The Holy Spirit and
the Salvation of Israel
Page 2 The Holy Spirit and Israel
The only Saviour of Israel in the time of trouble, stirred
up by the special motion of His own Spirit, the might which slumbered in the
strong man's hand. Yea, shall a wicked alien hired to curse, be turned to bless
Israel? For Israel, His inheritance's sake, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon
Balaam (Numbers 24:2).
In a word, there is nothing merely natural about Judaism, either in its constitution or administration. Universal nature, indeed, hangs in its whole extent and in its minutest parts, on the sustaining and directing arm of its God: but within the sacred precincts of the covenant which binds together Adonai the portion of Jacob, (Jeremiah 10:16) and the people of Adonai who are His portion, (Deuteronomy 31:9) the relation, the presence, and the operation are of a more exalted order, belonging to the covenant of grace, redemption, salvation; and so truly supernatural (Psalm 147:20). "He dealt not so with any [other] nation and [as for] judgements, they knew them not".3
The sacred pillar of the cloud appears, it is moving before us. Reverently let us follow: "Adonai remembers the days of old, Moses and his people. Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he that put his Holy Spirit within him, that led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them to make himself an everlasting name? As a beast goeth down to the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest, so didst thou lead thy people to make thyself a glorious name."
Behold the people of the Adonai behold the Servant of the Adonai, the Shepherd of His flock?behold the Spirit of Adonai, which Adonai hath put within him. "Cry out and shout, thou wanderer in the desert, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. Happy art thou O Israel: who is like unto thee O people saved by Adonai, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thine excellency.
What odours are these which embalm all the air, ravishing all sense? It is the holy anointing oil, like unto which none must be made for common use under penalty of death. And before us stands in the beauty of holiness a goodly array of white-robed priests and mitred kings. No want there of prophets with burning lips, touched with live coal from the altar. And hark that voice of highest majesty, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my Prophets no harm."
But what doth this anointing mean? Surely something more precious than all the spices of Arabia is shed forth by Adonai on the people who dwell beneath the shadow of His wings, and ascends back in grateful fragrance to rejoice the heart of Him who is a Spirit, the God of the spirits of all flesh. Let Isaiah inform us: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me" (6 1:1).
We ask not just now of whom the prophet spake this, "of him or of some other man". Of whomsoever he speaks, he maketh this plain, that Adonai's anointing is with His own Spirit, that this is the inward and spiritual grace of which outward unction was but a type and a shadow or, at most, a means of conveyance to the worthy receiver.
"But what is all this to me?" a Jewish hearer may say. "I am merely one of the am ha'aretz 4 and I neither hope nor desire to be a prophet, a priest or a king." It is enough to me that I listen to those exalted persons unto whom the Lord put His Spirit for the public good. O then do listen; listen to Moses the Man of God! Hear the breathing of his heart's desire and prayer to God on your behalf in Numbers 9:29: "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them."
Such is the wish which the Spirit of God inspired Moshe Rabbeinu with, and can you, O can you think it good for you to be of a different mind? But am Ha'aretz or no am Ha'aretz, you are Israelites and as such specially called to be holy. Hear ye then the word of the Lord: "Thus saith the Lord God in Exodus 19:6: Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy (Leviticus 19:2).
The Holy Spirit and Holiness
And are you holy? Whatever be the privileges of a nation, holiness must have its seat in the heart, and its manifestation in the lives of individuals, or men belie their privileges and hold up to the scorn of blasphemy, the holy name of him who constituted them a holy nation. A holy nation made up of unholy individuals! The thought is absurd.
Are you then holy? Let the flatteries of your fellow mortals be hushed; listen to the Torah and listen to conscience. Look on the resplendent purity of that fiery law; look on the holiness of Adonai, whom it requireth you to resemble. Then look into your own heart and behold the yetzer hara (impure conception or corruption) and the seven abominations that are within it; look on your lives; look on your own confessions on the Day of Atonement and at other times; then look up to the glorious high throne of Adonai and dare, if you can, to say that you are holy.
We do not insult your misery, brethren beloved, our hearts bleed for your affliction and still more for your sins. We arrogate not to ourselves the right to say to you, "Stand by yourselves, come not near to us, we are holier than you". But this we say and this we feel, that it becometh us, and that it becometh you, to cry out, with a holier man than any here present, when he beheld the majesty of the Lord, "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips mid I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6).
"But how, then", you will ask, "can Israel possibly be holy?"
The answer is, "Shall any thing be too hard for the Lord?"
The character required of you, and the way in which you must attain it, are both set before you in a fight clearer than that of noonday: "Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them: I am the Lord which sanctifies you" (Leviticus 20:7, etc.).
The sun of this world, shining on objects clothes them with splendour, which they reflect. God the Lord who is a sun and shield, giving grace and giving glory, Israel?s holy One in the midst of Israel, shining forth from the mercy-seat, and from between the cherubim, fills His sanctuary, His tabernacle, His temple, His city, His land, His people's soul, with the light and beauty of holiness.
For this the holy men of old, your fathers, prayed, as for that in which their very life consisted: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit? (Psalm 51:10-12).
And again, in Psalm 143: 10: "Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good; lead me unto the land of uprightness."
The blessings which you see implored in these verses, in connection with the gift of God's Spirit, are such as every Israelite stands in need of. A clean heart, a right spirit, a standing-place in the presence of God, the joy of God's salvation, the support of the Almighty's arm, instruction in the good and perfect and acceptable win of God, and guidance to the land of uprightness are blessings which not only prophets and shepherds of the people require, they are indispensable to every one who would ascend into the hill of God and stand within His holy place. Adonai is not a God who taketh pleasure in wickedness. Evil shall not dwell with Him, nor fools stand in His holy place. Without these things, then, how can you expect to have a share in "the world to come"?
If David feared being cast out of God's presence; why should not you? If his heart could not be cleansed by ought but God's Holy Spirit, how can yours be cleansed by ought beside? If he prayed so earnestly for God's good Spirit, with what fervent desire should you lift up your hearts with your hands to God in the heavens, to bestow the same precious gift upon you?
The Pouring out of the Holy Spirit
And this leads me on to a remark which, while it affords an additional proof how full the Tanakh is of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, presents, at the same time, the amplest encouragement to the house of Israel to engage and persevere in believing prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I mean the promises with which the sure word of prophecy is replete (Joel 2:28 cf. Acts117): "And it shall come to pass afterwards that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh."
Not to speak of the calling of the Gentiles, which we might show to be here foretold, let no Israelite now shelter himself wider pretext of his being an am Ha'aretz: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants, and upon the handmaids [the lowest, the most despised and neglected class]. In those days will I pour out my Spirit."
See also to the same effect, Isaiah, 44:1-5: "Yet now hear, O Jacob, my servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant and thou, Jerusalem, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel."
And chapter 59:19 to the end: "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun: when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord. My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from hence forth and for ever."
Thus have we seen, from the institution of the Jewish system, from the history of its administration, from the prayers of holy and inspired men, and from the gracious promises of the prophetic record, that the whole salvation Israel is dependent entirely, on the outpouring of God?s Spirit. That here is Israel?s life, Israel?s wisdom and beauty and strength and glory. Zechariah 4:6: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
Would that we could yet address you in the word which Lord spake by Haggai the prophet, saying, "My Spirit remaineth with you, fear ye not." But woe is me, my bowels are pained within me, that I am compelled to take a lamentation, and a wailing for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to tremble at the word of the Lord by Hosea: "Woe also unto them when I depart from them." Let us read the whole affecting context in Hosea 11:11, 12).
And now, beloved brethren, brethren according to the of my Lord and Saviour, suffer one who is, under God, indebted to the Jews for more than life, a man who has taken for salvation hold on the skirts of one who is a Jew, a Gentile trusting in the branch from the stem of Jesse. Suffer me, I say, to address you in love, and as under the pure eyes of God of judgement, the God of your fathers, who has not cast off this people whom He foreknew; but who, amidst all your departures from Him, is waiting, that He may be gracious to YOU.
Adonai hath cast you forth out of His land. His holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation, your holy and your beautiful house, where your fathers praised Him, is burned up with fire, and all your pleasant things are laid waste. Judah is gone into captivity, because of affliction, and because of great servitude, she dwelleth among the nations, she findeth no rest, her persecutors have overtaken her between the straits. The ways to Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts, her gates are desolate; her priests sigh, her virgins are affected, and she in bitterness.
And, in all the evil that has come upon you, there is not among you a prophet, nor any one who knoweth the time how long.
Wherefore hath Adonai done thus unto this land, what meaneth the heat of His great anger? Hear ye the answer which the Lord says men shall give and which, according to the prophecy, we do give to the question. "Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt? Deuteronomy 29:25)
Hear the account of Jeremiah in Lamentations 4:13,14: "For the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, they have wandered like blind men in the streets."
And hear the account also given in perfect accordance with all this, by an apostle of our Lord and Saviour in 1 Thessalonians 2:15: "They both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us: and they please not God, and are contrary to all men."
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