Sabbath Meditation #8 – The Breath of God

Sabbath Meditation #8 – The Breath of God

by Kelly McDonald, Jr

“The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

“Six days thou shalt do thy work and on the seventh day thou shalt rest. That thine ox and ass shall rest and the son of thy handmaid and the stranger may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12).

In Genesis 2:7, we learn that God blew within man the breath of life, and he became a living soul. The Hebrew word translated as soul is nephesh. It refers to the biochemical processes that make us alive. This same word is used of the animal life (Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, 30). Even the fishes are nephesh-es!

However, God created man differently than other animals. The nephesh of mankind was initiated by a breath from Him. At this same moment, God also placed a human spirit within man. “But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding” (Job 32:8). This human spirit grants us understanding and allows us to have contact with God. It sets us apart from other animal life.

In Exodus chapter 23, God reminded us to honor the Sabbath so that we may be refreshed. The Hebrew word translated as refreshed is naphash. It means to be breathed upon or refreshed (as if by a current of air). It is the root word for nephesh.

In Exodus 31:17, this same word is used in reference to God being refreshed on Sabbath: “…the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed”. In John 4:24, Jesus told us that God is Spirit. While God is a Spiritual being, He was still ‘breathed upon’ or refreshed on the Sabbath.

As we meditate on these verses, we learn a deeper reason for the Sabbath. This special day has been empowered by God to provide a breath to refresh us physically, biochemically, and spiritually.

No other day of the week can provide this special impartation. Even God, who is Spirit and never changes, experienced this breath or refreshing.

These details grant us tremendous insight into the Sabbath commandment. We can now better understand why the instruction to honor the Sabbath is often repeated in the Bible and the gravity of honoring it.

The Sabbath is the only day with a breath from God that refreshes the breath God placed within mankind. Your nephesh and your spirit were created to receive this special current of air from God. The simple rules in the Bible that guide our observance of the Sabbath position us to receive it.

If the original breath from God in Genesis gave us life, what will His breath do for you every week on Sabbath?


Kelly McDonald, Jr  –  BSA President

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