As I mentioned last week I will be co-blogging with Daniel James Levy through Jack Levison’s Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (see Pt. 1). We don’t want to review the book in atypical fashion, nor do we want to say so much about it that we provide Cliff Notes on it, but rather we hope to give you a glimpse of the value of this work. Both Daniel and I believe the book will benefit all who read it.
In my first post I shared the message and intent of the book. Today I want to give readers a glimpse of Chapter One: Job’s Pledge. In this book Jack reads Psalm 104.24-30; 146.1-4; Job 12.7; 27.1-6; 33.1-7; 34.10-20; and Ecclesiastes 3.16-22; 12.1-7. If you read these passages you should get an idea of what this chapter addresses.
What may surprise readers is that Jack doesn’t try to interpret ruach as something disconnected from God. Something like a soul he gives humans but that has nothing to do with him. Or mere “breath,” as in the oxygen we consume. Rather, the ruach of God every day. It sustains us. It gives us life. Yet sometimes we forget this during the harder seasons.
What Jack aims to convey in this chapter is that, “…many of us have learned to encounter the spirit on the mountaintop (p. 23).” Yet the spirit is found in the darkness. For Jack there are three characters that help us think about the spirit’s role in our times of trouble. First, there is Job who knows there is hope as long as he had spirit-breath to sustain him. There is Job’s friend Elihu who recognizes and appreciates the spirit-breath, but he does it from the vantage of youth not realizing how precious and fleeting our lives may be. Third, there is the Preacher of Ecclesiastes who find all life to be vanity. He is not thankful for the spirit-breath that gives him another day (pp. 33-34).
Jack calls readers to recognize God’s holy spirit even in times of suffering and pain. He writes, “…persistent pain cannot extinguish praise…praise is more precious perhaps when it is peppered by pain (p. 27).” Job realized this. Elihu does not. The Preacher does not.
“…the holy spirit works, and works hardest within us, as we lumber through the valley of the shadow of death. We should not let ourselves be hoodwinked into thinking that pain and grief are always the enemies of the spirit. The ruach, the spirit-breath, is an amazing amalgamation of human breath and divine spirit-all of this a gift of God (p. 35).”
I am sure for many this all sounds quite new and you may wonder how speaking of God’s spirit as that which gives all people sustaining life and breath relates to God’s Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity. If we get a chance to address this we will. If the book doesn’t tell us maybe Jack can write a guest post explaining his views? What I will say now though is that a quick examination of his exegesis of the aforementioned passages do support his use of holy spirit.
In our next post Daniel James Levy will share his thoughts on chapter two.