Just over a week ago was Pentecost Sunday, the day when Christians remember and give thanks to God for the coming of the Holy Spirit to all believers on the day of Pentecost. It seems a good time to spend a few days looking at the Holy Spirit’s work in Scripture.
While we may tend to think of the Holy Spirit as mainly working in the New Testament and beyond, there are plenty of appearances in the Old Testament too. In fact, as we have read, the Spirit was there at the very formation of the world – as we’d expect, since the Spirit is part of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The word used for ‘Spirit’ in Genesis 1 is ‘ruach’. It is the same word used in Psalm 33:6 where it says, “By the Lord’s decree, the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all the starry hosts.” So the word ‘ruach’ can be translated as the Spirit, and also as a breath or a wind that comes from God.
At the beginning of chapter 2, we see that God breathes the breath of life into Adam. Is God breathing the Spirit into Adam? Well, the word used here is different: ‘nashamah’. It literally does mean breath, and is often used throughout Scripture as a metaphor for life itself. It can also be translated as spirit, but the spirit of a person, rather than the Holy Spirit himself.
So, from before the creation of the world, the Holy Spirit was there, with the Father and the Son, and when the time came to create, the Spirit had a part to play. And yet it doesn’t seem as though Adam received the Holy Spirit when God gave him life. There is more to receiving the Holy Spirit than simply existing! As we study the work of the Spirit in the Old and New Testaments we will see how, why and when God chose to impart his Spirit to his people.
Lord God, I thank you for the work of your Holy Spirit, present at creation and throughout eternity. I thank you that you are the same yesterday, today and forever and that the same Holy Spirit that hovered over the unformed world is available to me today!