By Aaron Gann
CMJ USA Contributor
The season of Easter is over, the time when we place special emphasis on the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, when we shout as his church, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!” This season ends with the great festival of Pentecost when we remember the day that the Holy Spirit fell upon the Apostles and subsequently has been part of the Church ever since. Now, we have entered a season that goes by various names, such as Ordinary Time (ordinalis: numbered), the Season after Trinity, or the Season after Pentecost. Whichever name is preferred, this season is a focus on the growth of the church and growing in our Christian life through the work of the Holy Spirit in this age.
The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, however, does not only have relevance to the church, but also has profound implications for the Jewish people as a sign that Jesus truly is the Messiah, and is directly connected with their restoration. The Holy Spirit is not merely a New Testament concept but is instead spoken of extensively throughout the Hebrew Bible, especially as it relates to the Messiah and the Nation of Israel.
First, the Holy Spirit is intimately related to the work of the Messiah. Throughout the pages of the Hebrew Bible, the Messiah is said to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. Prophecies concerning this can be found in the prophet Isaiah who writes, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isa 11:2) and “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, to bring good news to the poor” (Isa 61:1a, c.f. Luke 4:18-21). The Messiah and the Holy Spirit go together in the Messiah’s mission. This anointing was seen at Jesus’ baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a dove and the Father declared his favor upon his Son (Matt 3:13-17).
The Holy Spirit is connected with the people of Israel and is said to be the catalyst for their spiritual restoration after the exile. The prophet Joel writes, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). Likewise, Ezekiel writes, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land” (Ezek 36:14a) And, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek 36:27). This is an important concept as the people of Israel were exiled due to their failure to follow the Lord and keep his commandments on their own.
The Holy Spirit is not merely a New Testament concept but is instead spoken of extensively throughout the Hebrew Bible, especially as it relates to the Messiah and the Nation of Israel.
It is within the pages of Ezekiel that we see the relationship between spiritual restoration and the Messiah's rulership over the nation. In chapter 37, the prophet is given a vision of the current state of his people, a valley full of bones, bones that had become very dry (Ezek 37:2). In this vision, these bones represent the whole house of Israel (v. 11) and show their ruined spiritual estate. They are dead, with no life in them (v. 3). The Lord subsequently brings these bones back together, recreating the persons (vv. 7-8) – an allusion back to the creation of man in the garden of Eden. Yet, like Adam when he was first made, there was no breath in them, they are merely bodies with no breath (v. 8d c.f. Gen 2:7). However, God declares that he will not leave them as breathless husks but will, “bring you into the land of Israel… And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (v. 12b, 14a). The Lord repeats twice that he will breathe breath into them (vv. 5-6), which may indicate the purpose for which he is restoring them, in order to fill them with his Spirit.1
Even though Israel – as a nation in this vision – is dead, the Lord will restore them physically and spiritually. Left to themselves, the people of Israel could never fulfill the prophecies of eternal restoration. The Lord continues his declaration of restoration in the proceeding verses, but this time focuses on the Messianic king who will rule over this restored people (v. 24) – one who will unite the divided houses of Israel and Judah, who will shepherd the nation so they will never again fall into the sins that they once fell into. In this context, the prophet Ezekiel shows that the spiritual restoration of the nation through the Holy Spirit and the reigning of the Messiah over that nation are related to one another.2
Today, we see this restoration beginning in part. During the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, he promised that when he left to return to the Father, he would send the Holy Spirit as a comforter – one who be alongside them. It was not incidental that the first people promised this by our Lord were Jewish men who he had commissioned as his apostles. Likewise, on the day of Pentecost, it was no accident that this took place on the major festival of Shavuot and whose audience was primarily Jewish! It was a new Sinai experience for the people of Israel and the strangers among them.3 On that day, when those 3,000 souls received the promise of God (Acts 2:37-41), the spiritual restoration of Israel had begun – a restoration that will culminate in the future when he returns – banishes ungodliness away from Jacob and removes the sins of the nation (Rom 11:26-27).
In our current age, The Holy Spirit has continued his work through the Body of the Messiah, both corporately and individually. Corporately, the Body of Messiah serves as a temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:20-22). Individually, each follower of the Messiah is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). This means that we as the Messiah’s church bear witness to the Nation of Israel that the Messiah has indeed come and that the promised Holy Spirit is here and has begun his work! When we say, “Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit,”4 we are declaring to the world at large, and to the nation of Israel in particular – as Peter did 2,000 years ago – “the promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39, emphasis added).
Aaron Gann earned his BA in Jewish Studies at the Moody Bible Institute and his M. Div. at Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, North Carolina. He and his wife, Rebecca, live in Raleigh with their two cats and serve at Redeemer Anglican Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Aaron is an aspirant discerning a call to ordained ministry within the Anglican Church in North America in the Diocese of Christ Our Hope. He is passionate about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, encouraging and nurturing biblical literacy, reaching the Jewish people with the Gospel of Christ, and developing within the Church a biblically informed love for Israel and the Jewish people.
 Moshe Eisemann, Yechezkel: The Book of Ezekiel: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources, (New York, NY: Mesorah Publications Ltd., 1977), 567.
 Michael Rydelnik, Edwin Blum, and Randall J. Price, "The restoration of Israel under the One Shepherd," in The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2019), 1099, 1101–3.
 For more, see "Shavuot: God's Call to Israel and the Nations," https://www.cmj-usa.org/blog/shavuot-gods-call-israel-and-nations
 Book of Common Prayer 2019, 3rd ed. (Huntington Beach, CA: Anglican Liturgy P, 2019), 122, 138.