Much like the pre-incarnate Word, when it comes to the Spirit of God in the Old Testament you don’t always see Him mentioned but He’s always there. In fact, this is one of the key evidences that the preaching Levites of Nehemiah’s day used while encouraging a proper revival amongst the people of God. In the midst of a history sermon, while thanking God, they said:
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20)
Notice the order of God’s gifts to Israel’s ancestors. The word of God, bread and water! Reminds me of Matthew 4:4 – which again reminds us about another Old Testament passage. Three characteristics clearly stand out about the Spirit of God in this inspired sermon: 1) He’s good 2) He teaches and 3) He provides.
The fact that God has always had a desire to do well towards His people and that He has made a way for us to clearly follow reveals the Spirit’s affections not only for order, but also for us! The gift of God is a gift giver. Although the avenue and nature of the Spirit’s gifts have changed throughout the millennia, the purpose, the desire, the result and the source has remained a constant. Heavenly goodness and a heavenly education is what God’s people were given in the past, and it is what God still gives to His people today. For these reasons alone, Nehemiah 9:20 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about the Holy Spirit of God.
“Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” (Nehemiah 9:30)