then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7, ESV)
The Bible has a lot to say about breathing. In Genesis, we read of God breathing into Adam, “the breath of life,” then man became, “a living being.” And, after man fell into sin, we read many more times of men and women “breathing their last” and dying; it’s famously stated that Genesis chapter five is significant because most of the chapter talks about the lifespan of Adam’s family, and after outlining the years of Adam’s sons, they all “died.” This may sound depressing to any person. Why read of death? Don’t we only live once? Isn’t YOLO a corny acronym, but true statement?
Over the centuries, the world has created a lot of different words to explain how we should see the world. “Fatalism,” which may sound similar to what I wrote about in the last paragraph, says that everything is going to end. We all die. Fate will reach us all. In other words, the end is the means to determining your life right now. But, the Bible is not a book about fate the way fatalism describes- it’s not a book that ties history together in a little bow. In between the return of Christ is sin, destruction, judgement, and yet, there we find the beautiful, resurrected Christ who came to save sinners.
In other words, the world only has pieces of what the Bible truly tells us. What does this have to do with breathing? Breathing is a reminder to us that God is in control of our lives. It’s a reminder that we are dependent, and need supply for everything in this life. Without breathing, we’re dead; when we die, we stop breathing.
Let’s strand together the meaning of the three verses I quoted at the top of the page:
1) It was the creating power of God that gave breath, and ultimately life, to Adam. And not just Adam, but as we read in Acts 17, God has given to all men, “life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25).” We don’t think about it much, but nothing that we have in life is ours without it first being given to us by God. He’s in control of our beginnings and blessings.
2) According to Psalm 39, God has also determined our ends. We are allotted (given) a set time on this earth; if our beginning is a gift, so the Giver has the right to return “the spirit to the God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7)“.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)
But what is the purpose for which we must use our breath? If it will be gone, shouldn’t we let free reign to what we want to do? What constrains us, what should be do?
3) Psalm 150 calls everything that has breath to praise the Lord! 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to do everything in honor of God: whether it is drinking, eating, or anything, it is to be to God’s glory and praise. In fact, the Apostle Paul calls us to not make the sinful mistakes that Old Testament Israel made. Let’s make the best use of the time with every breath (Eph. 5).
Two applications today I hope you take away from this:
1) Yes, Genesis 5 points significantly to the deaths of Adam’s sons. But, what we discover in the midst of death is also one who did not see death:
21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)
Enoch did not waste his life; he didn’t fall into the sin that would lead God to destroying the earth. We are told in the New Testament that Enoch was an example of faith. He’s the only one listed in Genesis 5 who was given the incredible declaration that he, “walked with God.” Don’t waste your life!
2) Your body is going to die, but not your soul. In fact, C.S. Lewis famously said, “you are a soul, you have a body.” The world has gotten it all wrong. According to the Bible, death should be one of the Christians greatest assets. Because if we all lived forever on this fallen world, why evangelize? Why live for Christ? There is a clock ticking, and the proverbial bomb is going to go off. You will survive, so stop worrying about you! You’re God’s child, He’ll take care of you, you are born again (John 3). The question is, have you told someone else, “you must be born again!”?
Until next time, be blessed!