Sunday, July 20, 2014
The Holy Spirit, Part 15
Moving ahead only a little we find the Spirit of the Lord mentioned again in Isaiah chapter 34. Chapter 34 describes a terrible war between the nations and the Lord, the year of the Lord’s vengeance, Isaiah 34:2, 8. Their conflict? Recompense for Israel. The content reflects not only the final battle at Megiddo (see Revelation chapter 19) but the eternal consequences of making oneself an inveterate enemy of God, Mark 9:42-48; Revelation 14:10-11; 19:19-21.
A host of unsavory animals dwells in the desolation this war causes, including the hawks who will feed on the corpses, Isaiah 34:15. God informs us that His mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them. If God does it, it shall certainly be done. So certain is this passage that Isaiah is inspired to pen it in the past tense, “For My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them,” Isaiah 34:16.
In Isaiah 40:13 we find the Spirit of the Lord once again. Isaiah attributes to the Spirit of the Lord personhood, an identity incapable of being taught, implying that the Spirit is omniscient (all knowing.) “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord? Or as His counselor has taught Him?” Verse 14 continues as the prophet goes on asking rhetorical questions. “With whom did He (the Spirit of the Lord) take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?” The answer is painfully clear: no one can teach God. This is the essence of God’s argument with Job when He finally answered that ancient saint after a lengthy and fruitless debate with his comforters regarding the nature of suffering, ultimately resulting in the unspoken challenge of God’s ways and wisdom. God tested Job and questioned him if he understood like God did, or could counsel or contribute to the infinite. God’s ways are perfect, and His inscrutable will is being done even in this fallen and sin-wrecked world.
This is likewise Paul’s argument in 1st Corinthians chapter 2 that no man may naturally know the things of God unless the Holy Spirit declares them; in this case by verbal, inspired revelation. One must receive the Spirit of God to even truly begin to understand the wisdom of God, to truly possess meaningful knowledge of God that transcends what the created order and the human conscience can declare, 1st Corinthians 2:12, 14; Romans 1:20. As Christ’s vicar on this earth, He leads us into all truth. Isaiah clearly portrays the Holy Spirit at this point as a person capable of instructing others.
The next time we find the Spirit of the Lord mentioned it is related to one of the great Messianic passages in Isaiah. We read: “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. This verse is painstakingly fulfilled during the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him,” Matthew 3:16. John the Baptist also testified of this event: And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him (Jesus)”, John 1:32.
Both times in Matthew and John we see that the Spirit is “like a dove.” The text does not say that a dove lighted on Jesus, but it appeared as something “like” one. John the Baptist describes the Holy Spirit as a person, using the personal pronoun of “He.” God tells Israel through the prophet that a time is coming when a victorious Servant will arrive, accomplishing God’s will in the power of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the passage in Isaiah definitely describes this victory: “He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law,” Isaiah 42:3-4. Christ did nothing outside of the Father’s will; and it is the Father’s will that we be led (directed/controlled) by His Holy Spirit.
God foresees a later time when He pours out His Spirit on the descendants of Israel, and they will prosper, become many, and be fiercely, filially devoted to Yahweh, the God of their fathers, Isaiah 44:3. This verse hearkens to Joel’s prophecy about the end times, when the Lord gathers Israel together and pours out His Spirit on them, Joel 2:28-32.
Now we come to perhaps my favorite passage in Isaiah. The verse reads: “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit [has] sent Me,” Isaiah 48:16. This passage clearly indicates that the Lord Jesus is speaking. Why? The verse is highly reminiscent of other verses that ascribe to Christ the eternal nature of having dwelt with the Father from eternity past, John 1:1-2; 8:58; Revelation 1:8, 17. Yet this is certainly God speaking. However, there appears to be two more Gods in this picture. The Lord God and His Spirit both sent Jesus. The original Hebrew uses the word “has” instead of “have” implying a single being when describing “the Lord God and His Spirit.” This verse is powerfully Trinitarian in nature, and a difficult one to overcome for cults and sects who want to diminish Christ’s position in the church and write away the Holy Spirit as something less than God Himself. Yet God offers a glimpse presently into the counsels of the Trinity, and we would do well to simply accept the evidences of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is indeed God Almighty.