Friday, 19 September 2014
Chapter 2: The Spirit & The Old Testament
This week we turn from the role of the Spirit in giving us the Bible, to the description of the Spirit in the Old Testament. You might say, we’re listening to the Spirit tell us about the Spirit. We can trust the source!
Pencils sharpened and poised over that first question? Let’s pause and chat before we begin. How we understand the Old Testament will directly affect what we get out of this chapter.
The Divine Prequel. The Old Testament reads like a blockbuster movie script. It starts with a beautiful scene of harmony and goodness, but within minutes Evil barges in (can’t you hear the music change?). Original Sin shatters the opening picture into shards of trouble. Just like a good movie, the plot soon thickens as one problem produces three more which in turn spawn fifteen others. We soon have quite a tangle.
There are hopeful moments. A hero emerges from the crowd and we think, “At last! Maybe one of the plot lines will be resolved.” But that hero soon proves to have his own tragic flaw, so that even his best efforts produce mixed results. We get the distinct impression this movie can’t end well.
We might even give up watching, except for the hints along the way that something, Someone, better is coming. An early oracle stirs our hopes. A string of promises keep us watching for the next scene. But the movie ends before the promises are fulfilled. “What? That’s it?” As the credits roll we scan the internet to find out when the sequel is coming.
Now that we have the sequel. Of course, we’ve seen the sequel. We know the glorious ending, that Jesus is the solution to all the problems, the fulfillment of all the promises, the Savior for all the sins. He is the hero we’ve been waiting for. Every plot line finds its resolution in his finished work of redemption. Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Knowing that, why would we return to the Old Testament at all? Isn’t it old news? We return to the Old Testament primarily because it’s God’s word, but what we’re must look for isn’t solutions, but problems. That’s because the more problems, the greater salvation. Feel the dramatic tension all over again and wait for the Savior to appear. And cheer!
The problem of the Holy Spirit. Before we talk about the gift of the Holy Spirit, let’s look at the problem of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament it becomes clear that we need the Spirit. Why? He is the source of life. He is the giver of gifts. No one can lead well without him. No one can speak life-giving words without him.
But the problem is, we can’t have him. It seems that only some people have the Spirit. And even they have him in limited quantity. And there is always the danger of losing him. In fact it seems that we aren’t good enough or pure enough to keep him. Another plot line waiting for the hero.
Stew on the problem of the Holy Spirit this week. Then meditate on this:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…