Related Verses: Gen. 1:2; Exod. 31:1-5; Ezek. 37:5-9; John 3:3-8; John 15:26
Leading Question: The official study guide takes a whole lesson to focus on how the Spirit works “behind the scenes.” Why is that important to our study?
Of the three dominant meanings for the Hebrew word ruach (OT) and its Greek equivalent, pneuma (NT) – spirit, wind, and breath – none suggests anything substantial for the Holy Spirit. How does that insubstantial quality contribute to our understanding of God’s work on our behalf?
Our lesson takes us to different contexts in which the Spirit works behind the scenes. Each of those is worth exploring.
1. Creation: Genesis 1:2. In Genesis 2, God gets down in the mud and shapes human beings with his hands. But in Genesis 1, the description is much more mysterious, much more ethereal: “The spirit (or wind, or breath) of God was moving on the waters.” Is the result more majestic than the earthy account of Genesis 2?
2. Building the Sanctuary: Exod. 31:1-5. We are accustomed to hearing about the Spirit’s work in “inspiring” words. But in Exodus 31:1-5, the Spirit inspires craftsmen to build the sanctuary. Could this provide a ready parallel to Ellen White’s statement that in the production of Scripture, it is not the “words” that are inspired, but the “men” that were inspired? (1 SM 21). In short, whether his messengers are working with gold or with words, it was the men who were filled with the Spirit.
3. Renewing the Community: Ezek. 37:5-9. In Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones that come to life, Scripture says that the dead bones had no “breath” (or spirit, or wind.) But at the command of God the breath/spirit comes into them and they spring to life. What kind of modern application can that vision have?
4. Mystery of the New Birth: John 3:3-8. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, we was wanting a rational explanation for the spiritual life. Instead Jesus pointed him to the mysterious work of the Spirit. Why is mystery sometimes more effective than rational explanation?
5. Jesus sends the Advocate/Spirit: John 15:26. Jesus adds some substance to the work of the Spirit when he says that he will ask the Father to send the “Advocate” (paraklete) or Comforter, clearly a more personal reference. What do either of these two terms add to our understanding of the work of the Spirit?