The Breath of God

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

 

Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

There is an important concept at the end of chapter 3 of the Timothy reading. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good workESV

The Breath of God is often used to describe the Holy Spirit. We see in the first verses of the Scriptures that God speaks, and it is so. A word comes from God, and that Word becomes what God intends. “Let there be light.”

In GJohn, we read, The Word was the real lightNJB While I have taken that phrase out of the context of the opening of the Gospel, it is still within the overall context of how Scripture speaks of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. When God speaks, things happen.

We often like to point with pride to Genesis 2:7 where God, blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living beingNJB We say that God created everything else by speaking, but He had to get His hands dirty to make humans; He had to give us the breath of life.

While that is true in part, it overstresses some important points, mainly that God speaking and God breathing means the same thing in the Scriptures. God breathed life into the universe. While Scriptures do place humans at the apex of creation, we are no less a creation.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good workESV

Scripture must do some heavy lifting. Not just teaching, but reproof, that is to criticize, to reprimand. As I read any passage, I need to look for how God is leading me away from my false ideas and back into His Truth.

One of my favorite illustrations of how not to use the Bible is of the man who let the Bible open where it would and read, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” He opened it again and read, “Go thou and do likewise.”

He would be someone in serious need of reproof.

The two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus were written closely together near the end of Paul’s life, and they deal with similar problems in the churches. If we date them around the year 65 AD, that puts them before any of the Gospels were written, though that is not certain.

The point is that when Paul instructed Timothy to turn to Scripture, he was talking about what we Christians call the Old Testament. Nothing that we now call the New Testament was considered Scripture; not even a hundred years after Paul died. It took three centuries for the Church to decide that some of the early writings could be considered the Breathed Word of God.

That should be an important reproof for us today. We need to understand the first two-thirds of the Bible to understand the last third. That is one reason I like the lectionary readings. It forces me to think about how the Scriptures are interconnected.

But it works both ways; the old defines the new and the new the old. Reading about the destruction of Sodom should always be informed by the love of the Son of God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good workESV

Children of God want to be like God, just as our children imitate us. With Scripture, we can see how God wants us to behave. With Scripture, we can see how we miss the mark.

In this age of instant communication, teachings bombarded us. We don’t often think of them as teachings; they are just images. But look at this pic and think about all the messages it contains; about the effort Mercedes makes to get us to believe their car is the only one for us.

Let’s face it, Fox News and CNBC are not concerned with the Breathed Word of God. Their main concern is profit, followed by getting people to believe in their political ideas, none of which come from the Breathed Word of God. Rush Limbaugh once defended himself by saying that his show did not have to be the truth; it was just entertainment.

God’s entertainment is Good Works; loving all humans; meeting the needs of those who can’t do it themselves; giving even unto death.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here and here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

John Woman

Walter Mosley is a prolific author. His first book was Devil in a Blue Dress which introduced Easy Rawlins, the reluctant detective–my review here. He has 14 in that series through 2016; 6 in the Socrates Fortlow series; 7 in the Leonid McGill series through 2020; 4 Crosstown to Oblivion books; and 17 standalone books with John Woman being the most recent in 2018.

The first thing I can say about this book is that Mosley has come a long way. Yet, not all that far. Easy Rowlins is a man who wants to do his job in a world that does not respect his race. He seeks the truth as well as a payday. John Woman, seven decades later, seeks the truth as well.

A big difference is that John, son of a broken but intelligent black man, graduated from Yale and then Harvard before becoming a professor at a new school in Arizona. His speciality is deconstructionist history–the study of what we do not know.

I know, history; who would have guessed? If you do not like history you probably won’t like this book. Prof Woman spends much of the book lecturing on why historians are so often wrong. The Civil War was not fought to free the slaves. How can we be sure that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis–or another 3 million Russians, Poles, Gypsies, etc? Too often we rely on flawed sources like Parsons Weems stories about young George Washington throwing a dollar across the Potomac and chopping down a cherry tree. People told the silly stories so long we began to believe they must be true.

Yes, there is a murder in the book and it hangs over most of the storyline like Joe Bflspk’s dark cloud in Li’l Abner. Part of the reason is that the name John Woman is, as you may have guessed, is contrived. After CC Jones killed a man at the age of 16, he created a new image of himself as an 18-year-old high school graduate, and after a semester at CCNY he created a completed degree that qualified him to enter Yale.

I read every page of this book. I would have loved to take his class, even though I had very little idea where Woman was headed. I also did not know where Mosley was headed. He created a direction for his protagonist to go, but I thought Woman was too smart to go that way. I read the last chapter twice to make sure I didn’t overlook something.

The truth is that Woman disappeared. The truth is, we do not know any other truth. In that sense, Mosley kept the story within the deconstructionist framework.

The story has some weaknesses. It was disappointing in places. It was not as grand as I think Mosley wanted it to be. But it is good.

Mike Lawrence