This morning I checked my email and discovered our pastor had sent through a prayer request for a young woman who was about to receive a double lung transplant. I began to reflect on the miracle and the importance of respiration, and how our bodies are so intricately designed to extract oxygen from the air we breathe. If we are deprived of air for only a few minutes we will cease living. The picture in Genesis of God forming man out of the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life is more than just allegory…it’s a biological reality.
At one point in his travels the Apostle Paul visited the Areopagus in the city of Athens, Greece. He marveled at all the altars they had constructed honoring every “god” imaginable. Paul came across another altar with the inscription “To the Unknown God,” which the men of Athens probably constructed just to cover all the bases – they didn’t want to offend any gods by forgetting about them. Paul used this opportunity to tell them about the One true God:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
(Acts 17:24-31 ESV)
The God who gave breath is not made of gold, silver, or stone. It is fascinating how these intellignt people, in whom was the breath of life, could fashion idols and then worship them as if those inanimate objects could give life. But isn’t it true that anyone who holds to a theory of origins that does not start with an omniscient, omnipotent creator has to believe that inanimate “stuff” has given the breath of life to living things? It is good that God, in His lovingkindness, has overlooked times of ignorance and has made eternal life possible through the resurrected Jesus! For 3 days after His brutal murder Jesus was not breathing, but now He lives (and breathes) again and offers eternal life to those who trust in Him!
The last verse of the book of Psalms offeres to us the best advice:
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 150:6 ESV)