Ill Winds (6)
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
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. Isaiah 11.1, 2
The Wind of God
Let’s recall what Jonathan Edwards wrote about the “distinguishing marks” of the Wind of God’s Spirit as it blows within and through us. Edwards mentioned five indicators, which together make up the lines on the chart of our journey in life.
When the Spirit of God is filling the sails of our soul, love for Jesus increases; hatred of sin and the devil operates to help us resist temptation and repent of sin; our love for Scripture increases; we become hungry for truth and seek it eagerly; and we strive to grow in love for God and our neighbors, which is the end of all Christian instruction (1 Tim. 1.5).
We can know that we are on course with the Wind of God as we progress daily along these lines. Where we veer from these, or if we have become lax in marking our progress in them, it’s possible that some other winds have captured our attention, embrace, and values; and we will be drifting from the Lord’s course for our lives.
These are the lines of our course, which we follow toward our ultimate destination in the Lord’s Presence. We progress along these lines in smaller increments and specific ways. How can we know that our love for Jesus is increasing? Or that we truly hate sin? Or delight in God’s Word, eagerly seek His truth, and have shown love for God and neighbors as the Lord intends?
Isaiah provides us with some constant and continuous indicators that can help us know whether we are sailing in the Wind of God. Let’s take a closer look. If Edwards’ benchmarks are like plot lines on the chart of our journey, Isaiah’s indicators are more the step-by-step, day-to-day markers by which we ensure that we are on course with the Spirit of God.
Isaiah’s take on the Wind of God can help us pay attention to our progress along the lines Edwards described. First, we must always bear in mind that the Wind we sail in is the Spirit of the LORD. He is the Spirit Who teaches us God’s Law and all His Word (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Jn. 15.25). He brings out the character of God in us, expressed as spiritual fruit (Gal. 5.22, 23), spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12.7-11), and power to witness for Christ (Acts 1.8). Every moment of our lives, in every situation, we seek the Wind of God to express the very character of God, as we keep the sails of our soul unfurled in His constant breezes.
Second, Isaiah mentions that the Wind of God brings wisdom to those who sail in Him. Wisdom is skill in living, such that everything we do or say expresses the Presence of Jesus and brings glory to God (Prov. 8; 1 Cor. 10.31). Paul calls us to live as wise people in every moment of our time, for if we do not, strange and evil winds may blow us off course in our journey (Eph. 5.15-17).
The Wind of God also fills the sails of our souls with understanding. That is, we see the world, our time, and our lives the way God does, from His vantage point (1 Cor. 2.12, 13). We take every opportunity to make progress in our course; and we are able, by being good listeners, to sympathize with others and aid them in their journey.
Fourth, the Spirit of God gives us wise and understanding counsel, both in keeping on course in life, and in encouraging others and stimulating them to love and good works (Heb. 10.24). Our way of life – every moment, situation, and opportunity – shows that we are in continuous communication with our wonderful Counselor.
The Wind of God is also the might, that is, of warlike strength for overcoming enemies and caring for those in need. Every day we find ourselves in a spiritual warfare; we are constantly alert for the devil’s wiles and tricks (1 Pet. 5.7, 8). We need the strength of God to resist the devil and to help others whose burdens have become more than they can bear (Gal. 6.1, 2).
The Wind of God leads us into knowledge, the knowledge of God and of all things as they are entrusted to us from Jesus, through Him, and unto Him and His glory (Rom. 11.36). We come to see Jesus in everything and everyone, and this daily increasing in the knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet 3.18) bolsters our love for and progress in Him.
Finally, the Wind of God leads us increasingly into the fear of the Lord. The moments of our lives are past in reverent awe and wonder, and we are continuously vigilant to stay on course with the Lord, for we know that His discipline for those who stray can be most unpleasant (Heb. 12.3-11).
Number your days
Moses prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90.12). He had a wilderness before Him, and upwards to a million people following wherever he led. It was an eleven-day journey from Mt. Sinai to the entrance of the promised land at Kadesh Barnea (Deut. 1.2), and Moses needed to make sure that every step they took would be what the Lord intended for them.
Moses had seen the power of God’s Wind as He parted the sea to lead His people through to safety (Ex. 14). He had been in the holy storm when the Wind of God wrote the Law with His own finger (Ex. 31.18). And he had been assured that the Lord and His favorable Wind would be with him and the people on their journey (Ex. 33.14). He wanted that Wind to be in his sails every day, every moment, for every situation or need.
He also knew that staying in the Wind of God is a daily, moment-by-moment endeavor, and he prayed that he might have God’s wisdom, so that he could live and work for God’s glory, every day and all day long (Ps. 90.16, 17).
As we sail the course of increasing love for Jesus, repenting of sin, delighting more and more in God’s Word, growing in God’s truth, and loving God and our neighbors in everything we do, let us make sure all the sails of our soul are unfurled at all times into the holy and glorious Wind of God, for continuous and increasing fruit, gifts, power, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of God. As long as we tack in these breezes, we will not be in danger of being blown off course in our journey by the various and sundry ill winds of deception that swirl continuously around us.
1. What would you say are the keys to knowing God’s Spirit as the driving force in our souls and lives?
2. Moses taught us the importance of prayer for keeping on course with the Lord. How can you better use your own prayer life to this end?
3. What things can keep you from sailing in the Wind of God? How can you overcome these challenges?
Next steps – Transformation: Pray through Edwards’ benchmarks – the line of your journey with the Lord – and Isaiah’s indicators of the Spirit’s continuous Presence and work in us. Take your time. In which of these areas do you need to pay more attention to the course of your life?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.