The Brooding Spirit of God
...the Beginning of the Holy Spirit’s Work
The Spirit of God is moving. Gently, but powerfully, He is warming hearts of people everywhere. This is in anticipation of the fulfillment of Prophetic Words like: Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him (Ps 72:11). While Muslims make bold strides toward taking nations for Allah, many of Christ’s followers are taken up with their own pleasure, seeking God mostly that their own needs might be met. But, this attitude in prayer is changing. More and more believers find themselves drawn toward a kind of supplication that embraces whole nations. God’s Spirit is seeing to this. His movements are more powerful than the sword—indeed!
For years I’ve waited to explore, with the Holy Spirit’s help, some Scriptures that reveal His work. I would like for us to begin this search together. I want all God wants me to understand about His Spirit to take lodging in my spirit—and in yours. It will generate in us new dimensions of strength, wisdom and vision. It will make us more useful in God’s Kingdom.
Some of what we expect to publish in this and coming articles will be a rediscovery of things we already understand—at least in a measure—regarding the Holy Spirit’s work. But much of what we see will most probably be new to us.
Our outline will be simple. First, we will explore what we can find about the Holy Spirit · as He worked with God in the acts of creation and early dealings with mankind. Then we hope to see · how He worked with Moses, particularly as he guided the children of Israel in the wilderness to prepare a dwelling place for God. That we be builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph 2:22) may be the Holy Spirit’s most urgent work in Christ’s Body today.
After we spend time with Moses, we should gain glimpses of the Spirit · at work in the heart of David. There is much, particularly in his Psalms, that reaches toward the Anointed One for Whom his spirit longed. David was a man in Covenant with God, one through whose Seed the promised Seed of Woman and the Seed of Abraham would come. The prophetic Word in this article’s first paragraph is from David. It is an indication of the deep longing of his heart.
Also, we should not neglect to see how • the Holy Spirit worked with Abraham, also a man in Covenant with God. Both he and David are important in our knowing the Covenants that reached on over to the Lord Jesus. Both of these Covenants were made sure by His death and resurrection.
The Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants are in the foundation of the Great Commission Christ gave His disciples before He ascended back into the heavens. (We will look at this in time— Matt 28:18-20.) An understanding in the Covenants will aid us in participating with the Holy Spirit in His present movements, and in making disciples of the nations.
Continuing with the Holy Spirit, we should see • how He worked with the Prophets, particularly as they told of their awaited Messiah and the extent of His rule. The Prophet’s words were precise and powerful, even if sometimes mystical. Many of them reach through the ages to lay hold on us, to go on with us through the end of the age.
Then we want to see · what the Lord Jesus told about that Holy Spirit of promise, as Paul called to Him (Eph 1:13). Jesus promised He would come to the disciples after He had returned to His Father in heaven. That promised Spirit would keep the disciples from being like orphans. The promise came in great measure at Pentecost, but not in its fullness. There is this we should know however: when He came then, He came to remain. Knowing what Jesus taught His disciples about the promised Comforter Who would abide with them forever is vital for us today.
After bathing our hearts in what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, we will look to see • what Paul had to say about Him. Paul is the one who revealed the most about Who the Holy Spirit is and how He will work in the lives of believers.
Our pursuit of understanding should be slow and gentle. We want to go as deeply as the Holy Spirit will allow us. What matter how long the lessons take? We are moving with God’s Spirit toward eternity. There is this for certain: the unfolding of the truth we’re investigating will require of us that we grow in our spirits as understanding takes hold in our minds and hearts.
Please keep in mind we are looking to see what we can of the Holy Spirit at work. We are not approaching this to build a “doctrine” of the Holy Spirit, or to support one. We simply want to see Who He was with our Heavenly Father, how He has worked through the ages, and how He will continue His work as He moves with us on into the age to come.
What we hope to gain is a better understanding of what He wants to do in us—and through us. And, we want to learn to live in unbroken communion with Him.
Having acknowledged this, let us go to the beginning of what the Lord God deemed in His wisdom to reveal about His Spirit. This means we are going to the first chapter of Genesis, the Book of Beginnings.
As soon as we begin our exploration in Genesis, we meet His Spirit. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD MOVED upon the face of the waters— Gen 1:1,2.
Some understanding has come to me that causes me not to be alarmed when I read reports of scholars in anthropology and geology who seem to contradict this Genesis account of creation. Nor have I been disturbed when I have visited great museums of natural history to find displays put there by clever persons to prove man evolved from lower forms. While I do not subscribe to all they have put before the public, I have never been disturbed—for two particular reasons. One is that I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I have chosen to take this stance and it has brought me light, life and peace. Two, I believe the Spirit of God was moving over the face of those waters because something was there that He longed to bring back into the life and purpose of God’s order on the earth. Buried in that dark abyss over which the Spirit moved could well have been buried what scientists today claim is their evidence that the world has been billions of years in its formation. What does it matter? God is eternal.
Now let us examine some of the words in the opening statement of Genesis. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form...(Gen 1:2). The term without form is from the Hebrew tohu, a word meaning “empty, desolate, like a wilderness.” In Isaiah 45:18 is another statement about God creating the earth that would seem to contradict the above Word from Genesis. See it: ... God Himself formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it NOT in vain. This term in vain is also from the Hebrew tohu. Let us apply the meaning desolate in both passages. From Gen 1:2 we would have the earth was desolate. From Isa 45:18 we would have He created it not desolate.
The word was takes our interest here. It is from the Hebrew, hahyah, which means “to be” or “to become.” It has several interpretations throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.
When we see this, we may well interpret the Genesis passage to read, the earth became without form. We are not told here what caused the earth to become desolate and empty. We are told just that it became that way—after an undisclosed period of time.
Something had happened to God’s perfectly created earth. Thus, we begin understanding why the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Could it not be that He was hesitant to leave the place that once had meaning and form?
It seems there was an expanse of time—borrowed from eternity—between the creation of the earth and the condition in which we find it in Gen 1:2. Perhaps we will know how long the expanse of time was when geologists are finally through telling us how many billions of years they are tracing in their discovery of our beginnings. Whatever the exact explanation for this passage may be, what is important is that we see the Holy Spirit moving here.
Please allow me a little space regarding the word was before we come back to the matter of the Holy Spirit’s movement upon the waters. The Hebrew word hahyah (“was”) seems to be the root upon which the Name of the Lord God is founded. The Israelites considered His Name so holy that it was for them unutterable except by the high priest on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In early writings they designated God, their Lord, by four Hebrew consonants, called the tetragramaton. As in all ancient Hebrew writings, there were only consonants with no added vowels to indicate sound. Pronunciation was passed verbally from one generation to another. Those four consonants representing God’s Name might be brought into our language as JHWH, an unpronounceable combination of consonants. Some have supposed to put in vowel sounds to make it Jehovah; others, Jaweh. Early Jewish scholars and scribes often replaced that Name, too holy to be pronounced, with the Hebrew word Adonai, which means My Lord. David loved this designation for Him and made significant use of it.
If we were to try to translate the holy Name designated by the four letters, we might find it means, The One Who is, Who always has been, Who always will be, and Who causes others, or other things, to come into being.
The word God to which we are introduced in Gen 1:1 is an amazing word also. It is a plural word in the Hebrew. We see it as Elohim, from the singular form elohe, which means “a god.” Often, and it is the case here, in the Hebrew language a word in its plural form has reference to its fullness. Thus we can see that in the beginning, God, in all His fullness, began the works of creation.
God did not work alone in creation. His Spirit was active in the process. We also have this statement from Paul that His dear Son also was an Agent there—if not the primary Agent. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him (Col 1:16).
We are gaining some understanding as to why the Spirit of God stayed close to the darkness that was upon the face of the deep. The earth had fallen from what God created. His Spirit was not willing to leave it.
These are wonderful words: And the Spirit of God MOVED upon the face of the waters.
The word translated MOVED comes from a root meaning “to keep the wings loose, so that they touch and yet do not touch.” An early Ethiopian Bible has this word moved translated from the Hebrew into an Ethiopian word meaning overshadowed.
John Milton, a poet of 17th century England, spoke of the Spirit’s action like a bird when he said, Dove-like he sat, brooding on the vast abyss. Like the brooding mother hen who will not leave the eggs under her because instinct tells her there is life in them. So, the Spirit was “brooding” over the face of the waters, overshadowing them, keeping them warm in anticipation of a new birth for the earth.
This points us to the intriguing majesty of what the angel Gabriel announced to Mary when He said, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall OVERSHADOW thee: therefore also That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
The same Spirit Who MOVED upon the face of the waters OVERSHADOWED the Virgin, brooding over her, bringing life into her from out of the heavens.
There is another reference to which we are drawn. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending LIKE A DOVE, and lighting upon him (Matt 3:16).
The same Spirit Who moved over the desolation of the earth’s waters and Who overshadowed the Virgin descended like a dove upon Jesus, brooding, warming, bringing Life to Him from out of eternity.
There were four divine Agents at work in the dawn of creation. They were participants together in the bringing in of earth’s new order. We know these Four today.
• FIRST—…in the beginning we see GOD. Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). God, our Heavenly Father, Who came from out of eternity, Who has worked from the beginning of time with His creations, finds delight in the least one of us who will come to Him today.
• SECOND—We see THE SPIRIT OF GOD as He moved, brooding over those dark waters because He knew there was life there that was to overcome the chaos. Jesus, Who has been eternal with the Father, promised, I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever (John 14:16). This is that same Spirit.
• THIRD—Immediately after we read of the movement of God’s Spirit, we see: And God said... in Gen 1:3. Thus, we learn that His WORD becomes super-powerful when it joins the moving of His Spirit. God...hath in due times manifested His Word (Titus 1:3).
·FOURTH—We learn from Paul the Lord Jesus Christ was a powerful Agent in creation. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him (Col 1:16).
Now, we can see another agent at work with the above Four.
·FIFTH—God gave Him, Christ Jesus, to be the Head over all things to (in behalf of) the Church, Which is HIS BODY, the fullness of Him... (Eph 1:22,23). —This is just the beginning.
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