Not by Might, Nor by Power, but by My Spirit

God’s Spirit in the Prophets

5 min

God’s spiritual nature was emphasized over and over by the prophets of Israel. These men of God, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, earnestly sought to turn the attention of God’s people away from the outward requirements of religion and to the spiritual nature of true worship that God delighted to see and know in their hearts.

As New Testament believers living after the triumph of the cross and the resurrection, we sometimes err by classifying the Old Testament as the covenant of outward ceremonies and the New Testament as the covenant of inward transformation. But this is not the case. While the Holy Spirit certainly came in a new way to abide with God’s people on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was active and present throughout the Old Testament.

In the Law, the prophets, the psalms, and in the historical sections of Old Testament Scripture, the Lord was constantly seeking to draw His people into a spiritual relationship with Him. Even a small sample of the references to God’s spiritual nature from the books of the prophets reveals how important the Spirit of God was in the days when Israel anticipated the coming of the Messiah and His glorious salvation. The following is a brief consideration of some of these aspects of God’s spiritual nature.

The Spirit of God brings renewal to the wilderness

“Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest” (Isaiah 32:15). Without the Spirit of God, there was no hope for a nation under God’s judgment. But with the presence and blessing of God’s Holy Spirit comes hope of restoration and renewal. This truth can encourage our hearts in the midst of cultural decay.

The Spirit of God is the source of all wisdom

“Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:13). Without the Spirit of God, we all would be wandering aimlessly through life. The Apostle Paul echoed this same theme in the New Testament when he wrote, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?” (Romans 11:34).

The Spirit of God brings hope to the Gentiles

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:1). The Gentile world would be locked in darkness were it not for the hope that was offered to the Gentiles. In these Old Testament promises, it was revealed that one day the Messiah of Israel, anointed by the Spirit of God, would bring righteousness, light, and hope to the nations living in darkness. 

Many nations today are still living in darkness. We as God’s people have the glorious opportunity to reach them with the Gospel.

The Spirit of God brings blessing to the next generation

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3). Just as a seed planted in the ground is barren without the water that brings germination to it, so also our children and grandchildren are dependent upon the Spirit of God to bring life and blessing. We should pray daily that God’s Spirit might be poured out upon our children.

The Spirit of God brings victory

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). Living in a dark day under the threat of the Assyrian Empire, the Prophet Isaiah looked forward to the day when the Spirit of Jehovah would lift up a banner — a battle flag — against the rising power of the enemy. 

So also, in our day, there will be no spiritual victory unless we as God’s people recognize the spiritual nature of the battle that we are in and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God reveals the Messiah

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). The scroll of the Book of Isaiah was given to the Lord Jesus to read publicly in the synagogue at Nazareth. According to Luke 4:18, “when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,” that is, this specific verse about the anointing of God’s Spirit. 

The Spirit of God used Isaiah 61:1 to identify Jesus as the Anointed One of God. So also today, the Spirit of God points men and women, boys and girls, to the Lord Jesus.

The Spirit of God can be vexed

“But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10). God’s Spirit is revealed to us as Comforter, Helper, and Divine Friend. But when the Spirit of God is resisted and vexed, the Holy Spirit can become an opponent instead of a friend. Woe to any man who vexes and opposes the work and influence of God’s Spirit.

The Spirit of God makes the dead alive

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, . . . [I] shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live . . .” (Ezekiel 37:1, 14). In the Prophet Ezekiel’s famous vision of the valley of dry bones, the breath of God the Spirit made the bones live again. 

So, too, in our day, God can bring revival to a home, to a church, and even to a nation. If He can make dead bones live again, the Spirit of God can quicken and revive even the coldest heart!

The Spirit of God enables His servants to serve Him

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). In the days of the return from exile, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest had several heavy weights of responsibility on their shoulders: the restoration of a devastated landscape, the rebuilding of the Temple, the reordering of society, the purification of the priesthood, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. 

This Scripture was spoken in a vision to the Prophet Zechariah. He was to give the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel to encourage him that their success would not come by human might or physical power. Rather, they were to be wholly dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God for success.

So also today, we as God’s servants are powerless to accomplish anything without the enablement of God’s Holy Spirit. Before any undertaking, we should always pray that God would enable us with spiritual power to accomplish the work He has given us to do.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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