In his new and quite readable study of the Spirit/spirit in the Old Testament, what I termed a “ruach-ology,” Jack Levison studies the verbs connected to the Spirit/spirit. His book is called A Boundless God.

There have been numerous attempts to discern Who does What in the Bible, and to discern where it is the Spirit and the spirit, but no study is as up to date with early patristic readings of the Spirit in the Bible than Kyle R. Hughes’ new book, How the Spirit Became God. I encourage people to read that book for understanding the development of early Trinitarian theology, and I also like that he studies early “prosopological exegesis” by the fathers. Quite the book!

Instead of adjudicating which texts are more Christian and which ones aren’t, and whether or not the Spirit indwellt OT covenant believers or not, Levison studies the verbs about the Spirit:

  1. Blowing and breathing
  2. Coming upon
  3. Resting upon
  4. Passed on
  5. Poured out
  6. Filling
  7. Cleansing
  8. Standing and Guiding

The Spirit “resting upon” is associated with the leadership of ancient Israel, but here’s the thing: Israel’s leaders were models of how not to lead, so says Levison. And Isaiah told us about the time when the Spirit would rest on a king. I quote:

The responsibility for the fall of both the Northern and the Southern kingdoms can be laid largely at the feet of Israel’s and Judah’s kings, whose ill-advised foreign policies and failure to bring about economic equity raised the hackles of Israel’s and Judah’s prophets. If an Israelite attempred to write a primer on capable leadership, he or she could not look, therefore, to IsraeJ’s kings or queens (among whom can be counted Bathsheba, who schemed on behalf of her son Solomon, and a notorious Jezebel). Such a primer would need to be drawn from elsewhere, perhaps from prophetic imagination, which is precisely the reservoir from which a vision of inspired leadership arose. The spirit would rest, Isaiah imagined, on the right sort of king.

Image: Cover photo

So, read we learn in this great prophet – the gospel before the gospel – that God’s desired leader would be an inspirted ruler, servant, prophet, and liberator.

An inspired ruler: Isaiah 11:1-9, a text that shows what a Spirit-resting-on-the-leader looks like.

Is. 11:1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see,or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

An inspired servant: Isaiah 42:1-9, again.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass,and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

An inspired prophet: Isaiah 59:20-60:3, again and again.

And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the LORD, from now on and forever. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

An inspired liberator: Isaiah 61, again and again and again.

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines; but you shall be called priests of the LORD, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory. Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs. For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.