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. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor. — Isaiah 11: 2–4
Divine righteousness lies in the nature of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah foretold that a special individual, a ruler filled with the Spirit of God, would one day appear and establish peace (verses 6–9). He was to come from the house of David, and would thus be of royal blood. In this description we recognize Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world. It is in Him that this hopeful perspective of a new kind of righteousness is to emerge.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: Son of God and Saviour
Jesus Christ is the bearer of this creative Spirit of God. It is to Him that the promises of God apply (2 Corinthians 1:20) . The gospel of John relates that John the Baptist “saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove” upon Him, and went on to testify, “This is the Son of God” (John 1: 32–34). In His first sermon in Nazareth, Jesus told His listeners that the Spirit of God was upon Him (Luke 4: 18). These words of the prophet Isaiah cited by Jesus identify Him as the Saviour of the world.
Wisdom and understanding: the righteous Judge
The characteristics of the Spirit, who rests upon the righteous ruler, are listed next, namely wisdom and understanding. These are gifts of the Spirit, which belong to the righteous ruler and allow Him to make decisions and judge in peace. These words are reminiscent of King Solomon’s wish for an obedient heart such that he would be able to rule the people properly and discern between good and evil (1 Kings 3: 9). Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has committed all judgement (John 5: 22), is the righteous judge who will perfect the kingdom of God.
Counsel and might
The rule of the Messianic ruler is characterized by the Spirit of counsel and of might: the thoughts and will of this King sent by God are filled with the Holy Spirit and require no human advisers. Jesus Christ always inquired into the will of the Father and subordinated Himself to His will (Luke 22:42). In this strength He was able to resist the Devil and cleanse the temple with authority (Luke 4: 1–13; 19:45–46).
Knowledge and fear of the Lord
Knowledge and fear of the Lord are signs of a proper relationship to God. The messianic ruler is one with God’s will and deeds: this applies alone to Jesus Christ (John 10: 30). In this unique relationship with God, Jesus was able to proclaim the “laws” of the kingdom of God in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7).
A new kind of righteousness
Neither appearances nor hearsay will define the righteousness practised by Jesus as the righteous Judge (Isaiah 11: 3). His gospel announces a new kind of righteousness: a righteousness that pronounces sinners justified without them being able to contribute anything on their part—they are justified by grace alone!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 13 December 2015 at Midrand Congregation.