The Seven Spirits of God

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QUESTION: I have been told that Isaiah 11 mentions the seven spirits of God. I can only count, however, six of them. Where is the seventh one? How are all of these related?

ANSWER: The spirits of God are symbolically represented by a seven-headed candlestick which stood before His presence in the wilderness tabernacle (later the temple in Jerusalem).

1. And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 2. "Speak to Aaron, and say to him, 'Set up the lampwicks toward the front of the seven lamps to give light toward the front of the lampstand.' " (Numbers 8:1 - 2, HBFV throughout)

Most of the references, however, in the Bible that mention the seven spirits of (or from) God are found in the book of Revelation.

. . . Grace and peace be to you from Him Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come; and from the seven spirits that are before His throne (Revelation 1:4)

5. And proceeding from the throne were lightnings and thunders and voices . . . which are the seven Spirits of God, were burning before the throne (Revelation 4:5, see also 3:1 and 5:6).

The number 7 is referenced more times in Scripture than any other number. It is usually used to designate wholeness or perfection in general (either of a physical or spiritual nature). As such, it does not necessarily mean an exact number of something is being referenced (e.g., Jesus obviously has more than this low number of divine traits, characteristics, or gifts). It is many times used to convey the idea of completeness or fullness. Please see our fascinating article on the Biblical meaning of 7 for more information.

In Isaiah 11, the prophet is clearly offering a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ. Although the prophecy can refer to his first coming as Savior to die for man's sins, it primarily references Jesus' SECOND coming when he sets up the Kingdom on earth as King of King and Lord of Lords. Verse one of the chapter states, "And there shall come forth a shoot out from the stump of Jesse, and a BRANCH shall grow out of his roots" (Isaiah 11:1, HBFV translation).

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Six of the seven spirits (gifts) that will rest or abide in Christ are obvious in verse 2. They are given in three sets of two each. They are wisdom and understanding (both related to the intellect and discernment), counsel and might (both practical in nature), plus knowledge and the fear of the Eternal (which relates to the relationship with the Father). The seventh, also in verse 2, is easily overlooked. It is the spirit of the Lord (Jehovah), which is found at the beginning of the verse and which makes everything possible.

Evidence that Isaiah is primarily prophesizing concerning Christ's second coming is found after verse 2.

4. But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked (all of which he did not do during his first appearance on earth - Isaiah 11:4,).

Since Jesus and the Father are one in purpose and action, the Holy Spirit is in Christ as well as the Father. Admittedly, the twisted logic of those who promote the false doctrine of the Trinity can make understanding the seven spirits of God more difficult than it needs to be.

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What are the seven spirits of God?