The first week we asked several questions in closing. One was as follows: “The Hebrew Bible sometimes describes the Holy Spirit as a personal being and not just as an impersonal force. Is the Holy Spirit merely a synonym for God, or does the term describe part of his very nature, his own Spirit?”[i] We’ll now go into the second doctrinal statement to answer the question, “What or Who is the Ruach HaKodesh?”
Ruach Hakodesh (The Holy Spirit) is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and with the Son; He was active in the creation of things and continues to be so; He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement; He regenerates, sanctifies, baptizes, indwells, seals, illuminates, guides, fellowships with believers and bestows His gifts upon all believers. (Genesis 1:26; Ezekiel 36:26; Matthew 3:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:11 and 12:7)
Evidence of Personality
The persona and relateability of the Ruach HaKodesh, as shown in the Scripture, describe a living, feeling, and emotional personality. In the letter to the Romans, Paul urges the church by the love of the Ruach HaKodesh, a love that, to him, comes as a given reality (Rom. 15:30). Messiah states that a tree can only bear like fruit, so when the fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) is listed in Gal. 5:22-23, Paul validates the loving nature of the Ruach HaKodesh in listing love as the foremost quality.
The Levites appropriately thank the LORD for his great mercy and patience with Israel shown by continually drawing them back by the word of the Spirit (Neh. 9:30). “The Spirit of the LORD fell upon [Ezekiel] and said to [him], Speak! Thus says the LORD …(Eze. 11:5).”[ii] The Spirit instructed Philip, the first missionary, “Go near and overtake [the Ethiopian] chariot” (Acts 8:29) and warned the Body of Messiah concerning the Great Apostasy in the latter times (1 Tim. 4:1-5). Along with the Bride, He cries for the Bridegroom to return quickly (Rev. 22:17).
Paul refers to the soul of the spirit of God when he talks of the “mind of the Ruach” (Rom. 8:27), and that the Spirit acts according to what “He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).” Ezekiel caught a glimpse of this as he watched the four beasts move forward “wherever the Spirit wanted to go (Eze. 1:12)”, and Paul, Silas and Timothy were forbidden, by the Ruach HaKodesh, to preach in Asia or Bithynia (Acts 16:6,7).
There are many instances where people have provoked and grieved the Ruach HaKodesh as Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 63:10). Paul warns the congregation in Ephesus not to grieve the Ruach HaKodesh (Eph. 4:30) or even quench Him in (1 Thes. 5:19). In many cases judgment follows the provocation of the Ruach HaKodesh as is the case for Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3-7). In fact, the letter of Hebrews strongly asserts, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has… insulted the Spirit of Grace? (Heb. 10:29)”
The Ruach HaKodesh functions in many different roles as He brings the gifts and Word of God to people. David rightly says in Psalm 143:10 “Your Spirit is good,” for the Spirit is the maker or creator of life (Job 33:4, Gen. 2:7). In exalting God’s majesty and referring to the creation of the universe, Job testifies, “By His (God’s) Spirit He adorned the heavens (Job 26: 13).” Elihu reminds Job that God continues to sustain all life by His Spirit and His breath (Job 34:7). David, recognizing his reliance on the Ruach HaKodesh, says, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with Your generous Spirit (Ps. 51:12).” Isaiah recognized that God would wash away the “filth of sinful Zion and cleanse Jerusalem by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Isa. 4:4). John the Beloved knew the Paraklētôs (Comforter) as the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father and testifies of Messiah (John 14:25-27, 15:26). Messiah said concerning the Spirit that: “When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you in all truth; for he will not speak on His own authority, but whatever he hears He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14)”
Some of the roles of the Spirit get “forgotten.” In (Acts 2:17-21) Peter quotes Joel and talks of signs and wonders that precipitate the judgment of the LORD. (Joel 2:28 – 3:17) This judgment is ushered in by the power of the Spirit of God (Isa. 4:4) as He fulfills the role as the Spirit of Justice. Paul’s description of the Armor of God has only one offensive component, the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). The Ruach HaKodesh wields the Word of God to bring both judgment and mercy. (John 16:8-11) Yeshua told us that we do not need to worry about what we should say when we are arrested for His sake. Rather the “Spirit of your Father [will be] speaking through [us].” (Matt. 19:20)
Nature of the Ruach
Mathew, Mark, Luke and John all record the baptism of Yeshua and all recognize the voice of the Father and the Spirit descending upon the Son in the form of a dove (Matt. 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-33). Paul tells the Corinthians that the Lord is Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17), and Yeshua himself states, “God is Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).”, John, in his later life, writes, “’For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Ruach HaKodesh; these three agree as one (1 John 5:7).” The power of the Ruach can be seen in that He raised Messiah from the dead (Rom. 8:11). The omnipresence of God can most clearly understood through the Ruach HaKodesh. Psalm 139:7 reads, “Where can I go from Your spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” The psalmist then goes on to explain that no place in heaven or earth exists where the Spirit does not.
Ruach in Messiah
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would have the anointing of the Spirit upon His life purposely for preaching good news, binding broken-hearted, proclaiming liberty, opening prisons, comforting mourners, and proclaiming the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God (Isa. 42:1, Isa. 61:1, Luke 4:18). Isaiah also says about Messiah: “There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 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.” (Isa. 11:1,2) Paul states that Yeshua was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4),” and that only through the power of the Spirit did Messiah minister. When Messiah Yeshua laid his life down on the cross, He did so by the strength of the Ruach HaKodesh (Heb. 9:14), and when He rose to life, it was the Spirit who quickened Him (1 Pet. 3:18).
The Ruach Works in Us
In the same way the Spirit empowers people for the accomplishing of God’s purposes and the edification of His people. Sometimes, as is the case of Balaam, Samson and Saul, the person used is unholy (Num. 24:2, Judg. 13:25, 1 Sam. 19:18-24), however, most of the time God has raised up the individual for that specific time and season like David, Esther and Gideon (1 Sam.16:3, Esth. 4:14, Judg. 6:36). The Spirit of God raised Ezekiel up and empowered him simply so that he could stand and listen to the voice of God during His visions (Eze. 2:2, 3:24). The Lord fills each person with different gifts by the power of the Spirit in order to edify the Body and bring effectiveness to their ministry (1 Cor. 12:7, 1 Pet. 1:12). The working of the Spirit causes a transformation to take place (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:16, Tit. 3:5).
As we allow the Ruach to move in our lives, God’s character is developed in us and people recognize the gifts that He has given us. By the time that Pharaoh recognized Joseph, the Ruach HaKodesh had worked into him the character traits needed for leadership (Gen. 41:38). The Lord anointed Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah with the Ruach HaKodesh especially regarding wisdom, understanding and knowledge in all manners of workmanship required to furnish the Tabernacle (Ex. 31:3). King Belshazzar said of Daniel, “I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you (Dan. 5:11).” Because Daniel honoured God, The Ruach HaKodesh promoted him and empowered him to live a godly life in Babylon.
Paul understood the working of the Ruach HaKodesh though sanctification when he said to the Corinthians, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).” This changing from one realm of glory to another comes by continually sowing in the Spirit, or in other words, making decisions based upon God’s perspective and not one’s own (Gal. 6:8). As decisions are made according to God’s will, the Ruach HaKodesh builds a habitation of God in the life of the believer (Eph. 2:22). Sanctification by the Spirit, unto salvation, instigates great joy because the character of Messiah can be seen (2 Thes. 2:13).
The Ruach Speaks To Us
Prophetic Song and Word
The Levites, in the days of Nehemiah, sang that God had given His good Spirit to instruct them. This prophetic song was one of the many ways that the Ruach HaKodesh brought instruction to the people. The book of Acts is full of instances of where the Ruach HaKodesh gave instructions. A couple of them include the stories of the disciples Philip (Acts 8:29), Peter (Acts 10:19), Paul and Silas (Acts 18:5). God reveals Himself to believers by the Ruach HaKodesh (1 Cor. 2:10) and one of His methods is the prophetic word. Azariah prophesied to Judah and Benjamin when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Him; Jahaziel the son of Zachariah stood up in the midst of the congregation and prophetically encouraged king Jehosaphat and all of Judah and Jerusalem because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (2 Chron. 15:1, 20:14). Warning of impending judgment came through prophets such as Zechariah son of Jehoiada (2 Chron. 24:20)
The Ruach HaKodesh communicated to Ezekiel primarily through visions. One of these instances recorded in the Scriptures recounts:
“And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looks toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain (Eze. 8:3,4).”
John the Beloved also was caught away by the Spirit when he received the Revelation (Rev. 4:1-2). The Spirit also uses judgment as a means of drawing people to Himself. Isaiah says on behalf of God, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD… and taught Him the path of judgment (Isa. 40:13,14)?” Micah again says, “Truly I am full of the power of the Spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin (Mic. 3:8).” Yeshua clearly sums up the instruction of the Ruach HaKodesh in the Book of John, “It is the spirit that quickens (gives insight and life); the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)”
The Ruach Works Through Us
Signs and Wonders
Paul stated in Romans 8:14 that the Spirit leads all children of God and demonstrated to the unsaved the power of that Spirit through signs and wonders (Rom. 15:19). He quantifies that being “in the Spirit” is both an internal belief as well as a visible walking out in faith (Gal. 5:25).
Possibly the most potent ministry of the Ruach HaKodesh, in intercession He beseeches the Father both on our behalf, and through our very mouths. Zechariah, when seeing the time of the Messiah, prophesies, “I will pour upon the House of David… the Spirit of grace and intercession (Zech. 12:10).” Paul clearly understood the working of the spirit “through us” when he wrote to the Romans,
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:26-28).”
Therefore because of the intercession that the Ruach HaKodesh prays through us, God works all things together for good. This understanding brings an assurance of salvation because after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believing in Messiah, a believer is sealed with the Ruach HaKodesh of promise (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13). The work of the Spirit on our inner man produces an earnest desire to have our mortality swallowed up in life. Since this was God’s plan all along He has given us the Ruach HaKodesh as a guarantee (2 Cor. 5:1-5).
To conclude the discussion about the Ruach I would like to quote from Dr. Michael Brown.
Why is there much more talk about the Holy Spirit in the New Testament than in the Old Testament? It is because the Messiah has come and inaugurated the first stages of the Messianic age, a time of the Holy Spirit’s special activity among mankind. It is a time when the plea of Moses begins to see its realization (Num. 11:29 “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”), a time of the outpouring of the Spirit predicted by Joel, a time when verses such as Lev. 26:12 and Eze. 37:27 begin to reach their fulfillment (see 2 Cor. 6:16-18) ….
This glorious experience of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has become real to millions around the world through Jesus the Messiah. Once, their very nature was bent on sin, destruction, and selfish satisfaction. Now, they live to give glory to God. Where there was hate, there is love; where there was darkness, there is light. That is the effect of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people.
To summarize, then, the real question here is not whether the Holy Spirit is “the Third Person of the Trinity” – words found nowhere in the New Testament – but whether the New Testament teaching on the subject of the Holy Spirit is in harmony with the evidence of the Hebrew Scriptures, and whether it even has some common ground with later Jewish traditions. The answer is emphatically yes. The Holy Spirit is a “who” and not just a “what,” the Holy Spirit is identified directly with God, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as distinct from God. Based on this, theologians have concluded that the Holy Spirit is “the Third Person of the Trinity.”
In any case, this much is perfectly clear: There is nothing un-biblical about the New Testament doctrine of the person and the work of the Holy Spirit, and even a religious Jew can find parallels to these concepts in the rabbinic writings.[iii]
Gen. 1:2, 41:38; 2 Sam. 23:2; Isa. 42:5; John 3:3-8; Acts 2:4; Rom. 8:13-15; 1 Cor. 14:15, Gal. 3:3, 16, 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 4:13, 5:6
[i] Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol 2, Michael L. Brown, pg. 12.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iii] Ibid, Brown, pg. 58-59