The Holy Spirit In The Old Testament

The Descent of the Spirit Gustave Doré
The Descent of the Spirit
Gustave Doré

Another of the common Christian misperceptions of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) does not appear in the Old Testament (Tanach) in the same way he appears in the New Testament (Apostolic Writings).  One manifestation of this is the misunderstanding that believers in ancient Israel did not experience the Presence and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at all.  Another is the belief that the whole purpose of Yeshua’s death on the cross was to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to come to believers, and that everything about the way God deals with humanity changed at the cross.

There is some truth in these Christian positions, but they do not take into account the full counsel of God available to us in the entire body of Scripture.  It surprises some Christians to learn that the Holy Spirit was very much present in the events of the Tanach, and did indeed indwell righteous men and women.  There was indeed a change at the cross in that the Spirit was poured out on the entire body of Yeshua’s followers at Shavuot (Pentecost), but His operation within believers now is not so different from His operation within the righteous saints of old.

Something else that will surprise Christians is that Jewish sages have understood the work of the Holy Spirit for centuries.  In fact, the Jewish understanding of the Spirit’s work is very close to the Christian understanding.  That is one of the points David Nekrutman covers in his recent presentation, Ruach HaKodesh in Tanach – Divine Concealment.  Nekrutman is Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding and Cooperation, based in Efrat, Israel.  In January 2015 he and others took part in a Symposium on Jewish and Christian Reflections on Worship in Broward County, Florida, sponsored by the Broward Pastors Network and the Jewish Federation of Broward County.[1]  His 30-minute teaching on Jewish understanding of the Spirit’s work and God’s dealings with humanity is eye-opening and even astounding for those who are not expecting to find that Christianity and Judaism have so much in common.  To listen to David Nekrutman’s presentation please click on the link below.

David Nekrutman:  Ruach HaKodesh in Tanach – Divine Concealment


 

[1] The presentations from the Symposium are available on the CJCUC main page, and also at the video archive (click here).


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fox Byte 5775 #7: VaYetze (And He Went Out)

וַיֵּצֵא

In the 1970 film Little Big Man, Jack Crabb/Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman) and Younger Bear (Cal Bellini) discuss their marriages as Little Horse (Robert Little Star) looks on.  (Photo from http://limereviews.blogspot.com/)
In the 1970 film Little Big Man, Jack Crabb/Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman) and Younger Bear (Cal Bellini) discuss their marriages as Little Horse (Robert Little Star) looks on. (Photo from Lime Reviews & Strawberry Confessions)

The 1970 movie Little Big Man, starring Dustin Hoffman, follows the story of Jack Crabb, a white boy adopted by a Cheyenne warrior and raised among the Indians with the name Little Big Man.  Jack spends his life moving between the very different worlds of his native white frontier people and his adopted Indian family.  At one point, when he is back again among the Cheyenne, Jack takes a wife named Sunshine.  The two live happily for a time, but then Sunshine persuades Jack to marry her three widowed sisters.  Jack reluctantly agrees, and soon becomes head of a very large household.  One day, as he wanders through the camp pondering his circumstances, he encounters an old enemy, the warrior Younger Bear whom he has inadvertently shamed many times.  Thinking he at last has an advantage over Little Big Man, Younger Bear boasts, “I have a wife.  And four horses.”  Jack answers as if in a daze, “I have a horse . . . and four wives.”  And with that absent-minded answer he once again shames Younger Bear.

Little Big Man is a satire, but oddly enough it echoes something from our ancient past.  Our ancestor Jacob, like Jack Crabb, left the land of his birth to seek a wife among his distant relatives.  He ended up taking four wives, shaming his wives’ kin, and coming home with far more than he anticipated.  Jacob’s story, however, has much greater significance than the ribald satire of Little Big Man.  His life is a continuous string of prophetic pictures illustrating what happens to us, his offspring.

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