Job 33:4 NIV
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Like a glittering mosaic, the Old Testament, with its stories and passages, gives our contemporary eyes a more complete, technicolor, multi-dimensional picture of how the Holy Spirit has revealed God’s presence to humanity throughout time.
As we turn toward the coming of Christ and the Spirit’s work in the New Testament, let’s pause to reflect briefly on what we’ve discovered so far.
Since the origin of the world as we know it, the Spirit of God—God’s ruakh, God’s breath, God’s manifest presence—has been astoundingly creative, speaking order to chaos, form to the formless, meaning to the meaningless, all through the act of a magnificent creation. The Spirit of God sustains that good creation and all the life and activity within it, from microorganisms to trees to animals to fish to birds to ecosystems to planets, suns, supernovas, and vast galaxies. There is nothing in creation that sustains itself; the Lord created and sustains it all.
When God breathed into the dust of the ground, forming humankind, male and female, to be his vice regents and image bearers, he reflected his beauty and goodness through us in a way that sets us as the flower and crown of his good creation (N.T. Wright). We engage in, and with, creation’s glory, both as stewards of its treasures and appreciators of its wonders.
Within creation, the Spirit gifted human beings with skills of many kinds, to apply to the sacred activity of communion—of worship fellowship—with our covenant-forming and covenant-keeping Father. With humanity made for this bond with our Maker, a bond marked by mutual love and loyalty, a people were selected to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, to model for us what it means to reflect the divine image in which we are made.
The Spirit spoke through miracles, signs, and wonders to ancient Hebrew leaders who were humble, listening, obedient, and willing, often rescuing each from their own brokenness in the process and showing them abounding kindness and generosity, even when they failed.
The Spirit orchestrated individual lives and pivotal moments in salvation history to play into one mighty symphony, rushing toward the coming deliverance-of-the-heart that would be inaugurated in the Anointed One, the Messiah. Through him, the Spirit of the Lord would bring good news of hope to the poor, to the outcast, and to the weary. The Spirit of the Lord would be on him to bring healing to the brokenhearted, to set captives free, and to lift the thick cloud of darkness that imprisons the human heart.
The words of Psalm 16 seem to capture the Spirit’s work of guiding us: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Ps. 16:11).
It’s exciting to see how the Spirit of God, moving in human beings over thousands of years, has always been about the same work, but in different ways—opening the heart to experience the presence and love of God, then empowering the willing disciple to live an awakened, transformed life during the years we are given. Receive the Holy Spirit!
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the long story of your faithfulness, and your faithfulness to meet me, right where I am. Come, Holy Spirit, give me the strength today to live my story in connection with the plot line of your loving work throughout salvation history. In Jesus’ name, amen.
As we turn our attention toward the New Testament, what ideas in today’s reflection can you quickly connect with what you know about the Holy Spirit from your own learning to date?
For the awakening,