The Holy Spirit Has Left Israel – Doug Post

Doug Post

The rabbis of old taught that “Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit has left Israel” (Rodkinson, 12).

At the close of the Old Testament and the penning of the last Old Testament book, all prophecy ceased. The revelation of the Old Testament was complete. No further prophetic messages were forthcoming, because inspiration ended. The Revelatory process, whereby the Holy Spirit supernaturally revealed God’s message to the prophets, inspiring them with the exact words to speak in revealing the Will of God to His people, had ceased.

With the end of prophecy came the abrupt end of Scripture. Since the Holy Spirit stopped revealing God’s Will to the prophets, the prophets had nothing more to speak and nothing more to write. Scripture ceased because the Holy Spirit stopped working through men, guiding them to write down God’s Will. Communication between God and man ceased. The Holy Spirit, indeed, left Israel, as prophetic silence would last for some four hundred years. John the Baptizer came preparing the way of the Lord (Isa. 40:2-3; Matt. 3:3). The Holy Spirit, indeed, left Israel.

However, at the dawn of the New Covenant, John the Baptizer came preparing the way of the Lord (Isa. 40:2-3; Matt. 3:3). His assignment was to prepare the people of God for the coming Messiah. Therefore, the Spirit of God once again began working in revealing God’s Will to the people. John was God’s new prophet. As the first century progressed, other inspired men, including the apostles, would proclaim God’s Will as the prophets of old once did. The Holy Spirit, working through these men, delivered the gospel to the world. Just as the prophets of old, these inspired men were supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit, in writing down Scripture, ensuring that the Truth of the New Testament would be preserved for mankind.

With the penning of the last inspired book of the New Covenant, revelation and inspiration came to end. The gospel of Jesus Christ was complete. The work of the apostles, prophets, and other inspired men had ceased. The Old Covenant message pointed the Jews to Christ (Gal. 3:19-24), living under the Old Covenant law, while the New Covenant grants access for both Jew and Gentile (the world) to Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-49), while living under the New Covenant law.

With the completion of the New Covenant, or Gospel, communication between God and man once again ceased as it did at the completion of the Old Covenant. No further revelation or messages are forthcoming from God. God’s plan for human redemption has been fulfilled and recorded in Scripture. The design of Scripture is to lead and direct man to Christ and salvation. The resulting product of the supernatural and prophetic era, during the development of the New Covenant, are the New Covenant Scriptures themselves. While God is silent, in that He is no longer directly communicating with man through chosen, inspired men, He does continue communicating with mankind, so to speak, only through the Scriptures. God’s New Covenant message has been once for all delivered to His people (Jude 3), and within it, we have all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). There are no further messages because there is no more revelation and inspiration. There is no more revelation and inspiration because there are no longer apostles, prophets, and other inspired men:

The Holy Spirit, Himself, tells us the Scriptures make us complete and thoroughly equipped. They are all sufficient, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16-17), that is absolutely comprehensive in scope. The Bible meets our every need. The word of His grace strengthens us (Acts 20:32) and the Scriptures comfort us (Rom. 15:4). In a good and honest heart, the word of God (i.e., the–seed, the Gospel–Luke 8:11; Rom.1:16) produces fruit (i.e., fruit of the Spirit–Luke 8:15). Through Scripture, the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to mankind. Along with other providential actions operating in the world, it is specifically Scripture that makes us complete in procuring and maintaining salvation. It is not the Bible and something directly affecting our personal will, either in motivation or in action. It is not Scripture plus a direct supernatural infusion from the Holy Spirit (illuminations, revelations, messages, promptings, prodding, and signs from God). This false, denominational concept circumvents the Scripture—the very source which the Holy Spirit says makes us complete.

Psalm 19 is a miniature of Psalm 119. In the first six verses God reveals Himself in nature (i.e., General Revelation), but in verses seven through fourteen God reveals Himself through Scripture (i.e., Special Revelation), and it is in this particular passage where the all-sufficiency of Scripture is underscored. The God-breathed Word is called several names and is synonymous with, the law of the Lord, the testimony of the Lord, the statutes of the Lord, the commandment of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, and the judgments, or ordinances of the Lord. From this passage, there are at least ten things the Word of God can do for the individual:

1. It is complete in converting the soul (v. 7).

2. It makes the simple, wise (v. 7).

3. It causes the heart to rejoice (v. 8).

4. It enlightens the eyes (v. 8).

5. It causes one to fear and respect (v. 9).

6. It offers completeness (v. 9).

7. It warns or protects (v. 11).

8. It offers great reward (v. 11).

9. It purifies the heart (v. 12).

10. It restrains one from sin and apostasy (v. 13).

The Bible is the place where we can go to find joy, relief, and happiness. Jeremiah, in the midst of tremendous stress and rejection, gave great testimony to the joy that comes through the Word of God saying, “Thy words were found and I did eat them and Thy word was in me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer.15:16). John writes, “These things are written that your joy might be full” (1 John 1:4). God gives testimony to the fact that His Word is the source and definition of joy.

However, making such a bold statement in saying the “Spirit has left,” might cause some to feel uncomfortable or angry. Some might exclaim, “How can you say such a thing? Did not God promise to be with us, after all doesn’t the name of Jesus mean “God with us? And what about the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that He lives inside us?” Many other such things might be asked.

First, the Spirit stopped providing messages to men. God never Directly and supernaturally, revealed His Will to all people, except through Divinely chosen or selected men. They, in turn, being supernaturally empowered by the Spirit, provided God’s Word to the rest of the people. Moreover, such direct supernatural revelation would cease (1 Cor. 13:8-13; Eph. 4:11-15). Since there is no longer inspiration and revelation, there are no longer inspired men (prophets, apostles, etc.), and since there are no longer supernaturally guided men, there are no longer on-going inspired writings, or Scripture.

Second, did Deity (Holy Spirit) really abandon God’s people simply because supernatural activity, including inspiration and revelation ceased? For instance, does the phrase “the Holy Spirit left Israel” imply that God abandoned His people? No. Simply because one aspect ended does not mean all aspects ended. While God was no longer guiding them through inspired prophets (those who supernaturally spoke for God by foretelling and forthtelling, preaching) they still had His message, His Will, in the form of Scripture. Folks, that is a Divine gift of God’s grace.

The end of inspiration and revelation meant the end of the Old Covenant, which meant the end of its Divine purpose, which was to point the Jews (not mankind) to Christ (Gal. 3:19-24). The idea of pointing them to Christ was not just about pointing them to the Person of Christ, but to the New Covenant He would usher in with His blood (Matt. 26:28). Christ’s blood was shed for more than sins, it was shed for the establishment of the New Covenant, a covenant with far better promises (Heb. 8:6, 10:9-10, 19-20; cf. 9:15-22).

The fact that the people still had Scripture to consult showed, quite clearly, God was still with them, for Scripture contained His Will, His concern, and His love for His people. Why some today doubt that is beyond me. Therefore, the Spirit had not abandoned them simply because inspiration and revelation had ceased. Moreover, when the rabbis stated that “the Holy Spirit has left Israel,” they used that metonymically. To say the Spirit left is simply to say that the source of inspiration and revelation ended. To say inspiration and revelation ended is to say the Spirit metaphorically left. I believe it is just here that the inability for some to discern figurative and metaphorical language is that which causes misconceptions, and knee-jerk reactions, leading folks to unnecessary anger toward such statements.

The same scenario applies to God’s people living under the New Covenant. The supernatural process involving the Holy Spirit ended; the Spirit no longer empowers selected men to speak on His behalf; the Holy Spirit is no longer guiding selected men in writing down that which was spoken by inspired men, creating Scripture (sacred writings); there is no Scripture being written because God’s message to mankind is complete. Since there are no modern day sacred writings being created today, there is no modern day supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit in leading men to write; since there is no modern day supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no modern day inspiration and revelation; since there is no modern day inspiration and revelation, there are no modern day inspired men, including prophets and apostles; since there are no such modern day people, then there is no modern day working of the Holy Spirit in inspiration and revelation.

The Will of God for mankind has been revealed and captured in sacred writing. Scripture is complete, therefore, the Will of God for mankind is complete. The only form of the revealed Will of God we have today is found in Scripture, only! His complete Will for us today is the New Covenant, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having access to God’s revealed Will is identical to having access to the mind of Christ, which we have today through Christ’s Word, the Scriptures (1 Cor. 2:16).

Abiding in His Word means we are walking in the light (John 8:31; 1 John 1:7), which is the same as continuing in the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42); which is equal to walking in the Spirit (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18), which is the same thing as walking in and according to the law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-2). The Spirit does not directly lead anyone, which is the common misnomer. Many remove the metonymical nature of the phrase “led by the Spirit”, running ahead of God, assuming that a direct supernatural leading is meant. It is, therefore, supposed that to be “led by the Spirit” means a direct, supernatural manipulation of the mind, in which the Spirit does something to the individual, moving him mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (perhaps even physically) to a degree or level he could not otherwise reach or attain through his own cognitive processes.

This, of course, is the appeal to a miraculous or supernatural working of the Spirit upon the mind of the Christian, something the Bible nowhere teaches. A miracle is the setting aside of nature or the natural. In this case, it would be setting aside the natural cognitive processes—the overriding and manipulation of the natural human faculties of the mind: cognition, recognition, reasoning, thinking, and comprehending.

This doctrine places the work and the responsibility upon the Holy Spirit. He is now responsible for setting aside the natural process, affecting the human being with supernatural enhancement. That the Spirit is said to supernaturally infuse energy— directly expanding and enhancing the mind with wisdom, thoughts, words, so that the Christian can arrive at the right conclusion, think the right things, and say and do the right things. For some, this also means that the Spirit is responsible for creating within them certain physical or emotional sensations that otherwise would not occur through the natural human processes. This is mind control. It is nothing more than the supernatural manipulation of the human mind and human free will. It is supernatural interference. It is not allowing the free course of human functioning, eliminating the free will of the Christian.

Attributing such a work to Deity, where the Bible does not, is based upon the premise that Romans 8:14 is a “direct” leading, separate and apart from the Word of God. That is a gross misapprehension of the passage through eisegesis. Note that this is a promise —an automatic blessing—because one cannot be a child of God without being “directly” led by the Spirit. If that is what is meant, the Spirit must lead an individual every moment, every time, no matter the circumstance or situation, in order to remain a “son of God.” There are no limitations intimated here. However, since each individual sometimes thinks the wrong things; says the wrong things; makes the wrong choices; does the wrong things, not understanding, is unsure and in doubt, then the text cannot be speaking about a “direct”—Holy Spirit upon human spirit—leading of the Spirit. Rather, the text is still speaking about the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), and it is through this law or gospel (Rom. 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 3) that the Spirit indirectly leads. This coincides with man’s Free Will in following the Spirit. To follow or walk in the Spirit is simply to abiding in the Christ’s Word (John 8:31). It is simply walking in the light (1 John 1:7). It is submitting to the law of the Spirit or gospel (Rom. 8:2; cf Rom. 1:16-17). When one, through his own thinking, reasoning, and will (whosoever will), sets his or her own mind on spiritual things (Rom. 8:5-6; Col. 3:1-2), or is simply minding the things of the Spirit’s law, then one is being led by the Spirit. I would also add that he is being led by the God the Father, God the Son, the apostles, and other inspired writers of the New Testament.

So, the promise of the leading of the Spirit in Romans 8:14 is contingent upon the individual Christian’s thinking process and the willingness to submit. This is true since God requires and demands “faith” to be exhibited by the individual, not by the Holy Spirit! A little later, Paul says, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). The “renewing” is the “setting of one’s mind” on things above (things of the Spirit). This is a command for the individual Christian to carry out, not the Holy Spirit.

The Bereans searched the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11). They literally “sifted, scrutinized, examined, judged, determined, distinguished, appraised, and assessed” with their own mind, their own thinking. The Holy Spirit did not come along and enhance their minds so they could discern truth and error, right and wrong. This was something they did, according to the thinking and reasoning abilities God gave them. There is not a hint or intimation that the Holy Spirit was interfering or tampering with their minds.

David said: “When I consider your law,” he was saying what he does. When David says that he meditates on His Word, he is saying (actually the Spirit is saying this through David) that those are David’s own thoughts, his own contemplations, his own mind working. Passages such as a 1 John 2:27, 1 Cor. 2:13-16, and John 14:26 are also shown to be taken out of context, proven not to be proof-texts for some direct operation of the Spirit. Is it possible that some have fought so hard against the phrase, “the Holy Spirit left Israel,” that they are guilty of leaving the Holy Spirit? I believe that is the case.

Miraculous means something that is undeniable; that which is absolutely identifiable, it is that which is separate and distinct from the natural, it’s visible and knowable. A body of water does not divide itself and fly up in the air. Fire does not come from the sky. The dead are not raised. Body parts are not restored, and should these things occur it would not only be unnatural it would be supernatural – above and beyond the natural occurrences of life and nature. Miraculous interferes with the natural, setting aside its laws, making it supernatural. God still works today, but the age of the miraculous is over. He works through providence: something which is not distinguishable, discernable, could be denied or could not be denied at the same time. With a miracle, no one could say “perhaps” or “maybe.” It either was a miracle or it was not. With providence, God is working behind the scenes working with nature, working with natural order, working with the natural processes, not disturbing them, not interfering with them, not manipulating them. And this would be true with the human body and mind. If God is working directly, it would be a miracle, the setting aside of laws of nature.

As for our being “sealed” with the “Spirit” that, is a misnomert—an “old wives’ tale.” One was sealed with the Spirit with power from the Spirit. Acts 19:1-6 took place in Ephesus and serves as Divine commentary for Eph. 1:13-14 regarding “sealing.” They were sealed when Paul laid his hands upon them and they received power from the Spirit. The church in Ephesus had miraculous power in people (Eph. 4:8-11). They, too, were sealed with power. A “seal” is something visible, something distinguishable, it authenticates a thing. An invisible seal does not fit the meaning of the word. To say you are “sealed” because “the Bible tells me so” is the height of a child’s hermeneutic, which avoids defending the claim. Brethren, those who were truly sealed with the Spirit had power and people saw it, recognized it, knowing they and their message were of God. They were “sealed.”

It needs to be understood that when some affirm the Spirit works directly upon them in leading and guiding them, they are in effect declaring that the Scriptures are not all sufficient as the Holy Spirit declares them to be (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If there were a direct supernatural working, in order to affect the natural processes of man, ultimately enhancing the human mind, then such an occurrence would make void human free will. If the natural cognitive processes of the human being must somehow be enhanced by the Holy Spirit in order to understand Scripture, then that would be setting aside the natural faculties of man. If accountable human beings cannot understand the Holy Spirit’s revelation in Scripture, then it cannot be said to be a revelation. If an accountable human being cannot understand the Holy Spirit’s revelation in Scripture, then what makes a person think he will be able to understand an additional revelation from the Holy Spirit? Will the individual need another direct revelation (illumination) to understand the additional revelation, which was allegedly necessary to understand the original revelation? Brethren, the Holy Spirit has left Israel.

WORKS CITED

Rodkinson, Michael Levi. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud Original Text Edited, Corrected, Formulated, and Translated into English. 2d ed. Boston: Talmud Society, 1918. 12.

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