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Don Stewart :: Why Does the Bible Portray God through Family and Personal Relationships?

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Why Does the Bible Portray God through Family and Personal Relationships? (Father, Mother, Husband, Groom, Friend)

God and Us – Question 2

Does God care about human beings? Does He get personally involved in our lives? The Bible answers this question with a resounding. “Yes.” In fact, Scripture gives a number of descriptions of God as to how He relates to those who belong to Him.

These images are important to us for they show His care and concern. The God of Scripture is a God of action. He is personally involved in the lives and destines of those who place their trust in Him. Scripture illustrates this as follows.

1. God Is Portrayed as a Loving Father

God’s loving fatherly care toward the nation of Israel is made plain in statement found in the Book of Hosea. The Lord said,

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt... I was the one who taught the people of Ephraim to walk. I took them by the hand. But they didn’t realize that I had healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ropes of love. I removed the yokes from their necks. I bent down and fed them.” (Hosea 11:1, 3-4 God’s Word).

Here we find the Lord expressing Himself as a loving Father toward the people of Israel. Indeed, it speaks of a Father lovingly leading and teaching a child.

While the Old Testament says that God has a special love toward the people of Israel, His love is not limited to them. The psalmist testified that the Lord loves all of those who trust in Him. He wrote,

As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13 God’s Word)

Again, we find the Lord compared to a compassionate Father. Therefore, in the Old Testament, we find this image of God as a loving Father. He loves those who love Him.

In the New Testament, we find many more references to God as a loving Father. Indeed, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives numerous references to the Father’s care and concern for His children.

For example, Jesus said that God the Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. He put it this way.

“If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11 NLT)

If we know how to give good gifts, how much more does our heavenly Father know how to give good gifts?

In fact, Jesus specifically told His disciples to address God as “Our Father” when they prayed to Him. He said,

“This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, let your name be kept holy.” (Matthew 6:9 God’s Word)

Therefore, from Scripture it is obvious that God is portrayed as a loving Father toward His own children.

2. God Is Compared to a Mother

Not only is God portrayed as a loving caring Father, in a few instances, He is also compared to a mother. Early on in the history of the nation Israel, the Lord compared Himself to a mother. He is the one who gave birth to the nation.

You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18 NRSV)

While not specifically called a mother in this context, the meaning is obvious.

We find a couple of illustrations of the Lord being compared to a mother in the Book of Isaiah. We read,

The people of Zion said, “The LORD has turned away and forgotten us.” The LORD answered, “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:14, 15 CEV)

As a mother could not turn away from her child, the Lord could not turn away or forget the nation of Israel. Like a mother’s love, God cares for those who are His.

In another place, Isaiah the prophet recorded the Lord comparing Himself to a mother who comforts her child.

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13 NIV)

Therefore, we have these instances where the Lord is compared to a mother.

In the New Testament, Jesus compared Himself as a mother hen who wanted to gather her chicks under her wings. Matthew records Him saying the following.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! Your house will be abandoned, deserted. I can guarantee that you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39 God’s Word)

This is a further biblical illustration of the loving tender concern the Lord has for His.

Therefore, we have a few instances where the God of Scripture compares Himself to a human mother or in the case of Jesus, a mother hen.

3. God Is Portrayed as a Husband

The Bible also portrays the God of the Bible as a loving husband. We read the following in the Book of Jeremiah.

“This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:32 NLT)

The Lord was portrayed as a loving husband whose wife had strayed. Though He loved the nation they strayed from His love.

4. God Is Compared to a Groom

In the New Testament, the church, the true believers in Jesus Christ, is pictured as a bride while Jesus is portrayed as a groom. In the Book of Revelation we read the following.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7 NIV)

This passage refers to Jesus Christ returning to the earth and marrying His bride, the New Testament Church.

5. The Lord Is a Friend

Another comparison the Bible gives to personal relationships is that of a “friend.” Abraham was called a “friend” of God. The Lord Himself said,

Israel, you are my servant. I chose you, the family of my friend Abraham. (Isaiah 41:8 CEV)

The people of Israel recognized that Abraham was God’s “friend.” The chronicler records them saying the following.

Our God, you forced out the nations who lived in this land before your people Israel came here, and you gave it to the descendants of your friend Abraham forever. (2 Chronicles 20:7 CEV)

It was well known among those of Old Testament times that Abraham was a friend of God. What a great way to be remembered!

We also find this taught in the New Testament. Abraham was a friend of God. James wrote about this in the following manner.

And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” He was even called “the friend of God.” (James 2:23 NLT)

This description of Abraham as God’s friend also carried over to the New Testament era.

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord noted that the nation Israel referred to Him as Father and as friend. The Lord said,

You call me your father or your long-lost friend... (Jeremiah 3:4 CEV)

Therefore, from testimony of Scripture, we find God portrayed through a number of family relationships as well as being compared to a close friend. As we have observed, these comparisons illustrate the loving concern that the Lord has for His people.

These Are Comforting Images for the Believer

Obviously these images are extremely comforting to those of us who are God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ. We know that He is concerned about us and our needs.

Therefore, when we approach Him in prayer we can do it with the confidence that He is also concerned about the issues we face.

John the Apostle wrote the following.

I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for. (1 John 5:13-15 NLT)

Knowing the character and concern of the God of the Bible brings comfort and confidence to those who believe in Him.

Summary – Question 2
Why Does the Bible Portray God through Family and Personal Relationships? (Father, Mother, Husband, Groom, Friend)

The God of the Bible is a God who has a warm loving concern for humanity. Indeed, in the Scripture we find God portrayed by a number of different analogies. This includes family and interpersonal relationships. He is compared to a father, mother, husband, groom, and friend.

God is shown to be a loving Father to His children. As a good Father looks after his children, our Father-God looks after us. Scripture constantly reminds us that the Lord is our loving Father. Indeed, Jesus commanded us to pray to “Our Father who is in heaven.”

In a few instances, Scripture compares the Lord to the actions of a loving mother. Indeed, God gave birth to the nation of Israel and looks after it as a mother her child.

In another analogy, God is the loving husband of the nation of Israel. However, the nation strayed from the Lord and His loving care. Indeed, Israel is compared to a wife who leaves her husband.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the groom and the believers are the bride. There is an upcoming marriage feast between the Jesus and His bride. This is one of the events to which Christians are to look forward.

We also find that the Bible says that God is our friend. This is another indication of the intimate personal relationship which we desire with each of us. In the Old Testament, the patriarch Abraham was called a “friend of God.” Jesus said that we are His friends if we do what He says.

There is a reason as to why the Bible portrays the Lord in such a way. It testifies to His personal involvement with humanity; He is not a God who is aloof or somewhere afar off or One which does not care about His people.

To the contrary, the God of the Bible is a God of action. He does not just stand by and watch all things happen; He is an involved God. Indeed, He is involved in the lives of His people.

These images are very comforting to the believer. For one thing, when we have certain needs in our life we can approach God in prayer with the confidence that He is concerned about those needs.

We know from the testimony of Scripture that God cares for us. This causes us to care for Him.

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