What Is Your God Really Like?
13 Nov 2004, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
Title: What Is Your God Really Like?
Theme: Biblical Anthropomorphisms Identify Our God
Scripture Reading: Hosea 1:9 New Living Bible
The word anthropomorphism literally means, "manlike form". Biblical anthropomorphisms attribute human form to God. While this is so we must in no way give the impression that the "Almighty" is in anyway constrained or hindered by humanity. The reason the Bible uses anthropomorphisms is so that we can better understand our God. It is never to belittle Him. It is always to elevate our understanding of how our Almighty God Family, want to experience fellowship with us. This is what gives Him pleasure . God seeks to be "mate" with us. Indeed He wants to be "friend." Above all this He wants to be respected, worshipped and honoured as our Superior, Eternal loving Father.
What Is God Really Like?
Most theologians in their books portray God as logical, orderly and unchanging. God is seen as ineffable, that is, too great and "omni" everything to describe in words. God that cannot be described or uttered. It is true that Holy Scripture portrays Holy Deity as, omnipotent- all/absolute power; omniscient - all/absolute knowledge; omnipresent - all/absolute presence. It is also true that Scripture with God's blessing explains His characteristics in human language.
In Holy Scripture we encounter a real personality. We do not envisage a misty mystery but an actual person. We are told by God that He feels: delight, anger, sorrow, frustration, shock, humour/laughs, weeps, joy, anguish, and passion. He searches, rescues, saves, protects, works, loves, negotiates bargains, counsels, changes His mind and is the ultimate politician of the Universe. All these and more in the absolute and perfectly holy sense of the terms. He is Lord of the Universe.
Beside all this He craves our fellowship and friendship. He needs to be loved respected and worshipped. He deserves and seeks a "fair go." He describes Himself as Father, Mother, Husband and Lover having parenthood. He also claims to be Friend and Gardener. The logical conclusion has to be that there are others in the equation. Friends, brides, lovers, and children and the family garden - His living plants.
It is clear from Holy Scripture He authored, that God uses human experiences and images to communicate His feelings and emotions toward humanity, that is us. The prevailing images are "Our Father", angry parent, as well as spurned and jilted lover/husband. This has to be so, as He said in Genesis 1:26-7 that the God family made us in their image and likeness. We have every reason to believe that man was created to bear the image of God, both in outward resemblance and in character.
I wish to suggest that, When we see God as He really is, we will see ourselves as we really should be.
GOD AS FATHER:
Jeremiah was a prophet of God in a time of His peoples deep apostasy. He lived and began writing about 627 BC. In Jeremiah 3: 19-20, KJV, "Thou shalt call me, My Father; and shalt not turn away from me. Surely as a wife treacherously departed from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, said the Lord." In one mouthful He likens His dealings with His people as Father, Lover, jilted Husband and parent. Here we see the Creator and giver of life explain the "why" of humanity. Placed here by a loving Father who loves, supports, provides, protects and gives both physical and spiritual security. A Parent who oozes with dependability and graciously serves out independence to His children with the expectancy of love, devotion, respect and faithfulness. Alas His children despised their heritage spurned their relationship and pastors and people did not live like His kids.
Jeremiah 2:7-8. Verse 11. He complains that "my people have changed their glory." Verse 13, "my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me," the fountain of life and have taken on other God's and religions. God is the jilted lover. Verse 19, "you have forsaken the Lord your God." In verses 20-25 God makes it clear that sin has ruptured the relationship. Jeremiah 3:6-13 God calls it, spiritual adultery and gives reason for His divorce and putting away of His bride Israel. But His love cannot be extinguished and we find in verses 12-13, He woos them to acknowledge and forsake their sin and return to their husband, who is merciful and forgiving. Here we see the angry, entreating, patient, loving and forgiving husband. One who is willing to have His wife back, and start again. Oh, what Divine love. We see this love demonstrated in Christ as it is explained in Ephesians 2:19. Believers are not strangers and foreigners any longer, but saints and fellow citizens of the "household of God." God wants restored family. It is all about children and family. In 1 John 3:1 -2 we see this children and parent relationship. That is His design.
GOD AS MOTHER:
Of Jerusalem His people, the Lord Jesus Christ as God said in Matthew 23:37, "---how often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gatheres her chickens under her wings, and you would not." Here is a spurned mother. The God Christ referred to as mother. Having all the instincts of a mother. Motherly training, love, protection and feeding training, adulthood and independence.
GOD AS HUSBAND AND LOVER:
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and lived from about 760 B.C. He records God as portraying Himself as the jilted lover and husband who will never give up on His bride even if she repeatedly leaves to be harlot. It is the portrayal of God as brokenhearted husband. It is God struggling with all His love, patience and mercy to reclaim His bride and lover.
In the Book of Hosea God illustrates His marital problem with His bride Israel. He uses Hosea's identical problem, love and patience as His own experience with His wayward people. Hosea 1:2 "for the land has committed whoredom, departing from the Lord." In patience, love and mercy, both God and Hosea, the jilted and disgraced always with confidence in future compatibility. Hosea 1:6-7, 10-11, shows the struggle God had in divorcing and reclaiming. "I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord of their God,--- Yet--- Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, --- and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, you are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together,---". The struggle with and alluring of His bride goes on in Chapter 2, after a threatened divorce borne of exasperation and jilted love.
Hosea 2: 14-23 God is pictured as the jilted lover going to extremes to allure back His beloved bride. "He goes into a string of "I will" statements of hungering love and mercy and hope. "I will allure her,---and speak comfortably to her." "I will give her (land) for a door of hope." "I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth-be no more remembered." Born again, reinstated as wife with no memory of her sins. "I will make a covenant for them---" Restoration of the earth. "I will break the bow----" Restoration of peace. "I will betroth you unto me forever--- in righteousness, justice, loving-kindness and mercies--- and faithfulness-and you shall know the Lord." "I will hear heaven and earth". Total sovereign control. Total restoration. Verse 23, "I will" plant her new as a new crop. "I will have mercy" ---and say , You are my people and they shall say, You are my God.
In chapter four the anthropomorphisms keep coming. Love is so deep and forgiveness so real and comprehensive- no strings attached, that he even buys back
His lover from the Harlot Sunday markets.!! Oh what a lover. In Hosea 10:1-2 God the husband and lover is the Gardener and Israel the "empty vine." A wife with a "divided heart." In chapter 11 we are back to the Father Child relationship with progression to wayward adult. However the Husband of heaven struggles to give up on His wife. Verse 8-9, "how shall I give thee up Israel?---- I will not execute the fierceness of my anger---- for I am God, and not man;"
Hosea 14 is the passionate plea of the jilted and desperate husband and lover pleading for confession, and admission of guilt. A call to forsaking sin and being forgiven and reinstated as wife. The language conveys the deal that God offers. "I will heal your backsliding,---I will love you freely -mine anger is turned away,---I will be as dew unto Israel---they shall revive."
One final anthropomorphism- God like humanity can be robbed of His property. Malachi 3:8-10 God appears as the robbed. He can experience theft. We can and do rob God of His tithe and offerings, which rightfully belong to Him. He again calls us to "return" verse 18 and He will pour out the blessings and rewards of faithfulness to our relationship as tithe returners, friends, family, sons, and daughters; John 15:13-16 and Galatians 4: 4-7. Our lover died for us. He bought us back with every drop of His blood. All that as man. Now that is a real anthro! So that one day we will be perfectly in His image again. Fully restore in our God gene.
But now in the present we must remember that, when we know what God is like, we will be what we should be- His holy kids in Christ.
Why should the Holy loving fellowship hungry creator God, be humiliated by His created kids? Why is He so patient and merciful with His jilting wife? It is because He is God and not man.
So when we are talking about our God / when you are talking about your God be ever so careful. Do not tame Him in word or in concept. Do not file Him away under alphabetical listings and supernatural characteristics only. We can so easily lose the force of the passionate relationship that God jealously covets from us. He craves our love and devotion. God does not care so much about being analysed and pigeon -holes by us. He yearns like a parent for our obedient respect and as any lover, He wants to be loved.
Friends, What is your God like? Do you really know Him" Do you fellowship with Him? Do you friend Him? Do you love Him as mate? Are you really in love with Him? Do you know what "in His image" is in reality?
Know Him more in 2004 . In His love and friendship - Come alive in 2005.
God bless you all. No! No! No! That ring is too hollow today. Please God take us and CHANGE us forever, then we will be really blessed. Thank you God Family- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Copyright © 2015 Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church