“How did the Holy Spirit work in the Old Testament and how is this different from the New?” Surprisingly, this is a question that I have gotten many times as a pastor. And, it is an important question. After all, we are talking about the activity of God in history, specifically salvation history. Believers should ask the question and pastors should be able to answer it.
Dr. Jim Hamiliton aims to help both. In this book God’s Indwelling Presence he embarks upon a study of the Holy Spirit’s activity in salvation history. To do this Hamilton had to interact with the work of indwelling, regeneration, baptism, and empowering. While the author spends sufficient time working through each, he spends most of his time contending that while old covenant believers were regenerated by the Holy Spirit they were not indwelt. This ministry (indwelling) is specific to the New Covenant. In an interesting disclosure he writes,
As I embarked upon this study I planned to argue that Old Testament saints were indwelt, but the evidence to the contrary forced me to abandon that position. Those who hold that old covenant believers were indwell have not given satisfactory explanations of the salvation-historical aspects of John’s Gospel, particularly 7:39 and 16:7.
A strength of this work is Hamilton’s detailed work in the text while maintaining a strong emphasis upon biblical theology. He dives deeply underwater to find textual treasure but then comes up to the surface after every find to show how it connects to both “shores” of the Bible. Even with the discontinuity that he finds between the testaments he shows the continuity in the types/shadows and themes. By doing this the author not only teaches us systematic / biblical theology but also hermeneutics.
In Old Testament times, God dwelt among his people, first in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:8; 29:45; LEv. 26:11-12), then in the temple (Acts 7:46-47). In the New Testament are, believers are themselves the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5). Indwelling does exist in the old covenant, but it is not each individual that is indwelt. In the old covenant God indwelt the temple. In the new covenant the people of God are the temple, and God dwells in them.”
I picked up this book to sharpen my understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in salvation history. Through his own conclusions and interactions with others on this topic I have achieved my objective. The book is technical, however, Hamilton’s lucid writing style and brevity (200 pages) makes it quite accessible.
Discounted copies (including Kindle) are available at Amazon.