My hands rest on the familiar pages. Isaiah 40, so fitting to read just after Christmas and at the dawn of new year. Forgetting to exhale I wonder at the voice who cries to the wilderness “Prepare!”
Christmastide has passed, but that cry; “warfare has ended, iniquity pardoned!”(Is. 40:2) rings like bells through the walls of my home. Oh how I long for that that word, how it satisfies and stirs up all in one swift cadence.
The Word of God will stand forever- I exhale. What peace, what security!
Wait, what does it say just before this firm promise?
A voice says, “Cry!”
and I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it…
There, when the breath of the Lord blows on it. I type the word into blueletterbible.org and search for it’s usage, it’s meaning. I know this word, breath, and my search confirms my thoughts. Breath in Hebrew (ruwach) is the same word as Spirit. The Spirit that was over the waters before the beginning–ruwach. The breath that made clay come alive (Genesis 2:7)–ruwach. Every instance of the Spirit of God coming upon people so they would prophesy or do the miraculous in the Old Testament–ruwach.
But here, in Isaiah, after the wilderness voice cries pardon for all, the breath of God breathes on man and withers him away. Isn’t the job of the Spirit to bring life, I wonder, to give us daily renewal, to make us stand tall and bold?
How do I ask for an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 11) with confidence that God desires to give us good gifts (and those gifts being this helper and comforter)? When right here in black and white it says his breath (ruwach, spirit) will wither me like grass and I will fade away?
It comes down to my understanding of the Spirit’s purpose? God is about His Glory. Yes, He gives good gifts to his children, yes, he is kind and gentle and merciful beyond imagination. Yes, he calls us friend and leaves the 99 to find the 1. Yet, all of that falls within Him being glorified. The gift of the Spirit is not about elevating our status or platform, it is about God being glorified through us and to us.
Jesus came so that all flesh might see mountains and hills made low and the beauty of men wither and fade. God’s best for us is not in increasing our merit or worthiness, it is decreasing the very essence of us in flesh and raising to glory the ruwach that dwells in us through Him.
It is the mystery of Romans 8:11 If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from he dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you.
We are the walking dead in our bodies of sin, but as his spirit is breathed out we inhale and come alive, not to glorify ourselves, because we have faded in light of His glory and strength. So we cry out for his Spirit so that we might wither away and be made alive.