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Read: Genesis 1:26-31

Happy Mother’s Day! In our study we’re looking at the gender and the nature of God. Is God male or female? The best answer may be “neither” or “both”. First, the Bible uses images that we are familiar with to help us understand a spiritual truth. God is not literally a “mighty fortress” or a “rock”. That’s true for even the common and popular images of God like “Heavenly Father”. It is a very true image; it is a powerful and enduring image, but God is even more than our beloved images. Jesus once used the image of a mother hen to describe God, (Luke 13:34) and many of us have had God’s love communicated very well by our moms. Also, languages tend to use a generic masculine pronouns (he, him, his) when referring to non-specified people, i.e. doctors, pastors, farmers, artists, etc.. Sometimes people use them when referring to God, but assigning actual gender is usually not intended. Jesus is certainly “He, Him, His”, but I try not to use generic masculine pronouns for God.

Jesus says, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24); we need to get beyond projecting physical attributes to God. The Old Testament word for “God” is “Elohim”, it’s a Hebrew word and it’s fascinating! Elohim (God) is a plural word, like a group of people is plural, and the word indicates that both male and female are present in this group (like a church choir). But Elohim is ALWAYS and ONLY used in a singular context –there is only one God, not multiple gods, and not God by committee. The One true God encompasses BOTH maleness and femaleness. The qualities of both genders are within God’s nature. That’s what the Hebrew word for “God” implies. It fits well with Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

”The images for God in scripture – Heavenly Father, King of Kings, a Mighty Fortress, a Shepherd, are given so that we may know that God is there for us, with care, strength and faithfulness. Images teach important spiritual truths, but they are not literal. God is not literally a refiner’s fire or a rock. And God is not a man with a long white beard sitting on a throne, floating on a cloud in Heaven. The Bible uses many images of God to convey important spiritual truths. Perhaps this is intentional to prevent us from limiting God. God or Elohim is bigger than our images, and greater than our ability to fully comprehend, and that is a good thing!

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom