Over the last two months, A|C has been exploring the nuances and implications of Creation: the first “chapter” in the divine narrative we are called to both pronounce and inhabit. During this time, we began a mission to better understand creation in light of the triune God whom we have to thank for… well… everything. In August and September we looked at the role that the Father and the Son each played in Creation (respectively) and as we finish out the quarter, we will now try to better understand the role that the Holy Spirit played in this first chapter of our story.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit probably proves to be the most difficult person of the Trinity to understand. We hear the voice of the Father all throughout time and while the identity of the Son may have been quite mysterious to the Israelites, the New Testament makes clear the purpose and person of the Son. But the Holy Spirit is very hard to see and understand when not mentioned explicitly. While we all can acknowledge the Spirit’s work in Acts 2 at Pentecost, we must never forget that in order to maintain the eternal and triune nature of our God, we must think of the Holy Spirit as active in all chapters of redemption.
There is one main explicit appearance of the Holy Spirit within the Creation account, found in Genesis 1:2 where “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. The Holy Spirit did not first come into time and space at Pentecost, at the Incarnation, or even during creation week. He was hovering over the deep even while the Earth was still “without form and void”. But we all know that the Earth did not remain formless and void, and while the eternal presence of the Spirit before creation is incredible, the Spirit’s interaction with the formed and filled is even more extraordinary.
While Pentecost was not the only interaction that the Holy Spirit had with his creation, it is certainly the most clear and thus is probably a decent place to start our inquiry. As a drastic, but not completely heretical simplification, the role of the Spirit in the church age is to indwell believers with their new life (Romans 8:9-11). Galatians 2:25 and Romans 8:5 call us to walk in the fruit of the Spirit because it is by the Spirit that we live.
Since the Spirit is the giver of new life in Redemption, it is natural that he is also the giver of life in creation. The Hebrew word for “Spirit” (ruakh) is also translated as “breath” or “wind” sometimes in the Old Testament. With this knowledge, we can see in Job 26:13 that it was by the Spirit that God adorned the heavens and in Genesis 2:7 that it was by the Spirit that man was given life. God could have made an Earth that was nothing more than sterile bunches of atoms, but instead he saw it fitting to breathe into his creation and make it teem with life that is given by his Spirit.
In the Image of God
While God gave everything from amoebas to ferns to elephants the breath of life, humans received a unique gift: the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This meant that the life of humans had both different abilities and a different end. I’ve already spent some time unpacking the cultural mandate and man’s duties therein (see the August post), but I’d like to focus on what the image of God means simply for how we inherently view human life, not just purpose. C.S. Lewis state in his book The Weight of Glory:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
Our God does not imbed humans with life and then after eighty-or-so years strip them of it. The image and life of God are inherent within humans, in this life and after.
Looking for our Muse
However, the breath of life within men is not only some passive force that simply holds everything together and keeps a person breathing. The Spirit also empowers believers to do everything from subduing creation, to embracing virtue (Galatians 5:22-23), to creating a beautiful works of art (Exodus 31:1-5). In other words, God’s Spirit can be seen as the artistic muse for creative believers, inspiring, empowering, and encouraging creative endeavors. While others are searching for their muse (or worse, are not), we can stand firm in the knowledge that we have been given the very voice of God as our mode of inspiration. The Holy Spirit was not only active in the very beginning creation, but continues to guide us in our own creative endeavors.
Grady is a writer for A|C and a music composer. He has twice won competitions for Best Composition by Oklahoma Students. Grady will talk to you about Inception as long as you desire and he loves Hans Zimmer's music. All of it.