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In the first five chapters of Revelation there are four references to ‘the seven spirits’ of God [1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6]. The confusion caused by this reference to seven spirits of God is removed when we learn that the number ‘seven’ is a reference to perfection.  This perfection of the Spirit of God, symbolised in Revelation by the number ‘seven’, is depicted in Isaiah 11 by seven descriptions. In defining the perfection of the Spirit, Isaiah also defines the perfection of Jesus Christ, upon whom the Spirit of God rests.

‘The Spirit of the LORD’
The Spirit that rests on [remains with, dwells in] the promised King is ‘the Spirit of the LORD’ – the Spirit of Yahweh, the ever-living, self-existent, all-sufficient, unlimited, ‘I AM’ who revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The perfection of the Spirit, the perfection of the Christ, is the absolute and eternal perfection of God.

‘the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding’
These two descriptions of the Spirit refer to the perfection of the thoughts and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Here we are talking about the omniscience of God: God knows all things. God knows everything about everything. God knows why things are the way they are. God knows the innermost thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Because of this perfect and complete knowledge and insight there is also perfect and complete discernment.

Paul tells us of the Spirit:

‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God’ [1Corinthians 2:10b].

And John says about Jesus Christ:

‘He did not need any man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man’ [John 2:25].
‘Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him’ [6;64].

‘the Spirit of counsel and of power’
The previous two aspects of the perfection of the Spirit, and of Christ, related to intellectual knowledge – about the knowledge and discernment Christ holds in his mind. In this second pair of qualities that intellectual knowledge and understanding is expressed in practical knowledge and action. Because of his perfect knowledge and understanding of all things and all people Jesus Christ comes to the right conclusions. This is the meaning of the word ‘counsel’. He knows what needs to be said or done, and he knows how to say it and to do it. Not only does he form the right conclusions, but he also has the power to act on and implement those conclusions. This is the inference of the word ‘power’. There is not much value in knowing what should be done, if there is no power to follow that knowledge with the appropriate action. Jesus Christ, the coming King, has both. He makes the right decisions and he carries them out to their completion. He is the master in every situation.

‘the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD’
Here we learn that the perfection of intellectual life of the Christ, and the perfection of practical life of the Christ, are grounded in the perfect relationship that Jesus Christ has with God the Father. He knows God the Father perfectly:

‘… no one knows the Father except the Son’ [Matthew 11:27].
‘Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him …’ [John 8:55].

Out of this perfect knowledge issues perfect reverence expressed in perfect commitment and obedience:

‘… and keep his word’ [John 8:55].
‘… I always do what pleases him’ [John 8:29].
‘I have come to do your will, O God’ [Hebrews 10:7,9].

Held together as a perfect whole, this sevenfold description of the Spirit that rests upon Jesus Christ, assures us of the absolute perfection, the absolute ability and the absolute integrity of Jesus Christ. There is nothing lacking in him. There is nothing he does not know. There is nothing he does not understand. There is nothing beyond his power. There is nothing that he says or does that is wrong. As Isaiah says of him, he delights ‘in the fear of the LORD’ [11:3]. His joy, his delight, his goal, is the glory of his Father [John 17:4].

Jesus Christ, this perfect King whose coming is predicted in Isaiah 11, is utterly trustworthy. He deserves our trust. He deserves our obedience. He deserves our praise. Indeed, our trust, our obedience, our praise is his right.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014, 2023