From the delicate breeze to the terrifying hurricane, wind is a force of nature. We can’t see the wind, but we know it is there. Throughout time, humans have learned to harness the wind to fill sails and run wind turbines. We also struggle to limit the destruction caused by wind as the major cause of erosion on earth. Due to its unpredictability and raw power, wind holds both positive and negative connotations throughout the Bible.
WIND AS A NEGATIVE SYMBOL
In the Old Testament, wind is often used as a picture of temporality or futility. The length of a human life is frequently imagined as a “whisper in the wind” (Ps 39:5, 11; 62:9; 78:33). “It’s like trying to catch the wind” is the common refrain of Ecclesiastes to show pointless or meaningless actions (1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6:9). Isiah tells us that the people of God went through labor but gave birth only to wind, symbolizing the futility of their actions (Isa 26:18). They went through the motions to brings forth life but did not bring salvation to the earth. Troublemakers are said to “[inherit] only wind” (Prov 11:29), indicating the futility of their lives.
Wind also negatively signifies doubtfulness or uncertainty. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks about believers who develop spiritual maturity as opposed to those who are “tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind (4:14). James 1:6 states, “A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea.”
Due to its potential to destroy things with its sweeping strength, wind is employed as an image of God’s judgment. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s influence in the lives of evildoers is pictured as a “scorching wind” (Isa 11:15; Hosea 13:15), “like a hailstorm, a destructive wind” (Isa 28:2), and a “driving wind” (Jer 30:23). Scripture warns that the lives of the wicked are like husks that the wind blows away (Ps 1:4; 35:5; 83:13). The implication is that God is the Judge who provides the wind. Wind symbolizes adversity in Jesus’ promise that it will not prevail against a house (a life) built on a solid foundation (Matt 7:27).
WIND AS A POSITIVE SYMBOL
Wind in the Bible is also positively connected with God’s breath and his ultimate authority over the world. In Hebrew, the word for “breath” (ruah) can also mean “wind.” God created with his breath (Gen 2:7). We see the play with these words in Ezekiel 37:9: “Then the LORD said to me, . . . ‘Come from the four winds, Breath, and breathe on these people who were killed so that they will live.’ ” “Specifically, the collected image of the “four winds” (east, west, north, and south) signals the comprehensiveness of God’s power (Dan 7:2; 8:8; Zech 2:6). “I’ll bring the four winds from the four corners of heaven against Elam and scatter its people in every direction” (Jer 49:36). Revelation 7:1 pictures the angels holding back the “four winds of the earth.” Throughout the New Testament, Jesus demonstrates control over the wind (Matt 8:26; Mark 4:39-41). This is yet another proof of his identity as the Son of God.
The most famous use of wind as a symbol is to represent the Holy Spirit. John states, “The wind blows wherever it please. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). A further connection between the Holy Spirit and wind is seen at Pentecost, when the coming of the Spirit was accompanied by “a sound like a violently blowing wind” (Acts 2:2).
Just as we cannot see wind but notice its sometimes very powerful effects, so it is with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s role is to glorify the Father and the Son and to indwell believers- both tasks make him unseen and yet highly noticeable. Further, the Holy Spirit works in
Unpredictable ways; we can’t control or manipulate him to do our bidding, nor can we anticipate what he will do next. The Holy Spirit is also like the wind in the he breathes life into a believer at the moment of conversion. He convicts the believer of sin the same way the wind of the Old Testament was often a sign of judgment.