Misunderstood Metaphors

God uses metaphors in the Bible to describe in simple terms that which we cannot fully comprehend—how he relates to us on a personal level.

We set ourselves up for disappointment if we always expect him to embody every nuance implicit in these figures of speech.

Heavenly Father

For example, the Bible says God becomes our heavenly father when we are reborn spiritually. As the Son of God, Jesus becomes our spiritual brother. In the same spiritual sense, other reborn believers also become our brothers and sisters.

We never stretch the concept of spiritual brotherhood to the point of expecting Jesus to share his childhood memories with us. We do not presume our spiritual siblings will send us birthday cards.

Likewise, we need to be careful about extending the concept of God’s spiritual fatherhood into the earthly realm. These extensions can give rise to faulty expectations, whether our human father has been good or bad.

Good Dad Comparison

Good earthly fathers do everything they can to provide for and protect their children.

God intends to bless us in the next life with more abundance than we can currently imagine, but he never promises to give us a carefree life on earth and shield us from all affliction.

Bad Dad Comparison

Some of us grew up with poor fathers or no fathers. They ignored or abused us and made us feel unworthy of love. We find it hard to trust God because we presume that he is like our earthly father.

Suffice it to say that God is nothing like the poor earthly fathers who neglect or traumatize their children. He is always present with us. He cherishes us more than the best earthly fathers could ever value their children.

Other Metaphors

The Bible also describes God as our friend, provider, rock, refuge, strength, warrior, fortress, strong tower, stronghold, deliverer, defender, sun, shield, shelter, shade, vine, healer, helper, hope, comforter, counselor, and shepherd.

Again, not every meaning implicit in these terms applies in the earthly realm. God never produces personal shade for us by physically blocking the sun. He never herds us like sheep.

Likewise, God does not always deliver timely advice, bless us with material abundance, protect us from all physical harm, or heal every infirmity, as these terms might imply.