By: Rev. Nathan Hill
As I have been reflecting on divine healing and other biblical themes I was struck by a parallel with the role of the Spirit in the OT versus the NT and the role of the Kingdom of God (or heaven) in the NT versus the age that is to come after the Second Coming of Christ. This may or may not strike a chord with you…but please interact with this if it does!
THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
I have taught often about the role of the Spirit in the OT versus the NT. The Spirit was quite active in the OT and often filled people, provided them with creative abilities (Exodus 31:1-3, Bezalel crafted object for worship), gave them wisdom and knowledge (Genesis 41:37-38, Joseph interprets dreams), and even inspired prophetic words (Numbers 11:24-25, Moses and the elders). Elsewhere in the OT we see the Spirit inspiring Judges, prophets, kings and others with specific words and actions, for a specific time and purpose.
In the OT the work of the empowering Holy Spirit was reserved for just a few people, not everyone. The work of the Holy Spirit was reserved for specific moments in time, and then he withdrew. The prophet Joel prophesied of a time when the empowering word of the Holy Spirit would be shared with everyone (Joel 2) and the prophet Ezekiel prophesied of a time when the Holy Spirit would start a new work that was never before undertaken in the hearts of all of the faithful, a work of holiness and righteousness (Ezekiel 36:25-28). In the OT it was the law that kept people holy and righteous; in the NT Ezekiel tells us this will change.
Both of these prophetic promises came to pass. Today the Holy Spirit resides in all who confess faith in Jesus Christ no matter of their denomination. Paul tells us in Romans 8:9 that if someone does not have the Spirit they are not in Christ. The Spirit convicts us of sin and assists us with righteousness (i.e., the fruit of the Spirit). The Holy Spirit also subsequently empowers those who have confessed faith in Christ to be witnesses of that fact. Luke tells us in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will empower us to be witnesses and this fact is demonstrated numerous times throughout the book of Acts.
THE PARALLEL WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The Holy Spirit, once temporary and breaking in here and there in the OT, has become a permanent fixture in the lives of NT Christians. In the same way, the Kingdom of God, currently breaking in here and there in a temporary fashion (remember my movie trailer metaphor in part I), manifesting its power and glory here and there, will become a permanent fixture in the lives of all of the faithful when Christ returns and ushers in this new era of existence.
One of the things that this parallel tells me is that just as God was faithful in sending his promised Holy Spirit, he will be faithful in bringing the Kingdom of God to us in due time. Another thing that this parallel tells me is that the Kingdom of God has not ‘arrived’ in the sense that the Tree of Life is presently here for harvesting whenever we desire. Some of the fruit may be presently accessible (i.e., fruit of the Spirit) but some other fruit is still not fully ripened (i.e. divine healing, removal of sin, removal of death). I believe signs and foreshadows of the Kingdom of God are breaking in all the time but we cannot over state what God is doing in some places (i.e. that they have somehow ‘got it’, whatever ‘it’ is) and we cannot degrade our local context if we do not see the same kind of evidence of the working of the Kingdom of God.
King David was once a young boy tending sheep. Sheep smell and they are not the brightest. Who would have ever thought that he would one day be anointed King and carry the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in a day where this was not something everyone in God’s elect had the opportunity to do. Yet, he was faithful where God placed him and with what God gave him.
So…eagerly await the full release of the Kingdom of God…on God’s timing. Pick the fruit that are presently available and anticipate the ripening of what is still to come.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”