Section 5: The Holy Spirit
Week 2: The Holy Spirit’s Work in the Old Testament
Day 4: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Manifesting God’s Presence Among His People
Yesterday we looked at the role the Holy Spirit played in gathering Israel as God’s people. The Spirit’s role in connection with Israel didn’t stop once he had gathered them. That’s because God didn’t just want to gather a people; he wanted to gather a people and dwell among them. Not surprisingly, the Spirit played a vital role in bringing that aspect of God plan to fruition as well.
In the wilderness following the Exodus, God manifested his presence in the Tabernacle. And the Spirit played a major role in the Tabernacle’s construction. Specifically, he is the one who enabled Bezalel and the other craftsman to build the sanctuary that would become God’s dwelling place (Ex. 35:30-35). The Spirit played a similar role in the construction of the Temple under Solomon. (1 Chron. 28:12).
Again it’s difficult to know the full extent of the Spirit’s role in manifesting God’s presence. He may have been the one behind the display of God’s glory in the Tabernacle and the Temple or he may simply have been responsible for ensuring that the Tabernacle and Temple were built according to the Father’s plans. Either way, the Old Testament is clear that the Spirit was intimately involved in making God’s plan to be present with his people a reality. That’s interesting given the Spirit’s role in Christ’s birth – the ultimate manifestation of God’s presence.[i] More on that next week.
There were limits on Israel’s experience of God’s presence however. As we saw earlier, those limits were the result of sin. Christ would eventually come to decisively deal with the problem of sin. But that had not yet happened at this point in Israel’s history. As a result, their access to and experience of God’s presence was limited. We saw earlier that this was a necessary part of Israel’s education.
It’s worth noting, however, God still chose to dwell among them. He could simply have withdrawn his presence from the people of Israel completely until Christ came. But he didn’t. Why? Because our God is a relational God. He wants a relationship with us. His plan for dealing with sin didn’t allow him to have a perfectly intimate relationship with Israel. As a result, there was a distance. In part, that distance was necessary to help them (and us) understand the seriousness of sin and to appreciate what Christ would later do to solve the problem. Yet God wants to be with his people. So it should come as no surprise that he would choose to have as much of a relationship as his plan and his holiness would allow. And because the Spirit works to bring God’s plans to fruition, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we would find him at work here.
When you think of the work of the Holy Spirit, what comes to mind? Do you consider his role in making God’s presence known an important one? Why or why not?
Make a list of times when the Holy Spirit helped you to have a significant sense of God’s presence.
[i] Graham Arthur Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Wheaton: Crossway Books (2007), Ch. 5 eBook.