I recently saw some beautiful photographs of a mother carrying her newborn baby girl, and the images took me back to times when my own girls were small. I also recently held a six-month-old baby, not an everyday occurrence since I have an eleven and seven-year-old.
The experiences reminded me of powerful biblical texts that describe motherhood, something I haven’t really appreciated before now. I’ve found a new way of looking at God, our compassionate, loving Father, who chooses to express love using the most interesting of descriptions.
Some passages exhibit a deep connection to the femininity of motherhood:
“Rejoice with Jerusalem ‘Before she was in labor she gave birth before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.” For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:7-13, ESV)
This came to mind when seeing the photos of a new mother. The pictures showed a deep mother/child connection, the essential natural experience of nurture through breast feeding, the closeness of carrying a child, the sheer joy of it and, of course, describing humanity’s redemption using birth imagery.
It gives me a special connection: being a resident of Jerusalem, near the home of the Mother Church of Christendom, built on the Mount of Olives, near a cave where our Lord resided and taught his disciples when He visited the Jerusalem area.
In the place where Jesus was raised from the dead, St. Paul stated: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:26 ESV)
The picture that this text also shows us is a glimpse of heaven coming to earth and, most importantly, the experience that Isaiah and Paul chose to make this comparison is the mother/ child relationship! This should come as no surprise to anyone who has the most basic understanding or experiences with maternal love.
It is without equal, one of the most powerful expressions of love in existence. It’s what Isaiah is telling us, to be compared to heaven coming to earth! It gives us pause when we think about what Paul says about the Jerusalem above and how he calls her “our mother”!
It’s quite a statement from someone who saw the third heaven, and it gives us something to think about. (2 Corinthians 12:4)
Yet, there is something in Isaiah 66:7-13 that’s important. This missing element, I think, helps us to see a different view on the maternal side of God.
Some people seem to get very nervous when talking about the maternal side of God (few of them mothers). It’s only the case of religious environments where men are firmly in control and women are marginalized.
Thankfully, in serious and mature Biblical academia, there is no nervousness or lack of comfort in discussing these Biblical texts because they are given the deep respect they demand, and are taken to their logical and natural conclusions, for mature Christians who have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” their true meanings.
They show us the integration of femininity into the Godhead in a way that allows us (humans) to appreciate it in a practical way.
After all, many of us have mothers to know, love and feel close to (under ideal circumstances, we hope).
But before we dig into the details of this text, let’s give a survey of some of the specific female features associated with God.
I am fortunate to have been taught these things when I was younger by my late father who published a number of important sources on this subject . . .
*Continue reading Samuel Martin’s series here …
I hope you’ll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions. I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects. I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women’s issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures. For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com. With every good wish – Samuel Martin