The Holy Spirit: Job – Jeremiah

Job

In Job, we see the intriguing expression —

(Job 33:4 ESV)  4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

This parallels such passages as —

(Psa 33:6 NAS) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.

(Gen 2:7 NAS) Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Job credits God with making him, both by the breath of life and by the Spirit. It’s not clear whether he is referring to his own birth or God’s creation of Adam his ancestor — but the present tense “gives” me life suggests that Job is speaking of GOd ongoing involvement in the giving and preservation of human life. The thought seems to be that the Spirit gives spirit = breath = life.

Psalms

(Psa 51:10-12 ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

This is, to me, among the most powerful of all the psalms. We see David begging God not to take his Spirit from him — as God did to Saul. And David demonstrates his understanding that being in right relationship with God is all about having the right heart — and that God’s Spirit can change his heart for the better. Deep, deep thoughts.

(Psa 104:25-32 ESV) 25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
27 These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!

Here, as in Job, we see David referring to the continuing work of the Spirit in creating God’s creatures.

(Psa 139:1-10 ESV) A Psalm of David. O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

In another particularly beautiful psalm, David equates “Spirit” with the presence of God. The Spirit is further said to be omnipresent, although David says it better.

(Psa 143:10-11 ESV) 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

David speaks of the leading of the Spirit — a concept Paul uses in Rom 8 and Gal 5. For the Spirit to lead is for the Spirit to teach us to do God’s will.

Isaiah

(Isa 11:1-5 ESV) There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

In a Messianic prophecy, Isaiah speaks of the gifts the Messiah will have by the power of the Spirit — including the Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.

(Isa 32:14-17 ESV)  14 For the palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens 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 deemed a forest. 16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. 17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Here is the first prophecy of the return from exile — of the Messianic age — when the Spirit will be “poured upon us” bringing justice and righteousness.

(Isa 42:1-3 ESV) Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

Another Messianic prophecy, showing that the Messiah will possess God’s Spirit — a sign of being a prophet or a king — and again associating the Spirit with justice.

(Isa 44:2-4 ESV) 2 Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4 They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.

Here’s another prophecy that the Spirit will be poured out, but this time we’re told that the “offspring” of Jacob — all Israel — will receive the Spirit.

(Isa 59:20-21 ESV)  20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD. 21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Again, the prophet promises the Spirit — and further assures “Zion” that the Spirit when outpoured will remain with God’s people forevermore.

(Isa 61:1-3 ESV) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Jesus famously began his ministry by declaring that this prophecy is about him. “Anointed” means made a king — it’s the root word of “Messiah.” But the Spirit is given for a purpose — not just to do miracles for a sign, but to empower God’s Anointed to help people in need.

Again, notice how the Spirit’s presence is associated with God’s righteousness and justice for those in need. The Messiah has the Spirit “because” he has been commissed to bring justice and righteousness.

(Isa 63:10-15 ESV)  10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. 14 Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name. 15 Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me.

The prophet declares that Israel’s rebellion grieves God’s Holy Spirit. After all, it was the Spirit in the midst of the Israelites in their desert wanderings, by which God performed his mighty deeds in order to give God’s people their rest in the Promised Land.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah explains that days are coming when God will make “a new covenant” with his people. Unlike the old covenant, in this covenant, God himself “will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” The parallel with Deu 30:6 is plain. God will fufill the promise made in the Torah to no longer expect his people to circumcise their own hearts (Deu 10:16). Instead, God himself wil change their hearts.

(Jer 31:31-34 ESV)  31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This passage is, of course, quoted in full in Hebrews 8 and is the basis for chapters 8 – 10.

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6 Responses

  1. This passage from Jeremiah is really powerful. But, for the sake of discussion, I’d like to pose a question, based on this passage.

    Does this passage and it’s citation in Hebrews suggest that we rely too much upon the written Text?

    Does it, in fact, cast any doubt on whether God truly intended us to have the NT canon as we recognize it today?

  2. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

    This on does. I wouldnt say however that he doesnt want us to have the text but that he doesnt want us to irrationally follow a text and ignore the Spirit. The Spirit will show us that God could not ever have commanded genocide no matter what a text says. The Spirit will show us that God could not condemn to eternal hell those who are not truly deserving of it but rather that punishment must be proportional to the actual badness of the sin no matter what a text says. Once you start berating your brothers and sisters in Christ and saying they are heretics for rejecting the Canaanite conquest stories as fables or for saying that they dont believe that God would send someone to hell for all eternity for one little white lie, well then you have fallen prey to the death sentence of the letter for the letter kills when you take it so seriously that you let it turn you into a heartless barbarian.

  3. Jerry, a spirit that contradicts the HS inspried word is not from God. God is one. Jesus never explained away the OT, nor should we.
    By the way, who said levels of judgement for deadly sin is just? If one accused killed six people and another only one, who should die for their actions? Both are condemned to death.

  4. David, I like the question you pose. I read my Bible each morning; not to listen to God, but as the beginning of my listening to God through the day.
    I work in a nursing home (no, I’m not a preacher; used to be), and when I see a man or woman come in and tenderly wash and groom their parent so gently, so lovingly, I hear, I see God. When I watch one of the little ladies who sits in the lobby each afternoon waiting for one of her two daughters, who take turns visiting each afternoon, and see her eyes light up when her daughter arrives, I hear, I see God. When I see one of the aids, whose work load is already very heavy, take more time with a resident because the resident needs comforting and assurance, I hear, I see God. And forgive me for adding, when I, one who is unworthy, talk to my grandson on the phone, and he says so sweetly, “I love you Pa, I love you Grams,”, I hear, I see God…the working of God…the Holy Spirit of God. Nothing mysterious about it, except the love and acceptance that no mind can fathom.

  5. John, you have the spirit of James; pure religion cares for people in need. He phrased it living faith; beleif that acts.
    David, I suspect its not text vs. spirit but the righteous soul should thirst for both.
    One of the reasons for meeting together is to inspire each other. This site is a meeting of people who value God’s will.

  6. David,

    I’ll discuss the Jeremiah passage later when we get to Hebrews. There is, of course, no complaint about law per se. The question presented is how the law will be impressed on our hearts. As I see it, it’s more about what is “law” for Christians and how God writes those laws on our hearts than questions about the canon.

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