Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Christ Over the Coronavirus Pentecost Weekend | An Introduction to Pentecost + The Holy Spirit

The Bible Project Video on the Holy Spirit

Pentecost (coming this weekend on Sunday, May 31) continues to grow in importance with Emmaus City as a key moment to remember and celebrate each year. Why do you ask? The brilliant crew at The Bible Project provide a great introduction through YouTube video they released on the Holy Spirit. Below is a link to the video along with some select images and the manuscript following. Enjoy!

The Bible Project | Holy Spirit Video and Manuscript

If you've ever heard the phrase "The Holy Spirit," and you want to know what it means, where do you start? 

Well, you have to start on page 1 of the Bible where the uncreated world is depicted as this dark, chaotic place, but then above the chaos, God's Spirit is there, hovering, ready to bring about life and order and beauty.

OK, but what is God's Spirit? 

The Spirit is the way the biblical authors talk about God's personal presence. The Hebrew word is "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)." "ר֫וּחַ (Ruakh)" can refer to a number of different things. What they all have in common is energy. There's an invisible energy that makes the clouds move or the tree branches sway. Right. Wind. So in Hebrew, that's "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)." 

Now take a big breath. You feel that inside you? Specifically, the energy, the vitality in your body that you get from breathing deeply, that, too, is "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)." And this is the same word used in the Bible to describe God's personal presence. 

Just like wind and breath are invisible, God's Spirit is invisible. Wind is powerful, so God's Spirit is powerful. And just as breath keeps us alive, so God's Spirit sustains all of life.

As we continue on in the story of the Bible, we see God's "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)" giving special empowerment to people for specific tasks. The first person that this happens to in the Bible is Joseph. God's Spirit enables him to be able to understand and interpret dreams (Genesis 41:32-39).

And then it happens to this guy named Bezalel and he's an artist. God's Spirit empowers him with wisdom and skills. He's given creative genius to make beautiful things in the tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-11).

And we also see God's "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)" empower a group of people called the prophets (Numbers 11:29; Nehemiah 9:30). They're able to see what's happening in history from God's point of view. And here's the problem as the prophets saw it. While God's "ר֫וּחַ (ruakh)" had created a really good world, humans have given in to evil and unleashed chaos into it through their injustice, a new type of disorder (Zechariah 7:11-12).

And the prophets said the Spirit would come just like in Genesis 1, but now to transform the human heart and empower people to truly love God and others (Ezekiel 36:26-28; Joel 2:28-29). 

How will this new act of God's Spirit happen? Centuries pass and then we're introduced to Jesus. At the beginning of His mission, there's this beautiful scene where Jesus is being baptized in the waters of the Jordan River. The sky opens and God's Spirit comes and rests on Him like a bird (Matthew 3:16-17). 

This story is saying that God's Spirit is empowering Jesus to begin the new creation. And we see this happening when He heals people, forgives their sins. He's creating life where there once was death (Isaiah 61Luke 4:16-19).

Israel's religious leaders oppose Jesus and they eventually have Him killed. But even here, God's Spirit is at work. The earliest disciples of Jesus who saw Him alive from the dead said it was God's energizing Spirit that raised Jesus. 

This is the beginning of new creation. And it's still going. When Jesus appeared to His closest followers, He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22). And soon after that the Spirit powerfully comes on all His disciples so that they can become part of this new creation and share the Good News and learn how to live by the energy and influence of God's Spirit (Acts 1:5, 82:1-4, 17-18; 4:31; 5:32; 8:15-17; 9:31, 20:27-28; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

So today the Spirit is still hovering in dark places, pointing people to Jesus, transforming and empowering them so they can love God and others. And the Christian hope is that the Spirit is going to finish the job. The story of the Bible ends with a new vision of humanity living in a new world that's permeated with God's love and life-giving Spirit (Revelation 21:10, 22-27; 22:17).

Next post: Christ Over the Coronavirus During Pentecost | May Hearts Come Alive by the Power of the Spirit Today

Recent posts on overviews of the Story of God found in the Bible:

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