For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
Water upon the thirsty…My Spirit upon thy seed!
Floods upon the dry ground…My blessing upon thine offspring!
A vision of Pentecost!
It was seen by the prophet Isaiah centuries before the time of fulfillment, seen—and for that reason all the more vivid and glorious—against the dark background of Jacob’s being given to the curse, and Israel’s being given to reproaches because of their sins.
Who would ever care to belong to that accursed Jacob? Who would care to be named by Jacob’s name, or by the name of the God of Israel—Israel in misery, given over to reproaches, the object of revilement and mockery? Who would count it an honor to be inscribed in the register of Israel and to be counted an Israelite?
Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen!
Ye have a future, a glorious future!
For I will pour water upon the thirsty!
I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed!
They shall spring up as willows among the grass!
One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob. Yet another shall sign his name as belonging to Jehovah. And a fourth man will count it an honor to be surnamed an Israelite!
Could not Peter have said in his Pentecost sermon, even as he did with reference to the prophecy of Joel,—yea, did he not say in principle, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah?”
My Spirit I will pour upon thy seed! As water upon the thirsty!
The Spirit—My Spirit—does not mean here God’s Being. God is, according to His Being, a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is not material, but spiritual. In this sense God’s spirituality applies to all the Three Persons. This is not meant here. But the reference is to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. God is one in Being, and three in Persons. These Three Persons are distinguished in their personal attributes. And the personal property of the Third Person is expressed precisely in His Name. He is the Spirit! His personal attribute consists exactly in His being the Spirit. He proceeds from the Father to the Son as the Spirit of the Father; and He proceeds from the Son to the Father as the Spirit of the Son. In Him the Father and the Son know and love and seek one another. Hence, in the Spirit is the very life of God!
Him I will pour out, saith the Lord!
It is clear that the text here is full of what is called parallelism. This is true, first of all, of the first and second parts of the third verse. They belong together, and that in such a way that the last part is an explanation of the first part. In the first part of the text there is figurative language: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.” In the second part there is literal language: “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed.” Here the Lord tells us literally what He will do. Hence, the idea is that the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon the seed of Jacob as water upon the thirsty. The meaning is, therefore, that Jehovah will send forth His Spirit personally, that He will cause His Spirit to dwell in them, and that therefore they shall receive the overflowing blessing of the life of God Himself!
Water upon the thirsty!
Floods upon the dry ground!
Streams of blessing! He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water!
This spake He of the Spirit Whom God would pour upon Jacob’s seed!
Blessed Spirit! For He is the blessing Spirit!
For thus saith the Lord: I will pour my blessing upon thine offspring, O Jesurun, whom I have chosen!
Also here, you understand, there is a connection between the parts of the text. The Word of God does not intend to refer to two different acts of God, namely, the outpouring of the Spirit and the outpouring of God’s blessing. No, the two are related. And that relationship we may express by paraphrasing the text as follows: I will pour out My blessing through My Spirit.
The blessing of Jehovah!
It includes all that draws us to and into the fellowship of God’s everlasting covenant. It is the very opposite of His curse. God’s curse means to be banned from His blessed fellowship. It means to be pursued by the wrath of God. It means to be cast out into outer darkness and desolation. From that point of view it is sheer nonsense, of course, to speak of a certain blessing of God upon those whose end is everlasting destruction and desolation. To be blessed in time, and cursed in eternity is utterly impossible. Blessing can never end in destruction, no more than cursing can ever end in salvation. But blessing is all that draws us unto everlasting salvation, all that draws us to arid into the ever blessed fellowship of the covenant God. Apart from that there is no blessing. To live apart from God is death. That salvation shall presently be perfected when the tabernacle of God is with men forever. Then that fellowship of the friendship of God’s everlasting covenant shall be perfect. And all that draws us to that blessed state—that is blessing!
I will bless you through My Spirit!
For it is the Spirit, the Spirit of God in Christ, Who bestows upon us that which is of the Father and in the Son, that which has been revealed and realized through our Lord Jesus Christ. In a word, He makes us partakers of the life of God, the life of righteousness and holiness, the life of love and friendship. He pours upon us and in us the streams of abundant grace by which we become partakers of the very life of God Himself. Those streams of grace all come to us through the Spirit of God. Through Him we are filled with the love of God. Through Him we are renewed in true righteousness and holiness. Through Him we are tilled with the knowledge of God, Whom to know is life eternal!
Such is the significance of Pentecost!
The blessing Spirit is poured out!
Preview of Pentecost!
It is plain that the prophet here proclaims to God’s people such a “preview” of Pentecost. In the old dispensation the Spirit was not yet, because Christ was not yet glorified, John 7:37-39. In the new dispensation Christ is glorified; and as the glorified Christ, He receives the Spirit Who was promised; and that Spirit He pours out upon His church.
Upon Jews and Gentiles?
It is plain—plain especially in the light of what happened on the day of Pentecost and what has been happening ever since that day—that when the Word of God here speaks of Jacob’s “seed” and “offspring,” the unity of the old and of the new dispensation is maintained. God has not two peoples, but one people—His elect people, the Israel of God, in the old and in the new dispensation. He who would attempt to maintain that in the old dispensation the Jews as such were the people of God has no solution for either the words of our text or the event of Pentecost. For there were also members of the Jewish nation, indeed, who received the blessing of the Spirit. The line of the church runs through from the old dispensation into the new. But beginning with the day of Pentecost the Spirit and His blessings are poured out upon Jew and Gentile. There can be no question about it, therefore, that the “seed” and the “offspring” mentioned in this prophecy are not the Jews as such, not fleshly Israel. No, only when you maintain the unity of the spiritual seed of the people of God is it possible to understand this prophecy. The church, from Jew and Gentile, is one in Christ. God bestows His Spirit upon the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. And through Christ He bestows His Spirit upon that church. The church, elect from Jew and Gentile, is the seed, therefore.
Pictured as dry and thirsty is that seed.
This is, of course, figurative language. Dry ground is ground that lacks water, and that is therefore baked and hard, so that that which grows therein withers and is about to disappear and perish. The term “thirsty” denotes the same reality from a slightly different viewpoint. To be thirsty is to desire, to long for, water. And even as water is absolutely indispensable for life, so to be thirsty denotes a looking for quickening and revival and refreshment.
Thus it was with the church, the seed of Jacob, at the end of the old dispensation. Was not our Lord aware of this when He cried out on the last day of the feast (John 7), “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink?”
You see, at the end of the old dispensation there was almost nothing left of the glory of the shadows. And remember: God’s people in the old dispensation had to live by the shadows. That was all they had! If those shadows disappeared, they had nothing. And everything pointed to the fact that those shadows were in danger of disappearing. Israel was not really a nation any longer. The throne of David lay in the dust. The temple was empty: the ark of the covenant was gone! There was a legalistic spirit in Israel. The land was indeed a dry and thirsty land. And the people, the seed of Jacob, whom God had planted in that land, were thirsty. “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” That was the question in many a heart. God’s people longed for the day of fulfillment. They looked for Him Who was to come, for Him Who would establish the throne of David forever.
Indeed, Israel was fast becoming a dry and thirsty land, where there was no water!
And then it happened! All was fulfilled!
Fulfilled in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Bethlehem! And old Simeon sensed it, so that he could say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. . . For mine eyes have seen thy salvation. . . A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” But the thirsty seed of Jacob in the dry and thirsty land did not yet understand; they only tasted the reviving showers of blessing by way of anticipation as yet.
Fulfilled in the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! But even so, all remained a mystery as yet. You can sense this when even after the resurrection, at the time of the ascension, His disciples could still ask, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
But Pentecost! Ah, that was the fulfillment! Then all began to fit in its place! Then the Spirit was poured out. Then the knowledge of God illumined their hearts as a bright light! The Lord had indeed established His covenant and had raised up the throne of David out of the dust! Then Peter could preach, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh. . . ”
Pentecost! Blessed fulfillment!
Jacob’s seed springs up as willows by the water courses among the grass!
Figurative language this is, again. The grass is the figure of the ungodly world. Do not the wicked spring as the grass, Ps. 92? And among them the offspring of Jacob, the spiritual Israel, the children of God, grow, through the blessing of the Spirit. As willows by the water courses they grow! Such willows grow luxuriantly, because they grow in fruitful ground. Even so shall the children of God, under the blessing of the Spirit, grow and flourish in the house of our God!
And they confess the name of Jehovah, the God of Jacob, the God of our salvation!
For this, in sum, is the meaning of all those expressions in the text: “One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.”
Through the Spirit of Christ, the spiritual seed of Jacob from among all nations become consciously assured that they belong to the Lord, that they are His peculiar possession. Through the Spirit and by the Word of that same Spirit they learn to know that they are one with God’s people. Those two belong together, you see. One shall call himself by the name of Jacob. Another shall say, I am the Lord’s. The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of the church; of God’s people. He is poured out upon the church, the seed of Jacob, And therefore, outside of the communion of that seed the blessing of the Spirit is not, cannot be, enjoyed. Only in the church and in the communion of the saints is that Spirit and His blessings.
But there the Spirit surely is! And by His fruits He is known!
Where the Spirit is, there the saints are enrolled in the register of God’s people. And they say it! I am the Lord’s! And my name must be on the register of the saints! And they sign their name as belonging to Jehovah!
And where the Spirit is, there the saints count it an honor to be called by the name of Jacob. They want to be counted as God’s covenant friends! They want to be called by the name of Jacob-Israel. For by faith they wrestle in the cause of God’s covenant with God and with man. And they prevail!
Until Jesus comes again!
Blessing Spirit of God!
Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, gracious Teacher, Friend divine!