Living things cannot survive for more than the shortest of times without breathing. Breath determines the presence of physical life. To cease breathing signals death. When the Divine Potter created his inanimate man from the dust of the ground – it was not until He kissed his creation and breathed life/spirit into it that His clay creation become a living being.

And it is God who, every nano second, sustains his living creation by the breath [Ruach] of his mouth. It is Job of the Old Testament who, in his suffering, recognised –

“If He [God] should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath,
All flesh would perish together and man would return to dust.”

Job 34 14&15

As with the first birth so with the second. It is Jesus himself who equates the new birth with Ruach. The Orthodox Jewish Bible gives a literal rendering of the text –

“The ruach (wind, Spirit) blows where it wishes, and the sound of it you hear, but you do not have da’as [knowledge] of where it comes from and where it goes so it is with everyone having been born of the Ruach Hakodesh [Holy Spirit].

John 3:8 OJB

And if the Breath of God brings the infusion of physical and spiritual life it is the same Breath that brings the fullness of the Love of God or baptism of the Holy spirit. In one of the most intimate moments recorded of Jesus interactions with his disciple we read –

“And having said this, Moshiach [Messiah] breathed on them and says to them, Receive the Ruach Hakodesh.”

John 20:22 OJB

Again, some 50 days after this event, on the day of Pentecost as the disciples were gathered together in a room –

“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit [Ruach Hakodesh] .. 

Acts 2:2 – 4 [NKJV]

Interestingly in both Greek and Hebrew the same word is used for “spirit” and “wind” [pneuma and ruach]. The Holy Spirit  is then both the Power of God and the Intimacy of God. And to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the the love of God – for the Holy Spirit is facilitator of the love which flows between the Father and the Son and from the Trinity to man [Mark 1:10-12 and other places]. St John of the Cross [1542 – 1591] wrote – “This flame is a flame of divine love.” [Living Flame of Love 1:7]

We so often focus on the phenomena – but the ongoing reality of Acts 2 is that those filled with the Ruach Hakodesh were forever changed and filled by and with the Love of God.  It is the Apostle Paul who later describes for us the essence of this event –

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 5:5

So how do we define the Ruach of God – if indeed He is definable, which I seriously doubt. However, it can be said, as we have already seen, that the Breath of God is the Creative Spirit and the Spirit of creation. The Psalmist writes –

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

Psalm 33:6

In contrast to the awesome creative power of the Ruach of God – there is also the indescribable intimacy and gentleness we have already noted as he kisses man to life in both the physical and spiritual sense. As we have already indicated –  this seen in Genesis – in His kiss of life, breathing life/spirit in to man and in his intimate breathing Ruach Hakodesh upon his disciple . But it is also alluded to in the parable of the loving father where the lost son is restored by the kisses of his father [a picture of God].

Because of the concept of power in our world I think many of us, as we long to see an expression of the Ruach HaKodesh in our day – look only for powerful manifestations – the spectacular  – the big bang as it were – while I suspect He comes more often, as he came to Elijah, not in earthquake and fire – but in the “still small voice” [1 Kings 19]. I think this is what Edwin Hatch had in mind when he wrote the following prayer, one which perhaps we all need to repeat today –

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people, and breathe in them the fire of your love!

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