Sunday, July 27, 2014
The Holy Spirit, Part 16
Isaiah 59:19 states: “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” This chapter details Israel’s sin, and that it has caused them to err and separate them from God’s blessing and protection. They have so grossly erred and sinned that God looked down with astonishment on His own people, grieved that everyone went his own way.
Yet God girds Himself for battle and comes to the liberation of Israel; the Spirit shall lift up a standard against the enemy of the Jews, God’s earthly people, when he comes to plunder and destroy the nation. A standard is defined by Oxford as “a military or ceremonial flag.” Interestingly, the term “standard-bearer” means “a leading figure in a cause or movement.”
The result is that the Redeemer (Jesus our Lord, of course) comes at last to Zion, verse 20. God promises in Isaiah 59:21 that from that time on (when Christ at last comes to His people to be accepted by them) God’s Spirit who is upon them and His word will not depart from their posterity. This “covenant” as God describes it between Himself and the Jews is touched upon by the other “major” prophets in the Old Testament. “I will bring them back [to Israel] and cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so they will not depart from Me,” Jeremiah 32:37-40.
Ezekiel words it like this: “For I will take you (the Jews) from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them,” Ezekiel 36:24-27.
Here we have eternal security, the restoration of the Jewish nation, the reality of being born again, and God’s desire that His Spirit sit at the helm of His people’s hearts and thoughts. A spiritual Christian or Spirit-controlled Christian is a powerful witness to this fallen world of God’s saving grace and His love for us individually and as a race. It is with this love that God can and does woo those who comprehend what they are seeing; but such love is divine and only manifests in the lives of those who have been born again and now have God the Holy Spirit living in them and working out His salvation plan through them.
We press ahead only a little in the book of Isaiah to find yet another mention of the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of the Lord. It is small wonder that Isaiah is sometimes referred to as the fifth gospel, since there is so much content in its pages of Messianic passages and blatant references to the Holy Spirit, and His part in the new covenant. At any rate we find this in Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
First we find the very definition of the gospel right in verse one. The “good tidings” this person is sent to minister can be translated “gospel,” for the word gospel simply means good news. The first portion of the passage was fulfilled during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry two thousand years ago. We read: “[Jesus] was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book He found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then He closed the book…and He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-20.
It is important to notice the progression of events in Isaiah, and where Jesus deliberately chose to cease reading. First, the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, as witnessed in Luke 3:22; 4:1. Jesus received the Holy Spirit visibly for the sake of the witnesses (especially John the Baptist) and being filled with the Holy Spirit He was led into the wilderness before His public ministry began. It is written that ministers in the church (elders, deacons, etc) were to be tested before being put into the ministry, 1st Timothy 3:1-13; 5:22; Titus 1:5-9. Jesus was tested (or tempted as it were) by Satan before entering the ministry, Luke 4:2-13. One reason why the tempter may have been permitted to test Jesus this way was to demonstrate to both fallen and holy angels that He was a fit minister of the word. He demonstrated an unflagging confidence in Scripture, and the God who inspired it; Christ did not vanquish Satan by His native power in this contest, He did it by a steadfast faith that compels the Devil to flee, James 4:7; 1st Peter 5:8-10.
In His earthly ministry Jesus our Lord did all of the things that He read of from Isaiah. He healed the brokenhearted, John 11:43-44. He proclaimed liberty to the captives, John 8:36. He brought sight to the blind, Mark 10:46-52. He set at liberty the oppressed, Luke 13:10-17. He proclaimed the acceptable year of the Lord, but stopped shy of proclaiming the year of the Lord’s vengeance. Why? “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them,” Luke 9:56. This was the purpose of His first advent; to save the world through His vicarious sacrifice on the cross. It was the acceptable year of the Lord, but the day of vengeance had not yet come. That would come when Christ came again from Heaven, visible and with great power and glory. It would be preceded by seven years of Tribulation and followed by one thousand years of His reign over the earth. All of this entails what the prophets refer to as “the Day of the Lord.” For now, the door of grace is open to bring liberty and freedom from fear and oppression, all by the power of the Holy Spirit as He works in and through all who receive Him through faith.