Here are a few of my notes from chapter 1.
The Holy Spirit – Defined
Another way we might say this, is I believe in the qados ruach. That is the Hebrew. The Greek is hagios pneuma. Just by looking at His name, we begin to see something about Him. Remember that in the Bible, the names there say something about the person. Unlike our culture, that looks to names by the way they sound, names actually have some weight and truth to them. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is qados ruach, hagios pneuma in the New Testament.
Both ways help us understand something more about the Third Person of the Trinity. First we see that the third person of the Trinity is Holy. This conveys a moral distance between the Spirit and us. He is morally pure. Ferguson writes: “God’s holiness is the seering purity of his eternal and infinite being.” He is completely other than the creation. The first truth of the Third Person is simply that He is holy, and pure, just as the Father and Son are holy and pure. His substance is the same as that of the Father and Son and shows us His moral purity.
Secondly, we see the term Ruach means more than just without matter. So often those think of the Holy Spirit as this being that has no matter, sort of like a Casper the Friendly Ghost. This is a bad misconception of the Holy Spirit, at best. His name conveys so much more than just a being without matter. Ruach can be implied as wind or air in motion. This is how it is used in the storm found in Job 1:19, or in the last breath of the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10:4-5.
But another use of the word is that of power. The emphasis is that of overwhelming power or energy. “Divine Spirit” can denote ‘the energy of life in God.’
This is displayed and seen when the Spirit comes upon men in order to bring about change and even helps them do what God has charged them to do. Ferguson adds “When the Ruach Yahweh comes on individuals they are caught up in the thrust of an ‘alien’ energy and exercise unusual powers; the faint are raised into action; exceptional human abilities are demonstrated; ecstasy may be experienced.”
In other words, those who had the Holy Spirit on them were able to do those things which are beyond capacity to do. This can be truly comforting to those of us who have the Spirit indwelling in us because it reminds us that the tasks set before us, to live as godly Christians, are doable and possible with His aid. He works through us to help us live as we should.
Just looking at this in my current situation of being a pastor over a church that needs to become healthy again, this is truly comforting. The leadership should realize that we cannot do this on our own, but through the power of the Spirit, He will guide us into His will.
This reality is nothing new. It is seen in the saints through out history and we see His power in the following ways:
- The Spirit gave power to men like Othniel and Samson in order for them to Judge. Judges 3:10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim. And concerning Samson: Judges 14:6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
- The Spirit gave the prophets power and lifted them up, and even moved them. Ezekiel 3:12-14 12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: “Blessed is the glory of the LORD from His place!” 13 I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise. 14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
“Those who are the subjects of the activity of the divine ruach act in supernatural ways, with supernatural energy and powers. God’s ruach, therefore, expresses the irresistible force, the all-powerful energy of God in the created order. He cannot be ‘tamed’ by men. Instead, through his ruach he is able to ‘tame’ or subdue all things to fulfill his own purpose.”
But the Holy Spirit is more than just the energy of God. He is a person as well, and His activity is personal.
His Ministry – Creator Spiritus?
The Spirit is also involved in Creation, just as much as the Father and the Son were involved (See Colossians 1 for the Son’s involvement). Orthodox Christianity has held that the Holy Spirit is the one hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2, showing us the Spirit’s involvement with creation.
Genesis 1:2 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Believe it or not, there are those who hold that this verse should not be a reference to the Holy Spirit. The words, Spirit of God, can be translated God’s storm. Those who see the translation this way, are saying that God’s storm is more of a reference to the chaos, than to the order that is being brought about by God.
The problem is that the context does not allow for this view to stand. What is Ruach Elohim doing? He is hovering over the waters. This is the idea that He is shaking or fluttering over the water. This would be an odd way to describe the wind so we see Him hovering over the water in His creative activity. This also helps us understand the term Elohim, which is a plurality of majesty. This type of plural use does not have to actually be a plural, but it can be, and I believe that is the use here. The Spirit of God was hovering over the the waters, working creatively as the Father foreordained, the Son spoke and the Spirit brings about creation.
His Ministry – Governing Presence
The Holy Spirit is also seen as the one who work throughout history in order to govern and preserve the people of God. This is one of the most comforting aspects of the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament. We see Him present with His people in a way that helps them to govern.
Ferguson writes: “The Lord’s power-presence is revealed in his Spirit with a view to fulfilling a variety of goals in redemptive history. He not only carries individuals beyond their normal physical capacities; he gives them abilities which extend beyond their native wit. Thus he distributes gifts of statesmanship and craftsmanship.”
We see statesmanship with both Joseph and Daniel.
Genesis 41:38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of God was on Joseph, and set Joseph over his entire household. This in turn, led to the deliverance and preservation of God’s people. Joseph is acting as a messiah in order to deliver his family from the plague that was taking place back in Canaan.
Daniel was also blessed with the Spirit for the preservation of God’s people.
Daniel 4:8-9 But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: 9 “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation.
Daniel was able to interpret the dream for Nebuchadnezzar which eventually led to Nebuchadnezzar praising God.
The point is that when God’s Spirit rests on men in the Old Testament, we see that they are able to do far and above what they normally can do. Both Daniel and Joseph were foreshadows of the true Messiah, who it was foretold, would also have the Spirit resting on Him.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. 3 His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
His Ministry – Spiritus recreator
Another area we see the ministry of the Holy Spirit is in that of bringing about redemption to His people. Throughout History, He has preserved the people of God and lead them. But more on this later.
The Holy Spirit, p. 16.