From the Monday Night Bible Study
Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is identified with the Hebrew word “ruach” which means “wind or breath”. It is used to refer to the atmosphere and the invisible, irresistible power of the wind.
The OT describes God as having breath or spirit. God’s Spirit or breath is given credit for his work on the earth. This Spirit was identified with God’s power that caused many of the mighty deeds in the OT. (Samson and the lion, Jd.14:6) The “hand of God” was also used to describe the Spirit’s activity in creation. The Spirit also is seen in “the word of God” and the “wisdom of God”.
During the time of Adam to Abraham God communicated with men. These people of God did not have a Bible yet God communicated with them. For example Genesis 26:5 says, “Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.” Do you wonder how Abraham knew God’s requirements, commands, decrees and laws 600 years before Moses? In fact, the book of Genesis had obviously not been written yet.
Here we establish a distinction between God communicating with people by his Spirit concerning: 1) a revelation that is proclaimed and published, and 2) a revelation that is not intended to be published. A person who receives a revelation from God that is to be published is a prophet. There have been times in history where there were no prophets. (1 Sam.3:1; from Malachi to John the Baptist, Mal. 4:4,5; Luke 1:15-17; 1 Mac.4:45,46; 14:41) But, through out the Bible God has always communicated with people by his Spirit.
Lewis Sperry Chafer writes, “God spoke to Adam, to Cain, and to Noah, but with no instruction that it be transmitted to others and preserved as revelatory truth. But to the prophets He spoke with the expectation that the message would be conveyed somehow to others. . . To receive a revelation or a vision does not make one a prophet, unless it be accompanied by the command to communicate the revelation to others. . . Hence it is a mistake to confine divine revelation to the prophetic office.” (Chafer, L.S., Systematic Theology, vol. 6, p. 70; also Walvoord, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p.46)
A study of the Old Testament shows the Spirit was: 1) not given to all people, 2) temporarily given to some and could be withdrawn, 3) worked within the nation of Israel, but did not unite it as a spiritual body, 4) moved sovereignly in the lives of people and in history, 5) could not raise men up with him, make them members of one body, baptize them, nor live eternally within them.
Jesus taught extensively to reveal new information about the Holy Spirit to the people who would have to interact with the Holy Spirit in the Church in the New Covenant. (Ez.37:14;Jer.31:33)