The Holy Spirit Is Not Bound by Man's Time or Doctrine
I am always struck by how familiar the ancients were with what we today call supernatural. Accounts of seeing an angel, fiery chariots, or other manifestations are common throughout the Bible. Jacob wrestled with an “angel” who was God Himself. Indeed, the angel of the LORD (YHVH in angelic form) appears numerous times. No one ran away in panic. No one was ostracized for claiming such an encounter. Instead, they conversed with, debated, and honored. Yes, there are instances of fear taking someone to the ground, but they are quickly comforted and restored to their feet for the purpose of the interaction. Need an example? How about the angel that appeared to Gideon (Judges 6)? Gideon was just a lad, yet even he knew this was a real being and quickly went to gather, prepare, and bring a gift of honor to his guest. What is a “phenomena” to us was their normal, or at least something they were familiar with and understood.
For virtually all of my life, I was taught that the Holy Spirit was given to people at Pentecost (Acts 2). True enough, but it certainly was not humanity’s first encounter with the Holy Spirit. There are many examples of the Spirit appearing to and interacting with people before Pentecost.
Isaiah 63:11 – Isaiah recalls the presence of the Holy Spirit when the people journeyed out of Egypt.
Psalm 51:11 – David appeals to God not to remove the Holy Spirt from him because of his sin.
Luke 1:15 – An angel tells Zechariah that Elizabeth will bear a son, who shall be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
Luke 1:41 – Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:67 – Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 2:25 – Simeon has the Holy Spirit “upon him.”
Luke 3:16 – John the Baptizer announces the coming of one greater than he, who will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Luke 3:22 – People observe the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus as a dove and hear God speak His blessing upon him.
John 20:22 – Jesus sends out His disciples with a command to “receive the Holy Spirit.”
From the evidence, it is clear that the Holy Spirit was known about and in some cases experienced personally, just as angels were recognized. The Holy Spirit was “upon,” seen by, and filled people even before Pentecost.
I was raised under doctrine which acknowledged the existence of the Holy Spirit but denied its ability to be an active part of our lives today. It was said that its time was for then, not now, and that its active interaction with man ended upon the death of the last apostle. It was not until I faced a crisis in my own life that this myth was shattered and I came to experience and understand the power of the Holy Spirit on a personal basis. Looking back, I can recall previous occasions when the Spirit was active in my life, but I never perceived it as such. Today, I consider the Holy Spirit one of my closest friends as well as my traveling companion through life.
We are on this side of Pentecost and I wonder what reasoning separates many of us from full acceptance and belief in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. What reasoning stipulates that God today is less powerful, less present, and thus less caring than the God who inhabited the lives of the ancients? Just as the Spirit appeared to, spoke with, and empowered them, He is doing the same today for those who acknowledge His presence. Many do. Sadly, many Christians do not, or they acknowledge the Spirit’s presence intellectually while failing to make their relationship with Him personal.
He is real. He is here. He is waiting for an invitation to fill us and move us. All it takes to know and experience Him is a simple appeal from the heart. If you are not a believer in Christ as your Savior, this may be your moment. You can accept the Lord as your Savior and be given the gift of the Holy Spirit, our comforter. If you are a believer but have relegated the Holy Spirit to a shelf as a nice thing to look at now and again, you too can invite Him in to live in and through you in ways you may never have known.
That is what He desires. He is by your side now, waiting to hear your heart’s call.