A Holy Presence

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”—Genesis 2:7 (NASB)

Have you ever found yourself choking on food or having the wind knocked out of you? Maybe you suffer from asthma. Even if you’ve never experienced any of those, you likely have at some point held your breath. In fact, try holding your breath right now for 30 seconds! I’ll wait . . .

How did that feel? 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this. Well, let me ask you: What do all the things listed above have in common? They will all have you gasping for air, desperately trying to fill your lungs with that sweet, sweet oxygen. You see, that breath is essential to survival, to life. 

In today’s verse, we see an account of man’s creation taking shape. We’re told that God formed us from the dust of the ground. According to Theologian Joseph Benson, “The word jitzer, here rendered He formed, is not used concerning any other creature, and implies a gradual process in the work, with great accuracy and exactness. It is properly used of potters forming vessels on the wheel.” 

What a beautiful picture we have here in Genesis of our Lord, the grand and unparalleled artist that He is, lovingly and meticulously sculpting His jars of clay. But He doesn’t just stop there . . .

It says that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” The word for being is nephesh, which translates as “soul.” It’s “the person himself,” the seat of one’s appetites, emotions, passions, desires, distress, anger, joy, and love. It’s the stuff that makes us who we are, our very essence . . . the breath of His image and likeness in us, and it’s what sets us apart from the rest of His creation. 
But did you know that this isn’t the only account of God breathing into mankind? In John 20:22 (NLT), it says, “Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” When we receive Christ, we are a new creation, born again; and once again He breathes His life into us. And that breath? It’s the light He shines into our hearts, the treasure He places into these jars of clay: the Holy Spirit, who comes upon us and indwells us. Today, because of Jesus, we can joyfully sing, “This is the air I breathe. Your holy presence living in me.” 

DIG: What does it mean that God breathes the breath of life into us? 

DISCOVER: Why do you think we are given this second, more detailed account of the creation of mankind? What purpose does it serve? How does it affect the way you view God, the world, and mankind?

DO: Read John 20, listen to the song “This Is the Air I Breathe,” and spend time in worshipful reflection and communion with the Holy Spirit. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.