Reading the bible out of context can be the curse of the modern Christianity. Individual verses can hide the beauty of the bigger picture and keep us trapped in a microscopic view of God. As we look at the breadth and depth of scripture in both the Old and New Testament we can understand more about how the Holy Spirit loves to connect with Mankind. Looking at God’s big story we see the connection between God and mankind has expressed itself uniquely in different seasons through biblical history.
Through a brief look at this history we learn more about the character of the Holy Spirit. We can also see how significant the season of the spirit is that we are now in. It might seem a bizarre analogy at first but the history of the internet almost directly mirrors the biblical unfolding of mankind’s connection to God’s spirit!
The internet has unfolded in many different stages since its inception – from dial up and broadband, to Wi-Fi and now the cloud. Can you see how this analogy works in terms of the holy spirit?
The Old Testament shows us the spirit of God connecting with mankind like dial up internet. It was a connection available at set times and set places. People had to plug in for a task or connect in via the temple. Thankfully they didn't get that weird sound from the telephone line when they did!
God connected in the moment for a task. In the example of Gideon we see the spirit of the Lord coming up him to achieve great things in battle against the Mideanites. We also see a picture of God coming upon a person to fulfil a task in the person of Bezaleel with God saying to Moses “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 31:1-3). This is a powerful endorsement that Gods spirit can not only anoint us to prophecy but also to do great creative work as well. God works in the workplace!
God also connected in the moment in the temple. One powerful exampleof this is shared in 2 Chronicles 5 v 13-14 “when they praised the LORD saying "He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting," then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.”
The Old Testament was characterised by dial up style visitations from God - they didn’t last long and the connection wasn’t exactly stable.
Then came Jesus and everything changed. In Luke 3 v 22 we see the power of God come upon Jesus and stay upon him “…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
Jesus was like broadband - online all the time. Jesus stands up in the temple and quotes Isaiah 61 saying The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace. This is an ongoing connection that wasn't about to go away even outside the temple walls. Jesus showed us, as the visible image of an invisible God, exactly what it was like to live a life permanently connected.
Then came an even bigger shift. Jesus puzzled his followers by saying it was good that he went away or else the spirit would not be able to come. This was confusing as his followers could not imagine anything better than being with someone who had a permanent connection to God. That is until they realised they could have it for themselves.
Through the power of Wi-Fi we get connected to the internet via a hotspot. There is no better example of spiritual Wi-Fi than what happened at Pentecost. In Acts 2 Peter addresses a crowd who have just experienced a major connection at a spiritual hotspot by saying:
“These men are not drunk as you suppose. It is only the third hour of the day! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
The last days are here. Just as a phone can now connect to the web via Wi-Fi, we can now connect via the spirit directly. But this connection is not just meant for individuals it is destined for whole communities. Maybe it was good that Jesus went away after all!
We now live in an era known as the internet of things. We can get networked access to the web almost anywhere. This network of networks is known as the cloud. God’s intention was always to have the cloud of the spirit accessible through communities of people across the whole earth. We are part of an eternal network of networks. We are the church.
Ephesians 2 describes the church as being like the new templesaying “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We no longer have to plug in at set times in set ways. All of us are free tostay online all the time yet somehow our signal is always at its strongest when we stay connected into a spirit filled community.
As you enter the USA and turn on your smart phone you will be greeted by a text message saying “the cloud is here – would you like to connect?” What if God is saying the same to you and me? We live in the days when the cloud of the spirit is raining across the earth and through the church more and more people are able to plug in. What does the potential of this connection mean for the amazing spirit filled community we are part of?
Dave Boden – Lead Pastor