The “Holy Spirit” is a phrase in the Bible used to describe the mystery and power of God’s personal presence. In this video we explore the original Hebrew meaning of the word “spirit/breath,” and how understanding this can help you see the storyline of the entire Bible in a whole new way. This video by The Bible Project explains more.
If you have 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 one 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.
Okay, but what is God’s Spirit?
Yeah, so the Spirit is the way the Biblical authors
talk about God’s personal presence.
The Hebrew word is Ruakh.
Ruu-a-achh? Yeah, you’ve gotta clear your throat at the end.
So, what is it?
Ruakh can refer to a number of different things,
but what they all have in common is energy.
Energy? How so?
So, there’s an invisible energy,
that makes the clouds move or the tree branches sway.
Right, wind. So in Hebrew,
that’s Ruakh. Okay!
Now, take a big breath, uwwshh!
So you feel that, inside you.
Yeah, the air?
Well, specifically the energy,
right, the vitality in your body that you get from
that too is, Ruakh.
And this is the same word
used in the Bible, to describe God’s
Just like wind and breath are invisible,
God’s spirit, is invisible.
Wind is powerful, and 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 ruakh giving special empowerment to people for specific tasks.
The first person in the Bible that happens to
God’s spirit enables him to understand and interpret dreams.
And then it happens to this guy named “Betsaleel” 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.
And we also see God’s ruakh empower a group of people called “the prophets”.
They’re able to see what’s happening in history from God’s point of view.
That’s exactly right!
And here’s the problem as the prophet saw it.
While God’s ruakh had created a really good world
humans have given in to evil.
They’ve unleashed chaos into it through their injustice.
A new type of disorder.
And the prophet said the spirit would come,
just like in Genesis 1,
but now, to transform the human heart,
to empower people to truly love God and others.
How will this new active God spirit happen?
Well, centuries past and we’re introduced to Jesus.
And at the beginning of his mission,
there’s a beautiful scene where Jesus is being baptized in the waters of the Jordan river.
Yeah, the sky opens up and God’s spirit comes and rests on him like a bird.
The story sang that God’s spirit is empowering Jesus to begin the new creation.
And we see this happening when he heals people or forgives their sins.
He’s creating life where there once was death.
Now, 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.
Yes, and it is still going.
When Jesus appeared to his closest followers,
he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
And soon after that, the Spirit powerfully comes on all of his disciples.
So that they can become a part of this new creation
and share the good news and learn how to live by the energy and influence of God’s spirit.
And so today, the spirit is still hovering in dark places.
Yes, 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 vision of a new humanity
living in a new world that’s permeated with God’s love and life-giving spirit.
This video made me laugh out loud in a couple spots. Perhaps you will, too. Besides being funny, it’s a very helpful explanation of the concept of heaven and earth in the Bible. The great folks at The Bible Project merge great theology (Bible teaching about God) with fantastic graphics to create fun and educational videos. Enjoy! Learn! Grow!
>> Tim:: So, in the bible the ideas of Heaven and Earth are ways of talking about God’s
space and our space.
>> Jon: So I understand our space really well. We live here. There are trees, rivers, mountains.
But my understanding of God’s space gets a little fuzzy.
>> Tim:: And what we do get in the bible are images, trying to help us grasp God’s space,
which is basically inconceivable to us.
>> Jon: So these are two very different types of spaces.
>> Tim: Yes, they’re different in their nature, but here’s what is really interesting.
It’s that in the Bible these are not always separate spaces.
So think of Heaven and Earth as different dimensions that can overlap in the same exact
>> Jon: So we talk a lot about going to heaven after we die,
but this idea of Heaven and Earth overlapping, we don’t talk a lot about that.
>> Tim: Which is kinda crazy because the union of Heaven and Earth is what the story of the
Bible is all about, how they were once fully united, and then
driven apart, and about how God is bringing them back together again.
>> Jon: So let’s go back to the beginning. Where Heaven and Earth there completely overlapping?
>> Tim: Yeah, this is what the Bible’s description of the Garden of Eden is all about.
It’s a place where God and Humanity dwelt together perfectly, no separation, and humans
then partner with God in building a flourishing beautiful world and so on.
>> Jon: But as humans we wanted to do things a different way.
We wanted God out and we wanted to create a world apart from Him
>> Tim: Yeah so we have these two spaces now and the Bible actually uses lots of different
kinds of words and phrases to refer to these two spaces to make a clear distinction.
>> Jon: So you’ve said that these spaces can overlap though, so explain how that works.
>> Tim: This is where we have to start talking about temples, because in the biblical world
you experience God’s presence by going to a temple.
That’s where Heaven and Earth overlap.
>> Jon: Now there’s two types of temples described in the Bible. One is a tabernacle,
basically a tent that was built by Moses. And the other was this massive building made
>> Tim: And these temples were decorated with fruit trees and flowers and images of angels
and all kinds of gold and jewels and so on. And these are designed to make you feel like
you’re going back to the garden. And at the center of the temple was a place
called the holy of holies, which was like the hotspot of God’s presence.
>> Jon: Now we can go and be with God again.
>> Tim: But not so fast, because the temple also creates a problem.
So God’s space is full of His presence and goodness and justice and beauty,
but human’s space is full of sin and injustice and ugliness that results.
>> Jon: So how do these spaces overlap if they’re so different and they’re in conflict
with each other?
>> Tim: This was resolved through animal sacrifice.
>> Jon: Yeah that’s kinda weird. What do animal sacrifices have to do with this?
>> Tim: Yeah the idea is this: animal sacrifices, somehow they absorb the sin when the animal
dies in your place and it creates a clean space, so to speak, where you are now free
to enter into the temple and be in God’s presence.
>> Jon: Ok so if I’m an Israelite and I live in Jerusalem, I might be able to be in
God’s presence, but you said the story of the Bible is all of Heaven and Earth reuniting?
>> Tim: Right, so we have to keep going in the story where we come to Jesus in the New
Testament. And in the Gospel of John, we hear this claim that God became human in Jesus
and made his dwelling among us. The word “dwelling” is really curious. It literally means he set
up a tabernacle among us. So what John is claiming right here is that Jesus is a temple.
He is now the place where Heaven and Earth overlap.
>> Jon: What’s interesting about Jesus is that He isn’t staying this safe, clean space.
He’s running around hanging out with sinners. He’s healing people of their sicknesses,
and forgiving people of their sins.
>> Tim: He’s basically creating little pockets of Heaven where people can be in God’s presence,
but He’s doing it out there in the middle of the world of sin and death.
>> Jon: And He keeps telling everyone that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
>> Tim: And He even told his followers to pray regularly that God’s kingdom come and
His will be done here on Earth just as it is in Heaven.
>> Jon: But a lot of people are threatened by Jesus and they kill Him, which seems to
spoil this whole plan to reunite Heaven and Earth.
>> Tim: But, we have to go back to a scene earlier in Jesus’ story where John the Baptist
saw Jesus and said, “Behold this is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the
>> Jon: So Jesus isn’t just talked about as being a temple, He’s also talked about
as being the temple sacrifice.
>> Tim: Yeah so the cross is now the place where Jesus absorbs sin to create a clean
space that is not limited like animal sacrifices. Jesus’ sacrifice has the power to keep spreading
and spreading and reuniting more and more of Heaven and Earth.
>> Jon: This is all really great but it leaves one big question in my mind, which is what
happens when I die? Don’t I just fly over to God’s space and be with Jesus?
>> Tim: Yeah so a few times in the New Testament we learn that Christians will be with Jesus
in Heaven after they die, but that is not the focus of the Bible’s story. The focus
is on how Heaven and Earth are being reunited through Jesus and will be completely brought
together one day when He returns. In the book of Revelation we get this beautiful image
of the garden of Eden, now in the form of a city, coming to end the age of sin and death
by redeeming all of human history in a renewed creation and God’s space and Human’s space
Sacrifice and atonement. These aren’t things we talk about much, but they are important concepts in the Bible. For us to understand our salvation in Christ, we must understand the meaning of sacrifice and atonement. So let’s do this the fun way and enjoy this animated short video produced by the guys at The Bible Project.
we all long for the world to be good for people to live in peace
act with love and justice but there’s a problem
something compels us humans to constantly wreak havoc and destruction
instead and we call this evil and from the Bible’s point of view, evil ruins
things in at least two ways. There’s a direct effect of our evil like when someone
steals from another person they’ve created injustice therefore they owe something
to make it right but there’s another indirect effect of evil because
they’ve also ruined the environment of the relationship creating a lack of
trust there’s emotional damage it’s like vandalism and they need to make that
right too. Now many people believe ‘Hey God is good
he should be the one to just get rid of all the evil in the world.’ But let’s be honest I mean
the evil that I see everywhere
out there it’s the same evil that’s inside of me. We have all contributed and
we keep doing it. So this kind of puts us in a bind if God’s going to rid the
world of evil, he’ll have to get rid of us. And this is what’s so remarkable about the story
of the Bible. This God is so good
that not only is he going to rid the world of evil he’s going to do it
without destroying humanity. So how is he going to do that? Well early in the story
of the Bible we’re introduced to this practice of animal sacrifice which I
know seems weird to us but for the Israelites it was a very powerful symbol
of God’s justice and of His grace. So remember I’m a contributor to the evil
that’s in the world I should be removed. But God is allowing this animal’s life
to be a substitute. It symbolically dying in my place. And the biblical word for this is atonement,
which means to cover over someone’s death. But there’s a second part to this ritual
remember evil also causes this relational vandalism and in the Bible this
idea is described as polluting or defiling the land and making it unclean
so the priest would symbolically wash away the vandalism by sprinkling the
animal’s blood in different parts of the temple. So the animal’s blood is
cleaning things? Well, remember this is a symbol and it’s a symbol that we’re not
used to. The blood represents life and the sprinkling of the blood is this
representation of how God is cleaning away these indirect consequences of
evil in their community. In the Bible this process is called purification and
so the temple in the land now become a clean space where God and His people can
live together in peace
So this ritual makes things right between Israel and God? And more than
that! The Israelites experience God’s love and His grace through these symbols and by
being forgiven ideally this would compel them to become people of love and grace
that’s the ideal but
it wasn’t always happening right so the prophet Isaiah for example he talks a
lot about this he opens his book by saying that the continual sacrifices of
the Israelites had become meaningless because they were also allowing great
evil in their midst. Ignoring the poor and the oppressed even the Israelite
kings were distorting justice. But Isaiah looked forward to a day when a new king from
the line of David would come and deal with evil but in a surprising way the
King would become a servant and not just serve but also suffer and die for the
evil committed by his own people and his life would be offered as a sacrifice
this is the promise of Jesus believed he was fulfilling he’s the king of Israel
suffering and dying on the cross. In fact, Jesus himself used Isaiah’s words when he said
that he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. And that word ransom
refers to the sacrifice of atonement and so all over the New Testament we hear
about how Jesus’ death was an atoning sacrifice for us. It covered the debt that
humans owe God for contributing to all of the evil and death in His world but the
new testament authors also talk about Jesus death as providing purification
and so we hear about Jesus’ blood as a symbol of his life having this ability
to wash away the vandalism that evil has caused in and around us so we can
now live at peace with God so that’s the meaning behind Jesus’ death but there’s
more to the story. Yeah, the New Testament makes this powerful claim that Jesus’s
death was not final
he rose from the dead
and so he’s the sacrifice who broke the power of death and evil which means that
he lives on to offer his life to anyone who will accept it he is the perfect sacrifice
to it which all the previous sacrifices were pointing all along. So because of Jesus
the early Christians stopped participating in the ritual animal
sacrifice. But they were given new rituals there are two that Jesus taught his
followers to perform the first is called baptism. Just as Jesus died so going
into the water becomes this personal connection you now have to his death and
in coming out of the water you so to speak
come back to life with Jesus baptism is the sacred ritual that joins your story
to Jesus’s death and resurrection the second rituals called the Lord’s Supper
which is a reenactment of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples and he use bread
and wine to portray his coming death as a sacrifice and so now followers of
Jesus they take the bread and the cup regularly to remember and to participate
in the power of Jesus’ death and in his life so these rituals they remind us of
God’s love and encourage us to live a life love and grace but they do more
than that they connect us to a new life source the very power that brought Jesus
back from the dead is the same power that can deal with the evil in our own
lives and transform us into people who lead lives of love and peace.
Hi this is Tim! And this is Jon! And we believe the Bible is telling one overall
story from beginning to end and so we’re making videos about each individual book
of the Bible its unique design and message and then how it fits into that
overall storyline we also make videos we take one biblical theme we trace it from
the beginning of Scripture all the way to the end. We are a non-profit and we
want to give all these videos away for free so you can join us in making them
by going to jointhebibleproject.com you could give a one-time gift a
monthly gift few dollars a lot of dollars anything will help and we’d love
you to join us in making these. If you go to our website you can download a full
resolution version of this video to play in your church or school or whatever we also have
study guides to help you get through the content with other people its all for free