The same verse but how different the two interpretations. All of which affirms our responsibility to seek out an accurate translation of a verse over an inaccurate one. This means seeking out other translations when a verse or passage does not make sense. To not do so may result in us becoming like the simplistic religious believers that philosopher Voltaire observed as believing things that are not of God and in the process committing atrocious acts against others while believing we are providing a service to the Divine.
This is perhaps one of the most unusual ways that the term ‘spirit’ is rendered. For some, it is interpreted as ‘horsemen’ as in ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’ For others, it is interpreted as ‘angels’ while others have interpreted it as the ‘Four winds.’ Some people believe it is to do with God sending out ‘Four Chariots’ to collect His people from the corners of the earth – that is if a sphere has corners but perhaps in a world before enlightenment where earth was considered flat and not spherical, it made sense to think God’s reach extended to the North, South East and West?
For me, what is most interesting is that the four ‘spirits’ mentioned are not assigned to God’s Holy Spirit which they would have been had they been denoted with a capital letter (S) in the scripture. No – what we find is that the four spirits are defined as a created entity that is sent by God out into the world. In Zechariah’s vision, the mention that they are standing suggests that these were heavenly creatures which gives support for the referencing of them as angels. However, in terms of this post, what we can take away from this verse is that God is not slow to act but instead proactive in regard to his timescale, plan and purpose. The heavenly beings have been in a state of constant waiting for the Word of God to direct them and once spoken, they leave to fulfil His Will.
In the last post taken from the Book of Haggai, we discovered how the term ‘spirit’ was better rendered in that instance as human enthusiasm. Not so in this verse. The big giveaway is the capital letter which denotes this is the ‘Spirit’ of God. And what an encouragement Haggai brings as he tells the people that while they may have broken their covenant with the Divine, He has not forgotten or done so with them. Not only is God’s covenant ongoing but His Spirit still remains among them. Why? Because a time will come when God’s Holy Spirit will not ‘just’ remain among the people but He will transformationally live within them to guide, encourage and strengthen! Now that is Good News!
‘But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.’ (Micah 3v8).To understand the context for this visceral response from Micah, we have to understand how Jacob and Israel have fallen far short of the standards of God. The chapter begins with
“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
2 you who hate good and love evil;
In fact, we learn in what follows, that the duplicity of Israel’s leaders and rulers is also echoed in the behaviour and compliance of the people they rule over who also refuse to change and are being crushed by this situation. Not only that, prophets who should have been speaking the truth were receiving payment for favourable oracles to those in the administration. What is God’s response? To choose Micah as a vessel. To choose one who is willing, receptive and open to being directed by the Holy Spirit to tell it as it is!. Directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit, Micah calls out the rulers and leaders for their rejection of God in favour of greed and evil, challenging them as to who and what they have become.
Unlike most prophets who were often rejected and killed, it appears Micah had a long ministry spanning several decades. A legacy to a man directed by God’s Spirit and fearless in speaking the truth.
Recently, while writing on the Genesis account of Noah, I observed how (after the Flood) his sons and grandsons spread out to inhabit the land. A biblical account made more interesting by the fact that there is no record of any women being involved in the process which (as most of us know) requires adult females as well as adult males. The reason for this omission? It was a patriarchal society! Their history was recorded from the perspective of men and women were written out of the script unless somehow significant to the account.
Fast forward, several thousand years and God speaks through Joel about the equality of women and men as God sees and understands His Creation. God’s sending of the Holy Spirit that will fall on both female and male was to address the misogynistic misunderstanding that women were insignificant and very much part of God’s plan of salvation. Sadly, in the two thousand years since, many women still struggle for equal rights in the world and that fight goes on. However, the Holy Spirit now inhabits and enlivens men and women who are receptive to His indwelling within them, Hallelujah!