Lecture 15: Messianic Promises and the NT
Course: Old Testament Theology
Lecture: Messianic Promises and the NT
If you have a regional God, is this God relevant in Babylon? Well, Ezekiel says he is. Daniel tells the King of Babylon it's not only that this God is relevant for Israel, but is relevant for Babylonians as well. Right? So Ezekiel is trying to minister to Exilic people.
And let's, for argument sake, say some of the sinners in exile realized what they've done. Their question is, is there any hope for us? Is it too late for us? All of these emotions, of course, you will find not in the scripture and in your ministry, that there are those who believe that it's too late for them. There will be those who feel that though they have been faithful, something has gone horribly wrong. There will be the hard-headed people and the stiff necked people that Ezekiel ministered to.
I also think our problems were political, not religious. Our problem was that we didn't make the right alliance. Our stupid kings sided with the Egyptians. The enemy of the Babylonians, instead of with the Babylonians. If we had just made the right political alliance, we wouldn't be up here.
The other solutions...our problem - Jeremiah heard this from the exiles in Egypt. Our problem wasn't we didn't serve the Lord, our problem was we were not...we were not serious enough about serving these other gods. That is also a theological solution, it's not the correct one. They said our problem was we didn't serve the astral deities of Egypt nearly seriously enough. Our problem was we listened to you silly reformers who said turn to the Lord. We turned to the Lord, they didn't. That's what they [inaudible]. We turned to the Lord and, wham, [chuckle] we ended up out of the land.
So, my point is that we're competing view points here. As is true today, it's not always just a one-sided argument. So this is kind of what Ezekiel's up against. In Chapters 33 to 48, he systematically shows that God will bring the people back. He will put them in their land and he will send them [inaudible] to them and eventually they will live in a glorified Jerusalem.
Now, these teachings are in line with what Isaiah says and what the New Testament picks up on. So that Ezekiel 37, The Valley of Dry Bones passage, Israel is like those bones. God will bring them together, put flesh on them, put breath in them, raise them up. The nation is going to live again. And eventually, they're going to live in this Chapter 40 to 48 depiction of Jerusalem.
You read nine chapters of a glorified Jerusalem. Often with the same patience you read the tabernacle passages. The point is, you're going to live in a new Zion. The messianic passages end within this context, Ezekiel 34. In this passage, again, as we've seen in previous prophets, he's comparing the shepherds of Israel to the shepherd whose coming. And, of course, that's an [inaudible] image because of their context, and because of what shepherds do. But, also because that just happens to be what David did.
Chapter 34, Verse 20. “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them:”, to these leaders, "Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side, with shoulder, and thrusted all the weak with your horns, until you scattered them abroad, therefore I will deliver my flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another. I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David.” Who by this time has been dead 500 years, so we know that he stands as a symbol and the messianic promises in play. “My servant David. He will feed them. He will feed them himself and will be their shepherd.”
Give me the New Testament book. [inaudible] whole other major of theology of that book is...could be encapsulated by that verse, which of the Gospels? Sure. John's working with that. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. If Jesus says, “I'm the Good Shepherd”, it's not just this passage, but you have...we already looked at Jeremiah 23 and 33, right? He is the good shepherd, and he will feed them. Feeds the multitudes, right?
And he wants that episode to draw them to himself, to help them see who he is. What do they want?
Food. Food. They're not as interested in knowing Christ as they are in getting fed. They want, in effect, a new Moses who will get them manna every day. But he says, “I will feed them and be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.” Then it goes on to say, “We will make a covenant of peace with the land.”
So, Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, envisioned a Davidic [phonetic] air shepherding the people. Caring for the people. Taking care of them in a way that will be in contrast to the sort of shepherds they've been having. A righteous ruler. A loving king. A helpful shepherd. And so this is one image that Ezekiel has. And Chapter 36 will be the other one.
Chapter 36, Verse 22. We've already seen that the Davidic [phonetic] ruler shepherd is important. Chapter 36, Verse 22. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD God is not for your sake O house of Israel, that I'm about to act, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.'”
Now, again, let's remind ourselves what they were supposed to be doing according to Exodus 19:5 and 6. Or, Leviticus 11:44. Or a passage that I had neglected. Chuck mentioned it in his exam. In Deuteronomy 4:5-8, God says that he's doing these things for Israel so that other nations might see and marvel at his work among them, and ask questions about the Lord. Instead, “They've profaned the name of the Lord among the nations.”
Verse 23. “I will vindicate the holiness of my great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD.” Again, we're on to this international concern by the one who has created them all.
This is important because in Chapters 25 to 32, Ezekiel has talked about judging the nations, but there is a redemptive purpose for the nations as well. “Then the nations will know that I'm the LORD when I prove myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
In other words, he will bring you back to the land, remove the spirit of idolatry. This certainly occurs. What other problems Israel may have had in Jesus' day, idolatry isn't really one of them. Once back in the land, they are pretty scrupulous to oppose the idols and they are not really worshiping the different gods that the Romans and the Greeks had set up. That's a fair statement, I think.
Paul has, on his missionary journeys, certainly deals with idolaters. But as far as images go, you don't have much of that in Jesus' time. Verse 26. “Moreover, I'll give you a new heart.” According to Deuteronomy that would be [inaudible] wouldn't it?
“So, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” So far this seems to just be kind of a new attitude. Another way of life. Another way of doing things. “I'll remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.” Hard-hearted being of a biblical image. Going to give you a new heart. At Verse 27. How will this happen. “I will put my spirit within you. I will do it directly and I will cause you to walk in my statutes. And you will be careful to observe my ordinances.”
And please note the progression here: “I will put my spirit within you. That being so, I will cause you to walk in my statutes.” Third part, “And you will be careful to observe my ordinances”. That basically summarizes - if you wanted three points on how sanctification works. There it is. Right? The spirit is within you done by God. His Spirit causes you to walk in his statute and you will do so.
So you're saying, it seems to me like human responsibility and divine action are brought together here, aren't they? So, that the first cause is the divine action, the second cause is divine action and the third cause is the human response. Now, this doesn't leave us without any mysteries. You know, we've had questions. Brian asked one the other day about it. Still, this is the biblical process in a nutshell. That if the first two aren't true, the third won't happen. And he says in Verse 20, “You will live in the land that I gave your fore fathers. You'll be my people, and I will be your God.”
Understand that, again, this is in connection with the Davidic [phonetic] promise. It's part of Ezekiel's program for the future. It is a comprehensive program really, whereas Isaiah talks about the Messiah being a savior who will redeem them from their sins and give them what we would call, eternal life, in the new Jerusalem. In a place where death is eradicated. Isaiah 25 and 65. Those two big chapters.
And whereas, Jeremiah talks about the sins of the people and the need for repentance and a new covenant that will initiate a new day. Ezekiel...Jeremiah talks about being in the heart. Ezekiel tells us how that's going to occur. “God will work on the hearts of the people. He will change those hearts. They will walk in his ways, and he will give them a shepherd to lead them.”
Again, what you find in the New Testament is the organization, the adaptation and the presentation of these views in the life of Jesus. So, if you're a Gospel writer and you say, okay, John. Apostle John. He admits to you in Chapter 20 he's got more material than he can put down. Right? Doesn't he say that. Many more things Jesus did.
So how do you organize what you're going to put down? Well, one of the ways he organizes is according to shepherd theology that he finds in Ezekiel and that, by the way, you'll find the psalm. It's one of the ways he works. How is it that you would choose the speeches of Jesus from what you knew. Well, again, you would choose some of the key themes of messianic theology. And you would also contribute to your own theology. So that John, he talks about the signs Jesus did in a way that I don't think is unique to the Old Testament. It's his stamp on it.
I'm not trying to indicate that the Gospel writers or Paul, or anybody, you know, that basically they strung a whole bunch of Old Testament ideas together and said here you go guys. They had church issues. They had evangelistic issues. They had the same kind of issues you have in your ministry, but they were organizing principles from the Old Testament.
So you have this in Ezekiel. And then, in the minor prophets, if you look at Micah 5:1-3 and the minor prophets, you have some specifics. But notice the other themes. We know Micah 5:2 has the evidence when the Wise Men came and asked Herod, “Where's the savior to be born?” The people he consulted right away said, “Bethlehem”, right? Because of Micah 5, “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; They have laid siege against us; With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek. But for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you will go forth for me, ruler in Israel.
And, of course, that's David's City. Bethlehem's the origin. His going forth are from long ago. This ruler will come forth from Bethlehem, but he's one from long ago, from the days of eternity. Now, that's quite a statement about a coming king, right? I don't care whether you say well is that specifically a text about where he'd be born, or where he'll emerge? It doesn't make a whole lot of difference because if you're from eternity that is an astounding statement, whether you're saying this person is going to be born on a [inaudible], or you're going to say all of a sudden here's the King. From eternity.
Verse 3. “Therefore , he will give them up until the time when she who is in labor is born a child; Then the remainder of his brethren will return to the sons of Israel and he will arise and shepherd.” Ezekiel would agree. Of course, Ezekiel writes after Micah. “He will shepherd in the strength of the LORD and the majesty of the name of the LORD his God, and they will remain because at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth.”
Again, this...so Micah and Isaiah talk about a Davidic ruler rooted in Jesse, rooted in Bethlehem. Shepherd of the people. A good shepherd, whose kingdom extends to the ends of the earth. Some of which are greater promises than God ever gave David in 2nd Samuels 7. [phonetic]. “To the ends of the earth, this is the ruler's kingdom.”
So, in Micah 5, do remember that Bethlehem is a focal point, but that's not all this text says about the Messiah. So, then, famous passages you know, the rest of the minor prophets. Zechariah you read 9 through 14. Zechariah's a little bit like Ezekiel. Is he not? He has visions that are very difficult. But in Ezekiel 9 and following, let's see...in Chapter 11 you have a variety of things, including shepherd imagery of the negative images of a shepherd out of a positive one to come. But, in Chapter 13, it is the “Shepherd of the people who is struck and the sheep are scattered”.
A text Jesus applied to his own death and disciple's reaction. But in the New Testament, the scattering of the sheep is not always a negative image, is it? In the Book of Acts, they go out preaching the Gospel scattered by persecution. But, again, this is in the context of shepherd imagery.
Also, that's Chapter 13. But look back at Chapter 9 for one of the better known passages. Chapter 9, Verse 9. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumphal Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your king is coming to you. He is just and endowed the salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey. Even on a colt, the foul of a donkey.”
Audience Member: I'm sorry, you're still on Zechariah?
Zechariah 9:9. Yeah. I'm sorry. I was jumping around a bit on you. Zechariah 9:9 is a passage that...what folks [inaudible] see Jesus riding in on a donkey. But let's remember that there's more to this passage than that. That a humble ruler is coming. Ancient world seems a contradiction in terms, maybe in ours too. And that this coming should lead to rejoicing and victory for Jerusalem. But as I said, as we look at this shepherd imagery, go ahead and look at Zechariah Chapter 13 and Verse 7 for a text Jesus cites, or is sited in um, two of the Gospels. Mathew 26:31 and Mark 14:27.
“Awake O sword against my shepherd and against the man my associate declares the LORD of hosts. Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. It will come about in all the land” declares the LORD. 'That two parts in it will be cut off and perished, but the third will be left in it.'” Remnant theology. “And I will bring the third part through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined, test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, I will answer them; I will say, 'They're my people, and they'll say, 'The LORD is my God.'”
Let's just act as if there's a normal progression of events going on in 13:7. Act as if there's a natural progression of events. The shepherd will be struck, the sheep will be scattered. God will refine that group that has been scattered, and they will be his people. I don't know whether Luke consciously follows this pattern in Luke Acts. I don't know whether consciously or not this is the fulfillment of what it says, but do note, that this is indeed the progression that occurs.
The shepherd is struck. The sheep are scattered. Persecution refines them. They are his people. It's also true of the apostles at the time of the crucifixion. So, maybe it's an exile pattern as well. But just remember that the shepherd imagery in Zechariah and Ezekiel is very complementary. They see that Israel has wicked shepherds that are abusing them. A good shepherd will be sent. The remnant will follow the shepherd, and God will be glorified through the work of his people.
You know, in Malachi, the last of the prophets, in Chapter 4, Verse 4 - a very important theological book, Malachi. Particularly, if you want to see a critique of improper worship in the Old Testament. Chapter 4, Verse 4. “Remember the law of Moses, my servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming and great and terrible day of LORD.”
So we've had a reminder of the law. A promise of the prophet. “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will come and not smite the land with a curse.”
The preparation of this Elijah is that he will do the work that will get the hearts of the people right in preparation for the savior. So what is the work of John the Baptist? When we say he's a forerunner, whom we say he prepares the people. What was his work? It was to get the people right with God, to get those who would believe their hearts right and ready to receive the savior. In other words, to prepare the remnant that has been brought back to the land to receive their savior. And that the work of John the Baptist was effective for those who repented is evident, because it's some of his disciples who followed Jesus. Right?
And Jesus himself spent time with John and that there was a remnant there is evident. And a Semian [phonetic] in the temple. They'd been waiting for Jesus all their lives, in a way. And so, there was a remnant prepared to receive the Savior. And through his ministry, it's tough for me reading the Gospels and Acts to answer the question about that. Did that remnant grow through the work of the Savior?
On the one hand you see massive crowds hanging on Jesus' every healing. Another time, you see everyone leaving him, except the apostles. I kept asking this question. Historically, you can begin slowly to answer it. Whatever happened to all those people who knew Jesus in Galilee? When we talk about the Jerusalem church, it's evident in Acts. Whatever happened to the Galilee church? Was there one? We know archaeologically, prior to the end of the first century there was.
But, anyhow, the work of the Messiah - what we've seen today - is to be the good shepherd. Is to be the humble ruler. Is to have a ministry to the ends of the earth. Is to have a forerunner before him, and you have to believe that John The Baptist saw his ministry in this light. You have to believe that the Apostle John saw Jesus' ministry according to these themes. And you have to believe that those who...Matthew, who stressed Jesus as a new Moses, as a new David, as all of these things. They also used these themes. But, because of the vastness of the portrait, and the material that they had at hand, and the needs of whatever recipients of their Gospels, whatever their needs were. All this in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel writers wrote their portraits of Jesus. And so, that would be the prophets.
And I'll see what questions or comments you have, and then we do some work with the writings with our dual purpose of Messianic Theology in the context of worship. So, questions or comments at this point. Observations.
Audience Member: Did John [inaudible] of the Good Shepherd? What others [crosstalk].
Hmm mm. You mean in the other three Gospels? You see, the reason I focus on John at that point is because - maybe you can help me here - but I don't really recall the other Synoptic Gospels making much of Jesus' shepherd. Is it? Help me here? I mean I'm an honest when I say I'm...this is not some trick question. I don't even got a sleeve today, much less anything up it.
But that's my recollection. Not only that John makes a lot of that imagery. John also makes much of the Spirit of God, right? Luke does too. But, certainly, John does...so connected with that shepherd imagery and the spirit imagery, you really think is influenced by Ezekiel and Zechariah. I mean that seems to be a reasonable, ah, position. I think Barnabas Landers [phonetic] and others made that point in Johannine Studies.
Mark makes use of the theme asked about yesterday [phonetic] a theme in the writings, which is the Son of Man theology. What would it be like to have the Son of Man, to whom God's going to give the kingdom, on earth now? What does the Son of Man do to affect the Kingdom of God, now, is one of the themes.
Luke Acts I find to be a multi-faceted work, as you could expect, given the subject matter. What he's trying to achieve. But, you see in Luke definitely Isaiah theology, virgin birth. You see Isaiah's interest. International interest that the Gospel go...that God rule all nations and that God is the Creator of all people, and that he will rule to the ends of the earth. You see that in Luke's Gospel.
You see both themes I just mentioned. The virgin birth and the ruling God's Massiath to the ends of the earth. Now you're saying well wait a minute, I thought Matthew was a Jewish Gospel mainly to Jewish ears. How does it end with a great commission so that Isaiah's interest – here's the greatness of Isaiah's theology. The breadth of it. It's taken up by the most Jewish of the Gospel writers and the gentile Gospel writer. The scope of Isaiah's theology is sufficient.
Now where Luke does pick up, I think Ezekiel's theology is in his theology of the spirit. And Luke has people filled with the spirit before Pentecost, for sure. You read the first two chapters of Luke and ask how many people are filled with the spirit, you got people in the womb filled with the spirit. You got...you have mother's and prophetic utterances. Right? I mean, isn't that a fair statement?
What's interesting to me is Luke doesn't have any sense that the spirit is not active and involved in filling people prior to Pentecost. Something new happens at Pentecost, but it's not God's willingness to fill and empower people. That isn't it. Whatever else all is new. That's...and by the way, I'd...I think he's picking up not only on at that point, not only on the theology of Ezekiel, but on the theology of the spirit in the Old Testament as a whole.
There's been a fundamentally, I think, misleading translation of, say Joshua judges Samuel, that has led to some misunderstanding. I used to hear it said, from when I was a kid, that the Holy Spirit came and went on people in the Old Testament. You know, it would come for a purpose and leave, though the leaving imagery is never there. It's the coming.
So you would expect wouldn't you, when you translate say judges or the spirit comes upon Samson or in Samuel, the spirit in the English translation comes upon Saul. What's the verb for come and go in Hebrew? Do any of you remember? It's a little simple word, “mo”. [phonetic]. Right? You used hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. It's the way to say you went to this place, you went to that place and comes here and comes there and goes this place.
Um. I'm ashamed to say that until the last couple of years when I was actually working through those texts for a translation project, I came to understand that's not the word at all. It's not even the word ever used. The word used is the word for clothed. So the spirit clothed [phonetic] him. You say oh, it's the same thing. Came and went. [inaudible]I don't know. It's a lot closer to the New Testament idea.
I can say the same about the New Testament. See, it says Acts 4. Act of Pentecost. “They were filled with the Holy Spirit and the room was...” Well, you see it came and went, didn't it? He was filled one time, wasn't filled another. It just came and went. So you can say the same thing, but in both Testaments the Holy Spirit is not just coming and going, but clothing people. And in Isaiah...not Isaiah, Psalm 51. What does the psalmist say? “Don't take your Holy Spirit from me, created in me a clean heart.”
So, there is a theology of the spirit in the Old Testament that I think Luke's picking up on, is my point. For that little diversion. But I think, and Josh you were asking this question earlier, that a serious theology of the Old Testament, Holy Spirit...Some of that works being done now, but I really believe it's fruitful.
So Luke's picking up on say Ezekiel's theology and on the theology of the spirit in the Old Testament. Picking up on Isaiah's notions of “...to the ends of the earth”. Matthew picks up on that one without picking up on the spirit theology. Matthew's Gospel, I think, has one of its fundamental principles. Deuteronomy 18. “There's going to come a prophet like me.”
Jesus, in many ways, is the new Moses in Matthew. Dale Allison [phonetic] has some good work on that. There are others. Every time I hear Dale Allison's name I think - he's the guy at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and New Testament theologian – I always think, is that a name of a stock car driver? It's the mixture of two I know.
But, Dale Allison writes about Jesus as the new Moses. I think that's true to an extent. You say, okay, what's Matthew thinking of? “There's coming a prophet after me.” [is this biblical quote] Deuteronomy 18. “Listen to him”. I haven't done justice to Mark's theology. But, those are some of the – I think in the Gospels – those are some of the items we've studied that they're picking up on. Was that getting to it?
So as you can tell, I think that kind of this approach to the Old Testament that we are trying to take here is that it's more full blown giving you more data, does enrich our understanding of New Testament theology. Not just by seeing how they handled the predictions, but of seeing how they shaped their books. What themes were most important to them. And I honestly think, if we know that, it's going to help us understand their audience a bit better.
I happen to agree with Richard Bauckham. [phonetic] You know, he has this new work on how these Gospels weren't necessarily written for a single audience but to be read and spread. For a long time with the Gospels [inaudible], Mark wrote to Rome and that was a specific setting. You had the Johannine community and you had all this other...But they're saying now, it's pretty evident that these churches had a whole lot more connection and communication with one another and that the Gospels probably were intended for general circulation.
So I think it helps to see some more about the audience. But that'd be another good exercise. And I do it all of the time. Really, when I read the New Testament is to try to remember what I've noted, what I've worked through and say, what are the theological principles that a single writer is picking up? Or, here's the other nice one. Given what he's up against in Church X, Galacia [phonetic], Colossae [phonetic] whatever else. What theology's is Paul drawing on?
That's a fascinating...Why do I find that fascinating? Because if you're ministering in a church and you draw an audience profile of Colossae or of Galatia or of Corinth, and you compare your audience to it, you're going to find many of the same problems – let's see, no one has problems anymore – issues. We have issues. And you're going to see how Paul appropriated Old Testament theology for the purposes here. I think it helps you do your ministry. Helps you see what somebody who may have known more about ministry than I do, handled this situation and what theology they used.
But with the Gospel writers, how shall we present the Messiah? They had to present it in a way that would be conversant with Old Testament theology or there hearers would say, I don't know what you're trying to pass off here, but that isn't what the Old Testament says about it. And that pretty much settled it for the Jews and the God-fearers, right? And that's who Paul had success with, basically, the God-fearers.
And then...Here's a question I can't fully answer, and I don't think anyone can. Why would they choose this and not that? Well, the audience would have something to do with it. The personal theology of the evangelist would have something to do with it. What they believed to be important, but I can't answer the why this and not that all of the time. What we can do, however, is say we can see this theology going on in this Gospel.
Audience Member: Would you say that when Jesus was ascending and he says, “I'm going to send a helper, to help you”, that actually he had already sent the Holy Spirit? And that...
Well, see if your...well, sure. I mean, what is interesting is wherever Jesus is the Father and the spirit are, right? So we're talking about ah...this [inaudible] a time where Jesus accommodates what they're say...The text – is it John's, hmm, I always forget this text no matter what I do, so I need a concordance – but, Jesus makes a statement to his disciples that if you unravel this statement and you understand it fully, you can answer all these questions about the Holy Spirit. So you can say, okay we know this is loaded. We know we can't do it. What's the statement?
The statement is the Holy Spirit has been with you. Now he will be in you. And you say well, what has the with you accomplished? Everybody mentioned in Hebrews 11 every disciple, every prophet, Moses, etc. So the with you, it's another one of these great and greater deals. What's the with you achieved? This. What's the in you going to achieve? Even greater things than these. Jesus says even greater things – how does he put it, I don't want to misquote him too badly. I'd at least to paraphrase him accurately.
Audience Member: [crosstalk][inaudible]
Greater. Yeah. “Greater deeds than these”, whose? What he's done, because I go to the Father and...And in the sense that I can ever tell that in the Old Testament, you know, the Holy Spirit took coffee breaks, or you did from him, or whatever else. That he is... God's promise to every prophet is what? I'll be with you. Constant presence of God. Now, whatever that difference is by what Ezekiel says. John saying, okay, what's his Holy Spirit theology? The Holy Spirit is going to be on your heart, changing you. It is different and it is better, but it does not mean that the Holy Spirit is kind of flitting about testament.
So if I know the exact distinction Jesus is making in that passage, I would know all I needed to know. But I'm not given...there are a couple of things we don't know about, but he's saying with you produced all this. In you, is going to produce even greater things than these, because I go to the Father and send the spirit. But in a sense, you don't have to send the spirit anywhere, do you? Because, like Jesus, he is the Creator, sustainer. And so, we have some of these mysteries.
But what I would say, the Holy Spirit has been active in all those ways and you go trace it in the Old Testament. And it's everything from being active helping people know how to make things to you just go on down the line, but greater now. This presence is greater.
Audience Member: So...so what about the passage that say's [inaudible]or whatever, he [inaudible].
There is one text on the leaving of the spirit. So I want to make that clear because...
I don't know of another one. I could be wrong. But in other words, the kind of theology I grew up with from good people they didn't say the Holy Spirit didn't exist before Pentecost, but his ministry was rather limited. And they blamed the people, they didn't blame the Holy Spirit. They didn't say, you know, hey, he hadn't caught on to his job yet. They were saying he had sinful people, or whatever, and they were all praying from a greater...But you would have thought by the image of the spirit came upon them...you would have thought that there was also a subsequent passage when then the spirit left so and so.
Now text does say, I think Samson may be the other case, God left him. Well, the New Testament's got stuff similar, only it's usually with the church's decision, “Turn him over to Satan, and he learned not to sin” [inaudible]. We may not say God left him, but I'd say that's pretty strong.
Now, in the Saul text it saith's the spirit is specifically attached to his anointing as King, right? So it says that the spirit...to punish him God replaced – really, replaced, is that the right word? The Spirit of God with the spirit of depression and then the spirit goes to David. In other words, he's King now. The power of the spirit. But the New Testament, I would say, calls the gift of the spirit to be king is with David and not with Saul. And Saul instead is punished.
But I think we need to be honest in biblical theology. Let's say a skeptic said to you, you know, yeah, you guys talk about this Holy Spirit stuff um, your beloved Apostle Paul used the same language, ”... be filled [phonetic] with the spirit”. That indicates there are times when you are full and time when you're not. What's the deal? The Holy Spirit coming and going, thought he abided with you always.
So you see what I'm saying is you've got similar language that I finally thought...here's the day I became nervous. Well man, you could apply those sames sorts of things they applied to the Old Testament to the New Testament and have a faulty doctrine of the spirit too. There is the passage with Saul, but I think it is about a gifting of the spirit to be king, not about God's presence. Because, unfortunately, Saul still experienced God's presence didn't he? Only it was not a blessing now, it was what?
Punishment. He had a punishing spirit on him, but it was a spirit from God. This is something the New Testament – I'm trying to think if it actually deals with much. That the Holy Spirit can be present to judge and convict, yes. But, I mean, this is...this is done to someone that God had already blessed. So, I think that's [inaudible].
We don't get going and leaving imagery. What we get is clothing and empowering imagery and, again, if you read Acts 4, isn't it pretty much the same? They pray the Holy Spirit comes upon the place. Empowers them. They pray in certain ways and do extraordinary ministry. But what Paul says in Ephesians 1, we get Paul's theology. When he talks about Ephesians 1, the Holy Spirit being in the heart and sealing us, that's what Ezekiel said would happen.
So, I'll be honest for myself and say I respond to questions about the spirit's work in the Old Testament. But I think I don't have it. And if mine needs work - and I think a lot of other peoples do too - to do work on the spirit's work in the Old Testament. Then to do a serious comparison so that we would know what the actual differences are so we would actually know what is greater about the Holy Spirit's work with us.
Here's the other thing I would say, I'm not making a pro or con statement about cessationism in – I guess maybe I am – in the New Testament. See, I think there are some things that the Holy Spirit does because he is the Holy Spirit. He can't do anything else. He acts out of his character. Those things will be evident in the Old, and those things will be evident in the New and they can't cease because he doesn't cease. See what I'm saying?
There are certain things God does because God is. God will love, sustain, judge, etc., because he is God. The Holy Spirit will do certain things because he is God. The Son does certain things because he is God and if those things cease, you're bordered on a God is dead theology.
The Holy Spirit gifts people in the Old Testament. Gifts people in the New Testament. Holy Spirit convicts people in the Old Testament. Convicts people in the New Testament. It empowers people in the Old and empowers people in the New. The text is he has some new ministries in the New Testament that an Old Testament person shouldn't be surprised by, but it's greater and greater and greater in the same way that the Savior is greater than what we've experienced in the past.
And I think one of the things that would be helpful is if we had a full-orbed [phonetic] Old Testament theology of the spirit, we could then say the ways in which it is greater. I don't have a ready answer to that. I have a method, I think. I know what I'd like to see happen, but I haven't done all that work. But here's what I've been convinced of for years. There have been so many times where I've said, huh. What if we don't draw that distinction between the Old and the New Testament? We don't put that chasm there and just go see..
It's amazing how often you find that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that he's promised, you know, greater things too. So try [inaudible] what way is...explain John's statement: “Greater works than these you will do.” I'm almost afraid to say what would be greater than what Jesus is doing here. My question has to be asked.
Well...so we've kind of gone off on the spirit of theology. But, I think the Gospel writers are interested in Ezekiel's theology of the spirit. And I think they have a more holistic view of the Old Testament text about this spirit than is common New Testament theology. So I think those are a lot of questions. I gave some potential answers. I hope that's suggestive for how...further research you guys would do.