Mr. Minderhoud is a teacher in Covenant Christian High School and a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Walker, Michigan.
Our God has created the wind such that it has a marvelous ability, when understood in the light of Scripture, to speak to us in so many different ways and with so many different voices. And yet, as always, it is the speech of God, who uses and directs the wind to serve His purposes. So it has been since the early days of the creation. One need only to get out his Bible and go through the many, many passages on wind to see that this is so (cf. Gen. 8:1, I Kings 19:11ff., Ps. 135:7, Prov. 30:4, Hos. 8:7,Jonah 4:8, Mark 4:37-41, and Eph. 4:14). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for air, or wind, is often translated either as spirit, wind, or breath, depending on the context. This is true in the New Testament as well. Hence, we see that the very word itself is full of meaning and is used often throughout the Scriptures. God continues to use and direct the wind even today. One cannot help but think of the raging hurricane winds of Charlie, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne that God sent to ravage the coastal areas this fall. Each and every day our lives are touched by the wind, in effect either big or small. Wind is truly a marvelous creature of our God, a tool in His hand. Let us take note of it! Let us stop in the midst of the whirlwind of our lives and pause to consider it for a time and appreciate the power and wisdom of our sovereign Creator.
The Nature of Wind
Wind, simply put, is the movement of masses of air molecules. This movement, though influenced by many factors, such as topography and the earth’s rotation, is fundamentally caused by differences of air pressure found within the earth’s atmosphere. Air molecules are constantly whizzing around and bumping into each other and whatever else they come into contact with at amazing speeds, and this causes pressure—what we call air pressure, the force that the air puts on whatever it touches. Warm the air, and the speed of the molecules increases, thereby increasing the pressure as well. Because of varying temperatures within the earth’s atmosphere due to various land features and proximity to the sun, air pressure is constantly changing—though it changes so slowly on the earth’s surface that many of us do not even notice it. Thus, the atmosphere develops masses of air that will either have a higher pressure than their surroundings or a lower pressure. In the providence of God, these air masses with differing pressures try to balance out. Thus, there is movement of an air mass of high pressure to an area with low pressure. This is what we call “wind.” The greater the pressure difference and the shorter the distance between the high and low air masses, the stronger the wind.
Wind comes, of course, in many different varieties. There are the global wind patterns that are due to the permanently cold (poles) and warm (equator) areas and the jet streams that develop when huge temperature differences within the atmosphere create great pressure differences, producing a slim band of high-speed winds in the upper atmosphere. There are the local winds, with which we are more familiar, whether it be an icy cold blast, a gentle cool breeze, or even the hot, dry winds and the tempestuous stormy gales. All of these different varieties are the work of our God. God speaks, and the wind moves—whithersoever the Lord wills. The wind—that powerful and mysterious creation of God—is again brought before our minds as we see the devastations that lie in its wake as hurricane after hurricane smashes the Eastern coastal regions of the USA, and we are again required to consider what spiritual things God teaches us in His use of this aspect of creation. “Praise ye the Lord … praise ye Him, all his hosts … stormy wind fulfilling his word” (Ps. 148:1, 2, 8).
Wind and the Holy Spirit
Wind is an appropriate object of our study. It is that for a number of reasons, but perhaps especially because it is, in Scripture, a distinct picture of the Holy Spirit. We read, for example, that it was by a sound as of a mighty rushing wind that God introduced to the church world at Pentecost the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Jesus “breathed” (wind) on His disciples and said unto them “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Not only do these biblical references cause us to see the wind as a picture of the Holy Spirit, but the word for “Holy Spirit” itself means “breath,” as Rev. Hoeksema demonstrated in his Reformed Dogmatics. “For He is the Spirit, the Ruach of God, the Pneuma, Spiritus, wind, breath.”¹ Professor Engelsma develops this further in his master’s thesis when he writes about the Holy Spirit as the Breath of God.
The biblical basis for taking the name Spirit as essentially Breath is the following. A comparison of
shows that the Spirit in whom God created is the Breath of God. In New Testament Scripture, Jesus represented the Spirit of Pentecost as the Breath that Jesus Himself breathed on His disciples.
The Spirit is not Wind in general, but that specific Wind who is the Breath of God (emphasis JM). The Breath of God produced sacred Scripture
II Tim. 3:16.
The Breath of God regenerates men and women as He wills
and quickens the church
The Breath of God will one day raise the bodies of the children of God
in which redemption creation itself will share
The Breath of God who originally created all things
will in the end renew all things.²
The covenant life of fellowship within the Trinity consists of the Holy Spirit as “wind,” or “breath,” passing back and forth between the Father and the Son. Professor Engelsma continues:
On the basis of the name of the third person—Breath—and in harmony with His being the viniculum amoris (the bond of love JM) of the Trinity, the procession of the Spirit should be understood as the breathing of ardent love. The Father breathes forth the Spirit as love to the Son, and the Son breathes forth the Spirit as love to the Father. This Breath of paternal and of filial love is essential and personal, but He is the Breath of love.³
This covenant life of fellowship and love within the Trinity is what God shares with us through Jesus Christ. God draws us near to Himself and loves us and reveals Himself to us. The Spirit applies these benefits to us, and by the Spirit’s work we commune and fellowship with God in prayer and throughout our life. When we see the wind in creation we are reminded of the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of love between God the Father and God the Son and who brings us effectually into intimate fellowship with God the Father as well. What a blessing then is ours to have the eyes to see the beautiful pictures God places in the creation to teach us about Himself!
The Holy Spirit’s nature and activity are also pictured for us in the wind. The wind is efficacious—it accomplishes that which God sends it to do. “He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow” (Ps. 147: 18b). When the hurricane wind blows, it knocks over and destroys whatever God calls it to destroy. So it is with the Spirit. He enters the heart of whomever He desires, powerfully, effectually, and irresistibly changing that heart into a soft heart. As the wind knocks over the home of one man and not the home of another, so the Spirit regenerates the heart of one man and not the heart of another. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). God is efficaciously sovereign over all things, including salvation. Man does not choose God. Man does not invite God into His heart. Just as God sends the wind wherever He pleases, so too God sends His Spirit, and “breathes” the Spirit upon whomever He desires.
Wind is observed by its effects. When the gentle breeze blows we know of its presence only by observing the gentle rustling of the leaves. When the hurricane wind passes, we know of its presence by the destruction left in its path. So it is with the Spirit. We cannot see the Spirit, yet we see the fruit of His work. As regenerated and sanctified children of God, we bring forth good fruit. We begin in this life to live holy lives. We grow in our faith and our assurance of salvation. These are the fruits of the work of the unseen Spirit of Christ.
The wind is also powerful. Man attempts to utilize some of the power of the wind. It is a gift of God used to dry our clothes, pump our water, produce our electricity, or even fill our sails. We have learned that the power available is proportional to the cube of wind speed. Thus, if wind speeds double, the power available is eight times greater. Accordingly, as wind speeds increase, the amount of damage that can occur increases rapidly too. We have witnessed this in recent months as we observed hurricanes battering the Caribbean. Many of us have seen homes and buildings decimated by hurricanes or tornados or the like. Others of us have seen the wind’s effects in branches knocked off trees or entire trees uprooted by stiff straight winds. We shake our heads in amazement and in disbelief. We cannot fathom such power. We ought to stand in awe of this small demonstration of God’s power in the wind.
So too is the Spirit powerful. Nothing hinders His work. No sinner is too difficult to regenerate and sanctify. We, as the most wretched of sinners, are changed into the most beautiful children of God, living in holiness and blessed fellowship with God, because of the ever-powerful work of the Spirit—the breath of God. God causes the wind to blow and it brings new life (Ps. 147:18; Ps. 104:29, 30; Ezek. 37:1-14). This is the powerful work of the Spirit!
Throughout the Scriptures and the creation these attributes and aspects of the work of the Spirit are pictured for us, though in a limited way, by the wind. May our prayer be that God give us “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” His marvelous works as He uses simple physical pictures to teach us about Himself.
Most certainly we see in the violent winds the judgment of God on a wicked, sin-cursed world. The creation itself suffers because of the fall of man. God sends the wind also for the purpose of showing and bringing His judgment on the wicked world. When we see the wind, especially the fierce and stormy wind, we must humbly acknowledge the Almighty God who comes in judgment and who shows us that the end is near, and with it, the final judgment. Almost every reference to the east wind in the Old Testament is in connection with God’s judgment on the wicked. It is the east wind that sent the locusts in the eighth plague on Egypt (Ex. 10), breaks the ships of Tarshish (Ps. 48:7), and scatters the people who have forgotten the Lord (Jer. 18:17). And we see God’s judgment practically today too when the wind strikes. He comes in those devastations to show the world His displeasure in their wickedness. Clearly, Christ comes again, and He comes in the way of “pestilences and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matt. 24:7). He comes in the way of the sending of the four horses and riders, including a horse and rider that brings death in all its forms—death even because of “natural disasters” (cf. Rev. 6:8). The wind, in all its violent forms, shows us the Christ who returns in judgment. As hurricanes beat upon the coastal regions of America, let us be watchful, for our Redeemer truly is returning. O church of our God, wake up, listen, and repent! Christ comes!!
We, as His people, see Christ returning in triumph. He is the Victor. And we share in that victory. For us, His coming is a great blessing! He comes to rid us of all our enemies. Just as the wind powerfully and effectively destroyed the church’s enemies in the Old Testament, so too the Spirit of Christ comes powerfully to destroy our enemies today. For example, God sent an east wind—that wind of judgment—to dry up the Red Sea. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. In the way of passing through the sea, Israel was delivered from their enemies. From a certain perspective, that wind was their deliverer. It saved them, but destroyed the enemy. That wind was judgment for Pharaoh, but blessing for Israel! The same wind—both judgment and blessing.
When we experience (firsthand or otherwise) the devastations of powerful winds, not only must we acknowledge the power of our sovereign God coming in judgment upon a wicked world, but we must also see the positive preservation of His people. Yes, the wind teaches us that God preserves us powerfully, in the way of destroying our enemy! How often do we not cry out with the Psalmist “deliver me from my enemies”! And God powerfully does so and often uses the wind as a picture of that. Consider these Psalms:
Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them (35:5).
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away (as by the wind JM), so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God (68:1-2).
Of course, we do not desire the physical destruction of our enemies in this life. We do not participate in “Christian jihad.” No, we fight spiritual foes. Our enemies are our own sinful nature, the Devil and his host, and the wicked world and its temptations. We desire that our spiritual foes be destroyed, and be destroyed with spiritual weapons. So, when homes and buildings are knocked flat by a hurricane wind, we see in that activity and power of the wind a picture of the Spirit of Christ in all His power destroying our sinful nature and the Devil and all his host. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming”(II Thess. 2:8). Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Come and powerfully destroy all our spiritual enemies so that we might be freed from sin and might dwell in perfect blessed fellowship with the triune God and with all the saints in a perfect world without end. This is blessing for us!
Praise God for the Wind—the Wind (Breath) that powerfully and effectually sanctifies us and delivers us from all our spiritual foes! May God give us the grace to look at the physical wind and consider how great a God is our God and be thankful for all the great wonders He is doing in and through us!
¹Hoeksema, Herman. The Triple Knowledge: An Exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, vol. 2. RFPA: Grand Rapids, MI, 1971, p. 153.
²Engelsma, David J. Trinity and Covenant: A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Calvin Seminary for the Degree of Master of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI, 1994, p. 74 (footnote 67).