The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – Isaiah

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord- and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11: 1-3a (NIV)

This is the first mention of the Spirit in the Book of Isaiah, he will refer to the Spirit a total of thirteen times.  Other prophets talk about the Spirit but Isaiah and Ezekiel have the most references about Him.  I feel this verse is important because it directly connects Jesus with the Spirit, and adds a layer to the Spirit’s work not only in Jesus but in us.  It also introduces the gifts and working of the Spirit that we can see Him doing in the Church today.

Since I have stressed other verbs that have been used to describe the Spirit coming upon someone, we need to look at the one here for “will rest on.”  Nûwach (Strong’s #5117) is the word used and it carries the idea of “remaining,” which again if you think about it perfectly describes what happened in Jesus’ life.  This is not “the rest” or stop working idea that is shabath that is used when God rested after creation.

(Please read the post about Jesse.  The imagery of a stump and roots would show that the family line of Jesse through David was all but dead at the birth of Jesus, but God is faithful to His promises.)

The remaining verses carry several themes as they paint a clearer picture of the Holy Spirit, His work, and His interaction with Jesus and us.  Obstinate children who look to Egypt for help is the theme of 30: 1 and the final three references of 63: 10 -14 are about the Children of Israel during the Exodus and their rebellion.

  • 30: 1, 32:15, and 34: 16 bring together several chapters that deal with going to Egypt for help instead of looking to the Spirit for help even though He has the power to change the landscape into a productive environment and He will keep the animals in their homes.
  • 32: 15 and 44: 3 state that the Spirit would be poured on His people and reflects the verse from Joel 2.
  • Who has understood the Spirit (mind) of the Lord and who has instructed Him 40:13 is part of the great chapter that transitions from woes and judgments to the good news of Jesus and the work of the Gospel.
  • 42:1, 44: 3, 48: 16, 59:21, 61: 1 all speak to Jesus and His earthly work and then go on to Pentecost and the Church.

Hezekiah Part 3

Hezekiah’s world, like ours, seems to have someone in the Middle East attacking people. For him it was Assyria, Ahaz his father had made a treaty with them, who had captured and exported the Northern Kingdom of Israel. An interesting way they had of subjugating a conquered people was to export part or all of the population to a new location. Assyria did this in 1 Chronicles 5:26 and in 2 Kings 17:6, 18:11 to Israel; the promise was a nice location and prosperity. This promise was in 2 Kings 18:31 and included a vine (grape), fig tree, and their own water supply. Israel was sent to the Harbor River area.

Samaritans of the New Testament were and are the people that foreign kings brought into the area when the Northern Kingdom was conquered.  They had/have some of the customs of Jews but held onto their own gods. Their story starts in 2 Kings 17:24 and there is still a remnant of them in Israel today. Jesus uses the Good Samaritan and had a period of teaching in Samaria after meeting with the women by the well.

Isaiah the prophet, now an old man, had served four kings and Hezekiah would be his fifth. Isaiah 6, his commission, was with Uzziah (Azariah) who ruled 52 years, there was a co-regency with Jotham who ruled 16 years, Ahaz ruled 16 years and Hezekiah ruled 29 years so he had seen a lot by the time he started helping Hezekiah. The Northern Kingdom had been deported and Assyria had changed rulers at least once; Assyria is mentioned in Isaiah 8 and again in chapter 10 and 14. It comes in again in chapter 36 in Hezekiah’s 14th year. (see My Timeline) It is interesting that Hezekiah’s story ends in chapter 39. Someone pointed out that Isaiah has 66 chapters like the Bible has 66 books and chapter 40 compares to the beginning of the New Testament.  Like the hope that comes with the New Testament chapter 40 starts with “comfort, comfort my people” and ends with mounting on wings of eagles. (see Waiting on God post)

Egypt is still a power at this time and is in conflict with Assyria for who is going to control the world. Judah apparently has gone to them for help in the past and the Lord in several places condemns and warns about that practice through Isaiah in chapter 31.  Josiah in chapter 35 tries to block Egypt when they are going to fight Assyria and he pays for it with his life; Neco of Egypt punishes Judah and its kings for its interference. Egypt’s power is finally broken by Babylon and has never really risen to world power again.

Wikipedia says that the Habor and the Chobar in Ezekiel are the same while these two sources say no, the Chobar is a canal further south.

Waiting on God

Isaiah 40: 27 – 31. This is a great Bible verse and people will frequently turn to this passage when they are tired and not sure they can go on.  We focus on verse 30 and 31 and seldom read it in context; we read #31 and start to hope so we can get strength.  I also have done this but one day I started looking up some key words; I don’t think what I found changes the reality of the verse but it changes where we should put our emphasis.

One thing that I always suggest in studying any verse is to look at it in different translations and look it up in a concordance so you get the meaning of the words in their original usage.  For this study I used the King James, so I looked in my Strong’s Concordance that, has the Vine’s Dictionary incorporated into it.

I feel that it is God speaking here and in verse 27 scolds and comforts by asking,” Why do you think I may ignoring your cries.” In 28 He reminds us that He is not the problem and in 29 states He is always ready to help us. But verse 31 is where I got a whole new meaning in this passage. Hope, here is and can be translated “wait” and renew does not carry the English meaning I thought it would.  Renew is chalaph in Hebrew and it carries the meaning of letting something “slide by or hasten away or change.”  One concordance even suggested the idea of losing something.

I always thought I would get my strength boosted; instead it seems that I will get rid of my strength and get NEW strength – God’s strength. Then we can soar like an eagle.

Isa 40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Isa 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Isa 40:29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Isa 40:30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

Isa 40:31 but those who hope (wait) in the LORD will renew (lose, hasten away, change) their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)

Another interesting numerological idea about Isaiah 40 is that if you look at Isaiah as having 66 chapters like the Bible has 66 books then chapter 40 relates to the beginning of the New Testament and it is the chapter that transitions to the hopeful part of Isaiah.

The Holy Bible, New International Version®. Pradis CD-ROM:Isa 40:27. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, © 1973, 1978, 1984.