Section 5: The Holy Spirit
Week 2: The Holy Spirit’s Work in the Old Testament
Day 3: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Gathering God’s People
In various ways throughout this study, we’ve touched on God’s plan to save us from sin. When we think of the Spirit’s role in that plan, our tendency is to jump to our experience in the Church today. But God’s work in redemption stretches back throughout history, and so does the Spirit’s. Graham Cole summarizes God’s plan this way: “The divine project involves nothing less than God’s people living under God’s rule, in God’s way in God’s place.”[i] To accomplish that plan, God obviously needs to gather a people. Otherwise there is no one to live under his rule, in his way, in his place. He is working today within the Church to gather a people for himself, but the project started much earlier with Israel.
What does any of that have to do with the Holy Spirit? Well, if the Holy Spirit’s role is to work to bring about God’s plans, we would expect to see him involved throughout Israel’s history. The Exodus was a pivotal event for Israel. In fulfillment of his promise to Abraham and to Jacob, God gathered his people out of Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. He gave them his laws and promised to dwell among them. As is so often the case with the Spirit’s work, we don’t have a lot of details on what he did specifically, but Isaiah says the Holy Spirit was in their midst at that time, leading them and giving them rest (Isa. 63:11-14).
We know the Spirit is instrumental in gathering God’s people today. As we’ll see, without him, no one would turn to Christ. His work in that regard is nothing new though. God’s plan has always been to gather a people for himself and the Holy Spirit has always been at work making that plan a reality.
Have you ever considered the Holy Spirit actively gathering Israel as God’s people? Does that image make any difference to you?
Consider what it means to you that you are part of a gathering that began with creation itself.
[i] Graham Arthur Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Wheaton: Crossway Books (2007), Ch. 9 eBook.