HOW DID THE ISRAELI PATRIARCHS RESIST THE HOLY GHOST?
by Shawn Brasseaux
In Acts chapter 7, Stephen, God’s final prophet to Israel before her fall, is preaching to his nation about her 2,000-year history of unbelief. He begins to conclude his message in verse 51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” How exactly did the ancient forefathers of Israel “resist” the Holy Ghost? How are they resisting Him even in the lifetime of Stephen?
“AS YOUR FATHERS DID”
We should keep reading the context: “ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”
God’s Spirit spoke to Israel through the prophets, His spokesmen, about Messiah’s coming. First Peter 1:10-11 “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” The prophets spoke about various other issues as well, but, as we will see beyond any shadow of a doubt, Israel ignored her messengers from God throughout the Old Testament economy. It was centuries upon centuries of refusing to hear God’s Word spoken by God’s Spirit through God’s prophets.
The Holy Spirit had filled these prophets with His Word. Yet, Israel refused to hear the Spirit of God. Primarily, they declined to listen to the Law of Moses, that which God the Spirit had written and delivered to Israel through Moses. Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 9:10: “And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” Jesus said in Luke 11:20, “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” The parallel is Matthew 12:28, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” The Law was written by the finger of God. The “finger of God,” according to Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20, is the Holy Spirit. Stephen said to Israel, “ye… have not kept it [obeyed the Law].”
Second Chronicles 36:15-16: “And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”
Second Chronicles 24:19: “Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.”
Nehemiah 9:26,30: “Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations…. Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.”
Isaiah 30:9-11: “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”
Psalm 106:32-35: “They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.”
Ezekiel 13:3: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (Rather than following God’s Spirit, these false prophets believed and preached whatever they wanted.)
Zechariah chapter 7, verse 12: “Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”
Isaiah 30:1: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:….”
Isaiah 63:10: “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.”
Queen Jezebel killed a good many of God’s prophets. First Kings 18:4,13: “For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)…. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?”
First Kings 19:10,14 is the Prophet Elijah speaking of Jezebel’s killing off the prophets of JEHOVAH God: “And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away…. And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” Romans 11:3 summarizes: “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.” See also 2 Kings 9:7. Jeremiah 2:30: “In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.” Israel just murders God’s messengers to her, one right after the other!
Second Kings chapter 17: “ Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.  And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.” (You may read the rest of this chapter in your own Bible. Truly awful!!)
Jeremiah chapter 7: “ Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:  Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.  Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.  But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.”
Jeremiah 25:4: “And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.”
Jeremiah 26:5,7-8,11: “ To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;….  So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.  Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die….  Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears…..  Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.” (They wanted to put Jeremiah to death here after saying they do not listen to God’s prophets!!!)
Jeremiah 29:19: “Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD.”
Jeremiah chapter 35, verse 15: “I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me.”
Jeremiah chapter 44: “ Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.  Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.”
Daniel chapter 9, verses 6 and 10: “Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land…. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.”
Amos 2:11-12: “And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.”
Zechariah 1:4: “Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.”
Zechariah 7:7: “Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?” Verse 12: “Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”
Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Matthew 23:29-31: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”
Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”
Luke chapter 6: “ Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”
Luke 11:47,49,50-51: “Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them…. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”
First Thessalonians 2:15: “[The Jews] Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:….”
Speaking of the future end-times events, Antichrist and Satan’s policy of evil with all its participants being judged by God, Revelation 16:6 says, “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” Also, Revelation 18:20: “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” And verse 24: “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” This whole religious system, from the earliest times, has murdered God’s messengers!! They have all resisted the Holy Spirit speaking in and through those prophets.
“SO DO YE”
Stephen said in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” His audience was no different from their fathers (all those previous verses we just read). They too refused to hear the Holy Ghost speaking through His prophets. The Holy Spirit came down from Heaven in Acts chapter 2, who then empowered the Little Flock (12 Apostles, and all of believing Israel, including Stephen himself) to bear witness of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Between chapters 2 and 7 of Acts (about a year of time), all Israel heard about Jesus was Messiah, and He was coming back to judge them for killing Him on Calvary. They were to get right by believing the Gospel of the Kingdom—Jesus is Messiah. See Acts 2:22-40.
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 23:34: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:….” Watch this begin to be fulfilled as the Book of Acts opens. The Holy Spirit comes upon the Little Flock in early Acts, in order to give them the capacity to preach to wayward Israel.
John chapter 14: “ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
John chapter 15: “ But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:  And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
John chapter 16: “ Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  Of sin, because they believe not on me;  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;  Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
Acts chapter 1: “ And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Acts chapter 2: “ And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance….  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:….”
Acts chapter 4: “ And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide….  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.  So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.”
Acts chapter 5: “ Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,  Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.  Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.  When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them….  And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”
Hebrews 6:4-6: “ For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (This is a warning to those Jews who reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in early Acts. In other words, this is Stephen’s audience in chapter 7.)
Hebrews 2:3-5: “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;  God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?  For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” (This too is a warning to those Jews who reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in early Acts. In other words, this is Stephen’s audience in chapter 7.)
First Peter 1:12: “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Little Flock is preaching in early Acts. Those who reject the Little Flock’s preaching are resisting the Holy Ghost!)
Go back one more time to Acts, and notice chapter 6: “ And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:….  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.” (Do you see how apostate Israel is plotting to put to death Stephen, the man God is using to speak to them?)
Stephen’s sermon in Acts chapter 7 is God’s final plea with unbelieving Israel. Chapter 6 and verse 5 said, “Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” That means that, if Israel refuses to hear Stephen, they are rejecting the Holy Spirit for the final time. If you keep reading chapter 7, you will see that Israel murdered Stephen by stoning. They had rejected the 12 Apostles’ preaching since Acts chapter 2, and now they have killed Stephen. They have “resisted” the Holy Ghost to the extent that nothing else can be done with them! God temporarily sets Israel aside in chapter 7 of Acts, and our Dispensation of Grace begins shortly thereafter. See our related studies linked below for more information.