When I first began this exploration of the different uses of the term ‘spirit’ in the Old Testament, little did I imagine the wealth of understanding that would be picked up along the way. Some are obvious like the reference to God’s Spirit. Others less so where the term refers to an emotional state such as my ‘spirit was crushed.’
Yet the work of the Holy Spirit is the converse of this – yes, in our lives we may experience the gift of tongues, prophesy and all manner of other things but we are a hollow gong if we are not driven by the essence of love. Why? Because God’s love is revealed through us to those who are mentally physically, spiritually and emotionally destitute. Rather like the thousands of people who found themselves drawn many miles away from their homes and families to a desolate place so that they could listen to Jesus speak…but then found themselves without food and with no shelter. The same words that flummoxed the disciples that day who when telling Jesus to send the people away because it was late and they had no food to eat, still ring true for us today. ‘You give them something to eat!’ (Matt 14)
I can remember as a child learning how the majority of dust that finds its way into a home arises from our decaying bodies – by that I mean, the erosion of minute skin follicles that collectively settle on surfaces until someone gets a duster or vacuum and cleans up. I also remember learning that skin replenishes itself every seven years – an obvious necessity given that we can’t erode skin without new skin appearing at some point to replace it.
Many years ago, I read Watchman’s Nee’s book ‘Release of the Spirit’ then later on his epic ‘The Spiritual Man.’ Both of which have helped to think of the ‘soul’ as the receptacle in which God’s Spirit operates. Now, while this verse seems strange in the sense that it suggests our spirit can be provoked to anger, there are three things to consider here:
- During the time of Ecclesiastes- long before the day of Pentecost – the Holy Spirit did not live within the person but came upon them at God’s direction to facilitate ‘one off’ acts to achieve God’s will.
- Because of this, it’s quite possible the term ‘spirit’ is used here to reference a sense of the person’s emotional response as to what is happening.
- The understanding of our own human spirit is different to that of God’s Spirit. The human spirit being carnal in nature as easily influenced by our human (carnal) nature.
However you understand the term ‘spirit’, one thing is sure – we as humans can easily be provoked to anger where rash actions land us in trouble. That is why we can say something that is cruel in the heat of the moment or hold on to a grudge even though slighted by someone many years earlier. In such times, the advice offered in the wisdom Book of Ecclesiastes is to not be quickly provoked because ‘anger resides in the lap of fools.’
Aside from King Nebuchadnezzar’s presumption that his dream is important enough to require interpretation, there is the little matter of how none of the wise men in his kingdom have the ability to interpret it. It’s as if the king realises that wisdom alone will not result in the meaning of the message being made clear to him as that can only be realised through Divine intervention. In short, through Daniel and the god that resides in him.
Now, while Christians today may not all be gifted with making sense of dreams and offering a godly interpretation, the reality is that for those who believe and are open to God’s Holy Spirit living within them, they each have the potential of understanding and explaining what is presently unfathomable to those with questions. Hence, why Paul announces to the believers, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory!’ If you’re a Christian then we believe that a valuable deposit rests within each of us. A deposit of God’s Holy Spirit that has the potential to transform and reveal within us, the Holy God to whom we have chosen to believe and follow – it’s as simple as that – Christian Basics 101.