From Jim McGuiggan... Holy Spirit, Old and New Testament

Holy Spirit, Old and New Testament

Psalm 139:7 "Where could I go from thy Spirit, where could I flee from thy face?"
1. The Holy Spirit has always been around, working to create, bless and redeem. His presence and work is not unique to the New Covenant church or scriptures. He indwelt, guided and blessed the Old Covenant church also.
2. Who brooded over the formless earth like a hen over her chickens, bringing order and harmony out of the chaotic and uninhabitable and continues to make the earth fruitful? The Holy Spirit! 1 Who strove with rebellious humans for years to turn them back to God and life? 2 The Holy Spirit did!
3. When Abraham trusted God to make his own over-the-hill body and his wife's dead womb fruitful and bear a child they couldn't have hoped for, who was involved in the whole process right from the start? 3 The Holy Spirit!
4. Biblical writers sometimes think of "the Exodus" as the actual departure of Israel from Egypt but often they see it as the whole movement of God bringing Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and settling them in the land of promise.
5. Who was there delivering Israel from Egyptian captivity and bringing them through the Red sea? The Holy Spirit! Who was there in the midst of them, providing, as they wandered through the wilderness in need of food and rest? And who put up with their rebellion and murmuring, continuing to guide them though they grieved him with their wickedness? The Holy Spirit! 4
6. Having freed them from the external conditions of slavery, who was it that dwelled in and worked with them, shaping them with life-transforming truths that redeemed them from internal slavery to all forms of corruption, enabling them to walk with their heads held high? The Holy Spirit! 5 Who built the Tabernacle through those people he chose and gifted? The Holy Spirit. And when God's supreme prophet needed help to spiritually guide the nation of Israel, it was the Spirit of God--the same Spirit that worked with Moses--that began to work in a more marked way with the seventy men chosen as colleagues to Moses, providing national guidance. 7
7. When Joshua and his peers died, Israel forgot what God had done for them the result was anarchy, civil war, renewed slavery and abuse from other nations. It was the Holy Spirit who came upon certain deliverers, galvanizing the tribes into unity that resulted in freedom and rest. 8
8. The Holy Spirit was there when the monarchy arrived, working through Saul until he showed himself an enemy of God's purposes. So the Spirit of God departed from him and came mightily upon David who called the nation to be one people under one God. When he sinned grievously against God, he pleaded that God not take his holy Spirit from him. 9
9. It was during the period of the monarchy that the prophets made their appearance in earnest. Prophets who, like Micah were filled "with the Spirit of the Lord" 10 and Azariah who proclaimed assurance to Judah and her king. 11  Both Nehemiah and Zechariah speak of the entire period before the exile as a time when God dealt with Israel through the Holy Spirit 12 and Peter speaks of "the Spirit of Christ" being "in" them when they foretold of the coming suffering and glorification of the Master. 13
10.Prophets saw a coming day of calamity because of Israel's covenant-breaking behavior but they assured Israel that a time was coming when God would signal the renewal of covenant relationship with Israel by lavishly pouring out the Spirit on men, women, girls and boys, male and female servants, virgins and old men. It would be a day of new beginnings, a day marked out by renewed Spirit activity.14
11. It's important that we remember that the work of the Spirit of God wasn't confined to acts of dramatic redemption or merely "religious" activities. Psalm 104 combines the extraordinary with the steady, everyday blessing of the entire creation. This includes his providing the gift of "wisdom" which means "thinking like God" and learning to live in and enjoy the world under him. The whole of life is permeated with the activity of the Holy Spirit.15
12. Then came the deportation the prophets had foretold and Israel marched into the dark, but even in captivity the Holy Spirit was dwelling, speaking, enabling and promising. Ezekiel was among the captives when the heavens opened and the Spirit of God entered him.16  Again and again he speaks conviction and consolation which comes to its peak in 37:1-14 where a nation dead in sin and exile is assured that the Spirit of God would raise them from their graves and give them life.17
13. When many returned to the land, chastened but not completely cured, they found life hard, their enemies eager, their situation precarious and unimpressive. But Haggai18  gave them the assurance that the covenant promise God gave to Abraham was still intact so they were not to fear, for not only was God faithful to his past promises, the Spirit of the Lord was "standing" in their midst. Zechariah encouraged Zerubbabel, the governor, to believe that the daunting task of establishing Israel again would be accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord.19

14. The literature of the Intertestamental period is littered with references to the Holy Spirit and his work in the lives of believers and elsewhere.20  Before the birth of John the Baptist and the Lord Christ himself, an angel assured the aged Zechariah that he would have a son who would be filled with the Spirit of God even from the womb.21  Luke 22 says the angel told Mary that in conceiving the Lord the Holy Spirit would come on her, "and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (an allusion to the Old Covenant Shekinah--the "glory" that stood over the Tabernacle). And there was the aged Simeon who was told by the Spirit that he would live to see the Lord's Messiah and being "in the Spirit" he came into the temple, saw the Christ child and praised God for his faithfulness.23

15. If all this is true--that the Holy Spirit was always and everywhere present, what are we to make of John's statement that even in the closing days of Jesus' earthly ministry, "the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified"?24

16. The "giving"25  and "receiving" of the Spirit in this passage hinges on the glorification of Christ and it has specific reference to believers in the Christ. It isn't necessary to set it against all we've just surveyed. John knew very well that the Spirit had always been at work in the people of God and beyond, and that he had been with them throughout the public ministry of Christ, because he expressly said this.26  He had never been absent so the "giving" of the Spirit speaks of some specialized sense of his presence.
17. The glorification of Christ involved his atoning death, his resurrection and his glorious ascension to God's right hand.27  Peter said "Exalted to the right hand of God he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear."28  This is precisely what Jesus was talking about when he said: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever"--29
18. The significance of the giving and receiving of the Spirit in the John 7 passage is generated because it relates to the return of the exalted Christ who had ended the earthly phase of his ministry and had become life-giving Spirit.30
19. In Acts 2, what Peter told his listeners was this: they were witnessing a new beginning, a new and special presence of the Holy Spirit who was now—what he could never have been before—the presence and representative of the glorified Christ who with his Father had taken up residence in the Messianic believers who constituted the new temple.
20. The Spirit could not function in this role earlier, precisely because the Christ in his earthly ministry was operating in the realm of the flesh (that is, under ordinary human limitations) and was not a glorified, ascended and universal Christ. For the Spirit to operate in this new way it was necessary for Christ to return to the Father.31
21. In the unfolding purpose of God, the Christ could not stay with them unless he first went away from them (through the process of dying, rising, ascension and glorification) and returned to them in the person of the abiding Spirit.32 So the difference between what went before God's glorifying Christ and what happened after it, is more about the "new identity" of the Spirit than about degrees of intimacy or the kinds of things the Spirit did. The Spirit had become the presence of the glorified Christ who was no longer to be seen in "fleshly" terms (within mere human or even merely Jewish categories).33
22. In the Messianic age the Spirit "of God" while he continues to be the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, he is now identified as the Spirit "of Jesus" or the Spirit "of Christ" or the Spirit "of his Son".34  Once more, this he could not be prior to the exaltation of the Christ, but now the Spirit comes in his name.35  So the John 7 passage really says more about Christology than about the Spirit.
23. Additionally, with the arrival of the Christ a new world order has appeared.36  The Christ is no longer a merely earthly figure but a "life giving Spirit"37  and his people are citizens of heaven, in the world but not of it.38  This means not only do they not view Christ in merely human terms, they don't view themselves or anyone else after the flesh.39 Their perspective is now "spiritual," "heavenly," that is, arising from the Spirit.40
24. In Acts 2, the wind and fire, the gift of languages not known to the speakers, the prophetic proclamation and the profusion of miracles connected with Pentecost, is a moment of crisis and new beginning, tangible proofs that these were the days of the Spirit of which the prophets had spoken.41
25. So it was not the presence and work of the Spirit that was new that was known throughout Israel's history and mankind's experience as part of the created order. What was new was the setting in which the Spirit was now at work, the relationship he now sustained to the glorified Christ and his newly created people. The Spirit is forever doing this kind of work, God breathes into Adam [humanity] the "breath" of life and man becomes a living being, God sends the wind [breath, spirit] into dead Israel in the valley of dry bones and a nation is resurrected. What happens in and through Jesus Christ echoes and brings to fullness all that has gone before and is reflected in the texts alluded to.
26. Close to the end of his earthly ministry, Christ told his people that he would send them another Counselor —one they know—who was already "with" them but would be "in" them.42  While it's true that he later speaks of their whole new experience in terms of being "with" them 43  it's still true that he makes a distinction between "with" and "in".44
27.  Jesus was speaking here of the time when the believers would become the new covenanted People and so would become the new temple in which the Christ and his Father would dwell through the Spirit.45 The Spirit was with and in Israel prior to the covenant at Sinai, but with the Sinai events, Israel became something they had not been before. They became a covenant People or nation unto God who now dwelled in and among them as their (senior) covenant partner.
28. This work of Christ, in sending the Spirit [and coming in and as the Spirit] to anoint and indwell the Church, his Body, is what is meant by the phrase "baptized in the Spirit". The phrase is from the Baptist 46 who wants the baptized penitents to know that their Christ is greater than he is. At the appropriate time, the Christ would give them the Spirit or, in the words of John, "he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit."
29. Israel of old and many individuals within it had been anointed before the Christ arrived, but with his coming the purposes and results of the anointings were new, that is, peculiarly focused. They would all come under the heading of glorifying Christ and making him Lord of all and Lord in peoples' lives. The reign of God would rise to its final manifestation in relation to humankind.
30. The anointing of Israel of old with the Spirit, is replaced by the new anointing of a new Israel, who, with Gentiles become the new temple in which God dwells through the Spirit.47 Those who share the faith of Abraham (rather than a place within the Sinaitic covenant), having been baptized into Christ become Abraham's heirs.48
31. This move replaces the Mosaic covenant (which created two families--Jew and Gentile) with a "new" covenant which, in the Christ, makes of the two, "one new man, so making peace".49 Israel is not "dumped" but her covenantal relationship with God is restructured and all people of faith become one with them.
32. By sending the Spirit in Jesus' name and making him available to all who in trusting repentance take on them the name of Christ in baptism, 50  God shows the restructuring work is his. This he does in fulfillment of the words of the prophets, the Baptist and Jesus himself.
33. The Spirit's anointing of Christ's people was all they needed for a complete life with God in the Christ. He provided all things necessary for life and godliness and they needed nothing more! This anointing included gifted men and women who functioned within the Body in various ways.51
34. This is what John had in mind when he spoke of the anointing of the Church with the Holy Spirit who guides the church into all truth.52 No pretended knowledge (via Gnostics or other radicals) is needed to complete them, there are no essentials missing that only the elite have access to. John is not suggesting that each individual has an anointing from the Spirit that makes him/her both infallible and exhaustively taught.
35. It is the New Community that's baptized in the Spirit rather than each independent individual. By virtue of being part of the Community we are indwelled by the Spirit. Salvation and the reception of the Spirit is always personal but they're not available in isolation--only within the covenanted community.
36. Suppose each human has what survives biological death, something we call "spirit" and which is said to dwell in us--we wouldn't dream of saying, "Our spirit dwells only in our brain, our liver or heart" as distinct from, say, our foot or hand. No, our spirit dwells in "us," no particular part of us. Nor would we dream of saying, "Our spirit doesn't dwell in our toes or ears." In saying the spirit dwells in "us" we mean "us" as a corporate whole and not independently in each organ as though we were a collections of independent pieces.
37. There is no "individual" indwelling of the Spirit. There are no "individual" Christians, independent units. It's all right to speak of individual Christians as long as we know they only exist as various parts of a Body. A finger is not the whole body, it is an "individual" part of the body 53 but is an individual "part of the body". We can only speak of a finger or foot or eye in the context of a corporate body.
38. And the indwelling is not any literal tabernacling of the Holy Spirit in us. The "indwelling" is another way of expressing his willingness to identify with and have holy communion with the covenanted Community, the Church. The indwelling is his gracious willingness to be and move among the people as their God in a peculiar covenantal way. "Indwelling" is not to be construed in a spatial sense but in a relatonal sense. We are said to dwell in God as surely as God is said to dwell in us.54
39. Whether the indwelling is "literal" or "figurative" the scriptures teach he indwells us. The good news is he continues to dwell in us and bless us despite our ignorance about the details.
40. Let me summarize:
The Holy Spirit has always been at work, creating, blessing, redeeming, nurturing, guiding, supplying and enlightening.
41. The prophets told of a day when the reign of God would become manifest in the Messiah and that that day would be made clear by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. That time would be the period of covenant renewal.
42. God's wondrous purposes became fully into view and imminent with the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth in whose life, death, resurrection and glorification the reign of God took on a greater glory than before.
43. The presence and work of the Spirit continued in some ways to be what it had always been, but it now took on a new significance. He became a witness to the glorification of Christ and to the identity of his covenanted people (the Church--made up of all nations). This meant he was working with a new phase of God's purpose and it's that new role that explains much of what is new in the New.
44. The Spirit, who is always the Spirit "of God" is made known as the Spirit "of Christ," "of Jesus" and "of his Son". This was not possible before the glorification of Jesus Christ.
45. The Spirit who had dwelt in the Old Covenant people—and visibly signaled that by the presence of the tabernacle and temple—now dwells in the New Covenant people which is made up of Jews and Gentiles who have received the Messiah.
46. The Christ is said to "baptize in the Holy Spirit" when he sent the Spirit to the new covenanted people in whom he and his Father dwell through the Holy Spirit.
Two more points before concluding this piece.
47. This new role of the Spirit might help explain the "sin against the Holy Spirit" of which Christ spoke.55 For the Jews to reject the earthly Christ was sin but it could later be rectified. To reject the exalted Christ, who is now only experienced through the Holy Spirit, is to sin a sin against the Holy Spirit for which there can be no cure. There was/is no other Christ and there is no other way in which Christ as Lord is brought to the world. To despise the Spirit witness is to close the door to possible salvation..
48. I know of no reason to say, with the majority of writers, that the difference between the Old Covenant and the New is that old covenant saints couldn't keep the covenant because they didn't have the Spirit to enable them. The Spirit, then, is supposed to have been sent to enable new covenant saints to keep the new covenant. I think this is a misunderstanding of the nature of both covenants.
49. The notion that the Old Covenant was "Spiritless" is a blunder and the view that ancient saints lagged behind New Covenant saints in faithfulness, that their love for and devotion to God was inferior and shallow is another blunder. Just by itself, the Hebrew writer's "hall of fame" should put that claim permanently to rest.
50. It's true that new truths were revealed and a new phase of God's purposes arrived with the arrival of the New Covenant manifestation of the kingdom (reign) of God. The work and presence of the Spirit took on a special significance but all his enabling of people in Old Covenant times was just as real as any New Covenant enabling. With the arrival of the "fullness of time" that enabling work had a new thrust and development. It was "eschatological" and related to God's new "end time" people and purposes which were centered in "the last Adam," Jesus Christ.56 All that is true, I think, but it has nothing to do with the depth and genuineness of the faith and devotion of ancient saints created and nurtured by the Spirit. At the ethical level, the glory of their lives was as rich as any in the present. Choose out examples from the New and they can be matched, at least, in the Old.
51. It's not difficult to show formalism, apostasy and immorality in the ancients, but no one in the New Covenant writings condemns these as savagely as prophets in the old. Mere externalism was trashed by the prophets who called on people to have hearts that were circumcised and to give God themselves. Christ himself told us that the whole Old covenant canon could be summed up in the love commands. Paul followed his lead in that.57
52. I'm saying that much of the ignorance we attribute to Israelites under the Mosaic covenant is not theirs--it's ours. I'm saying the Spirit made their lives lovely and sacrificial and God-fearing. I'm saying what is "new" about the work of the Spirit in the new covenantal arrangement has nothing to do with these matters.
1. Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:29-30
2. Genesis 6:3-5
3. Genesis 17:17; 18:11; Romans 4:19 & Galatians 4:29
4. Isaiah 63:10-14
5. See Nehemiah 9:20; Leviticus 26:12-13; Exodus 29:43-46
6. See Exodus 35:10-11, 30-31
7. Numbers 11:10-30
8. See Judges 3:10; 6:34 and other places
9. 1 Samuel 16:13-14; Psalm 51:11
10. Micah 3:8
11. 2 Chronicles 15:1-8
12. Nehemiah 9:30; Zechariah 7:12
13. 1 Peter 1:11
14. See Joel 2:28-29; Jeremiah 31:31-34; 33:19-26; Ezekiel 36:26-28; 37:1-14,24,26-27
15. See Psalm 104, especially verse 30
16. Ezekiel 2:2; 3:4
17. See the piece, Wind of the Spirit
18. Haggai 2:5
19. Zechariah 4:6-10
20. See the works of Max Turner, Millar Burrows and others.
21. Luke 1:13-15
22. Luke 2:25-27
23. Luke 1:35
24. John 7:38-39
25. There is no "given" in the Greek text though the translations are no doubt correct in supplying it. See Acts 19:2 for something similar.
26. John 14:17
27. The cross is seen as an aspect of Christ's glorification. See, for example, John 12:27-28 but Philippians 2:5-11 and 1 Timothy 3:16 would show more can be involved than the atoning death.
28. Acts 2:33
29. John 14:16,26
30. John 14:18,23; 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:45. Christ retains his humanity, of course--1Timothy 2:5--but it's a glorified humanity. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-50.
31. John 16:5-7; 17:4-5
32. John 14:16, 18,23,26; 16:5-7,16
33. 2 Corinthians 5:16
34. 1 Peter 1:11; Romans 8:9; Acts 16:7; Galatians 4:6
35. John 14:26
36. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15
37. 1 Corinthians 15:45
38. John 17:14, 16; Philippians 3:30 and Revelation 12:12; 13:6 contrasting "earth dwellers" and "heaven dwellers".
39. 2 Corinthians 5:16
40. This is not to suggest that there was no "spirituality" before the Messianic age, far from it. I'm only saying within the stages of development of God's purposes, the Mosaic age, was categorised as the time "of the flesh" where the Messianic age is "of the Spirit". Prior to the Christian era both Isaac and Ishmael were born in the usual way but it's said that, "the son born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit". See Galatians 4:28-29. 
41. Acts 2:16-18; Joel 2:28-29; Isaiah 44:3; 1 Peter 1:11
42. John 14:17
43. John 14:23
44. While I believe the distinction is intentional here, the point isn't made just by comparing the prepositions. The Spirit was already "in" them as he was "in" Old Covenant prophets--see 
1 Peter 1:11 but I think the passage here speaks of them as the new and indwelt temple soon to be constructed. We don't learn all this simply by comparing the prepositions.
45. Ephesians 2:21-22
46. Mark 1:7-8
47. Ephesians 2:11-20
48. Galatians 3:26-29
49. Ephesians 2:15-16
50. Acts 2:16-39; John 14:26; Galatians 3:9,14
51. 2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 4:8,11-16; 1 Corinthians 12
52. 1 John 2:20,27; John 16:13
53. See 1 Corinthians 12:17; Romans 12:4
54. John 14:20
55. Matthew 12:31-32 and parallels
56. This simply means that the Messianic age is the "final" age, the "end time," the period to which all earlier dispensations led. When scholars speak of the "eschatological" Spirit they don't mean, of course, it's a different Spirit, only that the renewed and special sense of his presence now relates to the dispensation known as "the end time". 
57. Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

"Is He not Also the God of the Gentiles?" by Alden Bass, Ph.D.


"Is He not Also the God of the Gentiles?"

by Alden Bass, Ph.D.

Paul asked his Roman readers this question in the first century, in response to the Jews’ proud claims of exclusive divine recognition. These first-century Jewish Christians considered themselves to be religiously elite because of the special grace God had bestowed on them in the giving of the Mosaic Law. This was a great privilege indeed. Yet in God’s eyes, the Jews were no greater than the Gentiles, in that all had sinned and stood in need of redemption. It is not unusual for the modern Christian to wonder about the Gentiles living before the time of Christ, as they seem to have been neglected by God until the Messiah appeared. Or, perhaps many honest students of the Bible simply give no thought to the matter at all, believing that the Old Testament tells about the salvation of the Jews, while the New Testament describes the redemption of all humanity.
This type of thinking is dangerous because it raises questions about the justice of God. Paul realized this, and in his discussion he stressed that “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). God has promised that all men will be held responsible for their deeds on the Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:12); on that day, race, color, and social status will mean nothing—“great and small” will be assembled together. Each person will answer for his sin, his rebellion against God, or his obedience to the Law. Perfect justice demands that only those responsible be judged; babies, and those incapable of discerning right and wrong, will automatically enter heaven (Matthew 18:3). This necessarily implies that all who will be judged will have a knowledge of morality, or right and wrong. It would seem though, that the Gentiles who lived when the Mosaic Law was in effect were without a standard. As far as we know from the Old Testament, no law was given to the Gentiles congruent to that delivered from Sinai (Exodus 20). Further, the Law of Moses was not intended to be spread evangelically like the Gospel; the Jews did not actively proselytize because they were not commanded to do so.
Despite the absence of written law however, Paul declared that all men, particularly the Gentiles, were “without excuse” before God (Romans 1:20). To have no excuse is to have been given opportunity, but to have spurned it. It is to have a knowledge of the truth, yet neglect it. From this passage, it is clear that the Gentiles had some law, and that they were responsible to God for their actions just like everyone else who has ever lived. Paul discussed this at length in Romans 1-3, but there also is much evidence in the Old Testament which suggests that God did not forget the Gentiles. Actually, Gentiles figure largely in the Old Testament, and often are depicted as being more faithful than the covenanted Jews.
Before Moses, there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. God did not favor any particular nation or family, but only the righteous. Abel was approved because he was more righteous than his brother (Hebrews 11:4); likewise Enoch and Noah were saved because of their righteous faith (Hebrews 11:5-7). For this reason, too, Abraham was chosen and set apart to become the “father of many nations,” that through his seed all nations should be blessed (Galatians 3:6). Paul reminded the proud physical descendants of Abraham that their father was not actually a Jew because he was the father of the Jews. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision: that he might be the father of all” (Romans 4:11). He argued that although Abraham became the patriarch of the Jewish nation, God called him when he was still uncircumcised and thus no different from the Gentiles.
We know that Abraham was not alone in his righteousness during that period. Melchizedek, King of Salem, lived concurrently with Abraham (Genesis 14), and was called “the priest of the Most High God” (Hebrews 7:1). Here was a man who served God faithfully, and eventually became a type of Christ’s priesthood (Hebrews 5:6). Undoubtedly, there were other God-fearing people in the land, else Melchizedek would have no one to whom to administer priestly rites. Also, it is widely believed that Job was a contemporary of Abraham, or at least lived in the same pre-Mosaic period. An entire book of the Bible is devoted to his story, the story of a man who followed God against all odds. Not only did Job know the true God, but his friends likewise knew Him, indicating that true worshippers were probably neither isolated nor rare. Thus, while Abraham and his family obediently traveled to Canaan, other peoples worshipped God faithfully and truly.
Knowledge of God originated from several sources during these times and those that followed. Jehovah spoke to Abraham and Job directly, sent Jacob an angel, and dreams to Joseph. This straightforward contact between God and individual families effectively ended with the transmission of the Ten Commandments on Sinai—at least with the Jews (with some exceptions; cf. Judges 13:3; Luke 1:26ff.). God chose to communicate through His written Word and through the prophets. The Law was given only to the Israelites (as were the prophets), yet there were many Gentiles who believed and worshipped God without benefit of either. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro the Midianite, was a priest (Exodus 3:1) whose alternate name, Reuel, means “friend of God” (Exodus 2:18). True religious worship among the Israelites had been suppressed under the heavy hand of the Egyptians, yet only a few hundred miles to the northeast, men and women were aware of Jehovah God and worshipped him. How did Jethro come to be a priest of God? It must have been either through tradition passed down from the patriarchs or by direct revelation from God.
Nearly forty years later, another foreign prophet arrived on the scene. Balaam, a soothsayer from Mesopotamia, was summoned by the leaders of the Moabites and the Midianites to curse the children of Israel (Numbers 22:1-3). Balaam consulted Jehovah before going, agreeing only to speak the words God gave him. Whether or not Balaam was a prophet of God is questionable (2 Peter 2:15), but we can be certain that he was familiar with the One God of Israel, and that he recognized that this God was more powerful than any lesser gods to whom he might otherwise have appealed. Thus, God apparently communicated to these Gentiles (and others) by means of oral tradition or by direct communication.
More frequently, however, God used His people as an example to the heathen nations, both collectively and individually. God told Moses that the purpose of delivering Israel was that “He might show His power, and that His name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). The effect of those miracles was far-reaching. Forty years after crossing the Red Sea, Rahab the Canaanite confessed:
For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. (Joshua 2:10-11, emp. added).
The great miracle of Israel’s deliverance prompted Rahab, and all who heard the story, to acknowledge that Jehovah was the true God. Jethro cited that event as the cause of his belief, and perhaps that of the Egyptians as well: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they [the Egyptians—AB] behaved proudly, He was above them” (Exodus 18:11). In the New Testament, Cornelius developed his faith in God because of the righteous Jews in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-2).
Although the power of God working through His people caused whole nations to tremble, the example of individual godly lives often had similar effects. Ruth, a Moabitess, was so impressed by her mother-in-law Naomi that she adopted the Jewish faith, and eventually became a progenitor of the Messiah (Ruth 1:16; Matthew 1:5). God’s providence is seen most clearly when godly individuals were brought to the attention of Gentile monarchs, who then accepted Jehovah as God. This was the case with Joseph and the Pharaoh (Genesis 41:38-39), Elijah and Naaman (2 Kings 5:15-17), Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:29; 4:2-3), Daniel and Darius (Daniel 6:26), and Esther and Ahasuerus (Esther 8). Each of these Gentile men exercised authority over an empire, and to some degree each established true worship among his people. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius even issued specific decrees declaring the God of Israel as the one true God of all nations (Daniel 4:1-18; 6:25-27).
God showed Himself to the nations by great wonders wrought through Israel and by godly persons. In this way, the greatest empires the world has ever known—the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Medo-Persian—had the opportunity to know God. This alone would leave those nations “without excuse,” but God did not stop there. He also sent His prophets to them to encourage them to repent. Obadiah was sent to Edom (Obadiah 1:1), Nahum preached in Assyria (Nahum 1:1), Zephaniah prophesied to Canaan and Ethiopia (Zephaniah 2:5,12), and Amos and Ezekiel delivered judgments to the Ammonites, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and the Edomites (Amos 1:3-2:3; Ezekiek 25:2; 27:2; 29:2; 35:2). Most familiar of all is the prophet Jonah, who was sent to preach repentance to the inhabitants of Nineveh in Assyria (Jonah 1:2). To his great disappointment, the entire city repented in sackcloth and ashes, and God gave them a reprieve (Jonah 3:10). That God had adequately warned all nations of His wrath against sin is evinced by the visits of these prophets, who “have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70).
The “revelation” of God to the Gentiles mentioned in Romans 1:18 classically has been interpreted as natural revelation—the Creation—an interpretation based on verse 20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” John Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century regarding this passage:
Whence was it plain then? Did He send them a voice from above? By no means. But what was able to draw them to Him more than a voice, that He did, by putting before them the Creation, so that both wise, and unlearned, and Scythian, and barbarian, having through sight learned the beauty of the things which were seen, might mount up to God (1969, 11:352).
Doubtless, God intended for His creation to be an obvious sign of His existence (Psalm 19:1), yet God has given more than that. God spoke to those Gentiles through dreams, through the example of His people, and through the prophets. Consider for a moment the wise men of Matthew 2. These men traveled a great distance, divinely guided by a star, in order to worship the Son of God. God revealed His will to these men in at least three ways. They knew to expect a Messiah to be born in Bethlehem by means of written revelation (2:5-6). An inspired dream advised them to avoid Herod on their return home (2:12). The third method God used to communicate to them is unknown, but somehow they knew to follow the star to find the Christ child. The implications of this story are intriguing, and give us reason to believe that God continued to communicate with those who truly followed Him. Paul confirmed this in his speech to the Athenians on Mars Hill when he stated that God
has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27).
During the Mosaic age, God was not the God of the Jews only, but of all nations. He worked through Israel to bring about the fulfillment of His ultimate plan, the redemption of all men, but God always has loved all men, and earnestly desires that they worship Him. He also has given all of mankind an opportunity to obey Him. He must have done so, else He could not hold them accountable for their sins. Unfortunately, then, as today, many rejected God’s gracious offer of pardon, choosing to exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25). Even in those times of rampant idolatry and ungodliness, the Old Testament provides a glimpse of the faithful few in all the nations—those men and women who, despite the degraded society around them, chose to serve Jehovah God.


Chryostom, John (1969), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Eedrmans).

From Mark Copeland... He Is Risen! (Mark 16:1-14)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                         He Is Risen! (16:1-14)


1. After Jesus was buried, His body lay in the tomb until early 
   Sunday morning...
   a. On Saturday evening, three women bought spices to anoint Him -      Mk 16:1
   b. On Sunday morning, they came to the tomb as the sun was rising
      - Mk 16:2

2. The woman were concerned about access to the tomb...
   a. It had been sealed with a large stone - Mk 15:46; 16:3
   b. But the large stone had been rolled away! - Mk 16:4

3. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man...
   a. Clothed in a long white robe (an angel) - Mk 16:5; cf. Mt 28:2
   b. They were alarmed, but he sought to calm their fears - Mk 16:5-6

4. His message to the women...
   a. "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He is risen!"
   b. "See the place where they laid Him."
   c. "But go, tell His disciples -- and Peter -- that He is going
      before you into Galilee."
   d. "There you will see Him, as He had said to you." - Mk 16:6-7

[The women left amazed and afraid (Mk 16:8).  But soon their fear would
turn into great joy!  Not just for them, but for other disciples as
well.  To appreciate why, let’s survey the appearances of Jesus in all
four gospel accounts, plus those listed by Paul...]


      1. As described in our text - Mk 16:9-11
      2. Expounded by John in his gospel - Jn 20:11-18

      1. As revealed in Matthew’s gospel - Mt 28:9-10
      2. Where Jesus reiterated what the angel had said - ibid.

      1. As described in our text - Mk 16:12-13
      2. Elaborated by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:13-32

   D. TO PETER...
      1. Reported after the testimony of the two disciples - Lk 24:33-35
      2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5

      1. Possibly the occasion in our text - Mk 16:14
      2. Described in detail by Luke and John - Lk 24:36-43; Jn 20:19-25

      1. A week later, as described by John - Jn 20:26-31
      2. Mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:5

      1. Including Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John - Jn 21:1-2
      2. While they were fishing, and then eating together - Jn 21:3-25
      1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:6
      2. Possibly in Galilee as directed by the angel and Jesus -16:7; Mt 28:10,16-17
      3. Possibly when the Great Commission was first given - Mt 28:18-20

      1. Recorded by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:7
      2. Who previously did not believe, but then became a disciple - Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14

      1. Recorded by Luke in his gospel - Lk 24:44-49
      2. This time in Jerusalem, shortly before His ascension - Ac 1:3-8

      1. Recorded in Mark’s gospel - Mk 16:19-20
      2. Also by Luke in both of his books - Lk 24:50-53; Ac 1:9-12

[These many appearances were claimed by the disciples of Jesus.  One
might properly ask, "Why should we believe them?"  That we might have
the same joy in believing that "He is risen!", consider...


      1. Their testimony appealed to empirical evidence
         a. I.e., evidence derived from experiment and observation
            rather than theory
         b. They refused to accept second hand evidence - Mk 16:11,13;
            Jn 20:25
         c. But for forty days they were given infallible proofs - Ac 1:3; 10:41
         d. They saw, heard, and touched Him - Jn 20:24-28; 1Jn 1:1-2
      2. There is no way they could have been deceived or deluded
         a. If all they had were individual dreams, visions, or
         b. But they testified that Jesus appeared to them in groups as
            well as to individuals

      1. Prior to the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples were afraid and
         without hope
         a. They fled at his arrest - Mk 14:50
         b. Peter cowardly denied Him three times - Mk 14:66-72
         c. The women mourned His crucifixion - Lk 23:27
         d. After His death, the disciples were sad - Lk 24:13-17
         e. After His death, the disciples hid behind closed doors, for
            fear of the Jews - Jn 20:19
      2. But after the resurrection, they fearlessly praised God and
         proclaimed Jesus!
         a. Praising God in the temple - Lk 24:52-53
         b. Proclaiming Christ, despite persecution - Ac 5:28-32,41-42
      3. This transformation in their lives is strong evidence for the
         resurrection, as admitted by one Orthodox Jewish scholar:
         a. "If the disciples were totally disappointed and on the verge
            of desperate flight because of the very real reason of the
            crucifixion, it took another very real reason in order to
            transform them from a band of disheartened and dejected Jews
            into the most self-confident missionary society in world
            history."  - Pinchas Lapide, former Chairman of the Applied
            Linguistics Department at Israel’s Bar-Iland University
            (TIME, May 7, 1979)
         b. He concluded that a bodily resurrection could possibly have
            been that reason!

      1. They taught others to live holy lives - 1Th 4:1-7; Ep 4:25
      2. They lived their own lives in unimpeachable way - 1Th 2:3-12
      -- Does this sound like people who propagate lies when they know

      1. The apostles endured much suffering because of their testimony
         - 1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 11:23-28
      2. All but one died a martyr’s death because of their testimony
      3. Even Jesus’ brother, James, was thrown off the temple and then
         clubbed to death for his testimony
      -- There was no motive for them to persistently lie about Jesus’


1. As revealed in Mark’s gospel and those of Matthew, Luke, and John...
   a. Jesus Christ rose from the dead
   b. He appeared to many of His disciples
   c. Who later became witnesses of the resurrection

2. The nature of their witness does not allow for the option of being
   deceived or deluded...
   a. Again, they professed empirical evidence
   b. They claimed to eat and drink with Him, touch Him, see Him

3. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, there is only one
   a. These witnesses were liars, deceivers
   b. Even Paul freely admits this is the only alternative - 1Co 15:14-15

4. Is it reasonable to believe they successfully propagated a lie...?
   a. Too many people attested to the same fact
   b. They were not the kind of people to fabricate such a falsehood
   c. They lived noble lives, and were ALL willing to suffer and die for
      their testimony!

When we carefully examine the lives and testimony of the witnesses of
the resurrection, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that they
really saw what they claimed concerning Jesus...

                            "He is risen!"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading February 4

Bible Reading  

February 4

The World English Bible

Feb. 4
Genesis 35

Gen 35:1 God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother."
Gen 35:2 Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments.
Gen 35:3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went."
Gen 35:4 They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
Gen 35:5 They traveled, and a terror of God was on the cities that were around them, and they didn't pursue the sons of Jacob.
Gen 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.
Gen 35:7 He built an altar there, and called the place El Beth El; because there God was revealed to him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
Gen 35:8 Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth.
Gen 35:9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan Aram, and blessed him.
Gen 35:10 God said to him, "Your name is Jacob. Your name shall not be Jacob any more, but your name will be Israel." He named him Israel.
Gen 35:11 God said to him, "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will come out of your body.
Gen 35:12 The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and to your seed after you will I give the land."
Gen 35:13 God went up from him in the place where he spoke with him.
Gen 35:14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he spoke with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it.
Gen 35:15 Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him "Bethel."
Gen 35:16 They traveled from Bethel. There was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel travailed. She had hard labor.
Gen 35:17 When she was in hard labor, the midwife said to her, "Don't be afraid, for now you will have another son."
Gen 35:18 It happened, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Benoni, but his father named him Benjamin.
Gen 35:19 Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath (the same is Bethlehem).
Gen 35:20 Jacob set up a pillar on her grave. The same is the Pillar of Rachel's grave to this day.
Gen 35:21 Israel traveled, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
Gen 35:22 It happened, while Israel lived in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
Gen 35:23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Gen 35:24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
Gen 35:25 The sons of Bilhah (Rachel's handmaid): Dan and Naphtali.
Gen 35:26 The sons of Zilpah (Leah's handmaid): Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
Gen 35:27 Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (which is Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac lived as foreigners.
Gen 35:28 The days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years.

Gen 35:29 Isaac gave up the spirit, and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. Esau and Jacob, his sons, buried him.

Feb. 4, 5
Matthew 18

Mat 18:1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"
Mat 18:2 Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the midst of them,
Mat 18:3 and said, "Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 18:4 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mat 18:5 Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me,
Mat 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.
Mat 18:7 "Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes!
Mat 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire.
Mat 18:9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire.
Mat 18:10 See that you don't despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 18:11 For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.
Mat 18:12 "What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn't he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray?
Mat 18:13 If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.
Mat 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he doesn't listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector.
Mat 18:18 Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven.
Mat 18:19 Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them."
Mat 18:21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?"
Mat 18:22 Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.
Mat 18:23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants.
Mat 18:24 When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
Mat 18:25 But because he couldn't pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
Mat 18:26 The servant therefore fell down and kneeled before him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!'
Mat 18:27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
Mat 18:28 "But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'
Mat 18:29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you!'
Mat 18:30 He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due.
Mat 18:31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done.
Mat 18:32 Then his lord called him in, and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me.
Mat 18:33 Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?'
Mat 18:34 His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him.
Mat 18:35 So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don't each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."