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A defence of the Spirit's personhood from the Old Testament.
As a general rule, we Evangelicals tend to defend the personality of the blessed Spirit of God from New Testament texts. Nevertheless, the Old Testament is just as clear regarding the personal nature of the Holy Ghost.
Today we are going to focus upon what the Old Testament has to tell us about the Spirit’s personal traits.
1.- The Spirit Speaks
The fundamental presupposition of the doctrine of inspiration is that the Spirit of the Lord speaks through His chosen prophets. Before passing onto glory, King David declared that, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me and his word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). The speech of the Spirit is an indication of his personhood as impersonal forces are unable to utter a word.
The dynamic book of Ezekiel says something similar: “Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet and spoke with me, and said unto me: ‘Go, shut yourself within your house’” (Ezekiel 3:24). As we understand that it was the Spirit who spoke to the prophet in such a fashion, it is easy to confess faith in Him as a conscious and personal agent.
2.- The Spirit Guides Us
Another personal action that characterizes the work of the Spirit is that of guidance. As David prays: “Teach me to do your will; for you are my God: your Spirit is good; lead me in the land of uprightness” (Psalm 143:10). The Spirit is like a good shepherd who leads the sheep of the Lord to nourishing meadows.
The same truth can be found in Isaiah 63:14: “As a beast goes down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so did you lead your people to make yourself a glorious name”. The Spirit led the Hebrew people in the days of Moses to inherit the Promised Land.
3.- The Spirit Gets Angry
Isaiah also points out how the Spirit was incensed with the people of God in Moses’ day over their rebellion. Isaiah 63:10 records: “But they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy and he fought against them”.
The verse is yet another proof that the Holy Spirit is a person as abstract objects can by no means become angry. Holy anger is a characteristic of persons; not of inanimate forces.
4.- The Spirit Teaches
There are a couple of precious texts in Nehemiah that serve to defend our thesis, namely, that the personality of the Spirit of God is revealed in the Old Covenant. The first one is taken from Nehemiah 9:20: “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and you did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst”. The idea here is that the Spirit of the Lord taught God’s people. Yet again, this is indubitable evidence regarding the Spirit’s personhood.
Some ten verses later, the same concept pops up: “Yet many years did you forbear them and testified against them by your Spirit in the prophets: yet they would not give ear: therefore you gave them into the hands of the people of the lands” (Nehemiah 9:30). It is just what verse 20 had pointed out before, namely, that the Lord taught and warned His people via the ministry of the Spirit.
A Crystal-Clear Doctrine
In sum, one is able to ground the personhood of the Holy Spirit without opening the pages of the New Testament. The testimony of the Old Pact is unmistakable. The Spirit speaks, guides, gets angry and teaches. It is impossible, therefore, to conceive of the Spirit as an impersonal entity. Given that He is a blessed Person, we too can have a relationship with Him.