Zechariah hit on an eternal principle of truth when he wrote, ““It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord.” There are often statements of great depth and insight scattered throughout the Bible which, even when removed from the context in which they were written, are eternally true as stand-alone statements. No matter how mighty and eloquent Isaiah’s Hebrew was, and no matter the power of logic in his statements, it is the source of the statements that make them so gloriously influential and strong. That source is the Holy Spirit Himself. Isaiah’s insights into the person and work of the Holy Spirit are incredibly broad in their theological significance. We list some of them here and make the briefest of comments merely to highlight the comprehensive nature of what we shall refer to as Isaiah’s pneumatology.
Messiah will be sent to dwell amongst men by Yahweh and His Spirit.
Come near to me and hear this! From the beginning I did not speak in secret; At the time it happens, I am there: “Now the Lord God and His Spirit has sent me.”(Isaiah 48:16)
This is Isaiah, prophetically telling us words that somewhere in eternity were Christ’s, spoken to the Father, and/or the Spirit. Yahweh and His Spirit sent Christ into the world. That is the plain meaning of Isaiah 48:16. The body was prepared for Jesus by God the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:5-7). The importance of this insight of Isaiah’s is profound. The fact of the three persons of the Godhead are clearly defined in a single verse on an issue that is so dear to every Christian believer.
Note also how God says that He does nothing in secret. He calls us all to draw near while He reveals both Himself and His intentions. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are seen in the vision of what Isaiah is saying concerning the incarnation, and the prophetic fore-telling of His mission. “A body” was prepared. It might not have been one hundred percent clear to Isaiah and his audience (then again it might have been), but to us it could not be clearer. God wants His plan and purpose known to the world. God has made His plan known publicly through a series of prophets, and writings proving His heart and His presence towards His people. Here Messiah speaks. Being sent by Yahweh and His Spirit, if one reads the entire context, it is also made plain that it is Yahweh that is speaking. Thus, we have Yahweh stating that Yahweh and His Spirit have sent Him. It is Yahweh the Son, declaring that Yahweh the Father and the Spirit of Yahweh, had sent Him on Mission. The Spirit’s role in the advent of Messiah permeates all that Messiah accomplishes as he tabernacles amongst men.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-2).
Messiah accomplishes the renewal of all things by having become a man with the Spirit of God resting upon Him and His life. I read it somewhere that there cannot be an authentic or biblical Christology without a thorough and complete accompanying pneumatology. Neither can there be an authentic and biblical pneumatology without a solid Christology overlaid upon it. The two may have been wrongly estranged in some minds over the centuries. The two spheres of revelation, however, can never be separated. Christology and Pneumatology are conjoined.
Isaiah 11:1-2 is a glorious and wonderful description of Christ’s character and wisdom. Jesus was conceived of the Spirit in Mary’s womb. He grew in the wisdom of the Spirit, and the purity that the Spirit leads us in. However, Jesus saw no miracle, no deliverance and no raising people from the dead, nor any casting out of demons until the Holy Spirit was given to rest upon Him. It is the Spirit of God that would show Him what Father was doing, and reveal to Him what Father was saying. It was by the Spirit that Jesus cast out demons. The Spirit that would rest upon Christ would cast engraft fruit as well as gifts into His person, behaviour and character. Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel and might, along with a deep fear of the Lord would drive and motivate the Master all His days – and it would all be birthed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Such a criteria never fitted any man that ever lived until Jesus of Nazareth came. None of those famous acts that filled the days of His ministry started until the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him and remained upon Him. It is the “remaining” that was so radically new to the Jewish hearers of his words. It was true of Christ and it had not been true of any man prior to it occurring with Christ. It is true of all who are born of the Spirit, and who afterwards receive the baptism with the Spirit that descends upon them from above.
The Spirit of the Lord would rest contentedly on the Nazarene. John saw the Spirit descend in the form of a dove, and remain upon Christ. The Spirit of God had found in Jesus what He had always sought after since the fall of man in Eden; a human being to abide with, who would maintain a comfortable and righteous relationship with Him. Isaiah was astute when he discerned how the Holy Spirit builds characteristics that precipitate behaviours that please and glorify God.
Messiah and the Spirit in unity together will be the delight of Heavenly Father
Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:1).
Imagine being one in whom the Father delights. Imagine what is contained in the statement of having caused Heavenly Father to delight in a person. It was because Jesus became a servant to His Father, that He was caused to delight in Him. Because of Christ’s total obedience and submission, the Spirit was given Him at the Jordan. The gift of the Spirit in His first Advent will have an impact upon Him after His Second Advent. He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. According to Revelation, the justice and judgement of the unsaved gentile nations will not be until the end of His thousand year reign.
Referring to Christ’s obedience and submission to the Father before the Spirit was sent to anoint Him does not mean Jesus received the Spirit because of works. Alignment of the will, the heart and the determined purpose of life must precipitate the Spirit of God locating the heart that He can fill and abide with. Many receive the Spirit in the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and rejoice. But continued obedience and submission are key factors in the maintenance of that anointing and gift. Any believer can receive the Baptism. Not all can maintain the sharpness of the weapon of the gift after it has been given. This writer believes that many charismatics and Pentecostals devalue the baptism in the Holy Spirit when once received.
Isaiah talks as if He is staring at Christ in the present tense. Seven centuries before His birth, Isaiah sees Messiah plainly. Again, all the glorious and divine virtue and activity of God would be seen in Christ, because of the Holy Spirit that would comfortably rest upon Him. He would be the very delight of heaven. Christ is said to have had invested in Him and activated through Him by the Spirit of God, every single thing that constitutes the positive blessing of God, and the saving work as Messiah.
Messiah will be clothed upon by the Prophetic, Healing Holy Spirit
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor … to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of justice, the planting of the Lord to show his glory. (Isa. 61:1&3, NKJV).
Oh the glory embedded in these lines. Percy Brewster used to call the first three verses of Isaiah 61, “The Manifesto of Jesus Christ.” The Spirit was upon the Saviour, anointing Him for the purpose of reaching the lost. Those facts are still true concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Baptism if the Holy Spirit is all about power. Not power to be used and bragged about. Not to be squandered on one’s own benefits, but to be employed as a weapon to redeem mankind. The entire life and mission of Christ is here remarked upon, and the statement renders it possible for no other reason other than the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the Saviour. It was never by might nor human power. It is always by the Spirit of God.
1) According to Isaiah 61:1-3, the Holy Spirit is the causal agent in in Messiah’s prophetic behaviour, saving grace, and Healing power and desire. That cache of logic is exactly the same today when Christian’s receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and evangelise in Christ’s name.
2) The Holy Spirit is the energizing source of the occurrence of the prophetic word, as well as the wisdom and the healing that Messiah would bring. And
3) The Holy Spirit is the source of the entire empowerment in that prophetic, healing and ruling scenario.
In plain language, the Spirit anoints a person to do a thing, then empowers the doing of that effort, and then begins to move on the recipient of that manifested gift.
Who has the ignorance to even suggest that the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is anything but absolutely vital?
He will be a spirit of justice to him that sits in judgement and for the one who sits in judgment. A source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. (Isaiah 28:6)
Some academics believe that the immediate relevance of these lines is the implication that after the fall of Samaria, and the fact that several of the prophets had predicted the same end coming to Jerusalem and Judah, many of the civil servants and social leaders of the time would come to their senses and start walking in faith. When that walk of faith is commenced, the activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives would be obvious to see. Thus, Isaiah 28:6 is a word of comfort to them.
However, the verse previous to 6 begins with “On that day…” which nearly always means the prophet is referring to the Second Advent and the millennial reign. “On that day,” normally means, “On the glorious day when Messiah reigns in power on the earth.” But the principle is the same with both interpretations. Perhaps both are correct.
The heavy principle that Isaiah states in this verse is focused on very much in the New Testament. This “presence” on people that gives wisdom and an inner knowledge of what is the right and wise thing to do at all times, is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In all the decision making process of the righteous, the Lord, as a “Spirit of Justice,” will give His strength to enable all those who would be judges or rulers to do what is right. He will also be strength for those who take the battle to the enemy’s city gates. What was fully manifested in the character and person of Christ will be manifested in the body of Christ, that is, those that lean on Him, even though the anointing may be to a lesser degree. It’s the tip of a huge mountain of New Testament teaching, and Isaiah was there first.
The Holy Spirit is the source of all wisdom and counsel – Meaning: He is God
Who has determined the measure of the Spirit of the Lord, or given Him instruction as his counsellor? With whom did He take counsel and let Himself be instructed, and who gave Him instruction in the way of justice and taught Him knowledge and imparted to him deep insight. (Isaiah 40:13)
I am convinced that here, the Spirit of the Lord is considered in His role as the agent through which God does all His creative work, ex nihilo and otherwise. So Isaiah’s question, in modern street language, would be this: Is there anybody alive on the planet who can determine and/or measure the parameters of the creative power of God? Isaiah is keen to assert the Holy Spirit as the agent of creation in all that God does. The Spirit of God is God Himself.
The connection of the Spirit with practical and creative wisdom is already evident in the Joseph story when he appears before Pharaoh (Genesis 41:37-39). Isaiah 30:1-2 demonstrates the “disconnect” between God’s Spirit and a hard-hearted nation that seeks counsel from the world (Egypt). Isaiah specifically says that being allied with Egypt was not “of Yahweh’s Spirit.” This clearly implies that the Spirit of God has strong opinions on political unions, and His desire should be sought out at all times.
In the Book of Judges, we noticed how the Spirit confirmed God’s choice of leaders and also empowered the individuals concerned (Gideon, Samson, and others) to accomplish acts of deliverance on behalf of God’s people. This always involved military intervention or, in the case of Samson, his physical intervention and defeat of the enemy. Two passages in Isaiah show continuity as well as discontinuity with this strain of thought concerning the Spirit of God. For example, the future Davidic king & Messiah, spoken of in Isaiah 11:1-5. is still designated as leader by virtue of the Spirit being upon him (continuity – “and the Spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him.”), but in place of an expression of military might, Isaiah identifies him as one who will render justice for and protect the weak (discontinuity, Isa. 11:4”he shall judge the lowly with righteousness, ad shall decide for the meek of the earth with equity.”). Although there is language about slaying the wicked, the instrument spoken of is not a sword or spear but “the rod of His mouth,” (Isaiah 11:4) and “the breath of his lips.”(Isaiah 11:4)
The king was expected to administer justice and righteousness by protecting the powerless in society and judging the wicked, resulting in not only the flourishing of God’s people, but also the restoration of God’s entire Creation into harmony and order as per Isaiah 11:6-9, which I believe portrays perfectly what the world will be like during Christ’s millennial reign. This is a radically different picture from that recorded in the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings. In Isaiah 42:1-4 while this passage once again connects leadership (and servanthood) with the Spirit placed upon him, the authority of the leader/servant in this case is one which is more related to “restraining Him” than to “constraining him.” Here there is a very strange reference to meekness and weakness, implying that empowerment is to minister meekly in weakness, and indeed to minister to the weak, meaning the crushed reeds and the smoking flax’z of humanity (Isaiah 42:2 ).
So we see how Isaiah’s insights builds from what had already been revealed of the Spirit’s work earlier in the divine revelation of the Pentateuch and the historical books of Judges and Samuel. Even the greatest revelator’s need to stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before. We need to tread where others have trodden before we dare go where no man has gone before.
Until the spirit from on high is poured out on us. And the wilderness becomes a garden land and the garden land seems as common as forest. (Isaiah 32:15)
Here we have a glancing reference to the Holy Spirit being poured out upon mankind. However, immediately after, Isaiah is referring to the wonders of nature being brought to fullest and bursting manifestation, because of the first phrase, which in this translation is turned into a complete sentence.
The vision of God’s complete rule on earth is a major concern of Isaiah’s writings. The rule of God, or Lordship of Christ, is universal in scope as it goes well beyond Israel, God’s people, and encompasses all of Creation.
This statement is clearly, primarily, eschatological, but also it creates mental pictures of land- real estate – being restored to blessing, which could also apply before the Second Advent. Isaiah 32:15-18 speaks of the pouring out of the Spirit and the fertility that is brought to the land, along with a restoration of righteousness and justice. I am convinced that the more a nation, or ethnic group walks in righteousness and the fear of the Lord, the serendipitous impact is that the land, the economics and the health of the people all simultaneously begin to improve. The ultimate improval will be when Jesus reigns on earth where e’er the sun shines.
The Spirit of God refreshes all things physical as well as all things human, in body, soul and spirit.
I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground, streams upon the dry land; I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring, my blessing upon your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3)
In Isaiah 44:3-5, the pouring out of the Spirit brings fertility to the people and to the land. The imagery of water is repeatedly used to describe the coming of the Spirit in abundance here, as also in Isaiah 32. How glorious is the whole picture painted by Isaiah. The full statement links the outpouring of the Spirit on the earth and humanity alike. As the activity of the Spirit continues, everything He moves upon enters into full blown fruitfulness. The Holy Spirit maximizes creation wherever He is active.
This verse must also be included in the list of Old Testament statements that promise the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh. Isaiah saw the day coming when, in response to people calling on the name of the Lord, the Holy Spirit would fall upon those in the obedience of faith.
God plans to clearly bring about change by pouring out His Holy Spirit, acting as water being poured on a dry wasteland. It will be such a heavy downpour, it would be like streams flooding a desert. It will precipitate wonderful blessings and increase from God. This outpouring, however, is clearly in Isaiah’s future. Compare this line with Isaiah 32:15. 59:21. Jeremiah 31:33-34. Ezekiel 36:26-27. Joel 2:25-29.Zechariah 12:10-13:1.)
I suggest that the initial outpouring began on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Its total fulfillment for Israel and in the resurrection, will be in the millennial restoration.
Search through the book of the Lord and read: not one of these shall be lacking, For the mouth of the Lord has ordered it, and his spirit gathers them there. (Isaiah 34:16)
The immediate preceding lines to 34:16 reveal the context of this statement. In a nutshell, Isaiah was saying that, because he had written down his prophecies as given to him by the Spirit of the Lord, so, the same Holy Spirit would fulfill what he had given him to speak. If the Spirit makes a promise, be absolutely sure, the Spirit will fulfill what He has promised.
He was speaking directly of prophecies concerning Edom which was taken over by the Arabs, and then in 106 AD was taken over by Rome. Petra, also known as Sela, once Edom’s famous Capital city, is still a complete ruin. God’s judgement on the nations during Daniel’s seventieth week will come just as surely.
Spirit of faith and regeneration, as well as the Spirit of promise
This is my covenant with them, which I myself have made, says the Lord: My spirit which is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouths of your children Nor the mouths of your children’s children from this time forth and forever, says the Lord. (Isaiah 59:21)
“Which I myself have made,” emphasizes God’s total commitment to carry out His promises to us. His covenant is with “you.” That is, those who have turned away from rebellion against God’s purposes and have repented. God then speaks to the recipient of the promise which is primarily the Redeemer. His Spirit is upon Messiah. He is the anointed One, the Christ. God puts His own words in the mouth of Jesus (as per John 14:10 and 14:24).
His words will continue to be in the Redeemer’s mouth and in the “mouths of his children.” The word for children is the word, “zarakha,” which is strictly, “your seed.” It will be in their mouths and in the mouth of their children. In Isaiah 53:10 it talks of Messiah seeing “His seed.” His spiritual seed is referring to every true believer. The seed of His seed will become proclaimers of the same word which infers and implies that they will do so by the same Holy Spirit.
Grieving God is grieving the Holy Spirit.
But they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit; so he turned to become their enemy, and warred against them. (Isaiah 63:10)
Isaiah confesses the people’s sins. “They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.”- not once, but repeatedly, almost addum infinitum throughout the generations, manifesting characteristics and behaviour like, bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice of all shapes and sizes. God could not allow them to continue in presumptuous ingratitude and indifference to Yahweh’s “chesed” – the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek agape. God actually became “their enemy.” He used human armies to bring judgement in the days of the Judges, Assyrians and Babylonians. It was in that sense that He fought against them. It all happened because they had grieved the Holy Spirit.
Then they remembered the days of old, of Moses, his servant: Where is the one who brought up out of the sea the shepherd of his flock? Where is the one who placed in their midst his Holy Spirit, (Isaiah 63:11)
These judgements caused the godly remnant among His people to remember the days of Moses and his leadership. It caused them to ask about the one who brought them all through the Red Sea. In those days He put His Holy Spirit not only on Moses and the 70 elders (See Numbers 11:17), but on Bezale’el and Oholiab as well (as per Exodus 32:2-3 and 6. Exodus 35:30-35.).
However, the people, generally, were asking, “Where is God now?” And even, “Where is the work and power of the Holy Spirit?”
As cattle going down into the valley, they did not stumble. The spirit of the Lord guided them. Thus you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name. (Isaiah 63:14)
The Israelites coming out of the wilderness were like cattle coming down from the barren hills into the lush green pastures of the Promised Land. Through the Holy Spirit and Spirit-filled leaders such as Moses and Joshua (Numbers 27:18), they were, “given rest,” again and again, as God promised (Joshua 23:1). God’s guidance thus brought glory to His name. It was the Spirit of God that guided them through and out of the desert and into the Promised Land.
My conclusions are straight forward. Just as we can clearly perceive a progression in the understanding and work of the Spirit of God when moving from the first five books of Moses, to the Historical Books, similarly we can see how Isaiah utilizes the same statements that had been introduced centuries earlier, together with further revelations that he also pushes to new horizons. The connection of the Spirit with a Davidic leader who will rule in power, yet also through weakness, clearly anticipates the ministry of Jesus. The renewal that the Spirit brings to all of Creation in the time to come, paves the way for the same recurring, yet ever expanding revelatory theme in the New Testament. The description of the function and work of the Holy Spirit in Isaiah is certainly an important development in the Scripture’s declaration of the nature of the deity, personality and manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah gives instructive continuousness of the permanence of past historical insights concerning the Holy Spirit, while demonstrating new features and fresh insights that later became be the staple bread and butter of the New Testament believer.