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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Identity of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Why Is the Holy Spirit Compared to the Wind?

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Why Is the Holy Spirit Compared to the Wind?

The Identity of the Holy Spirit – Question 26

The work of the Holy Spirit is compared to the wind. Jesus Himself made this comparison when He was speaking to the religious leader Nicodemus. John records Him saying the following.

Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit (John 3:8 NLT).

Here God’s Spirit is compared with the wind. What do the Spirit of God and the wind have in common? Why the comparison?

Wind Is an Obvious Comparison

Wind would seem to be the most obvious comparison to the Holy Spirit. The same word in both Hebrew and Greek can mean either “wind,” “spirit,” or “breath” depending upon the context. Wind, or breath, speaks of life.

In the Book of Ezekiel, we read about the bones of a body coming together without any breath or life in them. Then the Lord causes the four winds to breathe life into the dead body. We read about it in this manner.

So I spoke these words, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as they had been before. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak to the winds and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so that they may live again.’” So I spoke as he commanded me, and the wind entered the bodies, and they began to breathe. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army of them (Ezekiel 37:7-10 NLT).

Here the four winds bring about the “breath of life” in this dead body. As we indicated, the same word is used for both wind and breath. Consequently, we have a natural comparison between the two.

The Characteristics of Wind

Indeed, the characteristics of wind make a clear comparison to the work of the Holy Spirit in a number of different ways. We can cite the following.

1. The Wind Is Invisible

Wind is invisible. One cannot see the wind. In the same way, God’s Spirit is invisible. God, by nature is Spirit. Jesus made this clear.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24 NKJV).

God’s form is not physical like ours. He is spirit.

We find that Jesus emphasized that a spirit or ghost has no physical form. On the day of His resurrection He said the following to His disciples.

Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39 TNIV).

A spirit, or a ghost, does not have a physical form. It is invisible.

Like the wind, the invisible Holy Spirit works in ways which are unseen to the human eye.

2. The Results Can Be Seen and Felt

Although one cannot see the wind, the results can be seen and felt. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Although He cannot be seen, the results of His work can be seen and felt.

On the Day of Pentecost we read of this. The Bible says.

On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them, and it filled the house where they were meeting (Acts 2:1, 2 NLT).

Here we find the coming of the Holy Spirit represented by a mighty windstorm. We are able to see and feel the wind.

3. The Wind Is Powerful

Wind can be very powerful. Humankind is used to seeing devastating things happen when wind is whipped up in a powerful way.

In the same manner, the work of the Holy Spirit is powerful. The Bible says that He was involved in creating the heavens and the earth.

The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water (Genesis 1:2 CEV).

The wind can be powerful and the Holy Spirit is certainly powerful.

4. The Wind Is Unexplainable

Wind cannot be explained. We do not understand where it comes from or where it goes. Likewise, the work of the Holy Spirit, who is God, cannot be explained. We read of the prophet Isaiah asking the following question.

Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? (Isaiah 40:13 NIV).

Who can explain the wind? Who can explain the work of God? The answer, of course, is nobody.

5. The Wind Goes Where It Wishes

Wind goes where it desires. It does not go where someone guides it. In the same way the Holy Spirit does what He wills. Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV).

Each of these symbols of the wind serve to highlight various aspects of the work of God the Holy Spirit.

He Is God’s Mighty Wind in the Old Testament

There is something else which we must note. In the Hebrew Old Testament the word translated “spirit” is ruach. In certain contexts the word can be translated as “wind” while at other times the word is translated “spirit.” The context must decide.

At times, it is used for a fresh breeze that would blow at the end of a very hot day. However the common meaning of the term is a hot, fierce, gusty, and devastating wind.

The word can also mean “breath” but not the normal breath of human beings. There is another Hebrew word used for this. When it is translated breath it has the idea of someone in passion or violently exerting himself in heavy breathing.

Therefore God’s Spirit can be described as God’s stormy wind or God’s fierce breathing. This gives us further insight into the character and work of God’s Holy Spirit.

Summary – Question 26
Why Is the Holy Spirit Compared to the Wind?

The Holy Spirit is compared to many things including the wind. In fact, we find that the same words in Hebrew and Greek can be translated by either “spirit” or “wind.” The comparison with wind is quite appropriate for a number of reasons.

For one thing, the wind is invisible. We know that it is there but we cannot see it. The same can be said of the work of the Spirit of God. We know that He is working but we do not see Him.

Though the wind is invisible, its results can be seen and felt. In the same manner, when the Holy Spirit works in our lives the results can be seen and felt.

The wind can also be very powerful. Each of us has seen what can happen when a powerful wind whips up. In the same manner, when the Holy Spirit works His powerful will in the lives of people we too can see the results.

The wind is unexplainable. We do not know where it comes from or where it is going. Likewise the Spirit of God works in unexplainable ways. Where and how He is going to work His divine will is a mystery to us.

Finally, the wind blows where it wishes. Nobody can guide its direction. The same is true of the Spirit of God. He works in His unique way and there is nobody, in heaven or on earth, who can tell Him what to do.

Thus the comparison of the Spirit of God to wind teaches us a number of valuable lessons.

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