According to Genesis 2:7, God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the “breath of life.” This is how we became what we are today. God took matter, dust, made of it what he wanted as the potter does with his clay and “breathed” life into it. I don’t know exactly how God did his sculpting, but we can think of it in a more sophisticated way. He made the atoms that make up our bodies. He drew them together to form our bones, then different stuff to form our muscles, sinews, internal organs, and then covered us with skin.  According to Jeremiah he “weaved” it all together in our mother’s wombs. Surely the great sculpture of the human body is more sophisticated than a man chiseling away at a piece of clay. Regardless, all the sophisticated parts of the human anatomy came from the earth and will return to the earth at our death. But we are not lost!

Just as God brought us out of the earth in the first place, we will all go back to it when we die physically. But, we’re not to think that it’s over. The way we came is the way we’ll come back but the next time it will be a “resurrection” and “resuscitation” not an initial creation. Ezekiel tells us about the dry bones that God brings back to life in the Valley of Judgment. He breathes the breath of life into them, and they will know who God is. Ezekiel 37:5-6 says, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

I suppose the prophecy of Ezekiel is to be fulfilled by all human beings, but there is another kind of “breath” offered by God which is not given to everyone. Jesus teaches us that there is another kind of life that can be “breathed in,” or received as it comes forth from God’s breath. You probably already know that the word for “breath” is the same word for “Spirit” in both the Old and New Testaments. In John 20:22 Jesus brought true life to his disciples, and he offers us that life today. John says, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ Receiving Jesus is to receive real life. Pannenberg suggests that when Jesus offered the Holy Spirit to his disciples it was an intentional look back at Genesis 2:7. He writes, “The imparting of the divine breath in Gen. 2:7 he construed as a gift, not for all, but only for the saints and the renewing of the face of the earth by the Spirit in Ps. 104:30 he construed as the founding of the new people of God”[1] Psalm 104:29-30 says, “You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.” John makes this clear that believing in Jesus is the way one “receives” this eternal life. He writes in John 3:34-36, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…”

[1] Pannenberg, Wolfhart. 1991–1998. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.