The last post spoke of the ministry of the Spirit in the OT. In reading it, one may wonder if the Spirit of God dwell in the people of Israel like it does today?
The OT does not typically use language that is quite frequent in the NT, such as walking in the Spirit and living by the Spirit. For the most part “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was selective and temporary.” Perhaps the only real OT passage that may indicate the Spirit’s indwelling of the redeemed is found in Psalm 51, where David sings, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
The light of the New Testament helps us though. The NT reminds us that regeneration is only accomplished by the inward working of the HS. It is the HS who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. So, for this reason the Spirit must have indwelt all of the OT saints.
Nevertheless, the OT’s view of the HS is mainly anticipatory. It looks forward to the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh and the new covenant wherein the law of God would be written on the heart. This, of course, comes to its fulfilment in the Pentecost outpouring.
Thus, in theological terms, it is said that the Spirit dwells in NT believers in a qualitatively different way than he does in the OT believers. It is not a quantitative difference, as all believers everywhere have the Spirit’s presence. It is a qualitative difference.
John Piper gives a good illustration:
Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt's President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn't completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.
Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God's Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit [increased significantly and] spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added [and now enables] the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.
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