In Bible times, Jehovah gradually revealed his purpose. At first, the identity of the promised Seed was “a sacred secret.” (1 Cor. 2:7) Not until some 2,000 years later did Jehovah again make reference to a seed. (Read Genesis 12:7; 22:15-18.) To Abraham, Jehovah gave an expanded promise. The words “by means of your seed” were a clear indication that the Seed would come as a human, a descendant of Abraham. We can be sure that Satan was watching with great interest as this detail was unveiled. That Adversary no doubt wanted nothing more than to destroy or corrupt Abraham’s line of descent and thus frustrate God’s purpose. But such an outcome was impossible, for God’s unseen spirit was at work. In what ways?
Jehovah used his spirit to protect individuals in the line of descent leading up to the Seed. To Abram (Abraham), Jehovah said: “I am a shield for you.” (Gen. 15:1) Those were not empty words. Consider, for example, what happened about 1919 B.C.E. when Abraham and Sarah took up temporary residence in Gerar. Not knowing that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah with the intention of making her his wife. Was Satan manipulating matters behind the scenes, trying to prevent Sarah from bearing Abraham’s seed? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is that Jehovah intervened. In a dream, he warned Abimelech not to touch Sarah.—Gen. 20:1-18.
That was not just an isolated incident. Jehovah delivered Abraham and his family members on a number of occasions. (Gen. 12:14-20; 14:13-20; 26:26-29) Regarding Abraham and his descendants, the psalmist could therefore say: “He [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’”—Ps. 105:14, 15.
By means of his spirit, Jehovah protected the ancient nation of Israel, into which the promised Seed would be born. Through his spirit, Jehovah gave Israel his Law, which preserved true worship and protected the Jews from spiritual, moral, and physical contamination. (Ex. 31:18; 2 Cor. 3:3) In the time of the Judges, Jehovah’s spirit empowered certain men to deliver Israel from its enemies. (Judg. 3:9, 10) During the centuries leading up to the birth of Jesus, the primary part of Abraham’s seed, holy spirit must have been involved in protecting Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the temple—all of which would play a part in the fulfillment of the prophecies about Jesus.
Holy spirit was directly involved in the life and ministry of Jesus. Operating in the womb of the virgin Mary, holy spirit accomplished something never done before or since. It caused an imperfect woman to conceive and give birth to a perfect Son, who was not under the penalty of death. (Luke 1:26-31, 34, 35) The spirit later protected the infant Jesus from premature death. (Matt. 2:7, 8, 12, 13) When Jesus was about 30, God anointed him with holy spirit, appointing him to be the heir to David’s throne and commissioning him to preach. (Luke 1:32, 33; 4:16-21) Holy spirit empowered Jesus to perform miracles, including healing the sick, feeding the crowds, and raising the dead. Such mighty acts were foregleams of the blessings we can expect under Jesus’ kingly rule.
Starting at Pentecost 33 C.E., Jehovah used his spirit to anoint the secondary part of the seed of Abraham, many of whom were not descendants of Abraham. (Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 3:29) Holy spirit was in evidence upon Jesus’ first-century disciples, enabling them to preach with zeal and empowering them to perform powerful works. (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:7-11) By means of those miraculous gifts, holy spirit revealed a striking development in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose. Jehovah was no longer using the centuries-old arrangement for worship that centered on the temple in Jerusalem. His favor had shifted to the newly formed Christian congregation. Ever since, Jehovah has been using that anointed congregation to serve his purpose.
Protecting, empowering, anointing—these are just a few of the ways that Jehovah used the holy spirit in Bible times to keep his purpose moving ever forward toward its fulfillment. What, though, about our day? How is Jehovah now using his spirit in support of his purpose? We need to know, for we want to work in harmony with the spirit.