Intro: The importance of viewing (studying) the text of the scriptures from the perspective of the original audience. What could God’s people expect concerning the work of the One Spirit in the first century, as the New Testament story begins?
The prophets provided a glimpse of what was to come. Just as the OT prophesied the coming of the Messiah, so did it prophesy the coming of the Spirit. The prophesies indicated this would be something new that had not been seen before. In fact, the arrival of the Messiah would correspond to the coming of the Spirit. Instead of a select few receiving the Spirit to help them in their service for Israel, the time would come when the Spirit would be given to all, as a seal of God’s ownership and blessing over all His people.
I. The Promise of the Holy Spirit – “Pouring Out His Spirit“ – We have already noticed last week Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 1:21…”prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The N.T. audience (particularly the Jews) would necessarily interpret the promises and actions of the Holy Spirit in light of what the prophets had already revealed. They were not hampered in their interpretation by a myriad of false doctrines about the Spirit, and thus were free from reactionary bias. How did the prophets describe the future coming of the Holy Spirit?
A. Isaiah 32:14-18 – 14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. the forts and towers will become lairs forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks — 15 Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. 16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. 17 The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. 18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, The contrast here is evident. In vs. 13-14 Isaiah describes the nation of Israel as a barren field where wild donkeys live. But after God pours out His Spirit, the nation will become a fruitful field where justice, righteousness, and quietness abound. There is nothing in this prophecy about miraculous gifts. The pouring out of the Spirit of God pointed to the restoration of the nation of Israel and coming of the blessings of God upon His people.
B. Isaiah 44:3-53 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring; 4 They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’ 5 One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ And name himself by the name of Israel.
1. The pouring out of God’s Spirit here has a very similar meaning as Isaiah 32. The pouring out of the Spirit is depicted as water to the thirsty; a flood of water in dry ground.
2. This may be connected with the promise that Jesus makes in John 7:37-39 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Jesus’ audience would not have missed the connection between His words and Isaiah’s prophecy. John tells us after the fact that the fulfillment of Jesus’ words did not come until after Jesus’ resurrection. Those who believed in Jesus would receive the Holy Spirit.
a. The result of the arrival of God’s Spirit is the restoration of God’s blessings to His people. The thirsty & dry land becomes fertile.
C. The Prophet Ezekiel traces the promise of the Holy Spirit. There are several important elements of His coming that connect to the NT fulfillment. The promise centers on the restoration of the blessings to a new Israel.
• Ezekiel 36:25-28 – Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
1. The Holy Spirit’s coming would be connected to the cleansing of God’s people, and an inward change of heart evidenced by obedience to God’s commands. It would usher in a time when the blessings promised before would come to the new Israel.
• Ezekiel 37:13-14 – 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.'”
2. Again the context of this prophecy of the Spirit is the renewal of the nation of Israel. This is the vision of the valley of the dry bones. The vision pictures Israel as a skeleton without any signs of life, but God brings the body back to life (with new flesh and muscles) by putting His Spirit within it.
• Ezekiel 39:28-29 – 28 then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. 29 And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD.”
3. This prophecy mirrors Ezek. 37. The pouring out of God’ Spirit is the same as Him no longer hiding His face from his people. The blessings will be restored.
4. In all of these prophetic promises the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is associated with three connected events:
a. the restoration of the Kingdom of God;
b. the restoration of God’s covenant with the people and
c. the restoration of God’s blessings upon His people. The Jews would have expected the coming of the Holy Spirit to be in connection with the coming of the Kingdom and God’s renewed blessings. Now consider one more prophecy.
E. Joel 2:28-3:1 – “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. 3:1 “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,
1. This may be the most familiar O.T. prophecy concerning the Holy Spirit. Peter quotes this passage in Acts 2, and as such it is a key reference in our understanding of the events of that day.
2. Some pertinent observations concerning Joel’s prophecy.
a. Sons & daughters shall prophesy… This seems to be the first prophecy that connects the coming of the Holy Spirit with miraculous activity. This points to the purpose of the miracles associated with the coming of the Spirit. How would Israel know when the Spirit was being poured out? The miracles were the sign that the nation of Israel was being restored and God’s blessings were being offered to His people.
b. Joel says that the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh (2:28), and that even His menservants and His maidservants will have the Spirit poured out on them. This may be a reference to the Gentiles. It is obvious that there was to be a universal aspect to this pouring of the Holy Spirit. God’s promise to Abraham was that through His seed all nations would be blessed. In Galatians 3 Paul makes it clear that this element of the Abrahamic promise was fulfilled in the coming of Christ (seed singular, not plural). Thus the coming of the Spirit is connected with the provisions of the gospel through Jesus. It also indicates that the miraculous activity would extend beyond just the nation of Israel.
c. Peter’s use of Joel 2 in his sermon in Acts 2 indicates that this prophecy began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. But it also indicates that it wasnot consummated in that one event. The Spirit was poured out on the apostles on Pentecost, but Joel tells us that more would receive the outpouring. The miraculous activity began with the apostles but included more to come. James Coffman says… “Only the apostles received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that occasion”; but the infusion of the Holy Spirit that became available to mankind on that day was a much more extensive thing than his miraculous demonstration upon the Twelve.”
d. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit was also associated with two other events in Joel 2.
1) The offer of salvation to everyone would respond in faith. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” This also gives us insight into how the outpouring of the Spirit will restore God’s blessings upon His people. The Holy Spirit will provide words whereby men can be saved (Acts 11:14). Faith comes by hearing the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
2) The judgment of evil on the “great and awesome day of the Lord” There are different views as to when these verses were or are to be fulfilled. Some say the words of Joel point backwards to the events of the crucifixion, others to the destruction of Jerusalem (some 40 years in the future), and others suggest that they point to the final judgment that is yet to come.
3. This pouring out of the One Spirit, which began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, was the fulfillment (beginning) of the OT prophecies of the restoration of blessings to God’s people. As water in the desert and life to dry bones, the Spirit would provide seasons of refreshing from the Lord through the work of Jesus, the Messiah. The Spirit’s arrival evidenced that the King was reigning at the right hand of God. It was possible to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. This calling was not a call for a sinner’s prayer, or simply mental acquiescence. It was a call for obedience.
• Acts 2:38 – 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. NKJV
Conclusion: This lesson has been an introduction to a greater discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit in the N.T. Matt 3:11- …He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. We will consider John’s promise that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit with the apostles, and the prominent events of Acts 2. I would ask you to read Matthew 3 and Acts 1 & 2.