spirit did the same kinds of things in saints of the Old Testament. But two things that really help us think about the transition is that the transition of the scope of the Holy Spirit's work, started a prediction. Even in Deuteronomy 30, where there was a covenant nation, God made a covenant with Israel under the leadership of Moses and under the Law of Moses. And yet, God would say over and over your hearts aren't circumcised Deuteronomy 30 promises a coming time in which all the members of the Covenant community are going to have circumcised hearts. So all the way back there we have this promise of some operation. And then when we get to Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, several of the prophets, Hosea, the Minor Prophets, Hosea, and Joel all talk about a coming covenant. And a key element of that covenant coming covenant, besides Christ, atoning work, is the operation of the Holy Spirit. And he's eco 36 Is is one of my favorite places to go with this. Because in these eco 3626, he says, I will give you a new heart and a new spirit, I will put within you and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. It's often difficult for us to understand Jesus words, his promise, the Holy Spirit, He, He is with you. But he will be in you. And we're not often sure what the difference is about that. But one of the things we are sure about is the scope. Every believer has this washing and regeneration in in the Old Testament in the new,

    Mark Frankian 14:44
    right, yeah, whatever. However, you're gonna explain the sort of the normal Old Testament saints. By the time we get to the New Testament in the church, clearly each believer as the spirit and as gifted for Ephesians, four First Corinthians 12 and 14 about being in The body being equipped by the pastor, teacher leader leadership, equipping ministries to do the work of the service building up the body of Christ and spreading the gospel. Yes, well,

    Dan Jarms 15:12
    so that that that feeling or special empowerment is actually extended to every everything. And that's that's really the main point of Joel chapter two, that Peter quotes in Acts chapter two. So in Joel chapter two, there's this promise that your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams, and I'm probably paraphrasing that but all of those things are going to happen. And which which means every new covenant member is going to speak for God. And in Acts chapter two that actually spread out to the nations, because people from various nations, we're going to hear and speak for God to

    Mark Frankian 15:52
    without the theocracy of the Old Testament where God essentially pulls his people together in the land of Israel under ideally, an obedient king. He instead spreads them out through the spread of the gospel on the Spirit and the Word of God into the various churches and takes a different approach.

    Dan Jarms 16:12
    One other ministry that we see the Holy Spirit has is the ministry of restraint. So one of the things that the Holy Spirit does, since he's intimate in the work of the world, is restraining the sinfulness of man, starting in Genesis six, verse three, the Holy Spirit was grieved, no longer wanted to contend against the wicked and evilness of the world. And so God instituted a worldwide judgment restarted with Noah and his sons. How else do we see that restraining today?

    Mark Frankian 16:49
    Yeah, that continues in the New Testament. Second, Thessalonians, two, seven. Sorry, beginning in verse six, actually, or even verse five? Second Thessalonians, two, five, do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things he's been talking about some End Times eschaton eschatological events are six. And you know, what restrains him now so that in his time he will be revealed? For the mystery of biasness is already at work it only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. So there's a current Ministry of restraint by the Holy Spirit, we would say, yeah.

    Dan Jarms 17:28
    Which, which is another reason to worship and thank the Holy Spirit. So if, if you are a newspaper reader, you know, if you're you see the wars or you, you feel if you're a cultural warrior, like you feel like what was good and right in the world seems to be turned upside down. And you're grieved about that. You can give thanks to the Holy Spirit of God, that he restrains it could be much worse. After his praise God is not worse than it is. But he does restrain and one day, just just as the judgment on mankind will come preparing for the return of Christ, the Holy Spirit will be taken away in that restraining role. And men will do far more wicked things than they do now. Proved proven God's righteousness, when Christ returns, that man's ready to be, to be ready to be judged. Yeah. Anything else that you had in your notes?

    Mark Frankian 18:27
    You know, Deuteronomy 2929. Well, God reveals is for us, and for us to pass on to the next generations. And what he doesn't reveal is for him, so we don't know everything Old or New Testament. But what he does we can we can use and learn and grow and bide our lives and help each other, appreciate and worship our Triune God,

    Dan Jarms 18:50
    what are the things that are most soul, encouraging soul stirring, about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we start to see it in the Old Testament?

    Mark Frankian 19:02
    I would say what Paul says in Acts 17, to the Greek philosophers that God has always through history, through time, through his work around the world, done things that man would seek God. So whatever situation we're in Adam and Eve, the fall, whatever it might be, as we read what it was like for them, as we look at our lives today, with one another, God is at work to help us seek Him through that and His Spirit. In that same chapter x 17. And others, he is not far from us, call out to God and He is there. Yeah,

    Dan Jarms 19:43
    the reality that God is near through His Holy Spirit, so near that he's actually inside us. You know, I remember the first time learning about that going through the book of Ephesians in a campus Bible study on the campus of Eastern just blew me away, that that God's Spirit would dwell and, and I consider how dirty corrupt, vile, the remaining sin is and I that blows me away that he would endure. It's enough for God the Father on the throne, the son on the throne, present everywhere to have to endure but God in us. To me that's that's really precious mercy and grace from the Spirit of God. Yeah,

    Mark Frankian 20:30
    really, really convicting on one hand, like you said that God knows every thought. And at the same time encouraging that we live life before God, He knows everything. I'm not fooling him in any way, shape, or form, even if I can fool you or someone else, where he knows no reason to be proud, no reason to be hiding things, we can confess and repent and, and grow by the grace of God,

    Dan Jarms 20:53
    I think the other one that really is an important one for me is that the Holy Spirit, He is the one who moves our holiness. So he's called the Holy Spirit for a reason, the spirit of holiness. And he's the one who empowers our growth, to shed sinful habits, to build new character. So that new life that's given through the Holy Spirit is also progressively holy life, in that that's really important understanding about the Holy Spirit. And we often take that for granted, when we forget, we mentally we think we can we can shut the door, hide in a room, and God doesn't see us. And yet God is in us wanting and pushing for our holiness,

    Mark Frankian 21:39
    you know, look forward to getting to know him more in our days here and in the next stage as well. All right, Mark, thank

    Dan Jarms 21:46
    you for this time. It's been exciting to thank you to take a look at this doctrine.

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Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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Mark Frankian

Mark is the Ministry Operations Director at Faith Bible Church. He and his wife Nanette have four grown daughters. They love spending time outdoors, reading, and playing disc golf with their daughters when they get the chance.

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