Wind, Spirit or Breath

Haystack, October 2020

I vividly remember standing on Mt. Haystack in the Adirondack high peaks region facing 50 mph wind gusts. It was the first time I actually felt that I might get blown off a mountain.

The power of that wind was amazing. With nothing to stop it, it hit with full force. Interestingly enough, it was as beautiful a day as a hiker could ask for: sunshine, blue skies, fall colors; but the wind, fierce.

The wind made its presence known, even though it could not be seen. You could see its presence. You could feel it; and it moved me, not emotionally, but physically.

There is considerable debate as to the nature of the human soul, it’s purpose, and even its reality.

In Genesis 8:1b we read:

וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם

“And God caused wind/spirit/breath to cross over the earth; and the waters receded.”

To subdue the waters of the flood, the Lord caused רוּחַ/ruach/wind/spirit/breath, to move over the earth. This power, even though it could not be seen with the eye, had impact on the earth, and the lives of those in the Ark.

There are differing opinions among Jewish commentators regarding how to translate, or understand רוּחַ/ruach/wind/spirit/breath in Genesis 8:1b. Should it be wind? Should it be spirit? Or perhaps, it was the breath of heaven renewing the earth.

All three are invisible, but all three can be felt. The wind, by the gentle movement of the leaves on a fall day, or the fierceness of a storm. The breath, the inhale and exhale of the human body. But what of the spirit?

The ancient Hebrews understood abstract concepts by concrete visuals. Why the same word for what we might consider three separate concepts?

As noted above, each are invisible, but each play an important part in life. The wind moves as a breath in creation. Human breath moves in us, renewing life. The spirit moves us, every part of our being in the natural and spiritual worlds.

The human spirit cannot be measured, yet it can be observed as it moves us in life. An invisible force animating us, moving every part of our body. The divine breath, enlivening, moving, and renewing man, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7; Jn. 20:22).

Where is your spirit? Look at your life, listen to your breath, see how He is moving in your life.

Be well. Shalom.

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