Born again – Part 4
The Bible’s second verse says that “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2), preparing for the creative word of God to shape the world. Both the Word of God (i.e., pre-incarnate Christ—see John 1:1-3) and the Spirit of God were agents in Creation (see Job 26:13; Ps 33:6). The spirit is also the Author of life. When God created Adam, it was undoubtedly God’s Spirit that breathed into him the breath of life (Gen 2:7; cf. Job 27:3), and the Holy Spirit continues to be involved in giving life to God’s creatures (Job 33:4; Ps 104:30).
(2) The Spirit was active in communicating God’s message to His people. For example, it was the Spirit that instructed the Israelites in the wilderness (Neh 9:20). When the psalmist of Israel sang their songs, they did so by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Sam 23:2; cf. Acts 1:16, 20). Similarly, the prophets were inspired by God’s spirit to declare His Word to the people (Num 11:29; 1 Sam 10:5-6, 10, 2 Chr 20:14; 24:19-20; Neh 9:30; Is 61:1-3; Mic 3:8; Zech 7:12; cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21). According to Ezekiel, one clue to detecting false prophets is that they “follow their own spirit,” rather than the Spirit of God (Ezek 13:2-3). Note though, that it was possible for God’s Spirit to come upon someone who was not in a right relationship with Him in order to speak a true message regarding God’s people (see Num 24:2).
(3) The leadership of God’s OT people was energised by the spirit of the Lord. Moses, for example, was one with the Spirit of God to such an extent that he shared God’s very feelings, suffering when He suffered and becoming angry at sin when He became angry (Ex 33:11; cf. Ex 32:19). When Moses obediently chose 70 elders to help him lead the Israelites, God took the Spirit that was on Moses and put it on them (Num 11:16-17; see 11:12). Similarly, when Joshua was commissioned to succeed Moses as a leader, God indicated that “the spirit” (i.e., the Holy Spirit) was in him (Num 27:18). The same Spirit came upon Gideon (Judg 6:34), David (1 Sam 16:13), and Zerubbabel (Zech 4:6). In other words, in the OT, the greatest qualification needed for leadership was the anointing and empowering presence of the Spirit of God.
(4) The Spirit of God could also come upon individuals to equip them for special services. A notable OT example was Joseph, who was given the Spirit to enable him to function effectively in Pharaoh’s cabinet (Gen 41:38). Also, note Bezalel and Oholiab, whom God filled with His Spirit in order to do the artistic work needed for the tabernacle construction and also to teach others (see Ex 31:1-11; 35:30-35). The idea of “being filled with the spirit of God” here is not precisely the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the NT. In the OT, in order words, the Holy Spirit came upon and empowered only a few select individuals chosen for special service to God (see Ex 31:3). The Spirit of the Lord came upon many of the judges, such as Othniel (Judg 3:9-10), Gideon (Judg 6:34), Jephthah (Judg 11:29), and Samson (Judg 14:5-6; 15:14-16). These examples reveal God’s enduring principle that when He chooses to use people greatly, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon them.
(5) There was also an awareness in the OT that the Spirit desired to lead a person on the level ground of righteous living. David testified to this in some of his psalms (Ps 51:10-13; 143:10).
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