Friday, February 22, 2008

The Seven Spirits of God

It never ceases to amaze me how often time God can reveal something “new to us” with something we have looked at, read, or heard many times before. It certainly proves to me, again and again, that not until HE opens our eyes to see can we really see with HIS eyes and know with HIS wisdom. Not until the time is just right by HIS timetable does He reveal to us what He chooses to reveal.

I was reading in Revelation about two weeks ago, and I really “saw” something of great interest for the first time. Although I had read these passages many times before in the last few years, this was the first time that I was struck by the importance of “the seven spirits of God”. What is the meaning of the “seven spirits of God”?

The “seven spirits of God” are mentioned in four verses in Revelation:

John, to the seven ecclesias which are in the province of Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him Who is and Who was and Who is coming, and from the seven spirits which are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Suzerain of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:4-5)

And to the messenger of the ecclesia in Sardis write: Now this He is saying Who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:” (Revelation 3:1)

And out of the throne are issuing lightnings and voices and thunders. And seven torches of fire are burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. (Revelation 4:5)

And I perceived, in the center of the throne and of the four animals, and in the center of the elders, a Lambkin standing, as though slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God, commissioned for the entire earth. (Revelation 5:6)

The seven spirits of God are of such importance that John includes them as part of the ones from whom the greeting to the seven churches comes from. The greeting states:

Grace to you and peace from…

“Him Who is and Who was and Who is coming…”


“the seven spirits which are before His throne…”


“Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Suzerain of the kings of the earth

In Revelation 3:1 the “He…Who has the seven spirits of God” refers to:

“in the midst of the seven lampstands One like a son of mankind, dressed in a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle. Now His head and hair are white as white wool, as snow, and His eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet like white bronze, as fired in a furnace, and His voice is as the sound of many waters. And he has in His right hand seven stars, and out of His mouth a sharp two-edged blade is issuing, and His countenance is as the sun appearing in its power” and said to John that He is “the First and the Last, and the Living one: and I became dead, and lo! Living am I for the eons of the eons. (Amen!) And I have the keys of death and of the unseen…” (Revelation 1:12-20). He” is also the Lamb that has “seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God, commissioned for the entire earth. (Revelation 5:6)

He”, “One like a son of mankind” and the “Lamb” is Christ. Christ says that He “has the seven spirits of God”; they are at His disposal because God has chosen to do His work through Christ.

In Revelation 4:5 we are once again given a word about the seven spirits of God being before His throne and in this verse they are as “torches of fires burning before the throne”. It also says that from the throne come lightning, voices, and thunder.

Pondering about the seven spirits and the fact that John is not speaking of only one spirit of God but of seven reminded me of a story that I love in the Old Testament. The story can be found in 1 Kings 22 or in 2 Chronicles 18. The story is most thoroughly told in 1 Kings 22, and I encourage you to read it completely for yourself. I will briefly summarize it here and only quote the part of the story which pertains to the “seven spirits” discussion.

King Ahab of Israel wanted King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join him in going against Ramoth-gilead. As Jehoshaphat encouraged Ahab to seek the word/advice of God through the prophets, we are told of the prophets that only spoke what Ahab wanted to hear and then of the one true prophet of God, Micaiah, who spoke the following to Ahab:

Hear the word of YHWH: I saw YHWH sitting on His throne and all the host of the heavens standing by Him, to His right and to His left.

YHWH said, Who shall entice Ahab, so that he may march up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? Now this one said thus, and another was saying thus.

Then a spirit came forth, stood before YHWH and said, I myself shall entice him.

YHWH asked him, By what means?

He replied, I shall go forth, and I will become a false spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.

Then He (God) said, You shall entice, and, moreover, you shall prevail. Go forth and do so.

And now behold, YHWH has bestowed a false spirit into the mouth of all these prophets, for YHWH Himself has decreed evil concerning you.

(1 Kings 22:19-23)

As I pondered further on the seven spirits of God, I recalled that the spirit whom Christ connected us with, through our faith in Him, has a particular name and responsibility. In the Gospel of John Jesus said the following things of this spirit:

And I shall be asking the Father, and He will be giving you another consoler, that it, indeed may be with you for the eon—the spirit of truth, which the world can not get, for it is not beholding it, neither is knowing it. Yet you know it, for it is remaining with you and will be in you. (14:16-17)

Now, whenever the consoler which I shall be sending you from the Father may be coming, the spirit of truth which is going out from the Father, that will be testifying concerning Me” (15:26)

But I am telling you the truth. It is expedient for you that I may be coming away, for if I should not be coming away, the consoler will not be coming to you. Now if I should be gone, I will send him to you. (16:7)

Still much have I to say to you, but you are not able to bear it at present. Yet whenever that may be coming—the spirit of truth—it will be guiding you into all the truth, for it will not be speaking from itself, but whatsoever it should be hearing will it be speaking, and of what is coming will it be informing you. That will be glorifying Me, seeing that of Mine will it be getting, and informing you. All, whatever the Father has, is Mine. Therefore I said to you that of Mine is it getting, and will be informing you. (16:12-15)

‘According as the Father has commissioned Me, I also am sending you.’ And saying this, He exhales and is saying to them, ‘Get holy spirit! (20:21-22)

So far we see that a spirit from God can take on a deceiving role as in the case with Ahab and the prophets and we also see that a spirit from God can be the spirit of truth and consoler.

In 1 Samuel we are given another instance in the Old Testament where we are told of the spirits of God playing good or evil roles for God’s purposes. At first we notice in 1 Samuel 11:6 that “The spirit of Elohim prospered over Saul” during King Saul’s early rule over the Israelites. However, after Saul begins to stray away from following the instructions of God and after the immediate anointing of young David by Samuel, we notice a different spirit of God having its way over Saul. It says in 1 Samuel 16:14-15 that the spirit of YHWH that had been the one that “prospered over Saul” and led Him to do the good things had now “withdrawn from Saul, and an evil spirit from YHWH frightened him. “Saul's servants then said to him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. At that time young David was brought before Saul that he may play the harp and calm Saul down every time the evil spirit from God came upon him.

So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him. (1 Samuel 16:23)

Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand. (1 Samuel 18:10)

Later on in 1 Samuel 19 we are also told that

Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, "Where are Samuel and David?" And someone said, "Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah." He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

Here are a few more examples from the Scriptures where the spirit(s) of God have different roles for different purposes:

"Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze” (Exodus 31:1-4)

It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy--everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy” (Isaiah 4:3-5)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit [speaking of Jesus Christ]. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

The princes of Zoan have acted foolishly, the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstone of her tribes have led Egypt astray. The LORD has mixed within her a spirit of distortion; they have led Egypt astray in all that it does” (Isaiah 19:13-14)

For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers” (Isaiah 29:10)

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10)

What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day (Romans 11:7-8)

How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14)

Then I fell at his feet to worship him but he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10)

The word “spirit” in all the instances of Scripture above is the same Hebrew or Greek words. In Old Testament Scriptures it is the word “ruwach” literally meaning “spirit/breath”. In the New Testament it is the word “pneuma” literally meaning “blow-effect/spirit/gentle blast”.

I don’t claim to have a full understanding on everything that is said about the spirit(s) in the Scriptures or for this brief writing to be a complete exposition on the spirit(s). But I found the mention of the “seven spirits of God” in Revelation so interesting that I merely wanted to point it out and bring attention to it. If God chooses to reveal anything further on this topic to me or through this writing to inspire others to seek Him that He may grant them a greater understanding, then so be it in His perfect will and time to do so.

As always, may it all be for HIS glory!

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