“Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters” Genesis 1:2
How do you picture the scene that God has painted for us in this verse? What image comes to your mind when you think of “the Spirit of God hovering” What exactly was the Spirit doing and what could have been His purpose in being there? What was His actual role in creation?
If you are anything like me you may have never paid attention to thoughts and questions like these when you were younger in your walk with the Lord or perhaps none of these questions have ever even really crossed your mind. These however, are the types of questions we have been talking about and thinking through in recent months as we revise and work on our translation of the books of the Old Testament. We have been doing Bible translation work for 15 years now in fact, but the interesting questions that come about in the process of translation never stop coming!
You may wonder what it is we do with questions such as these as we translate the scriptures into the Dao language of this remote tribe in Indonesia. The answer is that we always go back to the original language of the text. We study for hours upon hours on the original intent of the wording that is there and the concepts that the author intended to get across, and often times the interesting things that we find and learn leave us laughing with joy as we ourselves learn new things about our great Creator through the process of Bible translation!
Believe it or not, Genesis 1:2 was one of those such verses that left us laughing with joy as we reflected on it and the reason why is because the wording used in this verse brought about an interesting new perspective for us to think on. Consider with us for a moment the word “hovering” that is used to describe the Holy Spirit. In the Hebrew text the word is “rachaph” (רָחַף) which in its primitive root means not only just to “hover” as we say in English but which also denotes waiting in patient expectation or to “brood” and “flutter, move or shake”. In other words, the Spirit of God was doing so much more than just “hovering”!
The picture painted here in this verse is a picture of excitement and sweet, loving expectation and excited anticipation much in the same way that a brooding mother hen waits in excited anticipation of its little one cracking forth in new life out of the egg. Or of a young mother that is patiently looking with loving expectation (as Jennie is now doing as she carries our 6th child!) for the birth or her new little baby as the little one makes its way into the world and emerges with those first sweet cries of life! What a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit in creation!
I don’t know about you, but I just love to learn things like this. For me, it paints a whole new picture of a scene that I have heard about my whole life. It opens up to me a whole new view of the work of the wonderful Spirit of God and you know what? God is still doing that incredible work of creating new life through the power of His Holy Spirit all of these many generations later. He is bringing His people, His bride, His flock from every last people group on the planet. He is lovingly and patiently “brooding” and bringing about the spiritual birth of His people in even the darkest and most remote of places and He will not stop until His bride is complete.
We love playing a small part in the neat things God is doing in this world. We love being involved in Bible translation and learning new and interesting things about our wonderful God and Savior as we translate His story into a new language. There is nothing like it and I don’t believe we would want to spend our lives doing anything else! Thank you so much for faithfully standing behind us in this awesome work so that we can continue on with our Bible translation for the Dao people!