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  • Keith Harris

Breath of the Almighty

"The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4). These are the words of Elihu to Job. Job had seemingly reached the point of blaming God for the terrible events that recently transpired in Job's life. This made Elihu angry. And though he was younger than Job he felt it necessary to address Job's indictment of God. With these words, Elihu was reminding Job of who God is, the Creator God. It is God who formed man from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). Elihu says to Job, "I too was pinched off from a piece of clay" (Job 33:6). God has created all humanity. And all humanity has been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

One interesting detail of the statement by Elihu in Job 33:4 is the mention of breath and life. This verse is known as a parallelism. The reason for this is because the verse says the same thing twice. Hence, parallelism -- two corresponding statements. The word for "Spirit" can be translated as "spirit, wind, or breath." The Hebrew text uses a different word for "breath" than it does for "Spirit" in this verse. The word translated as "breath" means just that, "breath, or breath of life." The focus of this verse is upon the breath of life which comes only from God. Certainly, God created us, forming us in our mother's womb. David says, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:13-14).

There is another aspect of this verse from Job that is worth considering. While it speaks directly of God's creative work, it rings of the work of Christ in our spiritual formation. The opening of John's gospel is clear in identifying the Word of God as Christ, "the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). But do you remember the opening verses of John's gospel?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).

This clearly states that the Word (Christ) was involved in the creation event. There was nothing made apart from his creative work. But John doesn't keep his words to simply speaking of the Word as creator. Listen to what John writes next: "In him was life..." (John 1:4). In the Word, in Christ, was life. In Christ there is life.

Jesus stated that he was the good shepherd who knows his sheep and is known by his sheep. He loves and cares for his sheep. He provides for his sheep. But just prior to this statement from Jesus he says, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:9-10). Jesus provides spiritual formation and life to those who believe in him. The one who spoke the world into existence is the one who lays down his life so that we can live. In him is life, spiritual life. Because of his infinite love we have the opportunity to live forever.

Following the death of Jesus' friend, Lazarus, Jesus tells Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die..." (John 11:25-26). Spiritual life is only found in Christ. Though we may die physically, if we live in and believe in Christ we will never die spiritually; we will live with him for eternity. The breath of the Almighty gives us life. How truly blessed we are.


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