We are currently examining the importance of understanding the significance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts onward. While many people apply those promises of Acts to believers today, without fail, the narrative of the Spirit in Acts is reliant on the OT promises made to Israel about how God would restore her, and bring life to all men, in the last days. Failure to properly apply the NT doctrine of the Spirit leads to all sorts of confusion today, and is very unfortunate.
Be sure to read the introductory article to this series. And now, let’s take a look at some of the major OT prophecies of the work of the Spirit in the last days.
Isaiah 11 – This Messianic text predicted that the branch of the root of Jesse would possess the Spirit. While this may not seem all that significant, in light of the fact that the Spirit would abandon Israel and then return in the last days, with a revival of the prophetic office, it shows that Jesus was to be the prophet par excellence, for the Father would give the Spirit without measure to him (John 3:34)!
Isaiah 32:14-17 – “Because the palaces will be forsaken, The bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”
This passage is one of the more ignored texts when it comes to the promise of the Spirit, and the establishment of the kingdom. Note that there would be “desolation” until the outpouring of the Spirit. When the Spirit was poured out, the Messianic King who would “reign in righteousness”and peace (cf. 1f)..
Micah 7:15 — Written during the eighth century B. C.. Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. Like those prophets, he foretold the departure of YHVH from the nation, “He will give them up until the time that she who is in labor has given birth” (Micah 5:3). At the anticipated time of the “birth” the Lord promised, “As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show marvelous things” (Micah 7:15) Note a couple of things.
The result of the “birth” here is the Messiah (Micah 5:2), and his New Creation according to Isaiah 66, the time when the Lord would no longer dwell in temples made with hands.
The prophet says that in that day, the Lord would once again perform marvelous works, as He had when He delivered Israel from Egypt. This is the concept of the Second Exodus (Cf. Isaiah 11:10f), and this concept permeates the New Testament gospels and epistles.
Significantly, Israel was “born” by water and the Spirit when the Lord delivered them from Egypt (Isaiah 63:10f), and now, the Lord promises another time of birth, when He would pour out His Spirit once again. This language is incredibly pregnant (pun intended), with significance, but, we cannot develop these concepts in depth here.
Ezekiel 37:12-14 – “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it, says the LORD.’”
This incredibly significant text promised that YHWH would pour out the Spirit. The out pouring of the Spirit would result in raising Israel from the dead, out of her graves! At the time of this resurrection, they would serve their Messiah under a New Covenant, with YHWH’s presence among them in the New Messianic Temple.
Joel 2:28-32 – “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.”
Needless to say, this is considered by many to be the foundational text for the promise of the out pouring of the Spirit in the last days, to establish the Messianic kingdom, and bring salvation.
The out pouring of the Spirit would occur in the last days.
When the Spirit was given, just as Micah promised, He would manifest marvelous works.
Those miracles would be a sign of the impending Day of the Lord.
As a result of the out pouring of the Spirit, the remnant would be saved.
As a result of the out pouring of the Spirit, and the salvation of the remnant, salvation would be offered to all men, “Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Daniel 9:24 – “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
This great prophecy does not contain an explicit promise of the out pouring of the Spirit, in fact, it foretold the final, consummative cessation of prophecy and the prophetic office. However, implicit in that promise is that the prophetic office would be revived. The revival of the prophetic office would be confined to the seventy week period, and finished at the time of the full end, the time of the overwhelming flood of the destruction of the “people and the holy city.”
While there are other Old Covenant promises of the last days out pouring of the Spirit, we want to focus on these particular ones, and see how they relate to what the New Testament has to say– if anything, about their fulfillment. And the fact is that the New Testament clearly contains the belief that the O.T. promises of the out pouring of the Spirit in the last days was present, and that God’s work of salvation was fully underway, awaiting its imminent consummation. These are some of the major OT prophecies that in the last days, God would send the Spirit to resurrect Israel, to establish the kingdom, and to establish the New Covenant. In the next installment, we will take a look at John the Baptizer, as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming of Elijah. Stay tuned! Be sure to get my book, Into All The World, Then Comes the End, for an excellent discussion of the “end of the age” work of the Spirit.