FROM the day the Holy Spirit came, breathing the wind of life with fire into the disciples, God was reminding humanity that He, the provider God, is a giving God.
Christians are quick to own Pentecost, but the Jews had been celebrating Shavuot through the Feast of Weeks for over a thousand years when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost ten days after Jesus’ ascension.
The coming of the Spirit was a sequel of an earlier redemptive act of God.
The Law and the Spirit
God gave Moses the Law on Sinai on the fiftieth day after Passover and the Exodus — a full seven weeks after — just as God gave the Spirit on the fiftieth day after Easter. (Remember the significance in the number seven? It’s the number of completion.) On the first hand, He gave the Law, complete, and on the second, He gave the Spirit, complete. In the giving of the Law, Moses had a formula with which to lead the people of God. In the giving of the Spirit, the Church, and each regenerated person, has the Person of Jesus as a personal anointing. Neither the Law nor the Spirit is incomplete in its purpose.
The giving of the Law was no less significant than was the giving of the Spirit. Both came from God Himself, and both were/are, therefore, perfect.
In many ways, the coming of Jesus showed the Church the importance of the Law. The Sermon on the Mount deals with such important issues which are central to Jesus’ teaching. But without the coming of the Spirit, the Law was always not enough — the Law always held us at arm’s length from our Creator.
The Spirit In Actualising Redemptive Intimacy
The Old Testament shows us how veritable the New Testament is.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, the prophet proclaims the Day of the New Covenant; a spiritual covenant of intimacy between God and His people. In Ezekiel 36:27, God makes the connection between having the Spirit, which moves a believer to follow His decrees and keep His laws, and the Law. And yet, if we’re led by the Spirit we don’t have to keep the Law (Galatians 5:18) — because the Spirit empowers love through grace that will superintend the law. Still, the Spirit doesn’t replace the Law; it builds upon, and consecrates, the Law — it upholds and meets the Law’s intent.
If not for the Law, the Spirit has no foundation, yet if not for the Spirit, the Law has no veracity for personal transformation.
When the Holy Spirit blew in and through the disciples in that house that Pentecost day — which may have been the ‘house’ of the Temple court where 120 people witnessed it — there was a gift given. It was a gift not unlike the Law, which gave the Israelites vital information on how to please God and live as God’s covenant people. But the coming of the Spirit added something vital — it gave each disciple, and every assenting believer, the capacity to want to please God and to want to live as God’s covenant people, now under grace, through quickening obedience.
In the coming of the Holy Spirit, in wind and fire, God breathes in and through us to the extension of our empowerment, for others, for the Kingdom. And this, because He has put His law into our hearts. No longer do we just know about God. With the Holy Spirit we know God.
The coming of the Spirit is about redemptive intimacy. In the Spirit we have the capacity for fire, to breathe changemaking possibility into life, to receive His life so as to give life. Hope has become our vision. And hope makes us have faith for victory even in situations of seeming defeat. Only the Holy Spirit could do that.
Our prayer ought to be: Spirit, come with fire, breathe, empower, give life. And the operative Spirit can do no other thing.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.
Test post for upcoming Godspace blog.