Isaiah 11:2 Spirit-Dependent Living

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on January, 22, 2020

Isaiah 11:1-2 Spirit-Dependent Living with Study Questions

Dependent upon the Spirit of God,

the Lord effectively leads us closer to Himself

and makes our lives more fruitful.

“What makes for a good Christian?” What do you think makes a good answer? Most believers would answer regular attendance, tithing, and trying to be good. But let’s think about that. Isn’t it true that an unbeliever could do those things? That might make a good religious answer but far miss what the Lord has for believers.

But we still have the question, “What is a good Christian like?” We are not saying those things are unnecessary or not good, but the fact is that these things do not make a great Christian. Certain critical matters lie much deeper. One, which you, no doubt, readily recognize, is our faith in Christ. But the confusion around the Christian life does arise from the unclarity in these issues.

Through this study, I want us to carefully examine the way the Spirit of God anointed Christ while on earth. Isaiah 11:1-2 will fill in a greater perspective. Our last task will be to understand better how that same Spirit of God should influence believers today. We are not Jesus, but we are called to be His followers.

From the following outline, you can see that Jesus Christ was God’s anointed One, and that the Holy Spirit characterized how He lived out His life. Perhaps the most relevant part of our starting question is the third point where every believer is found to have the same Holy Spirit because Christ and His Spirit live within them. The conclusion, then, is that a Christian is not so marked by religious behavior but more significantly the same inner work of the Spirit that is spoken of here in Isaiah 11:1-2.

The Passage and Outline of Isaiah 11:1-2

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

(1) Christ is anointed with the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1)

(2) Christ is characterized by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2)

(3) Christians are united by faith in Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Before continuing, I want to mention that we will be focusing on the character of Christ and the Spirit from God that anointed Him. But, if there were time, we would go on in verses 11:3-5 to introduce the works of Christ. One should not think of the believer only consisting of one’s spiritual life. Life and ministry were important for Christ and are for Christ’s followers. Point (3) will remind us of this later.

(1) Christ is anointed with the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1)

The scriptures consistently identify Jesus as the true Messiah. There were many false Messiahs, even as there are antichrists in our day. Isaiah begins not with Christ’s (i.e., Messiah) character and works, but His lineage. Christianity is all about history; one’s roots are essential. Verse 1 speaks about Jesse. To a person unfamiliar with the Bible, he will wonder who Jesse is. Still, the students of the Old Testament should automatically connect the Anointed One with King David’s line of descendants. Are you still wondering if Jesus is the only way to God, then look carefully here.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse” identifies the Messiah as coming from the lineage of Jesse, the father of David. Much is written of David in the Old Testament, including his sin. One should not mistake David to be the Messiah. God made the promise to David.

12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Sam 7:12-13

It makes much sense, then, that Isaiah speaks about the lineage of the truly Anointed One because God spoke such with David. This is the reason Matthew and Luke’s genealogies are so critical. They identified Jesus’ lineage, from both Joseph and Mary’s sides, as being from Jesse and David.

The purpose of the four Gospels is to identify the true Messiah, the Anointed One of God. When Jesus asked Peter who He was, Peter rightly responded:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat 16:16)

It is fundamental to begin with the lineage of the Christ—His identity. But we also need to observe how the Spirit of God filled and otherwise led Him.

7 characteristics of a Spirit-filled believer

(2) Christ is characterized by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2)

Isaiah 11:3-5 introduces the works and ministry of Jesus, but verse 2 first highlights the character of Christ. It makes sense that God’s appointed one would be filled with His Spirit. In today’s world, we allow ourselves to be wowed over the special gifts of certain figures. Isaiah 11:2 should keep our excitement tied to the ground.

• The Spirit Rests on Him

The presence of God occupies a person and influences His thoughts, decisions, and relationships with others.

The first characteristic, the Spirit of God will rest on him, indicates how the Spirit will continually abide with Him.

There are many things we can associate with the Holy Spirit. While some think of gifts, we see a slightly different set of qualities—all having to do with being God-filled. These are closely linked to the fruit of the Spirit. Where the Spirit is, so these characteristics or fruit appear. Let’s briefly look at the other six characteristics which run somewhat in parallel.


The special perception from God that connects the consequences of one’s decisions with what will occur.


The God-given discernment that enables a person to grasp the proper perspective of a certain situation.


The insightful, wise words from God’s Spirit bring comfort, healing, and warning.


The Lord’s divine strength empowers His people to do His will when they otherwise would give up.


Special insights from God that bring attention to what is needed to handle a certain situation properly.

Fear of the Lord

The special awareness of God provides guidance and caution in times of temptation, leading a person to trust the Lord.

Warning of the Effects of Secularization

The modern church’s most significant threat appears to be self-reliance. With the accommodation of wealth, advanced education, and time, secularization is boasting of having surpassed the excellence of the church’s ministry. Not a few people, including the very rich, proudly separate the works of the Spirit (feeding the poor, education, health care, etc.) from God’s Spirit. They want to accomplish these activities on their own. But each time this occurs, we see a false reliance on materialism, a false image of care, resulting in a people not being helped and healed.

Consider how hospitals, rooted in the love of Christ and His people, have now have become money-making machines. This is so different from the compassion of Christians. If hospitals today have any redeeming quality, it is the many Christians within these organizations that give some semblance of love and care. Still, as a whole, these institutions are not rooted in the care for people by God’s will and for His purposes. Instead, they seek what gives them the best tax benefits and the most points to boast about. When the money fades, these great efforts will collapse, but the love from His people, wherever they are planted, will continue on.

(3) Christians are united by faith in Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Our major point here is that the same Spirit that filled Christ fills His people. We are not from the lineage of David and share the same promise of the Christ. No, but we have the risen Lord Jesus Christ who lives in us with the same Spirit of God (John 14-17). And so, we are instructed to be filled with the Spirit and walk by the Spirit. Admittedly, the Spirit of God does not so persistently fill us as He did Christ, but the opportunity is there because Christ lives in us through His Spirit.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know” (1 John 2:20).

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you” (1 John 2:27).

Christ literally means “Anointed One.” So we discover the same thing is true with believers. They are born of the Spirit and anointed with the Spirit.

Opportunity awaits every believer. People cannot improve on their past decisions. They have weaknesses, and the evil one has often exploited them for his devilish purposes. But this is where Isaiah 11 powerfully speaks to our souls. We don’t need to remain in distress, darkness, aloneness, deception, or even defeat. The key is to follow Christ’s Spirit. As we follow Christ’s Spirit, we will not carry out the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13).

Spiritual Gifts

It is important to see that character (11:2) comes before life and ministry (11:3-5). It is important to foster a Spirit-dependent life like Jesus, but life must remain as a more fundamental focus. There are some Christians who are trying to get new Christians preoccupied with their spiritual gifts. Rather than pointing to how the Spirit desires to fill them with His graciousness, wisdom, etc., we straightaway point to the outcome of the Spirit. Give new believers time for them to be acquainted with the ways of the Holy Spirit. The discussion of spiritual gifts will come

Some might wonder how does the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) work along with the Spirit’s manifestation upon Christ as mentioned in Isaiah 11:2. This is an important observation. The manifestation of the Spirit as seen in Isaiah 11:2 is most vital. The fruit of the Spirit is a blossoming or further extension of the Spirit’s most fundamental work. For example, with the Spirit’s wisdom and knowledge, we will have greater insight into the people that might be agitating us. We don’t need to get personally upset. Nor need we worry because we have the peace of God. But how do we get the peace of God? The same way. By working closely with the Spirit of God, He gives us a supernatural awareness of God’s purpose. By feeding us special insight, we need not be troubled by the lack of funds or a person’s aggressive spirit. The Spirit leads us, and so our flesh cannot bother us.

The key to a robust Christian life is knowing the source and purpose for any good act comes from Christ living in us. In my numerous decades of following Christ, my confidence comes not from one’s gifting, but what God does in me. Yes, there are things to learn, but they are the right and powerful things that enable us to make those necessary and wise decisions. You have confidence that Jesus Christ made wise decisions in tough times, right? So what this and many other passages will show us is how Christ’s Spirit works now in you. Here are three summarizing principles that help us understand what makes a good Christian.

  • Christ lived filled with God’s Spirit.
  • The Spirit of Christ now lives in us.
  • God’s people are to be attentive to how Christ works His purpose through their lives by His Spirit.

Our confidence needs to be turned away from relying on oneself or one’s riches. Instead, as followers of Christ, let the Spirit of Christ fill and guide us. Only then, will we recognize all the glory goes to God (Mat 5:16-18).

Dependent upon the Spirit of God, 
the Lord effectively leads us closer to Himself
 and makes our lives more fruitful.

Study Questions for Isaiah 11:2

1. What does Isaiah 11:1 prophecy about the coming Messiah?

2. List two places in the New Testament that affirm Jesus’ lineage. Does it match that of Isaiah 11:1?

3. What is the “Spirit of the LORD”?

4. What does it practically mean for the Spirit to rest on someone?

5. Describe the wisdom of God? How does it differ from the world’s wisdom?

6. Describe the understanding of God? How does it differ from the world’s understanding?

7. Describe the counsel from God? How does it differ from the world’s counsel?

8. Describe the strength of God? How does it differ from the world’s strength?

9. Describe the knowledge of God? What does God know that the world doesn’t?

10. Describe the fear of the Lord? How does it differ from the spirit of atheism?

11. How does the fruit of the Spirit relate to the Spirit-spawned characteristics listed in Isaiah 11:2?
• Agreement on teaching/doctrine

What characterizes the religious Christian?

• Association with God’s people

• Christian religious exercises and motions.

• Assimilation with those at church

• Cultural osmosis. Do what others do but try to be good.

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