Book Review: Knowing the Holy Spirit Through the Old Testament (Knowing God Through the Old Testament Set), by Christopher J. H. Wright

Knowing the Holy Spirit Through the Old Testament (Knowing God Through the Old Testament Set), Christopher J. H. Wright, IVP Academic; 2nd edition, 2006,160 pp.

Knowing the Holy Spirit Through the Old Testament  by Christopher J. H. Wright is part of series he has done called Knowing God Through the Old Testament. Just as other books (Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament and Knowing the Father Through the Old Testament), this one does not disappoint.  This is a short read (160 pp). Wright gives an overview of the work of the Holy Spirt in the Old Testament. Sometimes Christians aren’t aware that the same Holy Spirit that now indwells us as followers of Jesus is the same Holy Spirit that was at work in the Old Testament.  Wright starts by summarizing the creative work of the Holy Spirit (his work starts in Genesis) and then carries on sustaining creation and renewing creation at the consummation of Jesus.

The Spirit is also seen empowering people (Chapter 2). The Spirit is synonymous with power. People do great things when the Spirit comes upon them (pg 41).  While the Spirit is seen in giving people leadership and courage, the Spirit can be withdrawn because of disobedience (pg 43). Wright notes that the Spirit is seen in those who have humility. Moses is a good example of someone who had challenges but because of his humility and dependency on God, God gave him the resources he needed (Num. 11: 16-17).  In Chapter 3, Wright expands on the role of the Spirit in prophetic ability. He discusses the problems with true and false prophets in the Old Testament and how God would rebuke those that assumed they were speaking in behalf of God.  Wright notes we will have the same problem today. We are called to be discerning about what we hear.

In Chapter 4, Wright discusses the anointing of the Spirit. There were cases where kings, prophets, and priests were “anointed” to carry out a specific task for God. Even Cyrus was anointed to carry out a specific task for God (Isa. 44:28-45:1).  Remember, Cyrus was the king of Persia. Wright mentions the Servant Songs of Isaiah and how the Servant of Lord was anointed to carry our God’s will. These Servant Songs are fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Also, we as followers of Jesus are anointed as well. We are called to carry our God’s will in the world around us.

Chapter 5 concludes the book by discussing  the coming of the Spirit. Restoration passages such as Ezekiel 36-37 and Joel 2 speak of God restoring Israel and the nations.  Granted, God promises in Ezekiel 36 he will place His Spirit inside Israel. Joel 2 speaks of the Spirit being poured out on all flesh.  Of course, anyone that has studies Acts in great detail knows one of the main themes of that book is the restoration of Israel. The restoration started with the coming of the Spirit as was promised in the Old Testament. But the restoration is not completed yet. We are living in the “already but not yet” phase of God’s kingdom.  In other words, we are now living in the end times (or latter days), which were inaugurated at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

We worship the same God that worked in the lives of people in the Old Testament. If you want to see how God used the Spirit in their lives and how he does that today, this is an excellent resource.

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