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From creation to resurrection: following the Holy Spirit through Scripture

Author: Bible Society, 19 May 2023

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Open the gifts of the Holy Spirit with us this Pentecost.

You’re in Jerusalem with the other disciples, waiting to be ‘clothed with power from on high’. The resurrected Son is sending the Holy Spirit, as promised by the Father.

Good Friday, the near-death experience of this new movement, has come and gone. 

Seven weeks later, Pentecost. Wind. Fire. God’s Spirit lighting the touchpaper. The old Greco-Roman world order – doomed.

Encountering the Holy Spirit

The experience that, where the Spirit blows, God is in touching distance, may not always be as dramatic as in that famous second chapter of Acts. But it runs through the pages of Scripture.

Some of us are blessed with an effortless sense of God being just inches away. Others may believe every word in the Bible, yet God can feel distant.

Wherever you are on that spectrum, join us on our journey through Pentecost. In our daily devotional series, we’re remembering a time when God’s Spirit gifted us with his presence like never before and we’re asking what being filled with the Spirit could mean here and now.

Contrary to what you might expect, we won’t focus on Acts 2 or the Apostle Paul’s catalogue of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Instead, we’ll explore some verses from Isaiah, just one of a range of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that refer to the Spirit of the Lord. 

Following the Spirit through Scripture

The Spirit of God is right there at the beginning, at the cusp of creation, ‘moving over the water’ (Genesis 1.2, GNB). The presence of the Spirit is also felt in Genesis 2.7 when God ‘breathed life-giving breath’ into humans. The word for breath is neshamah, which is translated as ‘spirit’ in Job and Proverbs, and the Hebrew for the verb ‘breathed’, naphach, has wind and fire connotations elsewhere in Scripture.

The Spirit of the Lord exudes power on several occasions in the Old Testament. It’s a transformative experience. In Judges 6.34 (ESV), ‘the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon,’ the lowest member of the weakest clan, enabling him to gather Israel and face the enemy. The Holy Spirit’s clothing of Gideon (a word choice Jesus follows in Luke 24.49 when he announces Pentecost) fulfilled the incredible promise that Israel, though disordered, would, under Gideon’s leadership, ‘strike the Midianites as one man’ (6.16).  

Samson’s superhuman feats of strength occurred when ‘the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him’ (Judges 14.6, 14.19, 15.14, ESV). And the Holy Spirit provides words as well as enabling action. David, who gave us a good chunk of what we call God’s word by composing numerous psalms, said: ‘The Spirit of the LORD has told me what to say’ (2 Samuel 23.2, CEV).

Giver of gifts

The Isaiah passage (11.1–3) we’ll explore together this Pentecost season stands out in more ways than one. It speaks of the dawn of the messianic age when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. And it speaks, you guessed it, of the Holy Spirit, who will rest upon the Messiah.

Read the passage carefully and you’ll discover that the Spirit is linked with a number of noble qualities like wisdom, courage or knowledge. In our Pentecost series we’ll be examining those ‘spiritual’ qualities. And as people who – let’s face it – tend to lack them more often than not, we’ll be asking how God’s Spirit might breathe life into us right now.

So, be sure to join us as we explore the gifts of the Spirit in the Book of Isaiah in our video reflections starting Sunday 28 May.

Sign up for the Pentecost Reflections

 


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