When Moses asked God what name he should give the Israelites if they asked him who had sent him, the name that God gave Himself was YHWH (which we now write as YAHWEH). These four consonants are known as the aspirated or breath consonants because the sound they make is like someone breathing out.
I think it is fascinating that the main sign of life for us human beings is that we are breathing. Our respiratory system is a creation of pure genius. Breathing takes oxygen to our lungs and then into our cardiovascular system, and then our blood does this amazing thing of travelling around our body distributing good things and removing the bad. But it all starts with breath, and until that new born takes its first breath there is no sustainable life.
In Genesis 2 when God had created the world and animals and plants He then created man and we see something very significant in verse 7. He formed man from the dust of the earth and then ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being’. The bible doesn’t tell us that God breathed into all the animals, and though He might have done so, I think that somehow the Holy Spirit, by just leading the writer to tell us that this was how man became alive, is indicating something very different about mankind.
I believe the bible is telling us that man may have been made from earthly elements but the breath that the Lord breathed into Him was not just nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, not just air, but the Lord breathed into Him of His own nature and Adam became a living human being and also a spiritual being. One of the things that Elihu got right in his conversation with Job was his statement that ‘The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life’ Job 33:4.
We are not just human beings with a soul, with which we can think and feel and make choices but we are also spiritual beings capable of connecting with God Himself. The fact is that you and I are living spirits, housed in a body which will one day die and decay, while our spirit, the life that God has breathed into us, will live on.
Often we can give much attention to our body and to our mind and emotions, caring for them and keeping them fit and healthy, which is absolutely the right thing to do, we are after all the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19; but somehow we can neglect to give the same care and attention to looking after our spirits. At the end of his letter, Paul blessed the Thessalonian church with the words ‘May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24
One very good way to keep our spirits as well as our body and soul ‘blameless’ is to stay in a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness whatever comes at us in life. Phyically we know that, providing we have no lung disease, we will breathe in and out effortlessly and naturally and, that that breath sustains our life. In the same way we need to be constantly effortlessly thankful as we go through the day, so that what ever comes at us, we remain in a healthy place spiritually. As we practice and grow in this we will stay alive in our spirit and connected to God.
Let us thank God today for every breath that we take, for the amazing design and working of our lungs. And let us also breathe into our spiritual lungs the ‘air’ of heaven. Let us breathe in the ‘Life of God’ throughout the day by thanking Him for His unfailing presence with us in all circumstances and for all the goodness that He brings into our lives.