Cross Points 7.25.21

Ruach - Spirit/Wind

Series: Hebrew Words Worth Knowing
There’s a verse of scripture that sometimes seems confusing to us, and this word study may help.

“’That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to Jesus, ‘How can these things be?’” (John 3:8).
And we might add, “What exactly are you talking about?”

The Hebrew language is based on word pictures.  These words illustrate something that is attached to the concept, specific images that connect the word with the concept.  An example would be when Isaiah the prophet writes that God will arise, “like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the Lord” (Isaiah 59:19).  The Hebrew word for breath in this verse is ruach, which means spirit but also means wind.  The picture Isaiah paints is of the Spirit arriving like a rushing tide.  In fact, when the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost to the disciples that stayed together after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, it comes “like a mighty rushing wind” (Acts 2:2).  God was clearly indicating to the disciples that the Spirit had arrived by using something that paralleled the word Spirit.
An interesting thought is brought out in the book 52 Hebrew Words, by Dave Adamson.  He says that this image of a rushing tide, or rushing wind, doesn’t seem to match the picture of God sending the Holy Spirit as a dove to land on Jesus at his baptism.  We tend to picture a peaceful dove gently landing on Jesus to visually demonstrate what was happening.  Adamson relates how while in Jerusalem, a fellow theologian experienced a very territorial dove that strongly, with wings flapping, struck his head.  This comes closer to what we see on Pentecost.  The Spirit has arrived, and it is obvious!
In the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus he says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”  Substituting the word Spirit for wind, and paraphrasing a little, it reads, “The Spirit goes where it wishes, and you are aware of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”   Isn’t that true?  God’s Spirit is not controlled by us, it comes from him and is a part of the Godhead, going where God wants it to go.  Aren’t we privileged that he wants it to go inside of us when we become Christians?
When does that happen, we might ask?  Let’s read more from Acts 2 where God’s Spirit enters the picture within the Christian age.  After Peter preached his sermon once the Spirit had arrived on the apostles, the people are convicted and cry out, “What must we do?”  Peter replies, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38). 
Has that happened for you?  Are you in a position to allow God’s Spirit to direct you, as you yield to the Spirit directed Word of God, learning from Jesus and his apostles?
Cross Point: “God said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ Moses did, and behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord.”  I Kings 19:11
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