–Ezekiel 43-4-5 (NRSV)
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
–John 7:37-39 (NRSV)
Confusing, no? If the spirit had not been given as it says in John, then how could the spirit have lifted Ezekiel up?
I’ve said previously that the Spirit is seen all over the Tanakh (Old Testament) but we get the impression that it only came to rest on those who were to speak prophesy. Not literally every single person of the Children of Israel possessed the spirit. We have some idea that first in Acts 2 and then in Acts 10, the spirit rested on all the Jews and then on the Gentiles who made teshuvah and believed in the Messiah. We also know that the spirit could rest on who it desired as in the case of the seventy elders of Israel we see in Numbers 11:16-30
But what about this?
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
–Luke 3:21-22 (NRSV)
Have you ever wondered why the spirit had to rest upon Jesus prior to him entering into his ministry? Wasn’t he the Messiah after all? Didn’t he already have the spirit?
Yet, as Messiah himself said in John 7, the spirit had not been given, that is, it had not been given to all who would believe. As in the case of the prophets of Israel, the spirit only came upon those who would prophesy and judge. What then was the difference between Jesus and the other prophets of Israel?
According to a teaching given by Jordan Levy at the First Fruits of Zion Shavuot conference at Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship, Jesus received the spirit just as the other prophets had received it, but in full measure.
What does that mean?
I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them…
–Numbers 11:17 (NRSV)
Some of the spirit? Moses had received a portion of God’s spirit. How the spirit is measured in this manner, I don’t have a clue. But apparently God would take some of the spirit that He had put upon Moses and “sub-divide” it among the seventy elders of Israel.
I don’t have Jordan’s source materials so I don’t know from where she has found evidence of the prophets receiving a portion of the spirit vs. Jesus receiving the spirit in full measure. However, I did find this:
For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
–John 3:34 (ESV)
The New Living Translation Bible says “for God gives him the Spirit without limit”, the King James Version says “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him” and the International Standard Version says ” because God does not give the Spirit in limited measure to him.” This all seems to indicate that God gave the spirit to Jesus without measure or to some full extent. Putting Numbers 11, Luke 3, and John 3 together, we get the impression that the prophets and judges of Israel may have received a limited portion of the spirit of God but the Son of God received a limitless measure of the spirit.
The Gospels are replete with metaphors of the hired hand vs. the Son of the owner who will inherit all that is the Father’s. It could be said that as devoted as the prophets were to God, they were still “hired hands” and the Messiah…only the Messiah, is the Son and based on that, only the Son will inherit from the Father all that belongs to the Father.
This makes sense if the purpose of the message is to communicate the identity of the King, the only one who rules over us, the one who will inherit all the earth, all the nations, and all of the inhabitants as his subjects.
We know from Joel 2:28 that the spirit will one day be poured upon all flesh, but that day has yet to come. I’m sure Peter thought it had come when he saw Cornelius and his Gentile household receive the spirit, but in that day as it is true in the present, only some Jews and some Gentiles have received the spirit, and not in full measure.
So what does all this mean to us?
But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
–2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NRSV)
First installment? First installment of what?
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
–2 Corinthians 5:5 (NRSV)
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
–Ephesians 1:13-14 (NRSV)
According to D. Thomas Lancaster in his teaching A Pledge of What is to Come, the portion of the spirit we have received is a sort of “down payment” of what is to come in the Messianic Age. The Messiah has not yet returned, the words of the prophet Joel have not yet come to pass.
This is the promise of the spirit:
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
–John 14:16-18 (NRSV)
Just as we can only summon glimpses of the Era of Messiah by performing acts of tikkun olam, we only have a foreshadow of the true measure of the spirit that we will eventually inherit as adopted sons and daughters, just as the Son of God received the full measure. When we become believers and we receive the spirit, we receive a promissory note, so to speak. The spirit we have in the current age is a guarantee that we will receive the full spirit when the spirit is poured out on all flesh.
But what must happen before all this, before Messiah’s return, before we can redeem that which is promised us?
The death of the righteous is on the same level as the burning of the house of God.
Lancaster said this during his presentation, obviously quoting the sages, but I don’t have the source in my notes. Nevertheless, based on what I’ve written about other conference presentations, the Divine Presence that dwelt in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple can be compared to the Holy Spirit. We must notice what is missing. There is no Temple, and there is no record that the Presence rested upon Herod’s Temple as it had Solomon’s. The Divine Presence was once in Israel and now it is gone. The Messiah once walked among his people Israel but he is not with us either.
I know they are both coming back. It is by faith that we believe but as Messiah said, he did not leave us alone as orphans. We were left with a counselor, a companion, a promise, a guarantee. We were left with a portion of the spirit as an indication that in the days ahead, we will receive so much more. We don’t have the full some of the spirit, but we have what we need.