A Voice in the
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October 22, 2008

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Q/A Topics:
  • Breath of Life

Breath of Life?

READER QUESTION:

    Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
What is the breath of life?

VW ANSWER:
Well... what happens when a person stops breathing? Do they not die? One way you know a person is alive is if they are breathing.

There are other places in the OT where the word for spirit, wind and breath, in other contexts, are the same Hebrew word, and whether a person translates the word into one of the three is based on context.

For instance, in 1Ki10:5 the Queen of Sheba was impressed with Solomon's surroundings and KJV says "there was no more spirit in her". But if a person is minus spirit, are they not 'dead'? The VW-edition renders it "took her breath away". Is that not how we, with English, speak of being overwhelmed by the enormity and glory of something. Technically both "spirit" and "breath" are correct, because the Hebrew word "ruwach" can mean wind, breath, mind, spirit, air, gas. Ruwach is the same word used when speaking of the Holy Spirit, or our own spiritual spirits.

Gen2:7 is a different word that means only two things: breath or spirit. So, the verse might say "breath of life", or "spirit of life". When a person dies, do we not say that the spirit leaves the body, and in the case of the Believer, the spirit goes to be with the Lord. (2Co5:8) Which, at the resurrection, the Lord is bringing back "those who sleep in Jesus" (1Th4:14) to be joined up with their resurrected bodies.

But the word in Gen2:7 also comes from a word that means "to pant". Thus, like my opening paragraph, the "breath" of "breathing"

Just like the Spirit "breathed" (blew) into the bodies of the valley of bones for Ezekiel (Ezk37:9), God breathed/blew into Adam's body, and he started breathing/panting. Somewhat crude, but: Just like in CPR a person might 'blow' into the mouth/nose of one passed out in order to revive them, and they start breathing again on their own; God blew into Adam and vivified him; gave him life. As I understand it, when babies are born, they are often massaged or 'spanked' to start them breathing. God made Adam's body, and then "started" him up.

And if we understand that the "soul is in the blood" (Lev17:11); breathing puts oxygen into the blood, which is then carried to the body's extremities. That's physical "life". The symbiosis of breath/blood (spirit/soul); also called "cardiopulmonary".

But what is that relationship of "soul and spirit" of which Jesus Christ is the author and knowledge? (Heb4:12) "In Him was life" (Jn1:4) What is the difference between the "breathing air" aspect (the air molocules) and our (spiritual) "spirits"? In Hebrew they both are the same word. And if the soul is in the blood, 'how' does that all work? In the past we have observed that the brain (computer) functions as blood (operator) flows through it; but it is not merely the blood, but the oxygen which the blood transports; and thus in these bodies/tents (2Co5:1,4, 2Pt1:13-14) we are spirit/soul/body (1Th5:23) 'people'. Something which I certaintly don't understand, but receive in faith.

    Ps 139:14 I will give thanks unto You, for I am AWESOMELY AND WONDERFULLY MADE; marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
So... God created Adam. Made his body out of dust, and then breathed life into him. So... we can see these different words, and realize there is something called soul and spirit. But exactly 'what' are they? I guess that was your question, eh. The exact understanding is with God "who gives life to all things" (1Ti6:13) For "in Him we live and move and exist" (Ac17:28)

Science can mix up the chemicals in their test tubes. But they have yet to vivify those chemicals. Man has never been able to "start" life. I expect, because it is something unknowable to finite man. God asked Job, "Have the gates of death been disclosed to you?" (Job38:17) If we don't know the exactitude of death until we pass that way, and we are able to -kill- in order to 'send' a person there; how can we possibly understand life, which we cannot create or control? We might be able to "kill" a person, but all we kill is the -body-; not the soul and spirit. As Jesus said,

    "And do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who has power to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." (Mt10:28)
We live life, even though we don't understand it. Yes, we do and observe all the 'aspects' of "living", and can study the processes under a microscope. But what -is- life? What is its 'essence'? Science thinks in terms of a "spark", which they have never been able to produce. That's because it requires the -Divine- "spark". (Please don't read any more into that last sentence than the present context implies. We are not suggesting a modernistic liberal new-age theology. But if Life requires a "spark", as man's understanding suggests; that "spark", whatever it is, comes from God.)

The one who is just "lives by faith" (Hab2:4, Rom1:17) It is -God- who "gives to all life, breath and all things" (Ac17:25)

Related Topic: -Life is in the Blood


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