The Holy Spirit

Holy Bible open at sunset with highlight on Malachi 4: 2. Background with sun and clouds. Horizontal shot.

What is the meaning of the Hebrew word Ruach?
Ruach (pronounced roo-akh) is the Hebrew word for spirit, breath, or wind. When spoken, the word engages one’s breath and lungs. The first mention of Ruach in the Bible is in the very first chapter of Genesis – Genesis 1:2 to be exact:
And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (Ruach) of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

The Bible translates the word Ruach into all of the aforementioned English words. This means that when we read our Bible, we may not always realize that in Hebrew these verses had something very important in common.

Ruach is described as a wind (for example, in Numbers 11:31 and Exodus 10:13), but also as a spirit (in Judges 6:34, 1 Samuel 16:14, and 1 Kings 18:12). And then, in Job, it is translated as breath (12:10).
Ruach HaKodesh and the Ruach Elohim
But the meaning that we should pay the closest attention to is spirit – because it applies to the name of the Holy Spirit as well. Knowing that we will realize that Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) appears already in the Old Testament! For example, in Psalm 51:11 when David prayed:

“Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take your Ruach HaKodesh from me.”

Similarly, Ruach Elohim means the Spirit of God. In many references in the Old Testament, the Ruach Elohim comes upon an individual and allows him to speak for the Lord. In Genesis 41:38, Pharaoh said of Moses,

“Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Ruach Elohim?”

Ruach Elohim Meaning
The Ruach Elohim was very present when the Temple of the Lord was built. The Lord filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, along with the ability, craftsmanship, and skill to execute the creative designs. The Lord inspired all the artistry, according to what He had in mind for His holy Temple. (Exodus 31:3, Exodus 35:31)

“The Spirit of the Lord even came upon Balaam when he attempted to curse the people of Israel. Instead, he blessed them.” (Number 24:2)

Are Ruach Elohim and the Holy Spirit One and the Same?
In the Old Testament, we see that the Ruach Elohim, or the Ruach HaKodesh, quickens, fills, comes upon, and comforts. This is also what we know that the Holy Spirit does in the New Testament.

This gives a case for Trinitarian theology in the Old Testament. It is there all along, we can see that the work of the Father is individual from the work of the Ruach. It is also uniquely separate from the Word – which we know personified in Jesus. (John 1:1-18)

In relationship to living creatures, those with a nephesh chaya—a living spirit, it is the Ruach that gives life. Ruach, being intangible but present, also signifies consciousness and creative vitality that is unique to human creation. We bear the image of God, which separates us from the animal kingdom.

Ruach in the Old Testament
In Ezekiel 37, Ruach gave life to the dry bones that Ezekiel saw in his vision. Once the words are spoken over them, they come to life and grow muscle, tendons, ligaments, and flesh. In this case, it is the Ruach that gives life, where previously there was none.

Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of the dry bones was a visual allegory for the rebirth of the nation of Israel. It would come to be physically first (dry bones), and then later, the nation will come to faith!
The Work of the Holy Spirit
It is undeniable that it is the work of the Ruach when a person comes to faith in Jesus the Messiah. The most radical example that comes to mind is the supernatural encounter of the Apostle Paul.

After seeing a vision of Jesus on Damascus road, Paul is temporarily blinded. Ananias lays hands on him, and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, falls on Paul. At that encounter, the scales fall from his eyes, and his sight is restored. (Acts 9:17-18)

How the Ruach Moves
The work of the Ruach – the Spirit, does two important things. He restores sight by waking up the human spirit through confession. The Spirit removes the obstacles of being “dead in one’s trespasses.”

But at the same time, He functions as a light Himself. He illuminates us the truth and reality of life with God in Christ. The Ruach (Spirit), in the words of Sinclair Ferguson, “does not add information about Jesus, He simply opens our eyes to see who He really is.”

The Ruach quickens us to the veracity of Scriptures, which are God-breathed. The Spirit verifies them and makes our hearts respond to the truth therein. The role of the Word and Spirit are intimately entwined. The word is breathed by God. Psalm 33:6 says, by the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath (Ruach) of his mouth all their host.

The Ruach Our Helper
Like a flashlight shone in the darkness, the Spirit of God lights our path. And much like raccoons and mice like to come out at night, who can deny that there are also “critters” in our hearts. Perhaps pride, vanity, being overly concerned with the matters of this world, numbness. The Ruach shines a light on all our undesirables and ministers to our needs with gentle correction and care.

Ferguson continues that the Ruach (Spirit) “enlightens our minds to enable to us know, see, grasp and apply the will and purposes of God.” The Ruach reminds us of Jesus’ words in the gospels, leads us to truth in the epistles, and shows us the things to come in Revelation.

He is our comforter, our counselor, and our helper. You may have been to therapy or had a deep conversation with a friend, but another person will never give you a complete picture of your situation. They don’t have the same experiences or memories or thoughts. And likewise, any compassion we may have for others will be limited by us simply not having walked a mile in their shoes.

The Ruach Comforts in Need
19th Century preacher Charles Spurgeon writes about the power and efficacy of the Ruach’s comfort in times of need and sorrow:

“Sometimes, when we go and visit people we mistake their disease, we want to comfort them on this point. Whereas they do not require any such comfort at all, and they would be better left alone than spoiled by such unwise comforters as we are.

“But oh, how wise the Holy Spirit is! He takes the soul, lays it on the table, and dissects it in a moment; He finds out the root of the matter, He sees where the complaint is. And then He applies the knife where something is required to be taken away or puts a plaster where the sore is. He never mistakes. Oh, how wise, the blessed Holy Ghost! From every comforter, I turn and leave them all, for thou art He who alone givest the wisest consolation.”

Source Book for Bible Students – Ellen G. White Writings › book
In every instance in the Old Testament where the word ‘soul’ occurs, … In the Old Testament pneuma is everywhere the translation of ruach, and is the life …

Holy Bible opens at sunset with a highlight on Malachi 4: 2. Background with sun and clouds. Horizontal shot.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

2 Corinthians 13:9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.

Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

2 Corinthians 10:15-16 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Ephesians 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more

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