3 MINUTE READ
In all the classical and biblical languages the word ‘spirit’ has many meanings. It can refer to both wine, and a spirited man. 1 However it is used, it always seems to define an essential element that is elusive.
When first referred to in the Bible, the spirit (in Hebrew, rûah) refers to a soft wind which in itself is a mystery, as it is invisible but can also be fierce, destroying buildings (Ezekiel 13:13), uprooting rocks (1 Kings 19:11), to later become a gentle breeze (1 Kings 19: 12).
Breathing In Of The Spirit
Inspiration, breathing in, is like the wind; it comes from God and returns to God when we die. “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust in the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (NLT, Genesis 2:7).
As healthcare workers we use the word inspiration with reference to breathing, which has the power to give life and at the same time is fragile. Breathing in is the force that raises the body and animates its entire mass. But we are not masters of our own breathing, as it is the work of the mysterious sympathetic nervous system, which in turn is in the hands of God. We can’t do without it, and die when it ceases.
“For the spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (NLT, Job 33:4)
“If God were to take back his spirit, and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust.” (NLT, Job 34:14; Eccl. 12:7)
“Our special abilities come from the Holy Spirit – we are inspired because we have literally breathed in the Spirit.”
In the context of the spirit of man, as defined in Genesis 2:7, we are given life, and all that touches us, impressions and emotions are expressed through our breathing: fear (Genesis 41:8), anger (Judges 8:3), joy (Genesis 45:27), pride etc, all modify our breathing. Rûah is therefore an expression of man’s conscious spirit. When we give that spirit back to God (Psalm 31:6 and Luke 23:46) it means we expire for the last time and give God our own being.
As we live in New Testament times with the gift of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ 1 we can see all the various dimensions of the spirit of man and the spirits that can animate him. One of these is the discerning spirit of God’s gifts (1 Corinthians 2:11) which leads to a spiritual understanding of the wonderful things God has freely given us (v.12).
Receiving Spiritual Gifts
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 12) explains well that our special abilities come from the Holy Spirit – we are inspired because we have literally breathed in the Spirit; some people can give wise advice, others knowledge (v.8), etc; and many of us have been given the gift of healing (v.9) – we are inspired to do our work (paid or volunteer) because we have been given this gift, and can therefore serve the Lord enthusiastically (Romans 12:11).
Georgie Hoddle is a registered nurse (RN) who works as a NSW Health Authorised Nurse Immuniser in Aged Care. While studying for a Masters in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) degree at Macquarie University in 2010, Georgie received the Holy Spirit in a water baptism and has begun to age well on the shores of Port Stephens. Georgie is currently Vice-President of Nurses Christian Fellowship Australia.
Back to issue: Breath of Life
1. Leon-Dufour, X (1999) Dizionario di Teologia Biblica, Marietti
2. Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT, 2007), Tyndale