The Holy Spirit and the Salvation of Israel
Dr John Duncan


The Holy Spirit and the Salvation of Israel “Neither will I hide my face any more from them, for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 39:29) These words, with their preceding context, contain a prophecy of "the bringing again the captivity of Jacob." From the terms of the prophecy itself, not to mention the place assigned it in the series of prophetic announcements, it is manifest that it relates not to the past, but to the future restoration. Two circumstances especially may be adverted to as determining this point. 1. The universality of the restoration (verse 28): "I have gathered them into their own land, and have left none of them any more there that is "in captivity among the heathen." 2. The permanence of their restored state, of God's favourable regard to them and of their spiritual worship of Him, as set forth in the text. The blessings promised to be conferred on the house of Israel in that happy time are not merely temporal. Indeed, according to the tenor of the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — to which, and to Adonai's faithfulness in keeping the covenant for ever, the whole current of prophecy is one continued witnessing — none of the promises was, at least in the ordinary sense which is now generally attached to the words, merely temporal. However, in other respects the land which Adonai sware unto the fathers to give it may resemble other lands, the relation which it bears to Him and, by his oath and gift, to Them, is a thing spiritual, sacred, divine, pledged by indissoluble covenant and secured by purpose and oath, two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie. But whatever may be thought of this we expect it will be readily granted, that the mercy of the Lord (v25), the knowledge of God (v28), the enjoyment of the light of his countenance and the effusion of his Spirit (v29), are blessings in the fullest and most emphatic sense spiritual, and such as accompany eternal salvation. The last of these — the effusion of the Sprit — stands prominently forth as a cause and a security for all the rest. I will do all these things, for I have poured out (or I shall have poured out) my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith Lord God". Our design, at present, is to show the dependence of the salvation of the house of Israel upon the pouring out of Adonai's Spirit. Throughout the body of the lecture, it is deemed fit to confine ourselves to testimonies of the Tanakh and to direct our address peculiarly to the house of Israel. It is hoped, however, that the attentive hearing of our Christian brethren will not be altogether profitless to their personal edification, while it may serve to strengthen their interest in the cause which has assembled us.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Though the mystery of the blessed Trinity, subsisting in the unity of God, be not so clearly and explicitly revealed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament as it is in those of the New, yet it was made known sufficiently as a basis for the faith required of those placed under that dispensation, and as a preparation for the disclosures kept in store for the fullness of the times when the Messiah should come. On the proofs of the Godhead and of the Messiah, the subject of this evening's lecture neither requires nor permits that we should enter. But we no sooner open the sacred volume of the Law and begin to read the stupendous history of the creation than straightaway our adoring attention is demanded to all Agent to whom an important place, and a mysterious but benevolent and beneficent operation on the mass of the world's matter, is assigned — the Spirit of God: "The Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). And as the fostering care of this blessed One, tenderly moving on the unformed mass — like some loving parent bird over the young progeny of her nest, till the genial heat brings forth the breathing life gave to the shapeless lump (Hebrew: tohu wa-vohu) fitness to receive all forms of beauty with which the hand of Adonai invested it. So, also, the whole adorning of the heavens above, and the exquisite marshalling of their armies, in comeliest, sublimest order, is ascribed to his skill and power: "By His Spirit He garnished the heavens", or "by His Spirit, the heavens are elegance, splendour, dazzling beauty" (Job 26:13). But it is not in the beauty of earth alone, as it came forth "very good" from the hand of its Creator, nor in the sublime spectacle of heaven and all its hosts, that the glory of this blessed Spirit is to be most clearly beheld. Placed amid His works, and ourselves a part of them, but for the word of revelation we would remain entire strangers to His very existence. And revelation, which is sparing though explicit in its notices of His work in creation, is full of the doctrine of His operation on the minds and hearts of men. That He is the Former of the spirit of man within him is not obscurely taught in Genesis 2:7: "He (Adonai God) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." As an intelligent and spiritual being made in the image and after the likeness of God, destined to hold humble, ennobling communion with his Maker, man is fitted to receive the communications of God's Spirit in a way in which no other creature is here below, and so to show forth the glory of the Divine Spirit in a more exalted manner than it could be displayed in the material of the universe. Before proceeding to consider the nature of the Holy Spirit's operation on the human soul, we assume here, as already proved by others, or as otherwise known from the Scriptures of the Old Testament that Adam fell, and all mankind in him, from that state of holiness and bliss in which he was created, and that being justly subjected to the curse of God threatened in the event of disobedience, the whole hope of mankind is shut up unto the faith of the great Deliverer whom God, of His mere mercy, His abundant mercy, having provided, was pleased to reveal as "the Seed of the woman" that should bruise the Serpent's head while His own heel should be bruised in achieving the victory. That this "Seed of the woman" is the same who was afterwards more determinately made known as the "Seed of Abraham", the Seed "called in Isaac", and the "Seed of" David, the Messiah. With this promise was miserable man driven out of Gan-Eden. With this promise alone to solace him amidst all the misery which the yetzer hara, the evil figment (the corruption of his whole nature) had introduced into his depraved soul, amidst all the fears which conscious guilt inspired (conscious which had made him vainly attempt to hide himself from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden) amidst all the disorders of a world made subject to vanity, cursed for his sake. This promise, the gift of Adonai's grace to utterly ruined man was a light for his feet and a lamp for his path — dim, indeed, if compared with the brightness which revelation in its onward progress communicated but still a ray of the Sun of righteousness arising with healing under His wings, piercing through the blackness of darkness and giving assurance of brightest day. This bringing of a new and better hope laid the foundation of a new obedience corresponding — prompting return by the prospect of acceptance, while the knowledge that he had destroyed himself, but that in Adonai was his help would fill the mind of man with horror of sin, and astonished enraptured gratitude and love to the God of his hope and his salvation. The disbelief then, the neglect and forgetfulness of the promise must have been at the bottom of all the wickedness, which soon overspread the Antediluvian world and provoked the holy Blessed One to bring in a flood of waters on the world of the ungodly. The disclosure of this dread purpose is introduced in these solemn, these most awful words: "My Spirit shall not always strive with man, because that he also is flesh."
The Holy Spirit and Man
I hope for the patience of Christian, and the candour of Jewish hearers, while I remark in regard to the comments of Rabbis who would make "my Spirit," to signify in this place the soul of man as a spirit which may be called "God's" because given of God, that this is a mere wresting of the Scripture as the word occurs in many passages where God is the speaker, and in all of them means "the Spirit of God", in none "the spirit of man" — a fact of which any one who pleases may satisfy himself by referring to a concordance, Hebrew or English. Fixing our eyes, then, for a little on this passage, we see that God, because of the fleshliness, that is, the unspiritualness, the unholiness, of men, threatens with this most awful of all judgements, leaving them to themselves, giving them up to the lusts of their own hearts, withdrawing from them a testimony for Himself, a striving, or a judgement, which, as opposed to their fleshliness, His Spirit, had hitherto maintained. Here we see two opposing principles, the flesh of man aiming against the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God aiming against the flesh of man. The Spirit of God maintaining truth and holiness, the flesh of man rejecting the truth and trampling down the commandments of God. And as we have seen that the promise of the Seed was the brightest exhibition of the holy grace of the Lord, the only foundation of man's warrantable hope, and the faith of it the only wellspring of acceptable service, we may easily infer what the striving or judging is by which the Spirit of God had been hitherto repelling the flood of wickedness which fleshly men had been pouring forth to pollute the earth with their way. He had been acting mediately, or immediately, or both, on the mind of man, as one intelligent being doth on another, He had been acting in a moral and authoritative way, as a judge, or as one who, by plea of right, maintains the claim of truth and equity. He had maintained a testimony for the being and glorious nature of the one God Adonai, for the holiness, justice, and goodness of His law; a testimony against the madness and sinfulness of sin and, above all, a testimony to the word of promise in order that repentance, which issues from faith and flows out into new obedience, might be produced, that thus sinners might not continue in sin through despair of salvation or confirming in it through very love to it, might not have to plead, even to their own consciences, that the iron fetters of despair in which God had left them bound, had tied them up to the hard necessity of remaining in their state of alienation. In a word, the truths of Divine revelation in the measure then made known — all of which cluster around and centre in the promise of the Seed — must have been the subject matter of the Spirit's striving with, or judging in, man. A striving which, though it was resisted, gradually impaired and at last extinguished by wicked resistance on man's part and righteous withdrawal on the part of God, was still so powerful that, till it was entirely quenched, the flesh could not obtain its full unimpeded sway, nor an impious race fill up the measure of their iniquity that the wrath might come on them even to the uttermost. This notice is, indeed, brief, as is the whole sacred narrative of that period. But when we descend to the more ample record of God's dealings with His chosen people and listen to the voice of prophecy opening up the bright promise of grace stored up for the coming times, we find the references to the work of the Holy Spirit becoming proportionally more numerous and express.
The Holy Spirit and Moses
Indeed, upon examination we find that it was by His Spirit that Adonai constituted and maintained all the ordinances of His grace and administered all the affairs of His government among the people whom He chose to be to Him a peculiar people above all people. Of Moses we read that, wearied with the burden of the people which was too heavy for him, he cried out unto the Lord, (Numbers 11:16,17,25). "And Adonai said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. And Adonai came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto seventy elders; and it came to pass that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease." That we should here understand a portion of Moses' soul or intellect is too absurd a supposition to be for a moment entertained. The communication of qualities, the same in kind, though in an inferior measure, to their minds, is indeed implied, but as the effect, let it be remarked, of the Spirit which Adonai put upon them, a Spirit which was upon Moses, a Spirit distinct from his own and which rested upon him. Besides, it plainly appears that it was the Spirit of prophecy, for "when the Spirit rested upon them they prophesied". From all this, then, we learn that what enabled Moses the servant of the Lord to bear the load of the people entrusted to his care was the Spirit of Adonai resting upon him and that when others for his relief were taken into a share of the burden, they had to be taken into a participation of the benefit and that thus Adonai Himself, by His Spirit alone, really presided over all the affairs of the children of Israel. And if we pass from the executing of judgement, to the sacred service of the tabernacle, we shall find that in no respect was it felt to be the product of art and man's device. For not only was Moses warned of God, "See that thou make it according to the pattern which was showed to thee on the mount" but we also read in Exodus 3 1:1-11, “And Adonai spake unto Moses, saying, See I have called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; the tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, the mercy-seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, and the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt-offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, and the clothes of service, and the holy garments for Aaron, the priest, mid the garments of his soils, to minister the priests office, and the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded shall they do.” It was not then by natural genius, or art naturally acquired, whether Bezaleel possessed these or not, but by a wisdom and understanding, a knowledge supernaturally imparted by the Spirit of God, with which God filled him, that he was actuated in all his work about the tabernacle, and the things thereto pertaining. The Spirit of God was the real builder and maker, Bezaleel only an instrument, an intelligent instrument indeed, working with the good skill of his hands, but that a skill which the Spirit of the Lord, filling him, diffused through all his constructive faculties. And here we may also remark that what we have learned about Bezaleel's ingenuity, holds equally true of certain endowments of other persons, which we should be inclined to call natural, did not the Holy Scriptures teach us the contrary. Take for an example the stirring courage of Samson. We read in Judges 13:24,25: "The child grew, and Adonai blessed him, mid the Spirit of Adonai began to move him at times in the camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol." Notes 1. The special name of God (found in some English translations of the Bible in Isaiah 12:2 and elsewhere), in Hebrew YHWH, or Jehovah, is one which Orthodox Jews religiously abstain from pronouncing, substituting "Adonai". The translators of the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the authors of the New Testament, who substituted the Greek word Kurios, rendered in most English translations "Lord", followed this practice. 2. A Jewish acronym standing for Torah (the Law), Nevi'im (the Prophets) and Ketuvim (the Writings).



   
Privacy Policy / Terms of Use / Site Map Copyright 2008 - CWI.org.au - Christian Witness to Israel - www.cwi.org.au. @ All Rights Reserved.