Monday, November 28, 2016

Isaiah 11:1-10 Overcoming Paralysis of Analysis

KEY TEXT: Isaiah 11:1-2 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And 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 the fear of the Lord.

The “stump of Jesse” refers to David’s father, for it is said that a branch from his roots shall bear fruit, referring to David and his ultimate descendant, Jesus Christ. So from Jesse came David and from David the Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 1:5-6, 16). What is common to David and Jesus is the Spirit of the Lord who rested on both. This Spirit has been called the “seven-fold Spirit” because of the 7 qualifiers describing him in verse 2: "the Spirit of the Lord.... the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord."  The good news is that the same Spirit that rested on David and Jesus now rests upon every believer:
  1. “Spirit of the Lord”: He is the Spirit of the Lord, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of the Lord is described in Luke 11:20 as the “finger of God” (cf with Mt 11:28). He is the executive arm of God. What the Father conceives, the Son speaks and the Spirit executes. Nothing in this world came into being without the Spirit's participation: “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground” (Psalms 104:30). We have now the same creative Spirit within us that can restore within us anything that is damaged and in need of repair. His presence brings healing and restoration to our spirit, soul and body.
  2. “Spirit of wisdom and understanding”: These two attributes come together. The Pulpit Commentary describes this as “intellectual and moral apprehension, the ability to perceive moral and abstract truth”. The people who heard Jesus was astonished by his teaching because "he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). He was able to do that because of his reliance on the Spirit of wisdom and understanding to make Scriptures relevant to the religious/social context. Our spiritual authority as teachers and preachers of God’s word does not come from other scholars (like the scribes) but from the Spirit. We can only teach and preach with the same prophetic authority as Jesus if we teach and preach out of the revelation of the Spirit in interpreting Scriptures, not out of the wisdom of man.
  3. “Spirit of counsel and might”: The twin-attribute of “counsel and might” has been described again by the Pulpit Commenatry as “the power at once to scheme and originate, and to carry out thought into act”. So, here is the Spirit’s power not only to analyze and comprehend truth (wisdom and understanding), but also the power to translate these truths into action plan. It’s no use being able to analyze and comprehend a situation but unable to change it. So, the Spirit will grant us the counsel to create a plan and the might (spiritual gifts) necessary to carry it through to fruition. This quality is essential to the exercise of spiritual leadership in the church, so that we do not end up just being talkers but also doers of the Word. 
  4. “Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord”: While we may have the wisdom and understanding of the Spirit to analyze and comprehend a situation and have the counsel and might to come up with a plan to translate ideas into action, yet, nothing may yet happen if we do not have the motivation to do it. The last pair of attributes of knowledge and fear of the Lord describes the necessary motivation to avoid the paralysis of analysis. This last pair of attributes is described in Pulpit Commentary as “acquaintance with the true will of God, combined with the determination to carry out that will to the full.” The knowledge here is not academic knowledge but the knowledge of God’s will in a particular situation. But in order that we are motivated to carry out a plan we must be convinced that a particular course of action is indeed the will of God. And when coupled with the fear of the Lord, it will get us out of our comfort zone into the unknown: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Even Paul the apostle of grace is motivated by fear of the Lord in his ministry. If we find that we know what is right to do but yet not doing it, it may be because we have this lack of fear of the Lord. And only the Holy Spirit can grant us both the knowledge of the God’s will and the fear of the Lord to motivate us to act.

In short, if we have the Spirit of the Lord resting on us, we will have His executive power to analyze and comprehend a situation, the power to conceive of a plan of action to change the situation and the motivation to carry it out to its fullness. Too much analysis without action results in an organizational disease known as the "paralysis of analysis". It produces a lot of discussion but little action. It takes one who has the Spirit of God to turn analysis into plan and plan into execution. In other words, if we have the Spirit of God and are totally submitted to his rule, we will not just be talkers but doers.

Father, help us not just be talkers but doers of Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


  1. "cheem" stuff but worth reading. Wonder whether this is only applicable to church work or secular work? or there is no such distinction in the Scriptures.

    1. Scripture makes no distinction between spiritual & secular life. Hebrew worldview is holistic. Greek woeldview is dualistic.


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