The Breath of God
How it all started…
Oh my goodness, I have to tell you a funny story. My 3 year old has been obsessed with talking about people’s breath. It started innocently enough when she climbed in my lap one day as I was singing to her and she said, “I love to smell your breath.”
I laughed and told her that I loved to smell hers too…and that in fact, I loved smelling all my baby’s breath (that is until they hit that age where it totally goes from sweet to rank overnight!).
She then went on to explain, “I don’t like smelling Jo Jo’s breath and I don’t like smelling Josh’s breath and I don’t like smelling Luke’s breath, but I love smelling your breath.” I laughed and we went on with our day.
But, now, it is an everyday thing where she is adamantly declaring to those people she mentioned above that they have gotten too close to her and she can smell their breath and that she does NOT like smelling their breath! Overall, we just ignore her, but it is so funny how obsessed she has become with this!
So, this morning, as I was writing, the thought came to my mind about the breath of God. As that thought flashed in my mind, I quickly quit what I was writing so that I could record these words.
He brought all those funny moments with my baby girl over the last few weeks back to my remembrance and I knew He was showing me something special. You see, I want to be so close to Him that when He breathes…I can smell it, and feel it, and hear it…and that is what He wants as well!
So, my first thought was…
I wonder what God’s breath smells like?
I mean, naturally, given my prior story, that would be where my mind would go to first. We all have fond remembrances of someone’s breath that smelled good to us…your husbands, your baby’s, or even puppy breath for those so inclined!
So, surely, the breath of God would be a smell that would easily be the most intoxicating scent we ever smelled. And, not only that…but does He like the smell of our breath?? Does He like my breath?
I began to think, if I pick up a random strangers baby, I will not get the same internal feelings of love, longing, protection, and nostalgia stirred inside me when I smell its breath that I do when I smell my own baby’s breath.
Why is that?
Its part of God’s perfect design for us to create bonds with our children, spouses, etc. that is so strong we will not forsake them. But, also so that we don’t go around wanting to kidnap everyone else’s kids cause they smell so good to us!
Thank goodness, right?
So, when He created us, He knew exactly what we would want to smell when we are close to Him. My sense of smell is much different from my husbands…and so God would be creative in how he appeals to us individually.
So, is it a literal smell…like roses, honeysuckle, apple pie…I am not sure. But, it is the sweetest smell you can imagine…I am sure. It is a fragrance that is like none other and one that will ignite in you a longing and desire so strong that you will want to snuggle deep into His arms and never let go.
The other interesting thing is that the connection that smell makes is not one-sided. He thinks we smell good too! Our worship and our sacrifices to Him are a sweet savor to His nostrils…so, what we give back to Him is just as important as what He gives to us! This is why Jubilee likes to smell my breath just as much as I like to smell hers!
All throughout Leviticus and Numbers as Moses is telling his people the rituals of sacrifice and what they must present to God as an offering he explains that each sacrifice of food, grain, drink, or animal burnt on the altar will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
But, then in 2 Corinthians, we see a shift! Oh, Happy Day!!
Paul tells us that “…we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ…” No longer do we have to “do” anything to give God a pleasing aroma…from the time we accept Christ, we become a pleasing aroma ourselves!
Just like my sweet baby, when she was born…her nose was keenly in tune with my scent and the smell of my milk…and my olfactory was keenly in tune with her. She did not have to “do” anything for me to be pleased with her. She was simply born of me.
Which leads me to the next thoughts…
What is the breath of God and how do I get close enough to smell it?
In looking up the word breath in the Bible, I came across a couple words that I thought were interesting.
The very first time we see breath in the Bible is through a Hebrew word ruwach. This word is translated Spirit, breath, wind, etc. and is used in Genesis 1:2 as, “And the Spirit (ruwach) of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Just think about it. The very Spirit of God is also the breath of God. His breath was so large that it covered the expanse of the waters which were part of the formless void that existed prior to Creation as we know it.
In just that one verse alone, I am riveted to think His breath is everywhere because His Spirit is everywhere.
Genesis 2:7 continues by explaining when God forms Adam from the dust of the ground and breathes (naphach) into his nostrils He gives him the breath (neshamah) of life. The Hebrew word, naphach, which means to blow upon or breathe upon, is used to describe that moment when God fills Adams lungs for the first time with air. But, when it mentions the breath of life it is a different word neshamah which means a blast of breath, life and life force.
I picture it like this…imagine a movie where someone has died, yet there is someone there performing CPR. This person is breathing (naphach) into the person to get air into their lungs hoping they will breathe again. And in an instant, without warning, life returns to the once deceased person and they come back gasping for breath (neshamah).
That breath has power to it! It is the breath that brings life and awakening!! Job 33:4 says, “the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath (neshamah) of the Almighty gives me life.” I think we can agree that His breath is life-giving!
Job also goes on to say in 34:14-15 that “if He should determine to do so, If He should gather to Himself His spirit (ruwach) and His breath (neshamah), All flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”
So, how can I be sure I do not have to worry about Him taking His spirit and breath from me?
To answer that question and to understand how we can get close enough to smell His breath, we have to journey to the New Testament. Here the language shifts to Greek from Hebrew and we are now exploring new words.
Let’s turn to John 3 where a man named Nicodemus goes during the night to visit Jesus. He is curious who Jesus is and wants to know Him more. Jesus tells him that unless he is born again he will not see the kingdom of God.
This is perplexing to Nicodemus because he does not understand how someone can be born twice…or how someone can go back into their mother’s womb. So Jesus explains, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit (pneuma) he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit (pneuma) is spirit (pneuma).”
Ok…so, our new word in the Greek language is pneuma. It means wind, breath, spirit, and spiritual being.
We can see now, Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus how to be born of the Spirit instead of the flesh. Because when I have a baby, she is born of my flesh. But, to be birthed into the kingdom of God, she would need to be born by the Spirit of God.
This is how we get to crawl into His lap ladies!! This is how we can get close enough to Him to smell His breath! When we come from our mother’s womb, we are nursed and rocked and held in her lap. When we are born by the Spirit, we get to do the same thing…climb into His lap to be nurtured and cared for and to create an intimate bond that we will have with no one else.
It is because of this birthing in His Spirit that we do not have to fear the breath being taken from us like was mentioned above in Job. I have crawled in His lap and He has breathed His life into me so that now I may rest in His arms without fear!
What does the Breath of God Feel like?
This one was not as easy for me to answer…I see instances in the Bible where His breath brings life to those He creates and to those who believe. I also see instances where His breath takes away life. And, I see how powerful His breath is when it comes in the form of His Spirit’s baptism as well.
But, I really just want to know what it feels like when I am in that intimate place with Him, like a baby in her Father’s lap.
So, I look back at Genesis, to the moment where he has formed Adam from dust and I reflect on another passage of scripture that helps solidify my thinking. Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
You see, with each creation that God made, He spoke and it came into existence. It was His words that spoke the sun and moon into being. It was His words that divided the waters. It was His words that created the heavens and the earth.
But, it was His hands that created Adam and Eve. Again…looking at Genesis 2:7, when it says “God formed Adam from the dust of the ground,” the word formed is the Hebrew word yatser which means potter…
Oh my goodness.
Do you see that?
Yatser is potter! When it says, we are the clay and you are the potter…and we see the dust was formed (yatser) into Adam…that is the same word!
Everything that God created prior to Adam was spoken into existence. But, Adam was formed by the Potter’s hand.
It was personal.
It was intimate.
And as if that is not amazing enough, then He breathed into Him. That same breath that held every Word of God was breathed into Adam to make him a living soul.
He bent down from Heaven and filled Adams lungs with His Breath, His Word, and His Spirit.
Is that not just beautiful?
Can’t you just feel His embrace as you also read these words?
“Before I formed (yatser) you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5
Or how about these…
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained (yatser) for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
That is what it feels like to be breathed on by God.
It is being fully known by Him.
Being fully loved by Him.
Being fully accepted by Him.
Being fully cherished by Him.
Much like a mother feels about her baby that she has carried for 9 months, He feels about us only infinitely more so and in the most perfect way.
I am just awestruck at that.
Concluding thoughts on the Breath of God
I honestly stand amazed at the awesomeness of God and how intimately He wants to interact with us. Without the demonstration of His love, it would be so hard to believe that He would want this close fellowship with us.
Yet, that is the very reason He sent His Son to walk this earth with us so that we would see His Love manifested in a person that we could relate to and understand.
The Father longs to be in close fellowship with us. And by accepting His Son, Jesus, we are given the aroma of Christ which allows us to climb into His lap and lay our head on His chest. There, we can rest in His arms, listen to His heartbeat and feel the breath of God as He breathes in an out rhythmically in perfect peace.
This is our safe place.
Just as Jubilee’s favorite place in the whole world is in my arms…God has given us the perfect place of rest as well. Feel free dear child…climb on up into it!