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Is the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

When is the Holy Spirit first mentioned in the Bible? Jesus said He left us the Comforter in the New Testament, but are there references to the Spirit in the Old Testament?

The first mention of the Holy Spirit is in Genesis 1:2: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Holy Spirit was at work restraining the “darkness” upon the waters, appearing as a participant in the Creation. The next clear reference is in Exodus 31:3, where God fills Bezalel “with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills,” so that he and Oholiab might construct the tabernacle and its furnishings. A third is found in Numbers 11:17–29, where God rests on the prophets the same Spirit that was upon Moses. While this is a very different working than the permanent indwelling of the Spirit in the New Testament, we can see how the Spirit empowered God’s servants in the Old Testament for a particular task.

BY Dr. Eric C. Redmond

Dr. Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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