One of the questions which I have been asked on more than one occasion has been, "What is the difference between the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the Old testament from the New Testament? Is there any difference?" It is for this reason that it seemed good to me [and beneficial for you] to write a brief explanation by comparing two people [one from the Old Testament and one from the New] in order to excercise our thought in hopes of producing some clarity on understanding the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and the difference [if there be any] from the old and new testament.
To begin, it seems best to first define the term manifestation and what it implies. Manifestation or manifest, is defined as such:
1. An event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something
In other words, we can surmise that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the power of the Holy Spirit, as when He was spoken of by Jesus Himself, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..”(Acts 1:8a) This implies that the apostles would receive a power which would clearly show the embodiment of a resurrected Christ, and when we think of power we think of strength, which is why if we desired to see how the manifestation of the Spirit differed from the Old to New Testament [if there is a difference] we would need to compare two people from both which are associated with strength to see. Now, if I were to ask you who was the strongest man to live in the Old Testament you might say Samson, and you would arguably be right. However, if I were to ask you what was the root of his strength you might say that it was his hair, and unfortunately you’d be wrong. The reason being because his hair was nothing more than a sign of the covenant in which God made with Samson’s parents (Judges 13:4-5). In order to understand the root of his strength, we need only to look into the Scripture of Truth at an example of Samson exercising his strength in order to discern the source of his strength:
1. Old Testament: Samson and The Philistines
“Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam,
and said to Samson, ‘Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?’ And he said to them, ‘As they did to me, so I have done to them.’ (11)
But they said to him, ‘We have come down to arrest you,
that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.’ Then Samson said to them,
‘Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves.’ (12)
So they spoke to him, saying, ‘No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you
into their hand; but we will surely not kill you.’
And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock. (13)
When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms
became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. (14)
He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it,
and killed a thousand men with it. (15)
Then Samson said: ‘With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!’ (16)
And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand,
and called that place Ramath Lehi. (17)
Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the Lord and said,
'You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant;
and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?’ (18)
So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank;
and his spirit returned, and he revived.
Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.”(19)
- Judges 15:11-19
After reading through his account in Judges, there are a few things which I would like to point out to you:
1. Israel is under Philistine authority (verse 11) 2. Samson’s brethren/people [Israel] had no interest in killing him (verses 12b-13a) 3. Samson is bound with rope and handed over to the Philistines (verse 13) 4. Samson hears the Philistines shouting against him [mocking him] (14a) 5. The Spirit of the Lord [Holy Spirit] came mightily upon him, causing him to break free from his bindings (verse 14b) 6. Samson kills a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (verse 15-16) 7. After his great victory and deliverance, Samson cries out to the Lord in thirst (verse 18)
8. The Lord hears Samson's cry and grants him water to quench his thirst (verse 19)
From the passage we can clearly see that the root of Samson’s strength was through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. And this strength is exemplified through the physical feat that Samson accomplishes- killing a thousand of [his and Israel's enemies] the Philistines, with nothing more than the jawbone of a donkey. This victory [though attributed to Samson] is clear to have been from God Himself, yet God appears to justify Samson by providing water for him, allowing his "Spirit to return, and was revived."
Now if I were to ask you who was the strongest man in the New Testament, it is my sincere hope that you would say it was the Man Jesus Christ because I would not only agree, but argue that He was the strongest Man revealed in the New Testament. In order to defend my claim, I will be comparing Jesus [as He is revealed in the Gospel] to Samson and point out many similar yet differing situations.
2. New Testament: Jesus and the Romans
Although I am writing with the hope that all who should read this might be acquainted with the Gospel, it may be beneficial to give some insight and background in order to have a better grasp for what transpired sum two thousand years ago from our present day.
1. Samson lived roughly between 1180-1150bc, meaning that the events of the gospel transpired around a millennium after the events transpired in Judges 15:11-19.
2. At around 57-55bc, Rome [by means of Gibinius] began to rule over Judea by establishing procurators who governed and controlled Israel's political, military, and fiscal [tax] affairs.
3. Israel was broken up into five districts in order to destabilize them as a nation and prevent any sort of resistance to Roman authority/rule.
4. The Pharisees [a sect within Judaism] grew to prominence in the sight of the Jews as people devoted to reestablishing and exalting Israel as a nation through strict religion and adherence to Jewish tradition. They upheld the thought that by adhering to the Law and traditions, God would deliver Israel out of the hands of Rome as He had done time and time again- like with Samson and the Philistines.
5. There were also Jewish zealots during this time who were radical extremists. A political group which sought to convince the people of Israel that they needed to revolt against Rome and become an independent nation once more by means of violence and force.
And then we have Jesus. A Man born of the Davidic lineage [on both Mary and Joseph's side], who had amassed a great deal of popularity [yet very few devoted followers] over the course of His three years of public ministry, and who posed little to no threat to Rome because Jesus seemed to disappoint every single different Jewish group. The Pharisees despised Him because He seemed to tolerate the "unclean corruption" of the Greek culture which had infiltrated Israel's culture, He did not uphold nor honored the Jewish traditions which His Jewish contemporaries adhered to, He associated with the unclean and outcasts of society, and in their eyes He both blasphemed [by forgiving men of their sins, fulfilling the role of priests] and broke the Law [because He would "work on the Sabbath"]. And the zealots esteemed Him lightly, because Jesus was not someone who endorsed and promoted their cause of liberating and exalting Israel as an independent nation. In fact, in John 6:15 it is recorded that when the multitudes sought to declare and make Jesus as their king [which would've helped unify Israel and give cause for the zealot's movement to gain traction], Jesus seemingly leaves for the mountaintop in seclusion. Now let's examine the culmination of Jesus' earthly ministry as it's recorded in hopes of seeing similarities to His Old Testament counterpart, Samson:
“When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people
plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.”(Mathew 27:1)
- After the betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faces the Sanhedrin [Jewish religious counsel] where He is beaten and mocked by His own brethren, the Jews.
- Jesus’ own countrymen/brethren desired & sought to kill Him, however they were prohibited because it was during the time of the Passover.
“And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him
to Pontius Pilate the governor.”(Mathew 27:2)
- Israel is under Roman authority.
- Mirrors Samson being bound and handed over into the hands of the Philistines.
It is at this point in which we might read this and cry out in our inner dialogue for Jesus to break His bindings... This was the same Man who freed so many people, who released so many prisoners and yet finds Himself bound, and for what accusation? This was the Son of God the Father being handed over into the hands of sinners and Israel's enemy- the uncircumcised.. And we read about Samson so we might be saying “this is Your cue Jesus. Now is Your moment, destroy Your enemies..” but what happens instead? We continue in Mathew 27 and see:
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium
and gathered the whole garrison around Him. (27)
And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. (28)
When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head,
and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!’ (29)
Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head." (30) - Matthew 27:27-30
A. He is beaten and mocked by the whole garrison of the Romans
A garrison refers to an entire battalion or base of troops, which typically consisted of somewhere between 300-1,300 soldiers. And during this time, the garrison which was located in Jerusalem was the biggest of the Roman garrisons as it was strategically placed in Israel's capital to solidify their presence. And His beating was not easy to bear, nor was it easy for Jesus to withstand. In fact the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah prophesies of the severity of His torture and says:
“So His visage [appearance] was marred [disfigured] more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men..”(Isaiah 52:14)
To try and gain understanding of what the Spirit of Christ said, let me give you this illustration: it would be the equivalent of me taking someone that you see into another room and beating them so severely that when I were bring them back out they would literally no longer be recognizable to you- without any distinguishing features whatsoever. And what is worse is to consider that the Spirit says He was disfigured more than any man.. According to history, the Romans were one of the cruelest nations that rose to prominence. They did not simply resort to exacting punishment, they delighted and took pleasure in it. And yet here is Jesus of Nazareth, a little Jewish carpenter who is heralded as being a Prophet and the King of the Jews who, in accordance to what the Spirit of Christ testifies through Isaiah:
"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)
In the midst of His torture, He remained absolutely silent giving the Roman soldiers the incentive to go twice as hard, in order to get a reaction or response.. "Come on, won't You beg? Maybe if You beg us we might go easy on You, we might stop.."
How?... How was Jesus able to sit there and endure such torture all while remaining completely silent? How was He able to find the strength to continue? Because the Spirit rested heavily upon Him..
Jesus knew what awaited Him as He was handed over to the Romans and yet being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and trusting in the Father’s will He willingly allows Himself to be handed over into the will of His enemies for them to torture, mock, and beat Him so that it may be fulfilled when He spoke through Isaiah, saying:
“I gave My back to those who struck Me,
and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
‘For the Lord God will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced;
therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”(Isaiah 50:6-7)
B. Jesus Is Sentenced to Death
Now let us compare to the apostle John's account, which was very similar yet includes some additional information after being beaten by the garrison which shows its importance when comparing to the passage referring to Samson:
"Pilate went outside again and said to [the crowd of Israel],
'Look, I'm bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no ground for charging Him.'(4)
Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them,
'Behold, here is the Man!'(5)
When the chief priests and the temple servants saw Him, they shouted,
'Crucify! Crucify Him! 'Pilate responded, 'Take Him and crucify Him yourselves,
since I find no grounds for charging Him.'(6)
'We have a Law,' the Jews replied to him, 'and according to that Law He must die,
because He made Himself the Son of God.'(7)
When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever."(8)
- John 19:4-8
Take a moment and let this sink in as we compare the situation that Jesus finds Himself in with Samson. Both were handed over into the hands of Israel's enemy to bear the repercussions of the charges brought against them. The Philistines wanted Samson to have to pay for burning down the vineyards, piles of grain, and the standing grain of the Philistines [Judges 15:5] which was a justifiable offense worthy of receiving punishment, yet the Israelites were reluctant to bind and deliver Samson into the hands of the Philistines. This mattered not, as the moment Samson heard the Philistines mock him he [empowered by the Holy Spirit] broke his bindings and killed a thousand men with a donkey's jawbone.
Compared to Jesus, who did absolutely nothing wrong, could not find a solid accusation as those who accused Him contradicted themselves, and wasn't even on Rome's radar [as they cared little for Israel's religion so long as they adhered to Roman authority], yet was arrested by the religious leaders of the temple [His own] and after they bound, beat and mocked Him was delivered into the hands of Pilate. Desiring to appease the uproar of the Jews, He orders for Jesus to be beaten and scourged for His "charges", and shows the Jews the extent of His torture to show them that He had, in fact bore the consequences of whatever charge they had against Him. However, the Jews were adamant on putting Jesus to death which Pilate refused outright. If we were to read the remainder of Jesus' trial in John 19 [compared to the other gospel accounts], Jesus is sent to Herodias [one of the Jewish district leaders] who also finds no fault in Him, yet the crowd persists on having Jesus crucified which Pilate ultimately consents to in order to prevent a tumult from occurring.
C. Jesus is Forced to Carry His Own Cross
After being brought out to trial Jesus is ultimately sentenced to die via crucifixion. In fact, the Romans were the ones who invented the crucifix [going back to the fact that they delighted and took pleasure in torture]. Crucifixion was the most painful form of torture reserved for the most heinous offenders of Rome in order to show the extent of Rome's power by which a person was nailed to a cross in a position which their arms would be stretched outright, preventing the prisoner from drawing a full breath, yet had their feet positioned in a manner which allowed them to sit upright by shifting the entirety of their weight on their feet to breath, resulting in excruciating prolonged pain as it could take upwards of days before the prisoner would die from suffocation. And when a person was sentenced to die via crucifixion, it became a public spectacle- the condemned was paraded through the streets naked as they were forced to carry their own cross before reaching the predetermined place [in Jesus' case, Golgotha or Calvary, which is translated to "Place of the Skull"]. And while the Gospel makes no mention of it, those paraded through the streets were often subjected to the insults and resentment from the on-lookers who would show their contempt by spitting, cursing, throwing animal feces, urine, and other dehumanizing/demoralizing acts to show their disgust. In Matthew's account, it is recorded:
"As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon.
They forced him to carry His cross."(Matthew 27:32)
The extent of Jesus' beating was so severe that He could no longer bear His own cross. Yet harkening back to Isaiah 53, He opened not His mouth for He knew what He must accomplish. The Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon to help Jesus carry His cross, which begs the question: How many times did Jesus drop His cross? How long did Jesus silently struggle with His cross before the Roman soldiers got fed up and forced someone to help Him? Although it is non-canon [meaning not included in the pages of the Bible], church history suggests that Jesus dropped the cross three times while en route to Golgotha.
D. Jesus dies on the cross
While Jesus hung dying upon the cross, the apostle John includes:
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished,
that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!”(John 19:28)
Jesus cries out that He thirsts, why? Simply because He wants something to drink? I don't believe so.. In fact He tells His disciples during the last supper:
“Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine
until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:25)
Why does Jesus say He thirsts? To signify that He had just brought about a great deliverance. Did He deliver His people from the hands of the Romans? No He didn't deliver them from the hands of the Romans. He delivered us from the hands of Satan himself. He delivered us from the condemnation of sin and from our sins. And we see the profound beauty of Jesus crying out “I thirst” because this is the same Man whom Samson cried out to, the same God who heard Samson's cry and split a rock to give him drink is now hanging on a wooden cross crying out the very same thing. Does Jesus recieve water from a rock? No, but rather we continue in John’s account and we see:
“Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine,
put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.”( John 19:29)
The sponge that was given to Him was most likely a Roman soldier's hygiene sponge [which they used to wipe sweat off from various parts of their bodies- including their groin], as if to further mock and revile Him. After which it is written:
“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”(John 19:30)
What does this teach us? Whenever we go through trials and we are met with opposition, we ought not to look to Samson, because it is written that he is both buried and dead. Yet Jesus was laid in the tomb and on the third day, in accordance to the Scripture of Truth rose by the power of the Holy Spirit- Jesus, like Samson had His spirit returned and revived because God Himself justified Jesus and proved it by raising Him from the dead. If there is one thing to be learned through learning the differences of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, it’s that the strength of a man is not derived from within himself, nor is it from his hair- true strength comes from above- the power of the Holy Spirit. And true strength is not having the power to change the trial in which you find yourself in, nor is it to beat those who oppose you. True strength is choosing to accept your trial, being subjected to the will of those who oppose you and to endure the severity of whatever they can throw at you with joy.. How do we react and respond to the trials of life which we face daily? Who do we represent or embody when we find ourselves in a similar situation to Samson and Jesus? Do we mirror Samson, or is it Jesus?
In closing, it seems good to leave you with a passage to reflect upon as you continue about your day and find yourself confronted by the trials of life in hopes of directing your thought to Jesus, as for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the mocking, He endured the shame, He endured the beating, He endured the cross and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in glory. As it was written:
"Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.
Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."(Hebrews 12:1-2)