Jehovah’s Gift of Holy Spirit
“How much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”—LUKE 11:13.
1, 2. (a) What promise did Jesus make about holy spirit, and why is this truly comforting? (b) What is the holy spirit?
IN THE fall of the year 32 C.E. while Jesus was preaching the good news in Judea, he spoke to his disciples about Jehovah’s generosity. He used some powerful illustrations and then made a wonderful promise, saying: “If you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”—Luke 11:13.
2 What a comfort those words are! As we endure the turmoil of this world’s last days, face the enmity of Satan and his demons, and fight our own fallen inclinations, it is truly heartwarming to know that God will strengthen us by his spirit. Indeed, faithful endurance is impossible without that support. Have you experienced the power of this spirit, which is God’s own active force? Do you understand how much it can help you? Do you use it to the full?
The Power of Holy Spirit
3, 4. Illustrate the power of holy spirit.
3 Consider first the power of holy spirit. Think back to the year 1954. That was when a hydrogen bomb was detonated over Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. An instant after the bomb exploded, that beautiful island was engulfed in an immense fireball and battered by an explosion equal in force to the detonation of 15 million tons of TNT. Where did all that destructive power come from? It was the result of changing into energy just a small fraction of the uranium and hydrogen that made up the core of the bomb. What, though, if scientists could do the opposite of what they had accomplished at Bikini? Suppose they could capture all that fiery energy and convert it into a few pounds of uranium and hydrogen. What an achievement that would be! Yet, Jehovah did something similar to that but on a vastly greater scale when “in the beginning [he] created the heavens and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1.
4 Jehovah has vast reserves of dynamic energy. (Isaiah 40:26) In the creation, he must have harnessed some of this energy when he formed all the matter that makes up the universe. What did he use in this creative activity? Holy spirit. We read: “By the word of Jehovah the heavens themselves were made, and by the spirit of his mouth all their army.” (Psalm 33:6) And the Genesis account of creation reads: “God’s active force [holy spirit] was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) What a mighty force the holy spirit is!
5. In what lofty ways does holy spirit operate?
5 Holy spirit still operates in very lofty ways. It guides and directs Jehovah’s heavenly organization. (Ezekiel 1:20, 21) Like the energy released by the hydrogen bomb, it can be used destructively to execute judgment on Jehovah’s enemies, but it has also operated in other ways that excite us to wonder.—Isaiah 11:15; 30:27, 28; 40:7, 8; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
6. How did holy spirit support Moses and the children of Israel in their dealings with Egypt?
6 For example, about 1513 B.C.E., Jehovah sent Moses to appear before Pharaoh of Egypt to demand freedom for the children of Israel. For the previous 40 years, Moses had been a shepherd in Midian, so why should Pharaoh listen to a shepherd? Because Moses came in the name of the only true God, Jehovah. To prove this, Jehovah empowered him to perform miracles. So impressive were these that even the Egyptian priests were forced to admit: “It is the finger of God!”* (Exodus 8:19) Jehovah brought ten plagues on Egypt, the final one of which forced Pharaoh to let God’s people leave Egypt. When Pharaoh stubbornly pursued them with his army, the Israelites escaped when a way was miraculously opened up through the Red Sea. The Egyptian army followed them and drowned in the sea.—Isaiah 63:11-14; Haggai 2:4, 5.
7. (a) What were some reasons why the holy spirit worked miracles? (b) Although miracles wrought by holy spirit no longer occur, why is the record of them in the Bible comforting?
7 Yes, Jehovah through his spirit worked powerful miracles in behalf of the Israelites in Moses’ time, and at other times too. What was the intent of those miracles? They furthered Jehovah’s purposes, caused his name to be known, and demonstrated his power. And sometimes, as with Moses, they proved conclusively that an individual had Jehovah’s backing. (Exodus 4:1-9; 9:14-16) However, miracles wrought by holy spirit have been rare throughout history.* Likely, most individuals living in Bible times never witnessed one, and today they no longer occur. Nevertheless, as we today wrestle with problems that may seem insurmountable, is it not a comfort to know that if we ask Jehovah in faith, he will give us the same spirit that supported Moses before Pharaoh and opened a way for the Israelites through the Red Sea?—Matthew 17:20.
8. What was the role of the holy spirit in the giving of the Ten Commandments?
8 After their deliverance from Egypt, Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai, where Jehovah concluded a covenant with them and gave them his Law. A central part of that Law given through Moses was the Ten Commandments, and the original copies of these were engraved on stone tablets. How? By holy spirit. The Bible says: “Now as soon as [Jehovah] had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai he proceeded to give Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone written on by God’s finger.”—Exodus 31:18; 34:1.
9, 10. How was the holy spirit active in the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures, and how is this evident from expressions used by Jesus’ disciples?
9 In addition to the Ten Commandments, Jehovah through his spirit gave Israel hundreds of laws and regulations to guide the lives of faithful men and women. And more was to come. Centuries after Moses’ day, Levites testified in a public prayer to Jehovah: “You were indulgent with [the Israelites] for many years and kept bearing witness against them by your spirit by means of your prophets.” (Nehemiah 9:5, 30) Many inspired prophecies uttered by those prophets were recorded. Further, holy spirit moved faithful men to write down sacred histories and heartfelt songs of praise.
10 Paul was speaking of all these writings when he said: “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Samuel 23:2; 2 Peter 1:20, 21) Indeed, when quoting these scriptures, Jesus’ first-century disciples often used expressions such as “holy spirit . . . spoke by David’s mouth,” “holy spirit aptly spoke through Isaiah,” or just “the holy spirit says.” (Acts 1:16; 4:25; 28:25, 26; Hebrews 3:7) What a blessing that the same holy spirit that influenced the writing of the Holy Scriptures has preserved them so that they can guide and comfort us today!—1 Peter 1:25.
Reliance on Holy Spirit
11. What activity of the spirit was seen with regard to the building of the tabernacle?
11 While the Israelites were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, Jehovah commanded them to build a tabernacle as a center for true worship. How could they accomplish this? “Moses said to the sons of Israel: ‘See, Jehovah has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. And he proceeded to fill him with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in every sort of craftsmanship.’” (Exodus 35:30, 31) Holy spirit reinforced whatever natural skill Bezalel possessed, and he could successfully oversee the erection of that remarkable structure.
12. How did the spirit strengthen individuals in unusual ways after Moses’ time?
12 At a later time, Jehovah’s spirit became operative upon Samson, giving him superhuman strength to enable him to deliver Israel from the Philistines. (Judges 14:5-7, 9; 15:14-16; 16:28-30) Still later, Solomon was granted special wisdom as king of God’s chosen people. (2 Chronicles 1:12, 13) Under him, Israel prospered as never before, and its happy condition became a pattern for the blessings that God’s people will enjoy under the Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus, the Greater Solomon.—1 Kings 4:20, 25, 29-34; Isaiah 2:3, 4; 11:1, 2; Matthew 12:42.
13. How does the record of the spirit’s strengthening Bezalel, Samson, and Solomon encourage us today?
13 What a blessing it is that Jehovah makes that same spirit available to us! When we feel inadequate to fulfill an assignment or engage in the preaching work, we can ask Jehovah to give us the same spirit that he gave to Bezalel. When we suffer sickness or endure persecution, the same spirit that gave Samson extraordinary strength will fortify us—though not, of course, miraculously. And when we face difficult problems or have to make important decisions, we can ask Jehovah, who gave Solomon extraordinary wisdom, to help us act wisely. Then, like Paul, we will say: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:13) And James’ promise will apply to us: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him.”—James 1:5.
14. Who, in ancient times and today, have been supported by holy spirit?
14 Jehovah’s spirit was also upon Moses in his work of judging the nation. When others were appointed to help Moses, Jehovah said: “I shall have to take away some of the spirit that is upon you and place it upon them, and they will have to help you in carrying the load of the people that you may not carry it, just you alone.” (Numbers 11:17) Thus, those men did not have to act in their own strength. Holy spirit supported them. We read that on later occasions Jehovah’s spirit was upon other individuals. (Judges 3:10, 11; 11:29) When Samuel anointed David as future king of Israel, the record says: “Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of Jehovah began to be operative upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13) Those today with weighty responsibilities—family, congregation, or organizational—can be comforted to know that God’s spirit still supports his servants as they take care of their obligations.
15. In what way has holy spirit strengthened Jehovah’s organization (a) in the days of Haggai and Zechariah? and (b) today?
15 Some thousand years after Moses’ day, faithful ones from among the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem from Babylon with the commission to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1-4; Jeremiah 25:12; 29:14) Difficult obstacles arose, however, and they were discouraged for many years. Finally, Jehovah raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the Jews not to rely on their own strength. But how would the task be accomplished? “‘Not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Zechariah 4:6) And with the support of God’s spirit, the temple was built. God’s people today have similarly accomplished much. The preaching of the good news has expanded around the earth. Millions of individuals are being educated in truth and righteousness. Conventions are organized. Kingdom Halls and branch offices are built. Much of this has been done in the face of bitter opposition. But Jehovah’s Witnesses have not become discouraged, knowing that every single thing they have accomplished has been, not by a military force, nor by human power, but by God’s spirit.
God’s Spirit in the First Century
16. What experience did Jehovah’s pre-Christian servants have with the activity of God’s spirit?
16 As we have seen, pre-Christian servants of God were well aware of the power of God’s spirit. They relied on it to help them fulfill weighty obligations and to accomplish God’s will. They also knew that the Law and the other sacred writings were inspired, written under the influence of the spirit of Jehovah, and thus they were ‘God’s Word.’ (Psalm 119:105) What, though, of the Christian era?
17, 18. What were some miraculous manifestations of the spirit in the Christian era, and what purpose did these serve?
17 The first century of our Common Era also saw wonderful activities of God’s spirit. There was spirit-inspired prophesying. (1 Corinthians 14:1, 3) In fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that holy spirit would remind his disciples of all the things he had said and would teach them further aspects of the truth, a number of books were written under the influence of holy spirit. (John 14:26; 15:26, 27; 16:12, 13) And there were miracles, as will be discussed more fully in our next article. Indeed, the first century was ushered in by a remarkable miracle. About the year 2 B.C.E., a special baby was to be born, and as a sign, his young mother was to be a virgin. How could that be? By means of holy spirit. The record says: “The birth of Jesus Christ was in this way. During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united.”—Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35, 36.
18 When Jesus grew up, he cast out demons, healed the sick, even raised the dead in the power of holy spirit. Some of his followers also performed miracles and powerful works. These special abilities were gifts of the spirit. What was their purpose? Just as earlier miracles had done, they furthered God’s purposes and revealed his power. Moreover, they demonstrated the genuineness of Jesus’ claim that he was sent from God; and later, they proved that the first-century Christian congregation was God’s chosen nation.—Matthew 11:2-6; John 16:8; Acts 2:22; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 2:9.
19. How is our faith strengthened by the Bible’s account of the miracles of Jesus and his apostles?
19 The apostle Paul, however, said that such miraculous manifestations of the spirit belonged to the childhood of the congregation and would pass away, so we today do not see such miracles wrought by holy spirit. (1 Corinthians 13:8-11) Still, the miracles performed by Jesus and his apostles have more than historic interest. They strengthen our faith in God’s promise that sickness and death will have no place under Jesus’ rulership in the new world.—Isaiah 25:6-8; 33:24; 65:20-24.
Benefit From God’s Holy Spirit
20, 21. How can we avail ourselves of the provision of holy spirit?
20 What a powerful force this spirit is! But how can Christians today avail themselves of it? First, Jesus said we should ask for it, so why not do just that? Pray to Jehovah to give you this wonderful gift not only in times of stress but on every occasion. In addition, read the Bible so that holy spirit can speak to you. (Compare Hebrews 3:7.) Meditate on what you read and apply it so that holy spirit can be an influence in your life. (Psalm 1:1-3) Further, associate—individually, in congregations, and at assemblies—with others who rely on God’s spirit. How richly holy spirit fortifies those who bless their God “in the congregated throngs”!—Psalm 68:26.
21 Is not Jehovah a generous God? He says we have only to ask for holy spirit and he will give it to us. How foolish to rely on our own wisdom and strength when such a powerful help is at our disposal! There are, however, other matters having to do with God’s spirit that affect us as Christians, and these will be discussed in the next article.
The majority of the miracles recorded in the Bible took place during the time of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and his apostles.
Can You Answer the Following Questions?
□ How did Jehovah create all the matter in the universe?
□ What were some ways in which holy spirit operated in pre-Christian times?
□ How does it comfort us today to know what the holy spirit accomplished in ancient times?
□ How can we avail ourselves of the provision of holy spirit?
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The spirit that gave Samson superhuman strength can give us power for all things