The Holy Spirit
An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology
Lesson 10: The Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of God in the Former and Latter Prophets, February 3, 2019 | The Sanctuary UPC
Daniel L. Segraves
I and II Kings
There are two references to the Spirit of the Lord in I Kings, once by Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab’s house and who feared the Lord, and once by the false prophet Zedekiah. To protect 100 true prophets from Jezebel’s massacre, Obadiah hid and fed them. When Ahab ordered Obadiah to help him search for Elijah, Obadiah’s quest was successful. Elijah said, “Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here’ ” (I Kings 18:8). Obadiah responded, “[A]s soon as I am gone from you . . . the Spirit of the Lord will carry you to a place I do not know: so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me” (I Kings 18:12).
When Micaiah told the king of Israel that his prophets were lying when they predicted victory in his battle against Ramoth Gilead, Zedekiah “struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, ‘Which way did the spirit from the Lord go from me to speak to you?’ ” (I Kings 22:24).
After Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind into heaven, the sons of the prophets implored Elisha to let them send fifty men to search for Elijah. They said, “Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley” (II Kings 2:16).
Since Zedekiah was a false prophet, the only thing we may learn from him is that he understood that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to true prophets. He claimed, falsely, that this had been the case when he prophesied victory.
Obadiah feared the Lord, and his reference to the Spirit of the Lord shows that he believed it possible that the Spirit could carry a person from one place to another, as happened in the case of the evangelist Philip. (See Acts 8:39-40.) The sons of the prophets also believed the Spirit of the Lord could transport a person.
The Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of God in the Latter Prophets
Now we turn to the Latter Prophets, wherein there are ten references to the Spirit of the Lord. They are found in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Micah. Micah is one of the Twelve, commonly referred to as the Minor Prophets. Remember, in this study we are examining references to the Spirit in the order in which they appear in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The descriptor “the Spirit of the Lord” is used six times in Isaiah, twice in Ezekiel, and twice in Micah. “The Spirit of God” appears once in Ezekiel.
In the messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 11, the Spirit of the Lord that will rest upon the Messiah is further described as “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2). Some scholars see this as a reference to the seven Spirits of God mentioned in Revelation 1:4; 3:1. The idea here is that of the gold lampstand of the tabernacle, with its central shaft and six branches, three on each side (Exodus 25:31-40). The central shaft represents the Spirit of the Lord, and the six branches the various aspects of the Spirit.
In Isaiah 40:7 is the next reference to the Spirit of the Lord in the KJV: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.” But the KJV is almost completely alone in translating ruach as “spirit” in this case. It is joined by Young’s Literal Translation, but most English translations render ruach as “wind” or “breath” here. The context of Isaiah 40:6-8 suggests “wind” or “breath” as preferable translations.[archive]