“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God” — Jesus Christ, speaking to the Apostle John in Revelation 3:1
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus Christ dictates seven letters to the Apostle John. In the verse above, He describes Himself as “he that hath the seven Spirits of God.” In Chapter 4 of Revelation, John, called up to Heaven by God, is given access to view the throne room of God. In it were seven lamps that John describes: “are the seven Spirits of God.” But what are these seven Spirits? This is when it is important to remember God’s own instructions on how to study the Bible:
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. — 1 Corinthians 2:10-14
As Christians, we have been blessed with God’s Spiritual influence to teach us His Word. Thus we can understand parts of the Bible by looking to passages that have the same words or ideas in them. This is “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” We do not need to go to worldly books and resources to understand the Bible (although some books like concordances; Bible maps and commentaries are very helpful). If this verses are in the New Testament, their “companion” verses are most likely in the Old Testament. In the internet age, this has become even easier as websites such as blueletterbible.com allow you to enter in a word and find all of its uses in the Bible. Biblegateway.com allows a search of several words at once. This is an excellent way to find companion verses in the Bible and gain an understanding of what a passage or phrase means. By taking each verse from different books, we can gain better understanding of the consistent theme or message God is conveying. And this is again, how the Bible instructs us to study:
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little..” — Isaiah 28:9-10
In the case of the seven Spirits, there is an Old Testament counterpart found in Isaiah 11:
Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
Verse 1 describes a future arrival of the “stem of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of King David. The references to the stem and a branch growing from the roots indicates that this is a Messianic prophecy as God promised King David that the Messiah would be a direct descendant of him. And from the books of Matthew and Luke we can see the lineage of Jesus tracing right back to King David. In verse we see the list of spirits that shall reside upon the Messiah and when counted, there are seven:
1. The Spirit of The Lord – This is the Spirit of God’s Mighty authority. It is Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, which comes to Earth and indwelled people at certain times throughout the Bible. In the Book of Judges, the Israelites were repeatedly fallen into sin and idolatry, at which time God would punish them by having one of their pagan neighbor nations conquer them, prompting them Israelites to turn back to The Lord and cry out to Him for rescue. Each time, God raised up a Judge, a spiritual leader from among the people who would defeat the enemy nation, save the Israelites and try to keep the nation in spiritual obedience to the Lord. And when it was time for battle, the Spirit came. In Judges 3, where Othniel was the leader, we read: “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war.” In Judges 4, when the enemy nations pitched their tent for battle on Israel’s borders, it states: 4But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. When the mighty Samson was tied up and left to be captured by the Philistines, the Bible states: And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
King David said in the book of 2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” The Spirit gives one an authority to act and speak on God’s behalf. The prophet Elijah performed great miracles with the Spirit of The Lord upon him. Elisha, who was next in line to take over as prophet in Israel, asked Elijah for a “double portion of thy spirit” before Elijah departed to Heaven, which he received. And with it Elisha performed many miracles, even raising a child from the dead.
Jesus Christ after His 40-day fast in the wilderness and overcoming the temptation of Satan, was prepared to start his earthly ministry. The Bible states that after Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation in the wilderness: “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.” (Luke 4:14) Immediately afterwards He started His ministry, teaching, preaching and performing miracles and “there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.” (Luke 4:14) In Nazareth, He went into the synagogue to teach and openly stated His authority:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. 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 hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. Then he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Jesus, reading from the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, was reading a Messianic prophecy. The Messiah, would receive the Spirit of The Lord for the greatest mission of all time, to redeem humanity of its sin. All people are “captive” and “blind” because of the sin we commit. And Jesus’ mission on Earth was to reconcile humanity through His own sacrifice on the cross, taking the punishment for the sins of the world. And it was the Spirit of The Lord, that was upon Him as he started out on His 3 1/2 year ministry. The Spirit of the Lord, empowers and gives an authority to act on behalf of God. A Christian receives the Holy Spirit when they believe and saved in Jesus Christ and can use that authority from The Lord to preach His Gospel which is literally “the power of God” (Romans 1:16).
2. and 3. The Spirits of wisdom and understanding — These two spirits are phrased together and rightly so. The spirit of wisdom gives instruction for the responsibilities and duties of a child of God. It first appears in the book of Exodus, when God instructed Moses to start the Levitical priesthood, led by his brother Aaron, to carry out of all of the tabernacle sacrifices and worship. As High Priest, Aaron was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and commune in the presence of the Lord once a year. His priestly garments were divinely inspired: 2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. 3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 28). The engravers, sculptors and all of those involved in preparing the tabernacle worship were blessed with this spirit. Following God’s law and being holy in His sight is a fruit of wisdom. When Moses had given the commandments and law to the Israelites he charged them: “this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations.” (Deuteronomy 4). Following God’s commands is a clear proof of understanding God.
Solomon, who was renowned for having greater wisdom than any man who had ever lived before him, wrote in the book of Proverbs: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” In Chapter 1 he describes Wisdom as crying in the street, urging us to incline our ear and follow God. The true Spirit of Wisdom allows us to live our lives for the Lord, understand His ways and not be distracted by the “wisdom” of the sinful world. Jesus, who was “greater than Solomon” demonstrated his wisdom and understanding in living a sinless life. For the reader, if you want them spirit of wisdom, seek it in God’s commands and live them out. There is no shortage of self-help books that offer “Steps to success” or a “Secret” or a “path” to all sorts of worldly gain and earthly success. Jesus praised the Queen of Sheba who traveled from North Africa to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of King Solomon, saying: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. “ The Pharisees had Jesus, the Son of God, in their midst, and sought to try to expose Him, rather than seeking to hear His words and learn from them. How much do you desire wisdom of God? How much do you value the BIble’s wisdom over what the world says is “wise” and “the right thing to do”? If your desire is in doubt or lacking, it’s time to pray for more wisdom and understanding.
4. and 5. The Spirits of Counsel and Might — The Book of Jeremiah provides a rich example of these spirits. Jeremiah, who prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem. This invasion and the captivity of the Israelites by the Babylonian empire, was a part of God’s judgment against His chosen people for their spiritual idolatry and rebellion as a string of wicked kings led the nation in the worship of false gods. In chapter 32 Jeremiah was instructed by God to purchase a piece of land in Israel. This was a sign to Israel that although judgment was coming, God was not going to abandon them: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” God is our judge and will chastise and punish disobedience. But His judgment is balanced with His great mercy. Jeremiah, understanding God’s ultimate plan to restore Israel prayed to the Lord saying:
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:
The judgment of God in the form of the Babylonian invasion had not even arrived and Jeremiah was praising The Lord for his “loving kindness.” The prophet understood that God was “great in counsel” and was justly punishing Israel for its repeated rejection of Him to worship false gods of pagan religions of the nations around them. But even in the midst of His wrath, The Lord was already making preparation to show His mercy to the Israelites and made His plans known to Jeremiah that He would return Israel back into its own land. God’s judgments and long-term plans for people and nations, reflect His wise counsel as He guides all things to glorify Himself in righteousness.
In other words, what we get in life is good for us whether we realize it at the time or not. Like a child who does not want to take his medicine, a good parent knows better and will insist he take it because even though it tastes bitter at the moment, in the long run it will make him healthy again and he will be much better of for it. It is the same with the judgments of God. In this sinful world, all people are “sick” and the Lord is guiding events to allow everyone a chance to be healed through Jesus Christ, even if it appears at that time that we are suffering or that “life is unfair.” The book of Proverbs says: “ There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” Humans can make up all sorts of reasons to question God or plans to get around His will, but ultimately, God’s counsel will always stand and be true in the end. Why? Because God knows the future.
5To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? 6They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. 7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble. 8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. 9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
God knows the entire human history on Earth from beginning to end. Knowing the future is one of the distinct qualities of The Lord and how He demonstrates that He is God. And it also provides proof that His judgments and punishment of those who sin, and His mercy and offer of redemption are indeed “wise counsel.”
It would behoove the reader to remember the next time “life just doesn’t seem fair” or is in a tough situation in life, that God is on the throne and will always ultimately bless those who believe in Him. As it says in Romans 8: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Notice the verse says “all things.” For believers in Jesus Christ, every situation and event in life is ultimately working together for good, even it does not seem so at the time. As we covered in our article “The Story of Joseph, Foreshadow of the Second Coming of Christ,” Joseph, the God-fearing son of the Israelite patriarch Jacob, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. But in his struggles as s slave and later imprisonment for a crime he did not commit, Joseph, with God’s guidance, was able to rise up the ranks to become the second in command in Egypt only to Pharaoh himself. This lofty position allowed Joseph many years later to save his family and the nation of Israel when a devastating seven year famine struck the land.
And Jesus, although He was mocked, also framed for a crime He did not commit, beaten, bruised, tortured and killed on the cross, in what appeared to be a bleak end, was fulfilling His mission. In His resurrection, He conquered death and the grave and won freedom from sin for all those who believe in Him by taking the punishment from God Himself. What may have at the time seemed like an awful punishment, was the greatest act of love in the history of creation. And again, proof that God’s mighty counsel, shall stand.
6. The Spirit of Knowledge and 7. the Fear of The Lord
Hannah, the young Israelite woman who was unable to bear any children, prayed for a baby whom she would dedicate to God and serving Him if she were so blessed. The Lord indeed answered her prayers and she gave birth to the prophet Samuel. After having the baby and giving him over to the Holy Temple as a toddler to be raised up as a servant of God, Hannah said this prayer:
1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 3Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The Lord is a truly a “God of knowledge” and His knowledge is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. Knowing the Bible, understanding it and following it, it is the Spirit of knowledge. When King Solomon was beginning his reign and God offered to grant Solomon anything he asked for, the young King said: “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (1 Chronicles 1:10).
Solomon knew that it would be useless to try to rule over a nation without Godly knowledge. Only with the guidance of the Lord that comes from scripture could be successful. The Lord granted Solomon his wish, and it was only when Solomon went away from what he knew was the right thing and fell into sin and disobedience, that his kingdom fell apart.
King Hezekiah, who would come generations later to rule over the Northern Kingdom of Israel, led a spiritual revival of his people. After years of Kings who worshiped false gods and demons, blaspheming the Lord with their actions and words, Hezekiah wanted to return the people back to the worship of the true God of the Bible. And this was done by going back to The Word. The altars to false gods were torn down. Hezekiah went back to the books of Exodus and Leviticus to return the nation back to following the Passover Feast as commanded by God, with proper ritual cleansing. Revival came by turning from sin and following God’s commands from scripture. The people came to the temple to partake in the feats of the Lord. Hezekiah prayed for those who were not properly cleansed and the Lord “healed them all.”
And when it was time to prepare the priests of the tribe of Levi for the Passover, Hezekiah “spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.” After being taught the prayers of the Levite Priests were so great that: “their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.” (2 Chronicles 30:27). Proper Biblical instruction brings the spirit of Knowledge and right relationship with God.
On the other hand, sinful rebellion is a sign of lacking knowledge. Psalm 14 states: ” Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?.. and call not upon the LORD” Living life outside of God’s commands is a lack of knowledge. Solomon, who had received more knowledge and wisdom than anyone who had ever lived at that point wrote: 9They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. 10Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. (Proverbs 8). Knowledge of God’s Word should be cherished above earthly gain or reward. And it is not just knowing the Word, but following it that reflects true obedience. The book of Psalms reads: 66“Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. 67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” When someone humbles their heart and prepares to follow the Lord, then knowledge can be increased. This it the “fear of the Lord.” It is a respectful, reverential fear. Just as a child may fear the wrath of a good mother when he does something bad. It does not mean being terrorized by a parent, it is a reflection of a respect for the authority and rule of the parent over that child.
Proverbs chapter 1 reads: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Without properly respecting God and His authority as sovereign Creator, one cannot start to grasp Godly knowledge. There are many skeptics, atheists and scholars who have read the Bible, cover to cover, but still do not understand it. Approaching the Bible with a prideful, God-rejecting attitude will lead nowhere. It takes a willingness to believe in God and humility to receive the spirit of Knowledge. Jesus said: ” Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:” Matthew 11:29. Jesus lowered Himself when He came to Earth as a man, and was humble before God the Father. Most of what Jesus says in the Gospels, references Old Testament scriptures. He understood the Word and quoted it frequently. This was coupled with great obedience. The Book of Philippians states:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:7-11.
Jesus represents the ultimate demonstration of the fear of the Lord. And His obedient, willing sacrifice of Himself, redeemed humanity and raised Jesus up as the true Savior of the world. And this was no easy decision. In the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before his arrest and trial that would lead to his execution on the cross, Jesus was in such agony over His ensuing crucifixion and receiving the wrath of God for the sins of the world, that He was sweating blood. Jesus had never sinned and yet now He was going to receive the punishment for all of the sins of every person who had ever lived! He told his disciples: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Jesus, being human as well as God, was agonizing over what was to come. But it was His knowledge of the Word that He relied on. He knew that all of the Old Testament prophecies of a Redeemer, a Savior, a Servant, who would come and redeem humanity was all leading to this point. Knowing scripture, the time had come to fulfill what God had spoken through his prophets for the previous 2,000 years. Even in His despair, His prayers revealed the Spirit in Him: “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” (Matthew 26:42). Knowledge of The Word lets you know God’s Will and a proper respect for The Lord will lead you to follow it. Take time to study the Bible and learn it. It will reveal God’s will for your own life. Pray for knowledge and the faith to follow through on it.
The Seven Spirits of God represent both the Holy Spirit and the spiritual qualities that establish a godly person. Jesus Christ embodied all of these spirits perfectly and thus can proclaim Himself to be ” he that hath the seven Spirits of God.” Christians today should also strive to embody and live up to the standard and example set by Jesus. By living a spirit-filled life with belief and faith in God and His counsel, Biblical knowledge and obedience from a respect and love for God, a Christian can grow and be a greater glory in this world to The Lord who made us all.