Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Third Person, Singular

Can we see the wind?

Well, we can see what it is doing to the trees and the direction it appears to be pushing them.

As an unseen force, I like the image of wind as the breath of God, or the Holy Spirit. The third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, might be the hardest one to understand, but it is the one which gives understanding, power and life itself.

I don't particularly like the image of the Holy Spirit as a dove. In the Genesis account of creation, the Spirit of God existed with the Father and the Son (the Word) in the Beginning:
'Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.' (Genesis 1, verse 2)
This is the only occasion, I think, when the Spirit is described as being in a waiting and apparently motionless state, but I suppose 'hovering' does imply a bird-like activity. The Hebrew word used here for 'Spirit' can also be translated (and is elsewhere in the Old Testament) as 'Breath' or 'Wind'. So in the creation account of Adam, ' the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'. In Job 33, verse 4, Elihu says to Job, 'The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.'

Of course the New Testament gives us the whole picture of the Holy Spirit, not only in the Pentecostal experience of wind and tongues of fire at the birth of the church, but before (in the teachings and promises of Christ), and after (in the teachings and experiences of the Apostles).

I used to think of the Trinity as being the same thing in 3 different forms - a bit like water being liquid (normal water), solid (ice) or gas (steam), but the parallel breaks down if it is taken too far, and stops being helpful. Sometimes you can hear a hymn sung hundreds of times before particular words strike home with a new understanding. This happened recently to me with the hymn "Breath on me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew." At the same time I came across Jesus' own illustration of the Holy Spirit as being like the wind in John 3, verses 6-8:
'Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at me saying, "You must be born again." The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'

We are all control freaks as far as being in control of our own destiny is concerned. It is hard to trust and obey an unseen God when it means letting go and sailing in faith with the Wind. But if I don't and just drift along with the earth's flow, where will I end up?

Yes the question deepens, and we have all the gifts of the Spirit, baptism of the Spirit and so on. But then the denominational wrangles emerge and create a storm of their own. I think it's best to keep it simple so that you can actually feel the breeze that is directed at you.


  1. Great post on an often neglected part of God. Here is just a thought...

    The word translated as hovering in Gen 1 in the NIV is...
    OT:7363 rachaph (raw-khaf'); a primitive root; to brood; by implication, to be relaxed:
    KJV - flutter, move, shake.

    I think of a brooding hen that is watching over the eggs in expectancy of what is being birthed. God uses the picture of a hen protecting its young with its wings to describe Himself elsewhere. I do no think it is so much of inactivity or doing nothing, but the watching over and protection of the newly birthed creation. A brooding hen has made sure that everything in the nest is ready for what comes next and settles in to wait for and protect its young. What a beautiful picture of what The Holy Spirit was doing.

  2. I really appreciate your insight, Godthinker. That image of readiness for creation is a great one, and confirms that the Spirit of God is one with the Mind of God.

  3. What I like about the dove figure is that it looks on through the generations to the time where the Spirit, in all His sensitivity, could find a resting place in a Man.

    But,"The wind blows where it will ...", and in mercy it came to me.

    Would you like to look at ?

  4. David,
    Lovely poem. And I hadn't made the connection with the sacrifice of doves!
    "The wind blows where it will ..." Wow! another layer of meaning?

  5. Thank you so much Philip for sharing your thoughts from the Word of God regarding the Holy Spirit. God's blessings too you. Lloyd

  6. Your illustration here with the wind blowing the trees is a good interpretation of the Holy Spirit. I often liken people to trees.With good roots buried in Faith we cannot be uprooted.

    While living in Tennessee I used a lovely sunlit room to come to God in devotion and prayer. Twice, when pouring my heart out to Him, a dove flew in through the open door, walked around me in my chair, then walked to the door again and flew away. In all of his years living in that house, my husband had never experienced this. There was glass all around this room. Often birds flew into and hit the windows. None ever came into the room except those two doves. Another amazing part of this was, there were rarely a dove to be seen in that area??? I put it down to a visit from God, by the Holy Spirit, in my time of need. Bless you.

    JESUS 777....

  8. Crystal Mary,

    The seven wonders of the world, the magnificent seven, the seven seas, uplifting, but even these do not compare to the THREE in ONE.

    We had a wee children's rhyme about Calvary:
    Three in one, and one in three,
    But the middle one,
    He died for me.

  9. Doesn't it make you laugh with JOY!!!!
    WE are so blessed to be.

  10. Crystal Mary,

    I have just made one of those amazing connections (coincidence? I don't think so), after your comments on seven = "completeness".

    I remembered we have an Ulster dialect word: SEVENDIBLE, which I often wondered where it came from. Here are the definitions I found last night in 2 Ulster-Scots dictionaries I have:
    a) [Concise Ulster Dictionary]:
    1. thorough, complete
    2. secure, made fast
    3. unmistakable, pronounced, remarkable.
    b) [Hamely Tongue]:
    1. tremendous

    Now the word does not exist in any English dictionary I can find, but here is the entry also given in Scotland for the "Dictionary of the Scots Language":
    SEVENDLE, Also savendle, sivendle, sevaandal, sevender, sevennil and deriv. forms sevendible
    1. Strong, firm, securely made, built or fixed.
    2. Trustworthy, dependable.
    3. Thorough, out-and-out, severe, extreme (Uls. 1858 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. V. 352, Ork. 1970, sevendible ). Adv. sevendibly, thoroughly.

    This old word is almost obsolete now, but now that I know that "sevendible" comes from "seven-like" and means "complete" in the BIBLICAL sense, I will try and use it more often!!!

    What other riches from the older folks speech have we lost?