Growing by Encountering God in the Bible
The Breath of God In The Old Testament
Who is this Spirit of God? Is it a piece of God? Is it another God? Is it an "it"? A He? A She? We turn to the Hebrew language for answers.
The words "Spirit of God" are Ruah Elohim . Ruah , is translated 180 times as spirit(s), 92 times as wind(s) and 32 times as breath(s).
Keil and Delitzsch have expert insight to the usage of the word:
Ruah , "denotes wind and spirit, like pneuma , from pnew . Ruach Elohim , is not a breath of wind caused by God for the verb does not suit this meaning, but the creative Spirit of God, the principle of all life which worked upon the formless, lifeless mass, separating, quickening, and preparing the living forms, which were called into being by the creative words that followed."
Read More. Also learn more Here.
The Air That We Breathe
Today I’m still thinking about air and how it can play a role in our spiritual lives. In my last post I noted that in both Greek and Hebrew the word for wind also means spirit. To make things even more interesting, the same words that mean wind and spirit also mean breath. This, too, has spiritual implications. In the Genesis 2 account of Creation it says, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (v. 7) Apart from the giving of God’s breath (spirit, wind) there was no life. The first man may have had a body prior to this but not life. It is God who imparts life and that life was given in God’s breath.
After being told that the world is still being created, and that is it Christ who is reaching his fulfillment in it, Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “When I heard and understood that saying, I looked around and saw, as though in an ecstasy, that through all nature I was immersed in God. God is everywhere… Every breath that passes through me, envelops me, or captivates me, emanates, without any doubt, from the heart of God; like a subtle and essential energy, it transmits the pulsations of God’s will.”
The Breath of God in the New Testament
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3: 16-17)
Notice the similarities with the creation story in the presence of the Trinity!
THE BREATH OF CHRIST
Jesus personified the Word of God. The Word is Spirit and life. The Spirit is the breath of God! The Hebrew and Greek words for spirit indicate breath or wind as a primary characteristic. So, Jesus, as the Word become flesh walking the earth, released the Spirit of God with every word He spoke, and when He breathed His last breath on the cross, the world would never be the same!
When Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, His flesh went from a state of life to death. I believe Jesus last breath was a final gateway through which the unseen realm began crashing down upon the seen. The earth witnessed the release of something that hadn’t been seen since the dawn of creation!
There was such power released in Jesus' last breath that even the unbelieving Roman centurion who was party to His death declared with certainty, "Surely this was the son of God." The ground shook, rocks split and the veil in the temple was torn forever adjoining all who dare to walk the path to the access point of the Holy of Holies.
The breath of God in Genesis 1 gave life to mankind.
The breath of Jesus released on the cross gave life to mankind!
The breath of the Spirit in Acts 2 poured out His presence on all mankind!
The breath of God grants access. We have the choice to decide what we breathe!
Easter 2: Blessing of Breathing
He breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
You can almost feel it resonating throughout Christendom: a deep, collective breath being taken. In the wake of the intensity of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter—intensity borne of the starkness of this stretch of the liturgical year as well as its immense, nearly overwhelming richness—we need a pause, a shared regathering of ourselves as we begin to absorb what it means that Christ is risen, that death has not had the final word.
Breath is precisely what Jesus comes to give his disciples, his friends who followed him to the end and hardly know what to do now, reeling as they are from all that has occurred and struggling to discern what happens next.
He breathed on them, John tells us in his gospel. More than any words could have done, this breath comes as gift, as grace: Christ’s own breath that bears to them the Spirit that will enable them to keep living, to keep breathing, to proclaim the astonishing news of the risen Christ, and to be his body in this world.
Read the full reflection and a blessing by Jan Richardson.
Image: That We May Breathe Together © Jan Richardson