I’m not talking about the chicken or the egg, but the Spirit and the Word.
Reading Genesis, chapter 1 again, I am struck by the order of God’s work in creation, and what it prescribes for us where and how we live now.
Have you ever noticed the order of creation?
Genesis 1:2-3 “…The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said …”
The Spirit of God was hovering over the deep, then God spoke. It seems significant that God’s Spirit is moving before the Word is spoken. The Spirit of God is waiting (hovering) for the Word of God to give direction, authorization, focus. In short, in this instance and others, the Spirit precedes the Word.
This may seem insignificant unless we stop to think that our mental and religious defaults are set the other way around; we generally anticipate that God’s Word must be spoken, then the Spirit moves (and no doubt that happens at times). If we preach powerfully enough, teach boldly enough, sing enthusiastically enough, then God’s Spirit will “move”. But in the creation, the Spirit is brooding, working, hovering before God speaks.
We see it again in the work of the incarnation—the conception and birth of Jesus.
The angel speaks to Mary and she asks, “How can this be since I have never known a man? And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God,’” (Lk. 1:34, 35).
Notice the seed of the Word of God planted in Mary’s womb came after the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” (brooded, hovered) over Mary. The Spirit was working first, then the Word came. The Holy Spirit had to be in place to implant that seed in Mary, though it’s difficult for us to understand exactly how this happened.
In Acts 13, we see the leadership of the church at Antioch “ministering to the Lord and fasting” and then the Holy Spirit gave them direction – “separate unto Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I’ve called them to do,” (Acts 13:2). They welcomed the brooding presence of the Holy Spirit through worship and prayer, and then the Word of God came to them.
What could this mean for us? Is it significant?
I cannot count the number of times I have dutifully sat down and started reading my Bible, hoping God would speak to me, and going away without hearing. Mind you, I believe my spirit is receiving from God even when my mind is unfruitful. But I have also experienced what it means to welcome the Spirit through worship or praying in the Spirit, singing in the Spirit, and then the Lord drops something in my heart.
I’m not suggesting that there is a routine or rule about it. But I have come to believe that if we stir our own spirit, pray in the Spirit, sing in the Spirit — welcoming His presence — an atmosphere can be cultivated where God can freely speak to us. Perhaps there is a pattern in God – “Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” (Col. 3:16, 17). He comes to dwell in the midst of our praise.
Have you had trouble hearing the Father’s voice? Cultivate His presence with song. Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Prime the pump with your own voice… and be ready to hear His. He loves to converse with His kids.
Let me know about your own experience. I would love to hear from you.
Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved