God With Men In The Torah -- By: James M. Hamilton Jr.

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 65:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: God With Men In The Torah
Author: James M. Hamilton Jr.

God With Men In The Torah

James M. Hamilton Jr.

[James Hamilton is a Ph.D. Candidate in Old Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.]

I. Introduction1

Were Old Covenant saints indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Assuming that John 7:39 teaches that the Holy Spirit would not continually indwell believers until after the cross,2 this study seeks to establish what the Pentateuch does and does not say about the presence of God with regard to its faithful.3 Herein we seek to demonstrate two things. First, that God’s presence with his people is a pervasive reality in the Pentateuch. Second, that God creates his Old Covenant remnant by revealing himself and maintains it by abiding with his people.4

These two points are significant because in the Old Testament there is a direct correlation between the favorable presence of God and the well-being of his people, physical as well as spiritual. The upshot of this is that the Old Testament does not conceive of God creating and keeping a believing remnant by his Spirit’s dwelling in each individual member of the remnant. God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament is in the midst of his people, but in the midst of them means in the tabernacle and later the temple, not in their individual bodies.

The contention of this study is that God’s self-disclosure and his favorable presence with his people constitute the Pentateuch’s description of how the Old Covenant faithful became and remained believers. It is clear in the New Testament that the New Covenant faithful become and remain believers because they are regenerated and indwelt by God’s Spirit (e.g., Gal 3:3; Rom 8:9–11). Some infer that, “Since He keeps the New Testament saint by indwelling. .. it seems reasonable to believe that He kept the Old Testament saint in the same way.”5 One of the working hypotheses of the present study is that John 7:39 forbids this inference.

The New Testament indicates that Old Covenant believers were not indwelt, and the claim of this study is that the Old Testament does not explicitly teach that they were. Nevertheless, there is evidence that, whatever means he employed, it was God who enabled Old Covenant believers to have and maintai...

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