The Seven Spirits of God
Everyone knows that many kinds of spirits are mentioned in the Bible. We
speak of the Holy Spirit, but God is also a Spirit and they that
worship him "must worship him in spirit and in truth." There are spirits of men,
evil spirits and angels called "ministering spirits". There are spiritual
attitudes, gifts and actions and to make matters even more complicated, the word
for spirit is also the word for "wind"! The Bible admonishes us to test the
spirits, to see if they be of God. Jesus cast out evil spirits.
There is of course only one Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity, but the Bible
also speaks of "spirits" (plural) of God. In Revelation, John speaks several times of the "seven spirits of
God", probably in reference to Isaiah 11:1-2, a prophecy concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many Christians don't
notice the plurality of sprits mentioned here.
The Golden Seven-Armed Candelabrum (Menorah)
In order to understand how the Old Testament Jews and even New Testament Christians
understood this text, we must first become familiar with the Menorah of the
Jewish temple. This seven armed candelabrum is described explicitly in Exodus
25:31-40; 37:17-24 and Lev. 24:1-4. Probably no other aspect of the temple is
described in such detail. God even showed Moses a model of what it should look
like on Mount Horeb.
This simple drawing shows the basic form without all
the elaborate details. The entire candelabrum has one central pillar which
supports three pairs of arms, supplying them with pure olive oil. Oil is a
symbol of the Spirit of God in the Bible. The Jewish Christians certainly must
have had this picture in their minds when John spoke of the "Seven Spirits
of God" in Revelation 1:4; 2:1; 3:1; 4:5; and 5:6 (also see Hebrews 12:9).
THE CENTRAL PILLAR: "the Spirit of the Lord" of Jesus Christ, the Messiah
As we read this text carefully, it becomes clear that
the "Branch" represents the promised Messiah, on whom "the Spirit
of the LORD shall rest" (see John 15:5). The central Pillar therefore
represents the Messiah, or Jesus Christ, who brought us salvation and gave us
the Holy Spirit. The term here is singular, although our text goes on to mention
six spirits of God (or three pairs). Old Testament Jews anticipated the Messiah
and rightfully expected that he would bring them salvation. Unfortunately most
Jews rejected him when he did appear. Only a few, including the aged Simeon and
Hanna, rejoiced in the birth of the "Comforter". The three pairs are:
1. "Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding"
2. "Spirit of Counsel and Might"
3. "Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the LORD"
Note that the seven Lamps are on an equal level, so that all burn with equal intensity. (Exodus 25:31-40)
THE FIRST PAIR: "Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding"
These are inseparable. Both capabilities are only
possible through the Holy Spirit. This pair is often found in the New Testament.
"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring
to nothing the understanding of the prudent." (I Cor.1:19); For this cause
we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to
desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; (Col.1:9); "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath
understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and
his number is Six hundred threescore and six". Revelation 13:18; For to
one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge
by the same Spirit..." (I Cor.12:8); "That the God of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of him"
(Eph.1:17); "...in whom are hidden all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge." (Col.2:3)
"The Spirit of Wisdom" (capability to recognize Truth)
JESUS: "The child grew in wisdom".
Matthew 12:42 states that his wisdom was greater than that of Salomon. The
people were astounded at the wisdom of his teachings.
CHRISTIANS: "For I will give you a mouth and
wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor
resist." (Luke 21:15). In Acts 6:10 we find an example.
UNBELIEVERS: People of this world are not capable of
recognizing God's truth. Paul described the vast differences between worldly and
godly wisdom in I Cor. 2:6-16. Pilate asked Jesus in John18:38 "What is
truth?". His question remains unanswered for all who do not believe on him.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life..." (John 14:6). In
verse 17 Jesus speaks of the "Spirit of truth, which the world can not
"The Spirit of Understanding", (capability to understand Truth)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom
the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all
things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26);
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
(Luke 24:45); Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be
ye children, but in understanding be men. (I Cor.14:20); and revelation in the
knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may
know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his
inheritance in the saints, (Eph.1:17-18);That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of
understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father,
and of Christ; (Col.2:2); "And we know that the Son of God is come, and
hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in
him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and
eternal life." (I John 5:20)
THE SECOND PAIR: "Spirit of Counsel and Might"
This pair too belongs together. The spirit of might
without counsel and vice versa are dangerous.
"The Spirit of counsel " (leading of the Holy Spirit)
In the last days, people will be without counsel,
"Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection,
implacable, unmerciful:, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit
such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them
that do them." (Romans 1:31-2) "like children, tossed to and
fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph. 4:14).
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in
vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in
vain" (Psalm 127:1-2); "Without me ye can do nothing" (John
"All scripture is given by inspiration of
God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly
furnished unto all good works....Preach the word; be instant in season, out of
season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the
time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own
lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they
shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto
fables." (II Tim. 3:16-17 and 4:2-5).
"The Spirit of might" (empowering of the Holy Spirit)
The first Christians were characterized by
fearlessness and courage. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and
John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled;
and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus... And now, Lord,
behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness
they may speak thy word... And when they had prayed, the place was shaken
where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy
Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:13, 29 & 31)
Paul wrote to the Philippians, "I can do all
things through Christ, who strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4,13)
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him
that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us..." (Eph.3,19-20)
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2.Tim.1:7)
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, satan
offered him all the power of this world. Jesus refused and came out of this
experience filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:6,14 and 32). In
Luke 10:19 he gave his disciples this same power over their enemies. At
Pentecost all Christians received this power.
THE THIRD PAIR: "Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the LORD"
Here too, we dare not separate these two spirits.
Knowledge without fear of God leads to pride. Fear of God without knowledge that
we are his beloved children leads to timidity and fearfulness.
"The Spirit of Knowledge" (knowing of a certainty! This is faith in action!)
"Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in
yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." (Luke 11:52).
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things
which are not convenient" (Romans 1:28).
We can know that we are Children of God. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the
Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we
are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and
joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also
glorified together." (Romans 8,15-17).
We can know that we are brothers as sisters in Christ
-- belong to His body; his church "God is faithful, by whom ye were
called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you,
brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same
thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined
together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (I Cor. 1:9-10)
"Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." (I Thess. 1:4)
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren." (I John 3:14).
We can know of our calling or mission: "Ye are
the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it
be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be
trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on
an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel,
but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify
your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16).
"The spirit of the fear of the Lord"
(Recognition of God's holiness and our own insignificance)
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs
eternal praise. Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who
finds great delight in his commands." (Psalm 111:10 and 112:1)
Seven Dispensations - God's Plan for this World
Many Christians reject dispensational teaching as being
non-biblical. I find that there are many things which are not actually in the
Bible, yet are quite helpful in understanding scriptures. Chapter and verse
divisions are "not biblical", but we all use them and find them quite
helpful. I have difficulty with the versions of some dispensational teachers, so
I have developed my own. I would never contend that this is a biblical
THE FIRST (OUTER) PAIR: CREATION AND HEAVEN
1. Created for fellowship with God
2. Eternally saved for fellowship with God
God and man live in perfect harmony (without sin)
Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"
God enjoyed perfect fellowship until Adam and Eve sinned (Gen.3:8-9)
Can you see the Parallel to Isa.11:1-2 ?
God and man live in perfect harmony (without sin)
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new
earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind... The wolf
and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock:
and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my
holy mountain, saith the LORD." (Isa.65:17 and 25)
"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look
for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (II Peter
("Spirit of wisdom and of understanding")
"Wisdom" is a synonym for God's Word in
Proverbs (Proverbs 8:22-31) and "Understanding" is synonymous to
"Faith" (Proverbs 9, esp. v. 6). Proverbs 3:19 reads: "The LORD
by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the
heavens." See also: John 1:1-14; Hebrews 12:2
THE SECOND PAIR: CONSCIENCE AND JUDGMENT
God sends his Prophets (Moses, Samuel) but Israel
remains stubborn and rebellious (Judges 6:7-10)
God sends Judges: "there was no king in Israel,
and the people did what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 21:25)
God removes his church at the rapture and chaos
results. The antichrist comes to power and only a few are saved in this period.
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth
will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be
revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall
destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the
working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not
the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God
shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (II Thess.
God raises up two witnesses and gives them power over
their enemies (Rev. 11:1-13). Verse 4 reads: "These are the two olive
trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth."
Can you see the Parallel to Isa.11:1-2 ?
("Spirit of Counsel and of might")
Moses, Samuel, Gideon and other spirit endowed men of
God enjoy close fellowship with God and attempt to convince others to seek his
fellowship. Most everyone determines to do what is right in his own eyes rather
than seek God's counsel. The age of conscience is coupled with the age of
judgment. God allows man to suffer at the hands of the enemy until he screams
for help (Judges 6:7-34). In the end times, men who reject God, are turned over
to terrible times of judgment of an almighty God.
Both dispensations are represented in the temptation of
1. Satan offered Jesus all the power of this world, if
he would only worship him (Luke 4:6). We read in the book of Judges that Israel
rejected God as ruler and insisted upon a king like the heathen nations (I
2. Jesus refused satan's offer and sought counsel in
the scriptures. He came out of his time of temptation in the power of the Holy
Spirit (Luke 4:14). He also gave his disciples power over their enemies (Luke
THE THIRD PAIR: LAW AND GRACE
1. Law and God's chosen People
God's Law is now written
Israel has a king
God lives in the midst of his people
The kingdom splits and often has rulers who lead the
2. Grace and the Elect (church)
God's Word is now complete
God lives in the hearts of his elect Christians
Jesus builds his church
Christianity is divided and the people are often led
astray by false teachers (I John 2:18-19; 4:1).
Can you again see the Parallel to Isa.11:1-2 ?
(Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord)
Man can have knowledge of the Law, but he is unable to
fulfill it. Only Christ fulfilled the law. All who fear God are saved by grace,
not by works of the law! In Christ and only in Christ are knowledge and grace
united to bring us salvation. Knowledge or recognition of truth results in three
other areas of knowledge:
We know that we are children of God (Romans 8:14-17 and
We know that we belong to each other in Christ's church
We know of our commission -- the salvation of the lost
(Matthew 18:11 and II Cor.4:3).
The author of Hebrews compares the situation in these
two dispensations in chapter 12, concluding with the words, "Wherefore we
receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may
serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming
THE MIDDLE COLUMN: JESUS CHRIST
God became flesh and lived among men. His crucifixion
and resurrection mark the center of all history. Jesus in the central pillar of
all history, the "author and finisher of the faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
The relationship between God and man in Eden was of
highest quality. God and man have the most intimate relationship possible. Even
Moses does not enjoy that kind of an on-going relationship with God. However
there are only two people who enjoy this fellowship with God.
After sin came into the world until Israel received
its king, there is a period marked by special relationships between God and
those who love and obey him. God uses these individuals in an attempt to draw
others into his special circle of fellowship and blessing. We call this
theocracy. Abraham, Moses and Samuel are key individuals during this period. The
masses are rebellious and "stiff-necked", refusing God's overtures of
love and blessing and stubbornly seeking the ways of wicked men. Although a
greater number of people enjoy the inner circle of fellowship with God, they are
still a small minority.
Israel demands and gets a king "like the heathen
nations". The number of those who believe on God increases, but the quality
of relationships decreases. Special places (tabernacle and later the temple) and
times (holidays) of worship and the law take precedence over intimate personal
relationships with God. David, "a man after God's own heart", and
special prophets are the few exceptions.
At the time of Christ, the entire nation was in a
state of expectancy (Luke 3:15), however few were prepared for a personal
Savior. They expected a king, who would give them what they wanted and rejected
the Son of God, who came to bring them what they really needed.
After the crucifixion, this situation begins all over
again, but with greater hope of success. The twelve disciples soon become
seventy and at Pentecost, 3000 are converted. Churches are established as the
multiplication process continues. The crux of the gospel involves a personal
relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gives power and
boldness to Christians, who evangelize the lost and reprove brethren living in
sin. As church history illustrates, numbers continually increase, while quality
suffers. In the last days, the church is generally identified as being Luke warm
and lacking in vibrant faith (example of Laodicea).
After the rapture and until the final judgment, God
sends his two witnesses, but the Bible gives us little idea of the reaction to
their message (Rev.11:3-12).
In the final "seventh dispensation", the
saved of all ages and from all nations are gathered together for the wedding
feast of the Lamb, when the "second Adam" (Christ) receives his
"bride" (the church). Only then will God's plan of salvation
throughout the ages be revealed in its entirety.
Ralph V. Harvey