Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1959

The Holy Spirit, No. II.

Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., Columbus, Ohio

In our first article we learned that God spoke orally, His oral words were made into laws, and these laws were directed to the understanding of the people. As we closed our article we were discussing the way God's Spirit directed the people but did not do so by working upon them as a great mass of people. God did not pour out His Spirit upon every individual by having the Spirit work upon the heart of each person individually. God chose an individual and endowed that individual with His Spirit and then the Spirit worked upon the people only through the word spoken by that inspired man. Let us notice illustrations of this Genesis 6:3, "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." Now, how did the Spirit of God strive with the people? Did it strive with them individually in their hearts? No. Noah, the servant of God was a preacher of righteousness. 2 Pet. 2:5, "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the work of the ungodly;". This preacher of righteousness was endowed with the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God worked through the instrumentality of Noah to strive with the people. Thus, the Spirit of God strove with the people through Noah as he spoke inspired words directed to their understanding. The Spirit strove through the messenger and the message delivered.

The Lord spoke to Moses another leader by His Spirit and through His guiding Moses the people were thus guided by the Spirit of God. Exodus 19:9, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever." The Lord did not send His Spirit directly upon the people. He chose Moses to lead the people. The Spirit directed Moses and thus Moses directed the people, and thus the people were guided indirectly by the Spirit. The Old Law was delivered in that way. Exodus 34:32, "And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he (Moses) gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai." It might be well to speak of another phase of God's dealing with people right here. God spoke to the people through Moses. As long as Moses was alive he was a living link between them and God. God's Spirit guided them through Moses. But after Moses died the people were not left without guidance concerning the Law. The Law was recorded and preserved for posterity. This record then guided the people. When the Law was written and guided the people it was still the Spirit of God guiding them as that word was inspired by the Spirit.

Joshua succeeded Moses. However, Joshua was not a law giver. He was merely an expounder of the Law. He was guided by the Spirit of God in leading the people into the promised land. We see the Lord continuing the work through human instrumentality.

In the days of the Judges we read that the Spirit of the Lord came upon the individual leaders and thus the people were guided. Judges 3:10, "And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (Othniel), and he judged Israel."

God's Spirit was still guiding them and still doing it through men. Judges 6:34, "But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. . . . " Judges 13:24, 25, "And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to Move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." These men as well as many others led the people with the help of God's Holy Spirit. So we plainly see that the Spirit did not move about upon the rank and file of the people but only on the leaders and thus the people were guided.

Let us now notice just how this took place, that is, the guidance of the Spirit. We have exemplified the working or entering of God's Spirit into a man. Ezekiel 1:28 and 2:1, 2, "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the Spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me." The Spirit of God then proceeded to outline the work of Ezekiel. He was to be sent as a prophet of God to the rebellious nations of Israel. Perhaps it would be well to read through verse 8 of this chapter to fully see how God's Spirit dealt with Israel. "And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them: and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not rebellious like the rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee." It is clearly seen in this short passage that God dealt with Israel in their wickedness by His Spirit, but His Spirit came upon one man and the word of the Lord was made known by that man, a prophet. God's Spirit did not enter into the people and force them to obey or convert them from their sins miraculously. Ezekiel spoke by inspiration. The people had to hear. The word hear is undoubtedly used in this passage to indicate understand and obey. They had to hearken to the inspired words spoken. This is the way that God's Spirit deals with people.

Let us notice this fact stated by the prophet Nehemiah. Chapter 9, verse 30, "Yet many years didst thou forbear them and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands." There can be no misunderstanding this passage. God's Spirit testified to the people. How did He testify to the people? Did he come down and work individually upon each person? No! Most certainly He did not. Nehemiah says, "By thy spirit IN thy prophets." That should establish our proposition conclusively. God's spirit worked upon the people through men. The men spoke, the people heard, and either obeyed or disobeyed.

But for those who still might not be convinced let us bring one last passage of proof. Heb. 1:1, "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,". God did not deal directly with the people but did so through the inspired prophets.

Now let us briefly summarize what we have learned concerning the working of God's Spirit. We learned that God's Spirit came upon great warriors, leaders, prophets, etc. These men then spoke the word of the Lord by inspiration. This word was directed to the understanding of men. The men or women, the rank and file, had to hearken unto the word to either obey or disobey it. The word spoken was then recorded and became the permanent statutes or laws of the Lord. The people then continued to be guided by this record even after the inspired men were dead. Thus the Spirit of the Lord continued to guide the people through the word. The Spirit was made manifest to the people by the word. This word is highly important. It cannot be changed in any way. It is sinful to add to it, subtract from it, substitute for it or alter it in even the slightest degree.

I believe that we can all now understand and see the great work of God's Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. There can be no doubt to the fact that people were Spirit guided, but they were not individually Spirit guided. That is the point we have been making and we have made it.

Suffice it to be said that the Holy Spirit has not changed His method of working with people. In our time, the New Testament age, this same method was carried out. We will go into a study of the Holy Spirit in New Testament times next week.