Then 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 being. Genesis 2:7
Breathed Into – Sometimes the links between the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are quite subtle but exceedingly powerful. Understanding those links often releases us from fatal myths that we carry in our souls. The connection between this Genesis account and the words of Paul in 2 Timothy have that quality. Once we see the link, we suddenly have a new view on our frail humanity. We are turned loose to become who we truly are.
Paul uses the term theopneustos in 2 Timothy 3:16. It is usually translated “inspired,” but it literally means “God-breathed.” Paul says that Scripture is filled with God’s living breath. That’s what makes it perfect truth. What God does for His Word is the same thing He does for each of us. He fills us with His living breath, making us exactly what He intended, a truthful representation of Himself. Just as God’s breath produces inspired words, so it also produces inspired dirt. In both cases, it is not the substance itself that establishes its essential connection to divinity. It is God’s animating Spirit that does the trick. Words are just words and dirt is just dirt – until God gets hold of them. Certainly the great rabbi, Paul, knew this connection. After all, he makes up the word theopneustos. It is never found anywhere else in the Bible. Paul simply converts the Hebrew yi.pakh be (“and blew into”) into Greek.
“Inspired dirt” gives me hope. Why? Because God certainly knew that there is no glory in dirt. I am made of pretty common stuff. I am filled with weaknesses and frailties. Without His breath, I’m just a pile of mud; but filled with the Spirit, things change! This helps me realize that the real focus of my being is not the dirt, but rather the animation of that dirt. Who I am and what I am always points to Him, even when I am stuck in the mud.
It’s also important to notice that the word for “breath” is not the typical ruah (used 400 times) but rather the rare neshama (used only 25 times). Neshama only occurs with God and Man, where ruah occurs with wind, animals and even false gods. This “breath” is very special. When God animates me, I receive something different from all other living things. It’s as though God makes me His living Word in the same way that He makes His words living.
Isn’t it comforting to know that God can take plain, ordinary stuff – like dirt and words – and turn it into something that reflects His glory? I need to let that sink in. There are lots of times when I feel as though I am covered with the dirt of life, when the dust in my soul just won’t go away. That’s when I need to remember that God breathes life into me just as He does into His Word. I am inspired too – created by Him on purpose.
Topical Index: Inspiration