The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
in Isaiah 11:1-4

by Mark Nimo

branchA shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse; a new shoot will grow from his roots. On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of Yahweh. His judgment will not be by appearances, his verdict not be given on hearsay. He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land. He will strike the country with the rod of his mouth and the breath of his lips will bring death to the wicked (Is 11: 1-4).

We find this prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled in Jesus, Son of Mary, and Son of the living God. All the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit listed above were fully present and operative in the life of Jesus Christ. They are namely, the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of Yahweh.

Jesus, quoting from the prophecy of Isaiah while in the synagogue in Nazareth (Lk 4: 16ff) said:“The spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to sooth the brokenhearted” (Is 61:1). With confidence Jesus spoke as all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. He said: This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening. Through baptism every Christian is grafted onto Jesus Christ, the true vine.

It is this powerful imagery that is used by Jesus in the gospel of John, chapter 15, when he says:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (Jn 15: 1). The Christian life therefore takes its source, life and nourishment in Jesus Christ. He shares his life, gifts, holiness, and mission with all who are baptized into Him. Jesus continues his teaching and says: “Remain in me, as I am in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain In me." (Jn 15).

sprout“A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse; a new shoot will grow from his roots..."
It is important to mention that God seeks to restore and make all things new in Jesus Christ. What will be the nature of this shoot that will spring from the stock of Jesse? It will be a “new shoot” that will grow from his roots. Amongst those names listed in the genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, is David, whose father was Jesse. In spite of David’s weakness and sin God still called him ‘a man after my own heart’, because he repented and sought to live in right relationship with God.

Another name that appears in the list of ancestors of Jesus is Rehab the prostitute (Jos 6: 17). How could people of such questionable character be part of the ancestry of Jesus? God can heal our families and free us. In order to experience the power and presence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we need to seek on-going renewal and repentance; a new nature; a new relationship with the Lord.

“So for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old order is gone and a new being is there to see" (2Co5: 17).
The wise steward is one who seeks this constant renewal which finds expression in a life of holiness, prayer, faith, hope, witness and charity. Our transformation is essentially the work of God but he requires our co-operation. We need to give him permission to renew us and set us free.

dove“On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh”.

Through the waters of baptism we are reborn and the spirit of Yahweh takes possession of our souls. God imparts the spirit of his very life into all the baptized. This is what makes us children of God rather than just mere creatures of God. The spirit of Yahweh is the spirit of holiness. God is holy and desires to restore his children to holiness (ref. I Jn 3:1-2).When we walk daily in this new life of baptism, God gives us wisdom and insight, since he the source and fountain of all wisdom. This is part of the Spirit he shares with his children. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified (ref. Pr 8:1-4).

The challenge is for all to ask for this wisdom of God. “Any of you who lacks wisdom must ask God, who gives to all generously and without scolding it will be given” (Jm 1: 5). Seeking the wisdom of God is especially vital in this day and age, when we are confronted with so many philosophies, ideas and ways of thinking that are often contrary to the ways of God. When writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul said: “That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift of God that you possess through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the spirit that makes us loving, wise and self-controlled” (2 Tm 1:6-7).

It is the wisdom of God that lights up the things of God in our lives and brings us wisdom. “These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of God” (1 Co 2:10). The Christian life is not only a call to holiness but also a call to witness. The spirit of counsel and power is what we need for effective witness. God equips us for the task of evangelization particularly with the spirit of counsel and power. Coupled with counsel and power is also the spirit of knowledge (ref: 1 Co 2: 1-5).

The fear of the Lord is finally mentioned, also a gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift would always lead us to live in awe and wonder of God. A heart of gratitude and appreciation is what the fear of the Lord evokes in our hearts. The fear of the Lord also means a hatred of evil. (“To fear Yahweh is to hate evil”. Pr 8: 13). (ref: Pr 1:17).

The ultimate purpose of the Christian life is union with God. This is attained as we daily live in communion with God, so that our character is transformed into the image of Christ. We cannot attain this. It all depends on God, but we have to cooperate with God to let it all happen. We should be grateful to God for lavishing on us the very gifts we need in order to become like him. We first receive everything as gift before we pursue the task of cooperating with God to perfect his presence in us. These gifts sanctify us and make us holy. The gifts also equip us for mission and witness to the world around us. Let us therefore allow God to fan into flames the gifts we received when hands were laid on us.

Give God permission!


clipReprinted with permission of   ICCRS Newsletter September – December 2004

Dear Jesus,

Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly. That all my life may be only a radiance of Your own.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.

Stay with me, Lord, And then, I will begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The Light, Jesus, will be all from You. It will be You, shining on others through me.

Cardinal Newman