So far we have looked at the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit of wisdom and understanding in our exploration of Isaiah 11:1-2. The second phrase used to describe the Spirit of the Lord is the spirit of counsel and strength. If you missed the previous articles they can be found HERE for Spirit of the Lord and HERE for spirit of wisdom and understanding.
Ever program a GPS for a destination, follow its instructions, and wonder, as you travel down a narrow country road in the middle of nowhere, if it knows what it is doing? The counsel, advice, and leading of the Holy Spirit can seem like that at times. Even in the gospels we see the Holy Spirit leading Jesus in ways we don’t understand. For instance, consider the first place the Spirit led Jesus. It wasn’t to the local synagogue to announce his new ministry. It wasn’t to the leaders of the temple. It wasn’t to the news media of that day. It was to the wilderness and to battle: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.” (Luke 4:1–2, NASB95) I can’t answer why Jesus needed to spend time in the wilderness, but Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, and Paul all had their time of wilderness before they entered the fullness of God’s plan.
The Holy Spirit didn’t just plop Jesus into the middle of the desert like some wilderness survival trial and left Him to fend for himself. Strength is the Holy Spirit attribute paired with counsel. Wherever the Spirit leads He provides the strength to see it through. We don’t know all of the ways in which the Holy Spirit strengthened Jesus in the wilderness. The simple fact that Jesus did not become hungry for forty days is one example. Perhaps the second is simply the strength to see the trial through to its end. Even if we don’t know all the ways the spirit of counsel and strength upheld Jesus in the wilderness, but we know that He did.
The Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, leads and strengthens us as well. And yes, often the Spirit will lead us into our own wilderness, not to test our own strength but to teach us to rely on His strength. Those wilderness survival exercises I mentioned earlier are designed to demonstrate that you can trust your skills, knowledge, and strength. When the Holy Spirit leads us into the wilderness it is so that we can learn to trust Him. Especially that we would trust the path that He is leading us on and trust His strength when the way becomes too steep or too difficult to handle on our own. Perhaps it is appropriate to connect what we have been talking about with the relationship between shepherd and sheep. Jesus told us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1–5, NASB95) The good shepherd may lead us through the wilderness before the green pastures. If we listen only to His voice, if we trust only His leading, if we rely only on His strength, He will supply what we need for today and prepare us for our tomorrows.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NASB95)