The Holy Spirit Throughout the Bible
Most people believe that the Holy Spirit first showed up in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. However, as we read the Bible, we see that He has played a legendary role in history, starting with creation. As Genesis 1:2 says, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (KJV)
Throughout the Old Testament, we see the Holy Spirit come upon various leaders, judges, warriors, and legendary men and women, enabling them to do the work God designed them to do. Take Joseph, for example.
Genesis 41:38-40 says, "So Pharaoh asked them, 'Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the Spirit of God?' Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.'" (NIV)
Because the Holy Spirit enabled Joseph to interpret visions and dreams, Joseph was given the leadership position in Egypt.
The work of the Holy Spirit is evident in the building of the tabernacle. Exodus 31:1-3 says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skill.’" (NIV)
Later, we read about Joshua as he is about to replace Moses as Israel's leader. Numbers 27:18 describes him as "a man in whom is the Spirit," a necessary quality for leadership.
In Judges 3:9-10, we see how the Holy Spirit came upon men enabling them to go to war and obtain great victories for Israel.
Judges 6:34 tells how the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, enabling him to lead people into victory. Judges 13-16 make it clear that the Spirit of the Lord led Samson, and all of his power came directly from the Holy Spirit.
Later, in 1 Samuel 10-11, we read that the Holy Spirit came on Saul after he was chosen to be king of Israel, enabling him to prophecy and go to war to defend the people of Israel. However, in 1 Samuel 16:14, we read that the Holy Spirit departed from him because of his disobedience.
In 1 Samuel 16:13, we read about Samuel anointing David as king. "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David." (NIV)
As we look at Old Testament prophecy, we see that the Holy Spirit played a prominent role. In 2 Samuel 23:2, David says, "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue." (NIV)
In Numbers 24:2, the Spirit of God caused Balaam to prophesy good things for Israel when he was hired to curse them.
As we move into the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is right there at the nativity. Luke 1 tells the story of the angel Gabriel telling the virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah. When she asked "How?" the answer was, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:34, NIV)
Luke 1:41-45 tells what happened when Mary, now pregnant with Jesus, first arrived at her cousin Elizabeth's home. "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!'" (NIV)
Later, in Luke 1:67, we read that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.
As the New Testament continues, we read about Jesus beginning His public ministry by submitting to water baptism. "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized, too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, Whom I love; with You I am well pleased.'" (Luke 3:21-22, NIV)
After this extraordinary display of the Trinity during Jesus' baptism, Luke 4:1 says, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." (NIV)
When His time of temptation in the wilderness was over, Luke 4:14-15 says, "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him." (NIV)
As we continue to read the Gospels, we see Jesus ministering to people. We read of Him teaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. When the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons using Satan's power, Jesus replied that He casts out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28-29 and Luke 11:20).
In John 14, Jesus began teaching His disciples about the Holy Spirit. He knew that the time for Him to be crucified was quickly approaching, and He wanted them to know that even after He was gone, they would not be alone.
After His death and resurrection, just before He ascended into Heaven, His final instructions to them were to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:1-5 says, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" (NIV)
Act 2:1-5 tells about the arrival of the Holy Spirit in the early church. "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (NIV)
This was only the beginning of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early church. If you continue to read through the book of Acts, you will see the Holy Spirit anointing people to preach and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Frequently, their words were accompanied by signs and wonders (Acts 6:8-10). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, people prophesied (Acts 11:28, Acts 19:6), healed the sick (Acts 19:11-12), and cast out demons (Acts 16:18). As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit gave them the right words to speak when they were questioned by authorities and the strength to endure persecution with joy and forgiveness. (Acts 7:55, Acts 20:23) Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, the early church carried the Gospel of Jesus throughout the ancient world.
You're probably thinking, "Wow, that was a lot of Scripture!" I know it seems like a lot, but I wanted to prove a point that whenever God did an amazing work or a great thing, it was through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through the lives of ordinary average men. He made them legendary! The same is still true today!
The good news for us is that the powerful work of the Holy Spirit didn't end at the close of New Testament times. The same Holy Spirit Who was present at creation, worked throughout the Old Testament, filled Jesus, and anointed and guided the early church wants to be equally active in our lives today. Allowing Him to play a vibrant, active role in your day-to-day life is the key to living a Spirit-led life.
Memory Verse: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11, ESV)
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