Pilgrim II: Belief in God the Father

Our second session of the pilgrim course focused on Hosea 11:1-4

God’s Love for Israel

11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them.

Footnotes:

  1. Hosea 11:2 Septuagint; Hebrew them

We were asked to reflect on three things:

  1. A time when we felt deeply loved.
  2. What kind of images come to mind when you hear God described as being a father.
  3. Anything we find confusing about the image of God as a father.

People recounted times when they were being cared for by family and by friends, in sickness, acceptance in social events, when we acknowledge our love for each other, and reciprocation of love.  There are many times when we feel deeply loved, but I suspect we have a tendency, as humans, to take it as granted that we are loved and often don’t spend enough time returning that love; which is also a reflection of our relationship with God.  We don’t spend enough time on our relationships because of other factors, especially when we put our own desires before those of others.

In terms of God the Father, I see kindness, strength, firmness (when required), guidance, nurturing and other typical fatherly traits,  The classic imagery brought to mind within the verse above is that of a father holding the arms of an infant to prevent them from falling whilst they are learning to walk for themselves.

This can seem at odds with the image of a vengeful or angry God and especially some of the imagery in the Old Testament, for instance, the plagues visited upon the land of Egypt or the destruction wrought in His name (e.g. removal of kingdoms).  It can also be at odds with our vision of God sitting on a throne.  Our initial thoughts about Kings are not usually of them acting like fathers, but of conquerors and aloof, separate from their people.  My counter here is that kings have heirs to their kingdom, princes and princesses, and those heirs will learn a lot from their king (and his trusty advisors). God is our Father, our Lord, Jesus our King, we are all heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven, with that knowledge in our hearts we must also learn what little we can from God so that we may be suitable heirs.

Romans 8:17

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I think it’s important to remember that God is all of the imagery above.  Whose father would not go out of their way to do as much as they can for their children?

Trust in God, believe in Him, and you can take comfort in His fatherly love for you.

Lord God,
thank you for the love you have of all things,
bless us so that we can grow our relationship with you
Guide us, teach us, rebuke us when you have to,
plant within us the seed of your word
so that it will grow strong in us

Amen