by Vicky Benton
God is sometimes hard to figure out. Like why didn’t God have His image bearers create families the same way He created in the very beginning? You know, have a man and a woman somehow breathe life into a pile of dirt: Voilà! An adult child with an already completed debt-free college degree!
But He did the baby thing. Creating little creatures that need total care, utterly helpless and in need of caring, capable adults.
A lot could be said about this but maybe one reason was to make some points about Himself. Consider what we learn about Him with the various familial metaphors we see in Scripture.
Although God is always described in the Bible as male, He borrows from the masculine and the feminine roles to reveal Himself.
- Male Metaphors – God picked words like “Father, Bridegroom, Husband” to give us a picture of His relationship with us.
- “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. . . .” Mt. 6:9 (NLT). He has eternally been the Father to the Son. Jesus makes clear He is ours as well!
- “For your Maker is your husband-the LORD Almighty is his name. . . .” Is. 54:5 (NIV)
- “. . . God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.” Is. 62:5b (NLT)
It grieves Him when we do not relate to Him these ways. “I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.” Jer. 3:19b (NLT).
- Female Metaphors – God is never described as female but the Scriptures do use motherly metaphors to help us grasp His role with us.
- “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. . . .” Is. 66:13 (NIV)
- “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Words of Christ in Luke. 13:31 (ESV)
- “He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” James 1:18 (NLT).
- Child Metaphors – Christ is eternally the Son. We, by our faith in Christ, get adopted into the family.
- “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’” Rom. 8:15. (NLT)
- “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children. . .” 1 Jn. 3:1 (NLT)
- “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Eph. 5:1 (ESV)
Although God is sometimes hard to understand, He has made clear that He wants to be known. Earthly family relationships, though always imperfectly experienced by us, give us a glimpse of how He intends to be known by us. He gives us loving care in both “masculine” and “feminine” ways, and we are the dependent, and deeply loved children.
[one_half]Vicky Benton is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Baton Rouge. Her practice is with adults – college and beyond – in individual therapy. She recently wrote a Bible study, The Emotions of God: the foundation for understanding our own and keeps threatening to write one on her favorite Biblical metaphors. She can be reached at 225-273-0106 or via email email@example.com[/one_half]