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Where was the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

Did the Holy Spirit come late to the party? Why does it seem like he doesn’t do much until you get to the New Testament?

  • Read the Gospel of John and you will find the Holy Spirit intimately involved in every aspect of Jesus life.
  • Read the book of Acts and you’ll see the Holy Spirit sparking the start of the church.
  • Read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and you’ll find the Holy Spirit sealing the believers and providing them with a sword.

But where is the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

Truth is the Holy Spirit doesn’t just suddenly appear in the New Testament. He is seen from the beginning as being involved in the works of God and with the people of God.


Check out the other posts in this series on the Holy Spirit here.

He created the universe

We don’t have to read much of the O.T. to find the Holy Spirit. The second verse in the Bible gives us our first glimpse.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2

Yes, the Holy Spirit was intimately involved in the creation of the universe. He created a universe with awe inspiring beauty, intricate design and overwhelming scale showing his intelligence, power and creative ability.

What do you think of when you view creation? Are you baffled by God’s power, his grand design or his skill as an artist? For the New Testament believer the grandeur of creation is even more marvelous when we understand that the Holy Spirit who brought everything into existence now lives in us and works personally in our lives! I Corinthians 6:19

He opposed sin

One of the Holy Spirit’s main roles in both Old and New Testaments is working with and in people. Again we don’t have to read very far to see this happening.

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh” Genesis 6:3

The Holy Spirit is called “holy” for a good reason. The term “holy” communicates three primary meanings.

  • Otherness: He is separate from the creation because he is the creator, he is unlimited , we are are limited, he  knows all, we know little, he is great, we are not!
  • Special: He is special because he posses character traits and abilities that we do not have. He is unique because he is God and demands our worship.
  • Purity: He is morally pure, he sets the standard for morality, he convicts man of his impure heart and he changes and purifies man’s heart as he works in the life of believers.

He cleansed from sin

In the O.T. the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of individuals to convict them of sin and to purify them and bring righteousness into their hearts. David comments on this when he says:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11

The work of the Holy Spirit was so powerful in the lives of Joseph and Daniel that it was evident even to observant unbelievers! Genesis 41:38, Daniel 4:8

He enabled people

The filling of the Spirit doesn’t only happen in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit filled individuals to help them carry out certain tasks.

  • He enabled Bezaleel to construct the tabernacle. Exodus 31:3
  • He enabled the elders of Israel to lead. Numbers 11:17
  • He enabled Judges to judge. Judges 3:10
  • He enabled prophets to prophesy 1 Samuel 10:10
  • He enabled David to rule as King 1 Samuel 16:13

So What?

How is the work of the Holy Spirit in the OT significant for you and me today? Three truths strike me hard as I pursue this study.

Truth #1

While the Holy Spirit’s activities may change from OT to NT he remains the same! The same God who spoke Earth and Jupiter and Mars into existence now lives in me, fellowships with me and is shaping my life from the inside out! This simple realization is a life changer that we often fail to comprehend!

Truth #2

The Holy Spirit really cares about personal holiness. I know it sounds almost dumb to say that but we desperately need to hear it! He is called the “HOLY” Spirit, not the “unconcerned, anything goes, fuzzy standard, morally relative, laid back, have it your way” Spirit.

Truth #3

A true understanding of the holiness of God should be unsettling to us but we are encouraged when we realize that one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit has always been working in the lives of people.  The Holy Spirit worked in the lives of OT believers to bring purity and holiness. He also gave them strength when needed to perform practical tasks like building, leading and speaking.

I find great encouragement in the fact that the Holy Spirit is actively working in my life today!

Question: How do you see the Holy Spirit working in your life today? What is he convicting you of? How is he changing you? What is he enabling you to do?

Further reading:

Check out these Scriptures: Numbers 24:2,27:18; Daniel 4:8; Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 14:16-17.

Consider picking up a FREE copy of The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • Great post! The Holy Spirit comes beside as a support and allows us to connect with God on a deeper level.

    • You’re right Dan! Coming along side is the meaning of “Paraclete” one of the names of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.