The Spirit of the Lord Came Upon Him
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 20, Nov 2018
Scripture Reading: Judges 3:10-11; 6:34
“And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishahathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathathaim. And the land had rest 40 years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”
“And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.”
The exact phrase ‘The Spirit of the Lord came upon him’ occurs only 8 times in the Bible. It is a recurring theme found mostly in the book of Judges where it appeared 6 times; once on Othniel, once on Gideon, once on Jephthah, 3 times on Samson and two times in 1 Samuel; on Saul and the other on David. Only on Samson and David, there is an additional word included; ‘the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him.’ We must be careful not to make a strong distinction between the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament and the Spirit’s work in the New Testament. What YHWH can do in the Old Testament, he can do likewise in the New Testament, including our era. For instance it is obvious that something significant and revolutionary happened at Pentecost. From this we can understand that God is always active in this world even until today and His method has always been a man; not an angel, not upon an unbeliever but a child of God. He always uses human instrumentality. Today, the Spirit of the LORD can come upon a person. So we have zeroed in on whom the Spirit of God come upon; a child of God. Let’s study this phrase.
1. The Spirit
Now what is the meaning of the word ‘Spirit’ found in this phrase? In the Old Testament the Hebrew word ‘Spirit’ is ‘Ruah’ which means breadth, wind and Spirit. It is the action of a monotheistic God. Our God is a monotheistic God; one God and this action of His are always positive. So, firstly, when the Spirit of God comes upon you; it has a positive effect. It had a positive effect on all personalities that I mentioned earlier. Secondly we have to understand that the ‘Spirit’ or ‘Ruah’ is connected to God’s activity in the church mostly. If there is a group of people in our society today that can possibly has the Spirit of the Lord come upon them, it is the church people. The purpose is for God’s activities in the church; for prophecy, miracles, boldness to proclaim the Gospel, wisdom in counseling, bringing in a new age, and conversion of unbelievers. Thirdly this Spirit awakens mankind’s desire for fellowship with God. Today sadly, Christians don’t have the desire for fellowship with God. But when the Spirit of God comes upon him or her, the desire is awakened. This new spiritual awakening leads to Christ-like living, serving and trusting. On the other hand Paul uses the Spirit to contrast with the physical. If you don’t have the Spirit of the Lord coming upon you, more often than not you are fleshly, sinful, and natural and you can be contrary to God intentionally or unintentionally. But when God’s spirit comes upon you, you have a new mindset, a new temple (you physical body becomes the abode of Holy Spirit) and a new life. You have God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of this world. You enter into the spiritual realm in contrast to the physical realm. The spiritual realm is always higher than the physical realm. A human’s inner life is totally distinct from one’s physical life. A human’s inner life is more powerful than one’s physical life. Smith Wigglesworth said, ‘In me is working a power stronger than every other power. The life that is in me is a thousand times bigger than I am outside.’
You can consider that it is God’s given life force into a human; the ‘Ruah’, the breadth of God, the wind and the Spirit of God is a God’s given life force into you.
The Septuagint translates ‘Ruah’ as ‘Pneuma’ and it is used 100 times in the Septuagint. Pneuma is used of angels and demons; well, they are spirits. So is God’s Spirit. In the Greek it means ‘to blow’. So God blow His Spirit into you. The bible says in Acts 2:1-2 ‘When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.’ God’s Spirit blows in a violent, noisy, rushing wind and it came upon the 120. Aristotle says this God’s given life force will continue to develop from birth until self-discipline. When the Spirit of God comes upon you, it will continue to nurture you and cultivate your dreams from the time of its inception until you developed into a self disciplined person. It even affects the five physical senses and the human intellect. Your eye gate, ear gate, mouth gate, nose gate and the touch gate and even the mind gate are all suddenly opened. When the Spirit of the LORD comes upon you, it will overpower you and you shall prophesy. And be turned into another man. New thoughts, new emotions shall take possession of thee, and you shall be filled with mental power, making thee eager for action and capable of taking the lead among all men. And in emergencies, you have an enlarged capacity and vigor for the works of God.
For Samson and David, it says, ‘And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him.’ To come ‘mightily’ means literally to pervade (saturate, permeate, spread through) him. It denotes a sudden rush of superhuman power; for Samson it was strength and even the same can be said of David. When the Spirit of God came upon Gideon, it means literally that God clothed Himself with Gideon as a warrior put on a suit or armor. That is why Elisha took the cloak of Elijah. He wants to wear the cloak of Elijah so that the spirit of Elijah can clothe him. A great change had obviously taken place in Gideon. The same will happen today to us when the Spirit of the LORD comes upon you. You will be equipped to perform. I share this message because honestly we Christians are a defeated lot. We are weaklings. Therefore if we are to accomplish anything for God, it will be because the Spirit of the LORD came upon us. When it happens the weakest of men will be able to accomplish the greatest task for the LORD. When a group of British ministers of the Gospel were discussing inviting D.L. Moody for a crusade in the London, one minister asked: ‘Why must it be Moody? Does D.L. Moody have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit? Quietly one of the other ministers replied: ‘No, but it’s evident that the Holy Spirit has a monopoly of D.L. Moody? I ask you today? Has the Spirit of the LORD come mightily upon you? Did he saturate, permeate and spread through you? Did God clothe you with Himself? Did the Holy Spirit have a monopoly of you?
We must understand that the Spirit of the Lord come mightily is a divine action; it is executed by YHWH. It means that God’s special presence, power and equipping is continually upon that person.
2. Why the Spirit of God come upon a person?
Why did the Spirit of the Lord come upon somebody? Well, firstly the short answer is this: A Spirit possessed person usually kills things. It is to go to war and the war is called Holy War. Smith Wigglesworth quotes, ‘Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’ This quote is true of every Judges where the Spirit of the LORD came upon: Othniel, Gideon, Jepthah, Samson, David. Take for instance Othniel, the first judge on whom the Spirit of God come upon him. Judges 3:10 says, ‘The Spirit of the LORD came upon him and he judged Israel. When he went out to war… so he prevailed.’ Samson had God’s Spirit upon him three times. Each time he kills something: first a lion, then 30 men, and finally 1000 men. There is a spiritual significance of the 1000 men that Samson killed. Because the bible said clearly, ‘One shall chase a thousand.’ Holy War is a divine war, where a seemingly genocidal God commands ruthless warfare that wiped out whole cities like Jericho. I just read recently that a lady read the bible and gave up Christianity because she couldn’t accept a God who ruthlessly kills entire groups. She considered it genocide and couldn’t reconcile a merciful God with genocide. But reading the bible I found out that the one reason King Saul was rejected by God because King Saul did not totally wipe up the enemies as commanded by God. For refusing to commit genocide, God took away His Spirit from Saul, and transferred His Spirit over to David, where it remained forever. Then there is something that is interesting that is mentioned concerning Saul. When the Spirit of God left him, God sent an evil spirit upon Saul. Living in this world, I have realized that when you don’t have the Spirit of God coming upon you, an evil spirit will torment you. That evil spirit can be a spirit of anger, jealousy, fear causing you to have the inability to sleep and not able to hear from God anymore. I believed God declared war against evil spirit and demons and the only way to set people free from bondages, captivity, and demon possession is to declare Holy War against them. This can only be done by the Spirit of God coming mightily upon a God sent, God empowered deliverer. You don’t compromise with sin. You have to commit genocide when it comes to sin. During a recent SOZO, a SOZEE saw God giving him a bow and an arrow. Bow and Arrows are weapons of war. Of course today I am not talking about physical war. I am referring to spiritual war. Our Holy War today is a spiritual war. I am reminded of 2 Kings 13:17-19 where Elisha instructed the King of Israel: “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.” As a Christian when it comes to the enemies, you have to commit genocide; totally wipe out the enemies. If you don’t you angered God because the enemies will return and defeat you.
Next the Spirit of God comes in times of crises or great excitement. In the example of Samson, Judges 13:5 says, ‘the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him’. Another recurring theme in the book of Judges from the beginning to the end is the terrible cycle of sin, prayer, YHWH’s mercy and peace and it is repeated again and again in the whole book of Judges. This is the recurring phrases, ‘Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD.’ The evil spoken of here is that they worshipped the fertility gods of Canaan. Today, the evil in this world has reached the nostril of God. And the saddest is that God’s people are worshipping the fertility gods of this world. When sins abounds in this world, God’s spirit begins to stir and the Spirit of the LORD will come upon men and women to deliver.
3. What happens when the Spirit of the LORD comes upon a person?
When the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon you, you have little control of this. Concerning Samson, Judges 14:6 says, ‘and the Spirit of the LORD took control of him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as one would tear a young goat.’ Something significant and revolutionary happened to a person in whom the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon. Take for instance Othniel. Judges 3:10 says, ‘The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.’ It is clear that something major and world-shattering happened to Othniel. Likewise something large and new happened at Pentecost. In the past, usually the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon one person but in the upper room at Pentecost, it came upon 120. There are 7.5 billion people in this world today. There are billions of people that don’t know God. To deliver them, the answer is a large mass of people. When God works His Spirit came upon a large mass. It can come upon all the people in one church. I have been pondering recently, ‘Why today’s Christian, after becoming a child of God, they don’t feel conviction when they do wrong, like sleeping with someone before marriage, having no desire for the Word of God. I realize that it is because the Spirit of the LORD did not come upon them. That is why Jesus said, ‘Tarry ye at Jerusalem (church), until ye be endued with power from on high’ But when the Spirit of God comes upon you, He took control of you. Something momentous and radical happened to you. A major and earth shattering experience come upon you. The purpose is to execute the works of God.
4. To whom the Spirit of the LORD will come upon?
I believe there are certain criteria. Firstly he is always a God sent and God empowered deliverer. The Spirit of the Lord came upon the Judges though not all the Judges experienced this in their lives. The book of Judges mentioned 12 judges but only on 4 judges was this phrase mentioned on them. So you can be a Christian but you have never experience the Spirit of the LORD coming upon you. Actually the term ‘judge’ means a ‘God sent and God empowered deliverer. So I would say that usually the Spirit of God came upon a chosen person that will eventually become a leader. YHWH will make you a commander and people from the North, South, East and West will gather to you. They may not know at that moment but in the course of time, that person will become a leader. It is also very interesting that the greatest King in Israel until today is King David and he is the only one among all the kings of Israel where the Bible says, ‘The Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him.’
Secondly I believe that person must be desperate after witnessing the human crises. I believe that the Spirit of the LORD begins to stir because of the human crises. An example is Gideon. Gideon is wondering where God is in his life and the life of His people. Are you asking where God is in your life? Do you want to witness what the bible says about God and His supernatural power and supernatural deliverance and supernatural supply? The same likewise happened to Elisha. He cried out, ‘Where is the God of Elijah? Also you are filled with holy anger against the enemy. David shouted out, ‘Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he dared to challenge the God of Israel.’ But if you are comfortable with your life; thinking I have a good job, I have a good salary, I am happily married, I can go for a holiday once in a while, and I have good food to eat. Then the spirit of God won’t come upon you. Unless there is a human crises and there is a great excitement in you concerning what you are witnessing in this world. Judges 6:13 Gideon says, ‘O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt’? Until now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’
5. The tremendous need of the Spirit of the LORD to come upon us
God says in Joel 2:28, ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.’ This is one of the most important prophecies for the church that has yet to be fulfilled. This prophecy will happen on the Day of the LORD or what we call commonly The Last Days. We are living in the Last Days. The more I read the mass media, the more I realized how ready the people of this world are for the coming of the Anti-Christ. And the Spirit of the LORD has begun to stir. God’s Spirit is coming upon special people for special purposes. It is only when the Spirit of the LORD comes upon you that you are able to do extraordinary things or blessed in extraordinary ways. During the time of Moses, when the people of Israel were in the desert God allowed the Spirit of God, to come upon 70 elders who were gathered in the Tabernacle. Take note that this implies a complete, perfect coming upon 70 people in the church. The tabernacle has always be a forerunner of the Church. 7 always represent completeness and perfection. 70 also represent a large number in the leadership of the church. Throughout the Old Testament the Spirit of the LORD came upon special individuals until Pentecost when it came upon a large pool of people. This makes the prophecy of Joel even more credible because he is predicting a time when God will come upon all kinds of ordinary people.
When it says God will pour out His Spirit on ‘all people’ what does it mean? Does this mean that every single person regardless of their beliefs God’s Spirit will come upon? No. Of course not. Joel is referring to God’s people – those who follow Him and those who love Him. Notice it is all God’s people that He wants to come upon. Young men and women will be given the gift of prophesy. This is the ability to speak out the Word of God. It is not necessarily prophesying future events but more usually means speaking God’s truth into people’s lives and situations.
A missionary with his wife from Pretoria, South Africa was back in furlough and preaching in a Baptist church. Suddenly a lady in the church got up during the middle of the service and said that while he have been sharing about their work in Taiwan, she saw a vision. She saw a map of China and Japan and it was very dark. All of a sudden she saw little lights coming on all over the map of China and Japan and shining in the darkness. The missionary thought to himself, ‘How silly, doesn’t this dear lady know we are missionaries to Taiwan – not China or Japan?” He was skeptical. After the service the lady came up to them and obviously she was herself a bit concerned. She said, ‘I know you are going back to Taiwan, but that is what I saw and the Lord urged me to share it.’ The missionary thanked her but thought no more of it. Yet, a year later they were totally unexpectedly, asked by OMF to move to Hong Kong and to begin their work in China. The vision of little lights coming on all over China has been fulfilled. During their 23 years based in Hong Kong they had the joy of seeing thousands of professionals literally all over China and some of them from Japan coming to know God. The vision was prophetic. We need people of Acts: We need Prophet Agabus, Philip and his 4 daughters who had prophetic gifts. We need Paul and John who were caught up to the third heaven. We need Apollo, a great orator. The people during the times of Acts took note of them and said, ‘They have turned the world upside down.’
I love it that in Joel we read that God also says, “Your old men will dream dreams.” As men grow older it is easy for them to lose their enthusiasm and zest for life. They feel wounded by the disappointments, the tragedies, and the difficulties of life. But here, when the Holy Spirit comes upon an older man, he receives a new zest for living. He begins to dream dreams – not just empty dreams reminiscing about the good old days. He wakes up every morning wondering what God has for him to do that day. Life becomes exciting again. A missionary shared this: ‘My Mother’s Father was like that. He lived to almost 101 but I remember him well in his nineties going out to walk in the park, in Hastings in England, and chatting to people about God. He said that so long as God gave him life and breath he wanted to serve the Lord.’
Joel had said that the sons and daughters would prophesy, but now he adds, “Your young men will see visions.” How wonderful when young people get a vision for making something of their life for God! They have their life ahead of them and get excited about what God might want to do through them. They get visions that motivate them to expect great things. I love what William Carey the famous missionary to India said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”William Carey was a young man who had visions of what God wanted to do through him and it changed the history of nations. Another young man who had a vision was the early Jesuit Francis Xavier who said, “Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ.” There is another famous quote that comes to my mind which illustrates the importance of young men and women seeing visions. D.L. Moody an American who was thirty at the time was visiting England with his wife. He was already an active Christian and wanted to meet the famous London preacher Charles Spurgeon and another well-known Christian, George Mueller. On this trip, Moody heard an evangelist Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with, and for, and through, and in, and by, the man who is fully consecrated to Him.” Those words burned into Moody’s heart and mind and he said to himself, “With God’s help I will be that man!” Moody became the most powerful evangelist of the nineteenth century and impacted both America and Britain for Jesus. As a young man he accepted a vision from God and asked God to bring it to reality. Young people, God may not want you to be another D.L. Moody but for sure He has great plans for you too. He wants to lift your eyes off the world to glimpse the great things He wants to do in you and through you as you allow His Holy Spirit to fill you and use you.
The Holy Spirit helps us point others to Jesus. Ask Him to come upon you today!