The Spirit of the LORD in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Micah: Apostolic Pneumatology

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees Mark 1_3

I have completed an examination of all references to the Spirit of the LORD in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Micah. There is one reference to the Spirit of God in Ezekiel.

Here is some of what I’ve seen in this section of the Latter Prophets:

The terms “the Spirit of the Lord” and “the Spirit of God” are used as synonyms. They reinforce the observation that it is not unusual for the coming of the Spirit to result in supernatural vocalization. They demonstrate again that Scripture draws no sharp distinction between the LORD and the Spirit of the LORD.

Several texts offer insight about the coming Messiah. What is sometimes called the “seven-fold” Spirit rests upon Him. The forerunning ministry of John the Baptist is anticipated. Jesus Himself quotes from Scriptures and announces that they are fulfilled by Him.

The Spirit of the Lord has a destructive influence on those who reject Him and provides defense against the enemies of His people. In an interesting statement of the Lord’s care for His entire creation, we discover that the Spirit gives rest to animals and leadership to His people.

Next, I will study the twelve uses of the term “My Spirit” in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Haggai, and Zechariah. We will see some interesting comparisons between Joel, identified by some scholars as the “anchor” of the Book of the Twelve (i.e, Minor Prophets), and Acts 2.

The Spirit of the LORD in Isaiah: Apostolic Pneumatology

Isaiah scroll from Qumran library

I have finished examining the six references to “the Spirit of the LORD” in Isaiah. Of these six, three are prophecies of the coming Messiah.

I will next examine the references to “the Spirit of the LORD” in Ezekiel and Micah and the one reference to “the Spirit of God” in Ezekiel.

The books we are studying now are all included in the Latter Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. Jeremiah is part of this section, but the only time the word “spirit” appears in Jeremiah is in a reference to the “spirit of the kings of the Medes” (Jeremiah 51:11).

By the way,  the scroll above is “[t]he earliest known complete scroll of the Book of Isaiah found among the library of the Qumran community.” It is included in the Media Resources of Logos Bible Software, which I recommend.

The Spirit of the LORD in I and II Kings: Apostolic Pneumatology

Elisha Employ's Elijah's Mantle

There are three references to the Spirit of the LORD in I and II Kings. They involve Obadiah, the manager of Ahab’s house, a false prophet named Zedekiah, and the sons of the prophets.

Since Zedekiah was a false prophet, the only thing we learn from him is that he understood that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to true prophets. He claimed, falsely, that this had been the case when he prophesied military victory for the king of Israel.

Obadiah feared the Lord, and his reference to the Spirit of the Lord shows that he believed it possible that the Spirit could carry a person from one place to another, as happened in the New Testament era in the case of the evangelist Philip. (See Acts 8:39-40.) The sons of the prophets also believed the Spirit of the Lord could transport a person.

Now I turn my attention to the forty-one references to the Spirit in the Latter Prophets, which include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve [Hosea – Malachi]. Keep in mind that I am conducting this study by following the order of the books  in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Spirit comes and goes in Samuel: Apostolic Pneumatology

Spirit upon Saul

I have finished my study of the Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of God in I and II Samuel, with some interesting observations. First, both terms are used as synonyms. Second, the idea of “supernatural vocalization,” as seen in Numbers 11, is reinforced. Third, as in the book of Judges, we can see that the coming of the Spirit does not endorse a person’s character, lifestyle, or theology. We will also see this when we look at Paul’s corrective for the abuse of spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12-14. Fourth, the LORD sometimes sends an “evil” or “distressing” spirit. Fifth, in David’s last words, he claimed divine inspiration and identified the Spirit of the LORD as the LORD Himself.

The Spirit of the LORD in Judges: Apostolic Pneumatology

The Foxes in the Corn

I have long marveled at the book of Judges. It has been my privilege to consider this book when teaching Old Testament Foundations at Urshan Graduate School of Theology. As I look at it afresh now and focus primarily on references to the Spirit of the LORD, some new insights have emerged.

Only Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson are said to have encounters with “the Spirit of the LORD.” Of these four, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson are mentioned as examples of people of faith in Hebrews 11. The primary reason the Spirit of the Lord came upon various judges was to enable them to deliver the Israelites from their enemies.

A clue in Judges 2:18 prepares us to know that the Spirit of the Lord is the Lord Himself: “The Lord was with the judge.” Samson’s prayers also indicate that we are not to think of the Spirit as a mere force or as an entity in any way separate from the Lord.

The character of judges like Jephthah and Samson shows that the work of the Spirit in their lives was not a reward for good behavior. We must remember, however, that they are included among other flawed people in Hebrews 11 as examples of people of faith.

A surprising discovery in Joshua: Apostolic Pneumatology

Moses Blesses JoshuaToday I finished my study of every reference to the Spirit of God in the Pentateuch and began my work on the Spirit in the Former Prophets [Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, following the canonical order of the Hebrew Scriptures].

I was quite surprised to discover that there are no references to the Spirit of God in the book of Joshua! We do know, however, that Joshua was filled with the Spirit before Moses’ death (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9). This work of the Spirit in Joshua’s life prepared him to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.

An invitation: If you find any reference to the Spirit of God in Joshua, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would let me know. There are a couple of references to the human spirit, but that is not the topic of our study.

Anticipation of Pentecost in Numbers: Apostolic Pneumatology

Today I completed a study of the use of the descriptor “the Spirit” in the Pentateuch. I’ll share two insights with you.

First, it seems quite clear that Numbers 11:29 anticipates the Day of Pentecost. After the Spirit rested on the seventy elders, Moses said, “Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” Joel 2:28-29 is God’s prophetic response to this prayer, and Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21).

Second, the work of the Spirit in Numbers 11 is the beginning of a pattern that emerges throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament, leading up to the Day of Pentecost. When the Spirit rested upon the seventy elders, they prophesied. Although it is not always noted, it is not unusual from this point for those moved upon by the Spirit to respond with what I call “supernatural vocalization.” This pattern is finalized on the Day of Pentecost when all those baptized with the Holy Spirit spoke in languages they had never learned. This had never before occurred, and it indicates that the work of the Spirit that began on Pentecost is above and beyond anything previously experienced.

Balaam, his donkey, and Apostolic pneumatology

Balaam and his donkey

Today I completed an examination of each use of the phrase “the Spirit of God” in the Pentateuch. The last of these was the story of Balaam in Numbers. I have always been astounded not just by a talking donkey, but also by the fact that Balaam carried on a conversation with the donkey without any indication that he thought it was odd to do so!

But for the purposes of this project, how could it be that the Spirit of God would come upon a “prophet” who charged a “diviner’s fee” (Numbers 22:7) and who ordinarily resorted to sorcery (Numbers 24:1)? How could it be that Balaam, who later led Israel to trespass against the Lord (Numbers 31:1), could utter such majestic messianic prophecies?

One insight from this account is that when the Spirit of God comes upon someone, it is no indication of God’s approval of that person’s lifestyle or theology, even though this event can result in the divine purpose being accomplished.

The reason I am posting these reports and observations on this writing project is to keep a kind of diary on my progress. My blog is set up to share posts on Twitter, so if this is interesting to you, I’m glad.

Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, and I may revise anything as I go along.

A decision on the Apostolic pneumatology project

Today I worked on a chapter titled “The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.” With close to 100 references to the Holy Spirit in the OT, I had to decide how to arrange my work.

The Spirit is referred to in the OT in a variety of ways: The Spirit of God, the Spirit of the LORD, My Spirit, His Spirit, the Spirit, Holy Spirit and so forth.

Should I simply start with the first reference and go straight through to the last, regardless of the description?Should I first examine each occurrence with the same description? Should I arrange the study topically?

I decided to use an approach I have used when teaching Old Testament Foundations. We will work through the OT books in canonical order, as they are arranged in the Hebrew Scriptures, rather than in the order they appear in, in English translations, which follow the Septuagint order. I enjoy studying the OT in this way, and it is an order Jesus twice endorsed.

The order of the OT books in the Hebrew Scriptures is seen in the visual above.

Today’s report on the Apostolic pneumatology project.

Here’s where we are as of today: I’ve written the introduction, which explains the biblical theology approach the book will take. This is in contrast, to a certain extent, to a systematic theology treatment.

I have written a chapter exploring evidence for a Spirit designed literary shape to the entire Bible and to the Pentateuch. This involves the appearance of the Spirit at the beginning and end of both.

Today, I completed a chapter on the deity of the Spirit, which included an exploration of the use of the word LORD by Jesus and others in the New Testament to establish His identity as YAHWEH. This chapter also examined the use of the Shema in the NT and how that influences the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

The plan for tomorrow is to begin a chapter titled “The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.” It is my intention to consider every reference to the Spirit in that portion of Scripture.

I would appreciate your prayers as I work on this important project.