The Wind Blows Wherever It Pleases

 

Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

 

In reading this passage in John, the image of the wind struck me. Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit, often called wind in the Scriptures. In today’s reading, the wind/Spirit must enter a person for that person to come close to God.

To get a better understanding of the role of the Wind, let us consider every Evangelical’s favorite verse: Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born againNIV The key word is again—anothen in Greek. The word is from the root ano, meaning upward, above, brim, high, up.

To say that a person must be born anothen is to say born from above or from the beginning. The Message has it: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom. The Amplified Bible reads: I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.

The ancient Greek has 36 words which can be used to mean again. John chose this one because of its stress on coming from above, that is, from God. It is Nicodemus who brings in the sense of rebirth. How can anyone who is already old be born? NJB That is the kind of question we would expect Peter to ask. It is a good question on the physical level.

But Jesus was not talking about physical birth. He tells Nicodemus, you are right, the physical birth has already occurred. The word John used is sarkikos—flesh. From sarkikos comes sarkikos. Jesus goes on: what is born from the Spirit is spiritCJB Notice the capital S. The Holy Spirit of God places the spirit in humans.

The spirit first came into humans at creation. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living beingNIV The Breath of God is equated with the Holy Spirit, and with the wind.

Jesus said, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the SpiritNIV Jesus did not choose the image of the wind by accident. The Scriptures frequently used the wind to describe the work of the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus knew that very well.

But what does Jesus mean when he says, The wind blows wherever it pleases? That sounds hit or miss. Did Jesus mean some would be lucky in God’s game of darts?

One of the early Church Fathers, John Chrysostom, wrote in the late Fourth Century: Although he says “it blows where it pleases,” he does not say this as if the wind had any power of choice. He is simply declaring that its natural motion is powerful and cannot be hindered…. For no one can hold the wind; it moves where it pleases. And so, whether it is the laws of nature or the limits of bodily generation or anything else like this—they have no ability to restrain the operations of the Spirit. ACCS

In our best human understanding, the power of the Spirit is similar to the power of the wind.

Bede the Venerable (early Eighth-Century England) added: The Spirit comes to the saints [and] goes from the saints, so that they may be refreshed from time to time by the frequently recurring light of the return of him whom they are not capable of having alwaysACCS

I’ll close with verses 16-18 as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to himMSG

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Rebirth

Pentecost

 

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 104: 25-35,37
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

 

Ezekiel, like Daniel, spoke the Word of God in Babylon. While both those prophets are difficult reads, they are consistent in giving us the Good News that God’s people will one day return to their rightful place.

Beginning in chapter 3, we often read, The hand of the Lord came upon meJSB Today’s reading begins the same way. The meaning is that Ezekiel is so infused with the Holy Spirit that he could not do his own thing even if he wanted to.

In that first use of the term in chapter 3, God told Ezekiel to walk out to a valley. There he saw the Presence of the Lord and was possessed by the Holy Spirit. God told him then that he was not to speak unless God gave him the words to speak.

In chapter 37 the Hand of the Lord and the Holy Spirit take him—in a vision—to a different valley, one littered with the bleached bones of the dead. The account is popular because of the image of bones taking on flesh—the stuff of Hollywood.

Yet, we often miss the real story. We are almost back to Genesis when God says, Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, O mortal! JSB The Breath of God comes from the four corners of the world to fill the lungs of the long-dead.

And He said to me, “O mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.’ Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the Lord God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of IsraelJSB

Our timeframe is not God’s timeframe. He will save us even after death. Yes, we might be in the small group of believer’s God will pluck up without earthly death. But the reality is that we are much more likely to die and be resurrected. And why not; it was good enough for Jesus.

There is even more good news as we read on from today’s verses. Starting with verse 22: I will make them a single nation in the land, on the hills of Israel, and one king shall be king of them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. Nor shall they ever again defile themselves by their fetishes and their abhorrent things, and by their other transgressions. I will save them in all their settlements where they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their GodJSB

The very next verse speaks of Jesus. My servant David shall be king over them; there shall be one shepherd for all of themJSB This is one of many verses which speak of the coming Messiah.

There are people in America today who are trying to force the Hand of God to act now. They believe the Temple must be rebuilt so the end times can come. What they forget is that God is in charge. We cannot push God around; we can only obey.

The Hand of God spins the universe. The Hand of God sets the times for all actions. It is our place to love Him, and obey Him, and wait on Him.

Could I create a work of work of fiction with a protagonist who wants to control his destiny only to have him fail? Could he then discover that his destiny is not his to control? Remember the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus? It’s a great example of the destiny thing. God is in charge.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence