The Prophets Saw the Activity
Of Gods Spirit
...in Visions of Creative Power
TWO MAIN WORDS are used in the Hebrew Old Testament often translated prophet.
One is nahbi. This means a spokesman. Its
biblical reference is to a spokesman for the LORD God. The other word, sometimes translated prophet, sometimes seer, is ra'ah. Its
emphasis is on one who sees. Thus, its reference is to one
who sees things from the viewpoint of Heaven. Even though
the second of the two words does not occur as often as the first, it
can be easily implied that a spokesman for God is one who has
seenand heardthings in the heavens and brought back
to the ears of men in the earth a description of what he has received.
Thus, a speaking, and writing, Prophet is a Seer, even though
he may not always be called such.
it was with Ezekiel in the first chapter of his Booka Seer
saw things so difficult to describe that someone who only sees from
an earthly view is left to speculate on what the Prophet was, indeed,
seeing. This is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit in studying
the Prophets. Consider the living creatures Ezekiel made
the wonderful attempt at describing, and the wheels that
moved with them. How difficult it was for him to interpret the vision
in words of human understanding! The passage is difficult even to a
reader of the original Hebrew, but Eugene Peterson in The Message
makes a great effort at interpreting it. See this selection from
his translation. Note the activity, and the fire, of the Spirit. It
begins to be apparent that Ezekiel was seeing the Holy Spirit at work
in the heavens. Spending time with this, we see it was from right out
of eternity, preceding the formation of the earth. Each creature
went straight ahead. Wherever the Spirit went, they went. They didn't
turn as they went. The four creatures looked like a blazing fire, or
like fiery torches. Tongues of fire shot back and forth between the
creatures, and out of the fire, bolts of lightning. The creatures flashed
back and forth like strikes of lightning. As I watched the four creatures,
I saw something that looked like a wheel on the ground beside each of
the four-faced creatures. This is what the wheels looked like: They
were identical wheels, sparkling like diamonds in the sun. It looked
like they were wheels within wheels, like a gyroscope.Ezekiel
1:12-16 [MSG]The Message
WHEN WE SEE the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts, we began to comprehend what Ezekiel
saw. Or, at least, we begin seeing on earth what he was seeing in the
heavens. In the Book of Acts we see the work of Gods Spirit
up close and personal in the lives of men and women. As He descended
upon the one hundred and twenty gathered in that upper room in Jerusalem,
His appearance was like brilliant torches from heaven
as He sat upon each of them. See this from an interpretation
of the passage in Acts that describes the activity of the Spirit
starting His work in the Church. The followers of Jesus were all
together in one place
All at once there was a sound from heaven
like a powerful wind. It filled the house where they were sitting. Then
they saw tongues which were divided that looked like fire. These came
down on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
from Acts 2:1-4 [NLV]New
of the Spirits activity in the heavens energizing the work of
creation. Now He was coming into the Church for the work of the new
creation (II Corinthians 5:17). As He came upon that
Pentecostal gathering in Jerusalem, He looked like fire.
John the Baptist, the last prophetic forerunner of the Lord Jesus, had
this to say about Jesus: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit
and with fireLuke 3:16.
Spirit of the Lord began His work in mankind, we saw Him first
in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, as we move into the Book of Acts,
we see His work beginning in Christs Body, the Church. The energetic
Force of Heaven, difficult for a Prophet to describe, came upon a group
of Jesus disciples in a practical demonstration of His work that
changed lives. He brought life where death had reigned. He made sick
people whole. He drew people together in a communion we are coming to
know as the Church. And, He even turned the world upside down
as some who opposed His work viewed it (Acts 17:6).
Search as we
may, we can find no Scripture telling us that the Holy Spirit will cease
the work begun in Acts. Rather, the more we investigate, the
greater becomes our conviction that the work we saw then, coming from
our Father in the heavens, will continue till the end of the ageperhaps
in even greater measure as the age draws on to its conclusion.
BUT, BEFORE LOOKING further into the New Testament, as we expect to do in succeeding articles,
there are yet some significant Scriptures regarding the Holy Spirit
for us to see yet in the Prophets of the Old Testament. Two passages
of particular note are in Isaiah. They are of clearer understanding
than what we saw in Ezekiel. It was Isaiah who best described
how the Spirit of God Who has worked from the ages past in the heavens
will work in our present age.
First we have
Isaiah 11:1-4. This tells what the Holy Spirit would do
when He entered the scene of earthly activity to work in and through
Gods Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we consider this passage,
we will begin seeing that what He would do in the Lord Jesus, He will
do in us also. Then we will see Isaiah 61:1-3 as it lets
us in on how the Spirit will work in common man who becomes part of
Christs Body. Although what we find in Isaiah is the Spirit
at work in a Prophet, it becomes clear that in that prophet we have
the prototype of anyone one of us who will yield to the Holy Spirits
work. As we look at all this, and as we see what the Apostle Paul
will later describe as the operations of the Holy Spirit in the
Church, we want to remember how Jesus said,
He that believeth
on Me, the works that I do shall he do alsoJohn 14:12.
This connects us with the Holy Spirits works in
Jesus and draws us to see that the same work He did in Him He will do
also in us.
As we read the
first passage in Isaiah, we will find the qualities of
the Holy Spirit at workwhether they be in Christ or in us. As
we wait before the Lord, we will come to see it is the lack of
these qualities that makes us all the more ready to receive what the
Spirit of the LORD will do in us. As for Christ, Paul explains how the principle of weakness
making way for strength is applicable to Him.
How could the
One by Whom all things consist be weak enough to need
the help of Gods Spirit?
clear when we understand that He made himself of no reputation
(that is, He emptied Himself), and took upon
him the form of a servant (a bond slave), and was made
in the likeness of menfrom Philippians 2:7. He
poured Himself out to become like us and to make himself ready to become
a vessel filled with His Fathers Spirit.
ISAIAH WAS much taken with the description of Christ as a tender and weak plant. Later in his Book when
he told of His coming as our Redeemer, he sawas a Seerthat
He would grow up before Himthat is, in the presence
of His Heavenly Father like a tender shoot, and like a root
out of dry groundIsaiah 53:2 [NIV]New
As we look carefully
at this Prophets Word about the Holy Spirit coming, we can find
seven points to note about Him. They are significant.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a
Branch will bear fruit. 1The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him2the Spirit of wisdom 3and of understanding, 4the Spirit of counsel 5and of power, 6the Spirit of knowledge 7and of the fear of the LORD and He will delight in the fear of the
will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears
with His ears; but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with
justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike
the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips He
will slay the wicked Isaiah 11:1-4 [NIV]
In this passage,
Isaiah has directed us to behold the Messiah Who was yet eight centuries
away when heas a Seerbeheld Him still in the bosom
of His Heavenly Father. He saw Him as a slender twig sprouting up from
the root of the old withered stem of Davids father Jesse. He saw
Him coming as One extremely weak in His first appearance but Who would
become fruitful and mighty by the Spirit of the LORD
Who would rest on Him.
The Hebrew word
translated rest, (nuwach) is significant
in the above passage as it was used to speak of the Holy Spirit. It
meant, to settle down and remain. When Christ went back
to His Father after his thirty-three years on earth as a man, He had
been clear in His promise about the Spirit He would ask His Father to
send back to His disciples. He called Him the Comforter,
the Paraclete, the One called along side as
a helper. He promised the Spirit that had worked in Him would come and
abide with us foreverfrom John
14:16. This meant he would settle down and remain with
AS THE SHOOT from the Stump of Jesse, Isaiah had reference to Christ
Who would come as the Covenant Son of David, who was the son
of Jesse. What Isaiah saw regarding the spirit of the LORD
coming upon the stump of Jesse waited 800 years to see
its fulfillment, but it did, indeed, take place.
saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven,
and He remained upon Him
John 1:32 [NIV].
Each of the four Gospels gives an account of this happening. The sad
thing is that Israel, as a whole, did not recognize Jesus as the promised
Messiah, even though they held with a strong clutch to their Prophet
We have taken
note that there are seven points of description the Prophet gave
for the Spirit he saw descending upon the Messiah. Related to this,
there are significant passages in the Book of Revelation that
speak to us of the seven Spirits. Seven is the
number used in the Bible to speak of completion, or perfection. The
seven points we observe in Isaiah 11 tell of the complete work
the Holy Spirit will carry onboth in Jesus and His Body.
What we see
in Revelation points us to the perfection of the Spirits
work, both in the heavens and on the earth. I have taken various interpretations
that I believe capture the meanings of the Original and bring them over
into our way of speaking.
and peace from the One who is, Who always was, and Who is still to come;
from the SEVENFOLD SPIRIT before His Throne (that is, Gods Throne)
1:4 [NLT]. The
Spirit of the Lord, in the fullness of His work is here associated with
Gods eternal Throne. Peter, on Pentecost, clearly identified the
Spirit Who came upon the disciples as sent from the Throne of the Father
to which the Lord Jesus had returned. The Holy Spirit, having come now
upon earths believers, will bring to completion the eternal work
begun in the heavens but ready for continuance in Gods Kingdom
(Jesus said,) Write this Letter to the
Angel (the Messenger) of the church in Sardis. This is
the message from the One Who has the SEVENFOLD SPIRIT of God and the
Revelations 3:1 [NLT]. In
His fourth Letter to the Church, the Lord Jesus ascended now back
to His Fathers right hand and with the Holy Spirit having come
both in Him and in His Bodysends a Word to His people on earth.
The work we saw in Ezekiel, glorious with fire but defying our
understanding, was the work of the sevenfold Spirit of God.
Presently, Christ is adjusting the work of His Body, not yet perfect
because too many of its members hold onto their own weaknesses rather
than embrace the life and fullness of the Spirit of the LORD.
flash and thunder crash pulsed from the Throne. Seven fire-blazing torches
fronted the Throne (these are the SEVENFOLD SPIRIT of God)Revelations 4:5 [MSG]. As
the work of Gods Kingdom proceeds through the final days of this
age, the fullness of His Spirit implements the work of His Kingdom.
He is lending the perfection of His power and authority to it as its
work increases in usand through us. Recall the vision of Ezekiel.
We took note how tongues of fire shot back and forth between the
creatures, and out of the fire, bolts of lightning. This Word
from Revelation brings it home to us that the fire seen
in the Prophets vision, and the tongues of fire observed
on the disciples in Jerusalem are the samewith
the following exceptions. The vision of Ezekiel was before the
Spirit descended. The upper room explosion was as the Spirit was descending.
The Revelation vision takes us from eternity past, through the
present, into eternity yet to be known in earth.
and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the
throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders.
He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are THE SEVEN SPIRITS of God
that are sent out into every part of the earthRevelations
5:6 [NLT]. Seven horns speak of the fullness of Gods
power; seven eyes speak to us of the perfection of His
wisdom; the seven Spirits speak of the completion of His
Spirits work, begun in the heavens and brought to completion in every part of the earth.
SO, WHAT IS THE PERFECTION
of quality we are to know
in the Holy Spirit? Isaiah tells us succinctly and clearly in the passage
from Isaiah 11. We will follow each point, recognize its work
in the Lord Jesus, and see Him presently at work in the Church. As the
age draws on to its end, we can expect to know His fullness in a more
perfect dimension. This is not only because it flows out of the eternal
purposes of the Lord as they come to completion, it is also because
of the dire need arising in the Body of Christ to know His Spirits
Oh, how many
are the times through Scripture that we find the power of the Lord making
its greatest manifestation when man is at his weakest. Think Lazarus.
Think Jesus. Think Pentecost. The darkest hour makes way for the brightest
is the Spirit of the LORDIsaiah 11:2. By His Spirit, our
eternal Father in the heavens brings us into a communion and abiding
relationship with Himself. This communion can never be known apart from
the work of His Spirit. Those who try to know Him by forging a relationship
with a church come to disappointment. Those who try to know the LORD by catechism study, public confession, personal commitment to His will,
but apart from being born of His Spirit, are left empty.
So, it must become
settled with us that by an operation of Gods Spirit we come to
know Him. This is because He is real. He is personal. He is powerful.
We can no more expect to know God by learning of Him than we can expect
to find the warmth of a fire without there first being an energetic
release that brings the warmth with it.
Do we call God an
energetic release? Well, yes. We might do that. He is the
Father of all Energy, the Source of all Light, the Reason for all living
things, the Beginning of everything that is eternal and temporal. The
Holy Spirit is never the be conceived of as separate from the Father,
or the Son Who came to complete our Redemption. In knowing the Holy
Spirit, we are drawn into a living communion with the whole . The fact
is upon usnot to be cast aside or taken lightly as some are inclined
to dothat it is the Holy Spirit Who brings the reality of the
LORD God into our lives.
Without His authentic release in us, we have only religious ideals that
leave us empty.
is the Spirit of the WisdomIsaiah
11:2. Wisdom has been eternal with God. All His works were wrought
with Wisdom. Before ever He brought forth the worlds, Wisdom
was there as His Counselor. As we study Scriptures speaking to us
of Wisdom, we are drawn to believe that the eternal Wisdom
of God and the Word of God are inseparable. I believe we
could say they are identical.
See this Word
from Johns Gospel as interpreted in the New Living Translation
of the Bible: In the beginning the Word already existed. He
was with God, and He was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created
everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. Life itself
was in Him, and this Life gives Light to everyoneJohn
There is a passage
in Proverbs 8 that draws us on to see the eternal relationship
that has existed between God and Wisdom. As we spend some time
with the Scriptures in our prayer starters, we can come
to know something of the energetic release that Wisdom will bring
into usfrom out of eternityas we open ourselves to its work
what the Prophets Saw in the Heavens as We Pray
Continue to Part 6:
Spirit of the Lord at Work in the Kingdom