Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. “Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.’ ”Ezekiel 37:11–14
God sent His Spirit to restore Israel. The charismata was a sign that the Spirit had been sent. The apostles cast out demons, healed the sick, and others raised the dead long before Acts 2. Samson, the prophets, and John the Baptist were all filled with the Spirit. What distinguished their indwelling of the Spirit with the post-Pentecost activity of the Spirit is that the baptism of the Spirit is, first and foremost, eschatological. That is, it pertains to Israel’s last days (Acts 2:17ff).
For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem…Joel 3:1
The disciples knew that this was the function of the Spirit when they asked, “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Their question wasn’t asked out of ignorance. It came after studying with Jesus over a forty day period concerning the kingdom, having their mind opened to the Scriptures, and hearing of Jesus speak of Spirit and kingdom during His ministry (Acts 1:1-3; John 3:3-5).
John the Baptist’s gospel of the kingdom involved the promise of the Spirit. In Matthew 3, John came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” When all the people from Jerusalem, Judea, and the area surrounding the Jordan came to be baptized by water, he promised,
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.Matthew 3:11
This promise of the Spirit goes hand in hand with John’s role as the voice crying in the wilderness and Elijah (Isaiah 40; Malachi 3-4). John’s role was to prepare the people for Jesus through preaching forgiveness of sins. Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3-4 are all about the restoration and judgement of Israel, two themes often found together in the prophets. Peter takes up this message in Acts 2 when he speaks of the day of the Lord, salvation, and the promise of the Spirit.
Finally, when the Spirit came, He secured a new promise, a promise that the saints did not receive on Pentecost.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.Galatians 3:13–14
They could do miracles and had the Spirit, but what is the promise of the Spirit?
It’s the inheritance! The restoration of Israel. The kingdom of God. The resurrection. All of these things are inseparable.
Today, we receive the baptism of the Spirit, not a manifestation of spiritual gifts, but being born from above of water and Spirit (John 3:3-5). We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
Daniel, this is another excellent commentary on the Holy Spirit. Once you have completed this series, you should put these essays in book form.