Discovering Your Ministry Within The Kehilah: Living A Spirit-Filled Life ~ Part 2

In my last posting, we began to look at who the Ruach HaKodesh is and concluded that Scripture is very clear that HE IS GOD!  I also challenged you to read B’resheet (Genesis) chapter 1.  In Part 2 of this series, I want to answer the question:  Did the Ruach minister in the Tanakh (Old Testament)?

In the Beginning

Let’s start in the beginning!  B’resheet 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   We have already seen that the Ruach is God.  So, He was there I the beginning.  Yochanan (John) 1:1 also indicates that Yeshua was there as well.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  [The “Word” (GK logos) is a title for Yeshua in the Brit Hadashah.]  So, we see in this very first verse of the Bible the three persons of God – Father, Son and Spirit.  B’resheet 1:2 offers additional proof that the Rauch was present at the time of creation.  “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.”

Permit me to take a brief detour from our main subject of discussion today.  It is almost impossible for me to quote B’resheet 1:1 without giving a little more background information.  Some of you may have never heard this before.

In Hebrew, B’resheet 1:1 reads (Hebrew is read from right to left):

:הָאָרֶץ וְאֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֵת אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא בְּרֵאשִׁית

Transliterated (transcribed into English pronunciation) it reads: B’resheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.  For me, belief in the truth of this one simple, yet utterly profound statement hangs all the validity of the entire Bible and serves as the basis for a belief in creationism.  If we cannot believe this one simple truth, than nothing else is relevant.  If we cannot believe the veracity of this one simple statement, then the entire rest of the Bible is merely words with no lasting meaning.

I want to share two interesting tidbits about this verse.

  1. In Hebrew, bara (בָּרָא) means “to create.” This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing, an idea seen clearly in passages having to do with creation on a cosmic scale.[1] Now, we all know that all of us can also create, but we can’t create out of nothing. We have to start with some raw material. In Hebrew, the word for that kind of creation is asa (‏עָשָׂה).[2]
  2. No English translation of the Bible attempts to translate the Hebrew word et (אֵת). It is a preposition before the noun hashamayim which means “the heavens.” Now, I’m certainly not a grammar scholar in any language, but this is what I find fascinating about this word in the first verse of the Bible. The first letter in the Hebrew alphabet is alef (אֵ) and the last letter is tav (ת). Consequently, et is a pictorial representation of the first and the last. Where have we heard that before?  “I am the Alpha and the Omega[3], the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13)

Selective Indwelling of the Rauch

Okay, let’s return to the main topic of the post today: Did the Ruach minister in the Tanakh?  The obvious short answer is YES!  We have already seen Him in the creation.  But He was also present in other aspects. According to Charles Ryrie,[4] the ministries of the Ruach in relation to people in Tanakh times were not always the same as that which He does today for people.  The Ruach in Tanakh times was not necessarily universally experienced among God’s people as He is with Believers now.  His relationship to people can be expressed in three phrases.

First, it is said that the Spirit was in certain ones. Pharaoh recognized the indwelling of the Rauch in Yosef (Joseph) in Genesis 41:38.  “Pharaoh said to his officials, ‘Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!’”   The Spirit was clearly said to be in Y’hoshua (Joshua), and this is the reason for God’s choosing him (Numbers 27:18).  Further, the Spirit was said to be in Daniel (Daniel 4:8; 5:11-14; 6:3).

Second, the Spirit is said to have come upon many.  This relationship was experienced by many people in Tanakh times (see Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 1 Samuel 10:9-10; 16:13). Is there any difference between the Spirit’s being in and the Spirit’s coming upon men? Probably not, but we should understand the idea of “coming upon” seems to imply the temporary and transitory character of the Spirit’s relationship to Tanakh saints.

Third, the Spirit is said to have filled some. This is recorded of Bezalel in relation to his leadership of the craftsmen working on the tabernacle (see Exodus 31:3; 35:31). One may assume that this special filling for service presupposed the Spirit’s indwelling or at least His having come upon him.

What do these examples indicate? Simply that, although the Spirit did indwell men in Tanakh times, it was a selective ministry, both in regard to whom He indwelt and for how long.  Yeshua, referring to the Ruach, summarized the difference by telling His disciples, “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17 HCSB)

Restraint of Sin

 From the very beginning, one of the ministries of the Rauch was to restrain mankind from sin.  “Adonai said, ‘My Spirit will not live in human beings forever, for they too are flesh; therefore their life span is to be 120 years.’” (B’resheet 6:3)  His very names and titles in the Tanakh must have had a chilling effect. David cried out to God, “Don’t thrust me away from your presence, don’t take your Ruach Kodesh away from me.” (Psalm 51:11)

Enablement for Service

I already mentioned Bezalel’s special anointing for service in construction of the Tabernacle.  Some of the Judges of Israel also were anointed:  Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), Jephthah (Judges 11:29), and Samson (Judges 14:6).  When David was anointed as King of Israel the Bible says, “From that day on, the Spirit of Adonai would fall upon David with power.” (1 Samuel 16:13) According to Kefa, the prophets were also given supernatural discernment and wisdom (1 Kefa 1:11)

Limited Duration and Limited Effect

In the Tanakh the Ruach could be withdrawn from men.  God withdrew His Spirit from Samson as recorded in Judges 16:20. The Spirit came upon King Saul mightily (1 Samuel 10:10), although afterward the Spirit departed from him (1 Samuel 16:14).

In contrast to this temporary nature of the Spirit’s relation to people in the Tanakh, Yeshua promised that in this age the Spirit would be given eternally to His followers: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever.”  The universal (among believers) and permanent indwelling of the Spirit is distinctive to this age and was not experienced in Tanakh times.  The very fact that Yeshua indicated before His ascension that the baptism by the Spirit was still future (Acts 1:5) shows that Tanakh saints did not experience it.

In summary: The Holy Spirit did have a ministry to people in Tanakh times.  Indeed, it was a bountiful ministry in many cases. However, it was limited to certain Israelis (except for the general ministry of restraining evil, which affected all people); and although He did dwell in, come upon, and sometimes fill people, He did not do these things universally or permanently, even in Israel.

In Part 3, we will continue to explore the ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh.

Your challenge for Part 2 is to look up those passages of scripture that I mentioned, but did not quote.

[1] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.

[4] “The Holy Spirit,” by Charles C. Ryrie

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