The “Swooping” Holy Spirit

There’s still  lot about the Holy Spirit I don’t understand.

Maybe I should restate that.  There’s still a lot about the Holy Spirit I don’t comprehend.

The difference in the two statements is this:  The first is built on the idea that I need to study more, use my reasoning and think about the work of the Holy Spirit.   The second statement assumes that there may be no need for more input, information or research…..I just need to open my eyes, ears, heart and head to what the Holy Spirit is trying to reveal to me.

In a recent revisiting of Genesis I noted again these words about the Holy Spirit:  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” 

The very first thing we come to understand about the Holy Spirit is that of “hovering” (NIV) or “moving over the surface”.(NASB)

Genesis 1:3 moves us along to the next action of creation, which is the ordering of the creation… organizing, if you will, of the components of the cosmos.

I come away from these few verses with these thoughts.  The first thing we comprehend about the Holy Spirit has to do with proximity.  The Holy Spirit is near.  He is hovering just above His next project.  One moment He is hovering over a chaotic landscape of potentially useful and beautiful resources like forests and oceans and rivers and mountains.  In the next moment, the hand of God is….make that His Voice….is ordering and organizing creation into this wide wonderful world called planet earth.

Scholars and academics have long pondered over the Genesis creation account and debated whether we have in these verses a literal and precise description of how the world came to be or whether these sentences are epic Hebrew poetic descriptions of God’s grand project.  I’ll leave you to mull that one over for yourself.   Either way you view it, there is a miracle of cosmic proportions….literally….which is being described here.

Now….back to the Holy Spirit.  When we left him last, He was hovering over the waters.   One moment He is just overhead skimming the surface and then He swoops down (actually I don’t know if the Spirit swoops, but that’s how it seems in my mind’s eye) and the creative ordering begins.  Not only does the ordering begin, but God begins naming names.  God called the expanse, “sky” …..and God called the dry ground, “land”.  v. 8-9

Flash forward to the early earthly ministry of Jesus.  Matthew 3: 13-17 records the baptism of Jesus by John.  “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”  “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Two things we see in common with Genesis 1.  Here comes the hovering Holy Spirit “swooping” again……this time in the form of a dove.   The dove “lights” upon Jesus.   Notice that the Spirit does not exit.  He remains part of the ongoing narrative.   Chapter 4 will reveal that one of the first things the Spirit does is to lead Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan.

From this point on, the Holy Spirit is right there between

each line in the story.

The second thing in common with the creation account is found in the fact that God speaks.  “This is my Son whom I love…..”  Just as in Genesis when God designates land and sky by giving them a name and establishing their role in how creation is to be ordered.  Here he designates Jesus as His Son and thereby establishes how creation will henceforth be ordered and redeemed through his Son.

And just to be complete, there is a third thing.  God seems real fond of “3’s” so I guess it is interesting that there is a third thing here.  Just as in the afterglow of the Genesis creation when God saw all that he had created and said “it is good”.   At the baptism, God says…. “I am well pleased”.   In both cases, God expresses His approval to what is going on.

These thoughts  bring me to these ideas:

God desires to bring order and redemption to our lives.  He stands ready to help us organize and reorder things which have gotten disordered.

His Holy Spirit hovers just overhead and desires to not only light on our shoulder but to take up residence in our lives.

Once these things take place, we can participate in God’s grand project.  Bought by the blood of the Lamb and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we are called to work with the Father in bringing chaos into order, first in our own lives and then in the life of all creation.

There’s still a lot I don’t comprehend about the Holy Spirit.

This much I do know.  He is not content to just hover.  He wants a landing place in the center of my life.

And if I agree to participate in this agenda, God will be pleased…..and that would make me very happy.

About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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