The Breath of Life in Genesis.
When we think about this, we most often get the image of what the picture in this article shows. A man, laying motionless on the ground, God breaths this breath of life into this man and suddenly the man's eyes open up and he is PHYSICALLY alive.
What's incredible is that many in the Preterist, or fulfilled theology camp, believe that this is 100% speaking of PHYSICAL LIFE. God bringing a motionless, lifeless man, to PHYSICAL LIFE.
Isn't that a bit inconsistent with the way we understand "LIFE & DEATH" in the holy writ?
I mean, of course the bible speaks of physical life and death no doubt. But I am talking about what is really important. What is really the central focal point of the entire story. That being, eternal life. Life in God's presence. SPIRITUAL LIFE. Things "unseen". Spiritual truths.
To automatically assume that the "Breath of Life" that we see breathed into Adam depicts the start of his physical existence, is a grave error.
I was going back and forth recently with a fella who really dislikes the idea that Genesis is not about the creation of dirt and rocks. His main argument was the "breath of life" argument.
Before I explain what this is, I would like to say that just because the Covenant Creation framework may not have every point locked down air tight, does not make it any less true. The entire "literal Genesis 6 days of creation" concept is so easily refuted, that one would have to be incredibly bias not to see it. I mean come on. Light was created on Day 1. The sun, which provides light, literal light, wasn't created until Day 4. So if this is LITERAL CREATION......you already have as Donald Trump would say, a "HUGE" problem. To me, having one single problem as such, destroys the entire 6 LITERAL days of creation argument handily. I don't even have to present any of the other roughly 100 or so scriptural arguments against the traditional view. That one is plenty and it should cause any serious student of the Word, and any serious lover of truth, to consider that perhaps there is a problem. I digress.
In Genesis 1 on the 6th day, we have mention of the creation of "man" (Covenant man). This is not the literal creation of the first people. Rather, this is the functional positioning of a certain people into Covenant with God. Bringing already existing people out from darkness and into light. Into His presence.
The start of Genesis 2 pronounces that the heavens and earth (The Covenant Order) was finished and the author then sort of bounces back and begins explaining the generations of that Covenant Order. He begins by explaining in IMAGERY how that first man, Adam, was brought into Covenant. He writes...
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Genesis 2:7
Now, few things we need to look at.
First of all, the dust argument is toast. "Dust" is used everywhere as symbolism. When Preterists rightly understand that the resurrection of the dead, both the just and unjust out of Hades, occurred in AD70, they know that these were raised "UP FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH" as Daniel the prophet says in chapter 12. Yet not a single Preterist holds to a literal dust interpretation here. In other words, Preterists do not believe that the dead spirits were raised from literal dust. Preterists also do not literally interpret the same dust reference in the very next chapter when we see God tell the serpent that he will eat dust all the rest of his days. Did a literal snake begin snacking on literal dust? If the dust here isn't literal, why is the dust one chapter earlier in the same literature, literal?
While dust is used both literally and allegorically in the scriptures, dust to me in these instances represents being brought out from nothing. Emptiness. Adam was called out from the darkness and given light. He was formed from that empty mode of existence into the first man walking with God. He came out from the dust.
More importantly for this study though, we want to look at this "Breath of Life" that God breathed into the nostrils of Adam.
The first thing I will say is that this is no way shape or form, literal life. Adam was already alive. This is why the text says...
"And MAN (Adam) BECAME a living being"
The man was already alive there. Read it again. The man, who was "dead" prior, BECAME a living being.
Since when does the bible give a hoot about physical death my Preterist friend? What did Jesus mean when He said...
"Let THE DEAD, bury THEIR DEAD"
He was saying let the SPIRITUALLY DEAD, bury their PHYSICALLY DEAD relatives.
Death and Life have different applications in the scriptures and we need to be careful to make sure we are remaining consistent throughout each instance we see the terms. So the "Breath of Life" was God giving "LIFE" "SPIRITUAL LIFE" to Adam. Prior to this, darkness was on the face of the deep, the earth was in confusion and chaos (tohuw bohuw). ALL PEOPLE WERE DEAD. WITHOUT GOD. NO "LIGHT".
But then God said "LET THEIR BE LIGHT"!
We know that the bible says "Eve was the mother of all LIVING"
Right away we take that literally and think, PHYSICALLY! But no.
Eve was the first Covenant woman. The first woman to have that "Breath of Life" and be created in the image of God. She was indeed the mother of all "LIVING", just not in the sense that most people understand as physically. She was the founding mother of all those in Covenant.
But I think that many opponents of the Covenant Creation view have an issue with this idea that the Breath of Life only came to those in Covenant and everyone else did not have it. In fact, I know that is the case because the fella who I was recently going back and forth with brought up this very thing.
He appealed to Genesis 7 in the Noah account as proof that not only Adam and Even and God's people had the breath of life. He said that animals also had the breath of life. He is right. However, his understanding of those animals is way off. ;)
Let's begin by quoting a passage in question which speaks of this same "Breath of Life"....
"On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark-- they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life." Genesis 7:13-15
Now, if you have not been following my posts and if you somehow stumbled upon this article, this may not make much sense to you. But I would suggest that you take a look at the study titled "Fowls of the Air and Beasts in Genesis. Literal or not?"
In that study I demonstrate completely that the bible uses animals as imagery for people REPEATEDLY. I am not just talking once or twice. I am talking dozens upon dozens upon dozens, and yes, upon dozens of times. This style of expressing things in picture language is everywhere in the scriptures. Hosea spoke of God making a Covenant for Israel with the "birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the creeping things." Of course we know this speaks of the New Covenant where there is neither Jew nor Greek. We know the animals represent PEOPLE. We know that the "wolf" was going to lay down with the "lamb" in the New Covenant. Symbolism for Jew and Gentile in peace in Christ. Nothing literal about it.
As a side note, if you haven't read 1 Enoch 89 yet, do yourself a favor and do so. Enoch has his animal apocalypse vision and chapter 89 spans from Noah, shown as a white bull with his three sons also shown as bulls. Enoch literally describes every single person as a different type of animal. Wild beasts and birds. He even speaks of when they exited the ark and these bulls (clearly noah and his sons) began repopulating the land. But he describes them as "giving birth to lions, wolves, bears, goats, etc" He is using animals, or beasts on the ark, to speak of people. It's fascinating stuff and it just serves to show the mind of the ancient Hebrew and how they would have understood some of these stories.
Now, we know that Noah and his family had the "breath of life". Meaning that we know they were righteous and they were in Covenant with God. God was establishing His Covenant with Noah as the new head, since he was wiping away all of His former Covenant people in the soon approaching flood.
So we see Noah enter into the ark with his family and we see all these ANIMALS entering into the ark with them. But I am fully convinced that these were NOT animals.
These were PEOPLE.
But I know what you are saying. It says that these animals also had "THE BREATH OF LIFE" in them just like Noah so your premise cannot work. But not so fast.
When Noah went out and gathered up these "animals" and brought them into the ark, what was he doing?
Well, the first thing we need to understand is the ark and it's type to antitype theme. The Ark is symbolic for Christ. The Ark was their covering or their protection from the coming Judgement. Just like Christ is the covering and protection as well. They went "into" the ark. We go "into" Christ. The ark "saved" them. Christ "saves" us. The typology is incredible here.
So now imagine this...
Noah is going out and warning PEOPLE of the impending doom that is headed their way. "The flood was coming" he told everyone! Most ridiculed him and mocked and were washed away. But not all did. Some believed him. Some had faith and were counted righteous. Some entered into that ark with noah and his family. Some received the "Breath of Life".
Does the text make more sense now when it says...
two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life."
Those who entered into the ark were righteous because they believed Noah. THEY HAD THE BREATH OF LIFE ALSO.
The word "flesh" in the scriptures, most times refers to people. So the two by two of all FLESH in which was the breath of life, represents people who were walking with God. People who had been made alive.
Picture outsiders coming into Covenant with God. We know that outsiders in Israel's day could enter into the Covenant by way of circumcision. They were called "beasts of the field, birds of the air, creeping things, cattle, fish of the sea" yet we know that they entered into Covenant with the Israelites.
We know that the prophets spoke of the day in the future when the New Covenant would be made and all of the "beasts of the field, birds of the air, creeping things, fish of the sea" would be able to enter into that Covenant that God would create.
So when we see these animals entering the ark who had the breath of life, these are outsiders who listened to Noah and who were counted as righteous. They indeed had "the breath of life" as well.
In the chapter prior (Genesis 6) we read...
"And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die."
Now again, what was God doing in the flood?
He was judging His Covenant people. God looked down at His people and was grieved in His heart because of the wickedness that He saw in what He "created". So the floodwaters would come to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life. He was going to destroy all flesh who were in Covenant with Him. After all, that is what the breath of life represents. They were created in His image.
As a side thought, when we are made a "New CREATION" today, are we re-created physically? Nope. The creation has nothing to do with how we physically came to be. So when God looked down and saw the wickedness of what He "CREATED", it does not necessitate that this means physical creation. What He created was an order. A "heaven and earth". A people out from among the people of the earth.
The word for "earth" is always "erets" which simply means "land".
Just like Preterists rightly understand the word "ge" in the new testament as local land, "erets" is no different in the old testament. We need to be consistent on both ends. The start isn't about the entire universe while the end is only about a local land.
In Genesis 7 we also read this ...
"And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died."
Again we see an incredible distinction made.
We have two groups that the text here mentions.
We have the "all flesh that moved on the earth, which included the birds, beasts, cattle etc"
And we have the "all on DRY LAND who had the breath of life"
So why would the author need to make this distinction?
I think people read that text and automatically think that the dry land refers to just basic land. In other words, the opposite of the sea or waters. They would say that the author simply meant that everything on the land died because the sea creatures of course did not die in a flood.
But the text says "all on DRY LAND"!
Let me ask you something...
Is there such a thing as "WET LAND?"
Does the bible ever describe these things any other way than "land" and "sea"?
Of course not.
What is the point in all of this?
Well remember back in Genesis 1 when God separated the dry land from the seas? He said...
"Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas" Genesis 1:9-10
Well, this imagery was Him separating His Covenant people (dry land) from the seas (outsiders).
Remember how "darkness" was on the face of the "deep"? Do you see how the darkness (not literal darkness but spiritual darkness) was on the face of the "deep" which is "waters"?
But when God separated that DRY LAND from those "darkened waters" what did He do?
He said LET THEIR BE LIGHT UPON THE DRY LAND!
He illuminated a people while he left the rest in darkness. The dry land received the light while the darkness remained on the "deep".
When the text refers to "all on DRY LAND who had the breath of life", it is making a distinction here. But of course the judgement fell on those Covenant people. The Dry Land was the Covenant people whom God looked down and saw the wickedness and judged in the flood. The beasts on the earth and the birds and the cattle were destroyed as well because of their proximity to the judgment area.
Did you ever think about what Genesis says here?...
"And God called the DRY LAND.....EARTH"
Is the sea not part of the literal "earth"? Why wouldn't God also call the sea part of the "earth"?
So the seas are totally separate from the earth based on the passage. Earth is it's own thing. Seas are it's own thing. Do you see the inconsistencies here? Of course opponents would never admit it, but they do see it too.
So in summary:
When we look at the totality of how animals are used as imagery in no less than 100 places in the Old Testament (most likely way more) we need to ask ourselves if Genesis is any different? Is Genesis a totally different story than the rest of the bible? Or is the bible one story from cover to cover?
When we look at outer biblical sources such as Enoch, we see exactly how much they relied on animals as imagery. We even see the Noah story completely depicted as animals. In fact, Enoch takes that animal theme and runs it all the way to Jesus. It's incredible stuff.
We also see Jesus in the New Testament BREATH on people and what do they receive? Take a look...
"And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:22
Jesus BREATHED the Holy SPIRIT of LIFE upon them. Why would God giving Adam the "SPIRIT OF LIFE" in the Old Testament be different?
When we look at the Noah text we need to understand it in light of the culture and in light of the full biblical narrative.
There were always outsiders coming into the Covenant from the start. Noah brought both clean and unclean beasts into the ark with him. (PEOPLE)
These people were given the BREATH OF LIFE because they believed God and it was counted to them as righteousness.
Just like foreigners entered the Covenant of Old, Noah's story is no different.
The beasts who had the breath of life simply refers to outsiders who had been brought into safety.
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