The Holy Spirit in Perspective

Published on by Vincent Ragay under

After the Flood

 

  1. The Holy Spirit in Creation

“. . . the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2)

We often imagine the Holy Spirit to be like a dove or a tongue of fire; however, these metaphors are New Testament pictures which we may have grossly misrepresented or misinterpreted.

Consider these other possibilities:

    • The “face of the waters” is not a limited area but covers the whole face of the flood that covered the entire globe during Creation.
    • “Moved” should not be crudely understood in the sense of a dove flying or a tongue of fire moving, and somehow conflating or confusing our metaphors.
    • The Genesis statement must then be understood as a global phenomenon, a kind of throbbing, trembling or, as the wind causes waves to propagate extensively on the ocean surface, producing or manifesting the “sound of rushing water” (which was the testimony of the first converts when the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost Day).
    • The Hebrew word used for “moved” gives the alternative meaning “hovered” (seemingly reinforcing the popular idea of a flying bird). But the other meaning of hover given is “contemplating”.  We cannot possibly give an exclusively physical significance to the action of a spirit-being. Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that the participation of the Holy Spirit in Creation had physical manifestation for that is precisely the meaning and purpose of Creation.
    • Moreover, although the Holy Spirit is often symbolized by the action of the wind, we cannot confirm the fact that there was geological basis for wind action in Creation, for the present geophysical and meteorological conditions may not have prevailed yet. In the absence of land, we doubt if cyclones or high waves would be generated at all. Besides, all water and no land seems to present the idea of calmness or serenity. With a water canopy above the atmosphere creating a controlled greenhouse effect, the globe eventually had a perfect, homogenous subtropical climate all throughout, allowing no extreme heat or cold areas, which today generate winds, to build up.
    • This overall fundamental idea then signifies total supervision or ownership by the Holy Spirit over the entire globe. This is the spiritual reality we must begin to appreciate.
    • “The waters” is also given the meaning “the deep”, giving us the idea of the Holy Spirit being mindful or considering not just the breadth, height and length of the entire Earth or the Universe but also of the depth of the physical world. The “face” incorporates the first 3 dimensions (the whole atmosphere, i.e., the “heavens” – what God created first) while the “deep” incorporates the land (what He created next). Gen. 1:2 is a simple repetition of Gen. 1:1 using more specific pictures, in effect. That is, the Holy Spirit not only hovered “upon” the face of the waters but also contained everything “above” and “below” the face of the waters. It seems that the boundary or interphase between space and water was where the Holy Spirit was going to reproduce Himself that is, create life. And so, we all live within that thin physical interphase between heaven and earth.
    • The Jewish Tanakh renders Gen 1:2 as “a wind from God sweeping over the water”. Again, this is a purely allegorical or metaphorical picture which has a deeper meaning but no physical foundation based on our scientific argument above. Moreover, it totally removes any semblance of personality or life in the nature of the Holy Spirit. But we will submit to the idea that the Holy Spirit may have indeed made Himself known through a mighty wind that swept the Earth’s surface (who else heard it except God?). However, the effect of such a universally-dominant entity must have produced more than just a wind but a general cataclysmic phenomenon that must have included internal rumblings inside the earth – electromagnetic forces, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mountain-building and expansion – to allow land to appear when God spoke the word finally: “Let the land appear!” (God speaks the word, therefore, and Nature hears and obeys!). Creation requires infinite power. The Holy Spirit must be seen, heard, felt and fully appreciated even in the telling of His work in Creation. We have not begun to do this “cataclysmic” process in our teaching and, perhaps, in our life.
    • The result of the Holy Spirit’s work is the appearance of the “land” (adam). He would then give birth to life through the land or the ground. Thus, the first Adam (alternatively, from edom, referring to the red soil) would be created.
    • We know that humans were created in the image of “Elohim” Who is Spirit. In every person then is the seed of the Holy Spirit, the spirit-life that animates physical matter and generates physical life.
    • The conclusion is that great spiritual power produces all physical matter and all the forces it includes. The first two verses of the Bible already challenges us to believe and accept the existence and might of God v.v. our own existence and abilities. You cannot keep on reading without accepting that reality. Or else we will be reading on as if the book is an entire work of fiction or a fairy tale.
  1. The Holy Spirit in Destruction/Judgment (Gen. 6, etc.)
    • God preserved His Creation in spite of humans sinning and rebelling against His will. But He did decide once to “destroy life” upon it.
    • God decided to rebuild the Earth by sending a global flood and preserving a few precious seeds of human, plant and animal life. The land disappeared; so did the water canopy. All life was destroyed. Except for Noah and Co. floating on the flood. It was back to Creation Day 1.
    • Having rebuilt the Earth, it was time to renew it and to bring back life. All the while, we can assume that the Holy Spirit supervised, guided and protected the Ark and its occupants (from its construction, to its launching and to its descent). No doubt about that. The spirit-life and organic-life planted in the beginning remained in pure form again, ready to replenish the New World.
    • Since Noah could not survey the “waters” or the “deep”, what did he send? The raven first, which flew “to and fro until the flood had subsided”. Personally, I think the crow just flew around without giving Noah a sign he needed. A legend even says that it found a carcass and ate it, forgetting its mission from Noah. The dove, however, came back when it found no dry land and, when it did, carried a branch of an olive tree.
    • Noah had vision and knowledge through those birds, the first failing to serve the purpose (got tired and hungry, perhaps) while the second finally serving the purpose. Noah, like the dove, was like the Holy Spirit sweeping, contemplating or hovering over the face of the waters. It was the Holy Spirit teaching him to do so using the tools he had to extend his vision and knowledge. The Holy Spirit did not just reveal to him, “The land has appeared!” It was up for Noah to use his mind and his spirit to discover the truth. The dove has remained the symbol for peace – and even the Holy Spirit. But let us not forget that it is the Holy Spirit Who was continuously guiding Noah to interpret or fathom God’s ways using all available tools, from the point of building the Ark to using it.
    • As in the beginning, land appeared and God rebuilt the Earth and renewed life through Noah and his family.
    • We will go back to the idea of the flood “baptizing” or “immersing” the Ark and its occupants later.
  1. The Holy Spirit in the Preparation of the Kingdom (The Gospel Accounts)
    • Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin through the Holy Spirit. This miracle fulfilled His nature as Immanuel (God with us). Out of a living being, the second Adam was born. Like Adam, Jesus was born of both pure flesh and Spirit.
    • When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove (John the Baptist’s vision). Was John using an old metaphor or did he really see a dove-like figure? Or was it God planting the idea in John’s mind. Either way, we have a beautiful picture of an event that signifies an important event in the life of Christ.
    • If we consider the Creation as an important event, heralding the start of God’s production of matter and life, the Holy Spirit’s participation must be seen as a vital aspect.
    • Likewise, the renewal of the Earth after the flood involved the participation of the Holy Spirit in the life of Noah who was also created in the image of God. Enoch writes that when Noah was born, his face shone so brightly that no one could look into his face, very much like Moses’ case after he spoke with God on Mt. Sinai.
    • It now follows that at the moment that Jesus was baptized, when God said, fulfilling the prophecies, “Today, I have begotten You” and “This is my only begotten Son”, the Holy Spirit’s participation is again seen as a vital aspect we need to fully understand.
    • It is said that Jesus received the fullness of the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Does this mean an indwelling, an influencing effect or a mere verbal or mental affirmation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in His life? Or is there a more encompassing significance that derives from and supports what we have seen that the Holy Spirit accomplished in Creation and in the Renewal of Life?
    • The conclusion, it seems, is that Christ would not have been enabled to preach the truth, perform all those amazing miracles and offer and then claim back His life to effectively fulfill God’s plan without the Holy Spirit empowering Him as a human being. As a son of God, He accomplished all He did through the Holy Spirit contemplating, sweeping and hovering upon His entire life. See it the way you may wish; Jesus used all the tools and means He had, like Noah did, to fulfill God’s plan through His sacrificial and triumphant life.
    • Is this not telling us that we, as ordinary humans, can also accomplish what the apostles accomplished in their lives? How do we do it? Or how does the Holy Spirit do it?
  1. The Holy Spirit in the Kingdom (Book of Acts)
    • On Pentecost Day, the prophecy of Joel came true. The Holy Spirit was “poured out on all flesh”. The Holy Spirit descended on them all in the form of “tongues of fire”. The common idea is that each person had a single tongue of fire upon the head.
    • Could it be that the whole crowd was encompassed, hovered or swept upon by a virtual flame that manifested like so many “tongues of fire”, not necessarily one tongue on each head? Imagine Daniel and his friends inside the fiery oven engulfed by flames all around but not being burned at all. Whether it descended and engulfed the converts or it merely hovered above them is immaterial. The fact is that the Holy Spirit was given, just as Jesus received the Holy Spirit from the Father.
    • John prophesied that Jesus will baptize with fire. It was fulfilled, as foretold, on Pentecost Day, both spiritually by the Holy Spirit and physically/metaphorically by life-giving fire witnessed by the writers.
    • The rushing of wind heard when the Holy Spirit descended again recalls the events during Creation. Every Jew knew the significance of that event. They even referred to the Holy Spirit as the pneuma or “wind”. We have to remember that every spiritual event or phenomenon has a corresponding physical aspect. (I Cor. 2:13)
    • And that was already anticipated in the minds of the Jews, more so since Jesus already taught about the Holy Spirit being like the “wind blowing where it wills”. Without a physical or material handle for the unseen and unimaginable spiritual realities, we would all be confused or lost. Perhaps, the Jewish practice of baptism was derived from the Creation itself and the Great Flood as one integrated and rigid principle ingrained in their minds and their whole being. Did we inherit this concept and practice as a valid must-do tradition or is it an arbitrary or disposable ritual as well?
    • The converts were performing wonders. Just as Jesus performed signs and miracles through the Holy Spirit, the converts likewise did. If Noah used his knowledge and skills to save life and renew the Earth through the marvelous work of the Holy Spirit, it means those who receive the Holy Spirit can also renew their lives and this world in amazing ways as well. Just as Jesus preached the truth and ministered to the needy and the sick through the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, we can also do the same thing.
    • Believers compose the Body of Christ on Earth. I believe that we are the Third Adam, given life through the Holy Spirit. Out of dead land, life was first created by the Holy Spirit. Out of condemned land, life was renewed by the Holy Spirit. Out of a pure body, the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Son of Man on Earth. Out of a sinless life and sacrifice, the Holy Spirit delivered the only begotten Son of God to save sinful humans. Out of repentant and faithful believers, the Holy Spirit formed the Spiritual Body of God, His Kingdom, upon the Earth. We all are Holy and Living Ground (“adam”, like Jesus). We are from the ground; but with the Holy Spirit giving us life, as He has always done, we have divine potential. That is the genuine good news for us! Jesus is God – that is true news. But to be like God or to be true children of God is the best news for humans in all of history.              
  1. The Holy Spirit in Perspective (How the Holy Spirit overshadows and lives in the temple today)
    • Going back to Creation, the Holy Spirit was actively and totally participating with the Godhead (Elohim). He was hovering over all things, immersing or encompassing everything with His power, just as the waters covered the entire globe.
    • The same thing essentially happened during the Flood. His presence through Noah caused the renewal of physical life. Again, like the Flood, the Holy Spirit was immersing and encompassing all life and matter. When Peter mentions this in his letter, spiritual salvation (forgiveness from sins) is effectively equated with the physical salvation of Noah through the Ark.
    • Through Christ’s submission to immersion by water, the Holy Spirit manifested His participation in His birth as the Son of God (not during Christmas, remember) by immersing Jesus’ life with the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • When Jesus said, “Unless you are born of water and the sprit you cannot enter the kingdom”, does this require no water and spirit? When He said, “Those who worship me must worship in spirit and in truth”, does this not require the spirit and truth?
    • Every spiritual word or principle has a verbal or material aspect. We were created in God’s image and we, therefore, bear the seed of the Holy Spirit or the Elohim in our body. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, as written. But does a temple only shine within? Can you contain the Holy Spirit when He seeks to overflow, in keeping with His nature?
    • The Holy Spirit is not an idea or a reality that can be contained in a finite or limited object, place or institution. Consider a cup and some water: When we say we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we appear to be pouring water into the cup. And when we are filled by the Holy Spirit, we merely fill up the cup. Sometimes, we pour more than necessary; that is when we say the cup overflows. Pentecostals seem to manifest this condition. They sing and praise wildly in the services and do a lot of things that try to manifest the power of the Holy Spirit; but somehow, their lives lack depth and substance in other areas.
    • On the other hand, when we say we are influenced by the Holy Spirit, we are merely being affected by the water through getting wet or being sprinkled outside or inside, but not really being filled or overflowing with water. A lot of people invoke the Holy Spirit and yet we see them living lives contrary to righteous or moral living. The Catholics and many Evangelicals represent this group. We can take or leave what the Holy Spirit says because we make the final decisions, not Him.
    • What do we have left? If we are the temple or the cup, how does the Holy Spirit contemplate, sweep and hover upon us? Yes, the Holy Spirit must dwell in us, influence us, guide us, empower us and save us — all of these. But the only way that will happen is when we are totally immersed, flooded and surrounded by His power and presence.
    • When the Earth was created, the Holy Spirit hovered above the entire face of the waters (engulfing the world). When Noah was in the Ark, the Holy Spirit swallowed him and his family (rushing water above, below and around them). When Jesus was immersed, He received the Holy Spirit in fullness as a human (empowering Jesus to perform miracles and to destroy sin and death). When the apostles and converts were immersed in the SPIRIT (“the Holy Spirit filled the room”), they received salvation and miraculous gifts (empowering them to preach and to convert multitudes).
    • So, unless we are born of water and sprit, unless we worship in spirit and in truth and unless we are totally immersed in the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. The temple of the Holy Spirit must shine more brightly outside and shed light to our dark surroundings. The cup must keep receiving water until it is overflowing and eventually flooded all around with water, drowning all aspects of our lives – our business, our families, our hobbies and our social affairs. And finally, the body of Christ must be so full of the wine of the Holy Spirit that everything we do or say smells of the aroma of Jesus Christ, reaching all the foul-smelling and corrupted corners of this world. Are we still not drunk with the Holy Spirit? Then, we have a big problem!
    • Finally, when Christ promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He spoke these significant and revealing words: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17) No one, not even believers can see Spirit; but believers know the Holy Spirit through faith and, thus, receive Him. How? In the same way Jesus received Him during His baptism and the way the disciples did on Pentecost Day.
    • The last point that we need to fully understand and remember is contained in Christ’s statement: “He dwells with you and will be in you”. This confirms what we have already said above: The Holy Spirit encompasses us all (including non-believers) – the whole of Creation allows us to live by the power of the Spirit. The big contains or encompasses the tiny; that is how the Spirit “dwells with” us. But only those who know or acknowledge the Spirit will have the privilege of becoming the temple of God. The tiny is in the big; that is how the Spirit “dwells in” us. This privilege only comes by faith.
  1. Conclusion

Remember, the Holy Spirit created the Universe together with the Father and the Son. The precious life we have has infinite potential, much greater than that given to the planets and the stars. All the celestial bodies will burn away and lose energy. The spirit we received from God, though it flickers and fades like the distant stars, will burn and shine brightly if we continue to WALK IN THE LIGHT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, until we shall all radiate as brilliantly as Jesus Christ, the Bright and Morning Star.

(Photo above: Courtesy of www.google.com)

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