The Spirit of God and the Word of God
"'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6)
Did you know that this Bible verse is written on the parliament building of Israel in Jerusalem? We may regard it as a key verse concerning many matters. For one thing, it encourages us today to distribute the Bible - Old and New Testament - among the Jewish community, and to bring the Gospel - God's Good News - to them as well as to everyone else.
It reminds us of another passage in the Scriptures: "The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'" (Genesis 1:2-3)
The candlestick, a well-known symbol in the Bible, represents the activities of the Spirit of God, as linked with Christ Jesus, the Messiah, who is at the right hand of the majesty, working from the glory.
Thus the Spirit of God and the Word of God are acting together, as the Lord explained to Nicodemus in John 3. Interestingly, the Lord refers in that conversation to Ezekiel 36, where we find the Word and the Spirit of God together. Regarding the future restoration of Israel as a nation, in Ezekiel 37, we discover again the same principle - the Spirit and the Word linked together!
Fruit for God
The result of this divine intervention is and will always be fruit for God. Based on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God produces fruit, using the Word of God in as many different ways as it pleases Him. We find these principles also demonstrated and worked our in the life of Abraham, the father of all believers and of Israel.
"'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be'" (Genesis 15:5)
God's call made Abraham travel a long journey. His descendants, the Jews of today, have to make a long journey, in a spiritual way, to enter into the blessings which God has prepared for those who accept the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior. Their own Messiah, the rejected Son of man, who is the Son of the Father, introduced by God's Spirit, produces fruit for God - practical righteousness - in the lives of those who believe. As God taught Abraham in his own life, this fruit is not based on anyone's own righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), but on Christ's sacrifice and on God's sovereign work through His Word and Spirit.
The Jews and the Word of God
One of the arguments which we may use to present God's Word to the Jews is that the whole Bible has entered into this world through the people of Israel. Today God is presenting a message to the Jews, which has been written by their own people, including Moses and many other holy men of God.
The Holy Spirit not only used His earthly chosen people to write his Word, but also to have it copied with a careful and precision which astonishes us. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament (or Covenant) has also been carefully kept by the Jews, through many centuries, even in testimony against themselves (Deuteronomy 31:26).
In the third century before Christ, the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into the international language of that time, allegedly by 72 Jewish Bible scholars in Alexandria, Egypt. This Greek translation, called the Septuagint, is often quoted in the Greek text of the New Testament, showing clearly the link between both Testaments.
Thus God used the children of Abraham to write, copy, keep and translate. He also used them to proclaim His Word. The Jews needed (and still need) salvation. The nation with its leaders rejected God's grace. After the Lord Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, was raised from the tomb and glorified in heaven, He addressed Himself again to His earthly people, through the Holy Spirit in His disciples here on earth. God's salvation was refused again and the disciples were persecuted and scattered.
However, God in His grace brought this message of salvation to the Jews in the Diaspora. Especially through the ministry of the former Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, many Jews and Gentiles received the testimony of the grace of God. Similarly, in the time of the New Testament, God used many Jews to propagate and distribute His Word. With the exception of Luke, it was also a Hebrew Christians - Jewish in the Messiah - who wrote the New Testament. This very same book is considered by the (unbelieving) Jews as a Gentile book. What a discovery they make when they really start to read it!
Challenge for Today: Listen to God's Word
For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Romans 10:10-18)