The Spirit From on High

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“When the spirit from on high is poured out on us, then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest” (Isaiah 32 15). Isaiah, inspired by that very Spirit is prophesying what the world would be like under a just and righteous king. But in this we can see the prophecy of the Messiah too.

Isaiah is saying that a just and righteous ruler is one who knows, loves, and trusts in God. Such a ruler rules the people out of his knowledge and submission to the righteous and just laws of God. Such a one will be an example to his people. Out of his nobility of character he will do noble deeds. Under such a one, the desert of deceit and foolishness and evil will be turned into an orchard as thick and fragrant as a forest.

Isaiah goes on to say: “Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. My people will live in peaceful country, in secure dwellings and quiet resting places” (verses 16-18). Only those who willingly choose to live in accord with God’s good and righteous precepts, in their daily lives, can bring about such peace and calm and quiet to the world. This divine wisdom is true at the level of the political and social realities of our lives as well. Only when we live good and righteous lives in accord with God’s laws within the context of our family homes and our workplaces will we begin to see the peace and justice our hearts yearn for.

But there is a problem at this earthly level. Because of human weakness and sin, even something as noble as justice can be distorted by those in power, both at the political level and at the level of the family or workplace. Evil has a way of twisting even the noble virtue of justice into something that is quite the opposite, justifying even brutality and abuse and neglect in the name of “justice”. The lack of peace and the presence of fear in those ruled in this manner reveals the evil behind such deceitful claims. The peace that our hearts seek can only come from the justice of God. What does this justice look like? It is recognized in the fruitfulness of love, of righteous behavior in the light of God’s law. It produces only peace, calm, and security.

As Christians, we understand that the “spirit from on high” that Isaiah is writing about here is the Holy Spirit given to us by Jesus when he ascended back to the Father after he had completed his mission of salvation on earth. As we know and believe, it is his kingdom that will bring about this fragrant orchard of true justice and peace. In choosing to follow Jesus in this broken world by picking up our crosses, by feeding the poor, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked, etc., we are cooperating with him in working toward that “orchard of peace and justice” that is his eternal kingdom of joy.

Lord, Turn our hearts away from those things that make our lives more like deserts than orchards. Give us the wisdom to bend our wills to your righteous will in all that we think, say, and do. Strengthen our deep desire to live more and more truly in accord with your commandment of love every day. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.