If you’ve been a parent, you know how your kid is so precious. You can see how you can forgive her seventy times seven. No matter how awful she is or how many tantrums she throws. You can’t help but to love her because she’s yours. She did nothing to earn that love, and there’s no way she can lose it. Now I understand from personal experience, that God’s love for me is not so much grace, but something he can’t resist. He longs to hold me in his arms, not because he’s so gracious and loving, but because it gives him delight and satisfaction. He gives me comfort and makes me smile, not because he’s so kind, but because that’s the joy of a Father.
So many passages in Scripture are brought into proper perspective. A father’s perspective. Sometimes I bribe my kid with toys so he would eat his vegetables. I give him rules for his protection, so he wouldn’t get run over by a car. God does the same thing in so many passages. These are not just emotionless commands given to a soldier in his army. These are the words and advice from a celestial parent.
There are times when God’s anger “burns” against Moses (Ex 4:14) or his people (Ex 32:11), and it sounds so scary. But now I understand that in reality, there should’ve been no fear of death, although still scary, like when your dad gets really mad. If you’ve been a parent, you know there are times when your anger “burns” so hot you just want to throw your kid out the window. Kids really test your patience, so I’m glad God’s patience is greater than mine. Just imagine how much patience is needed to contain such great anger. Yet, that patience exists, not because God is so merciful, but because of a parent’s love – which even unmerciful people have for their own kids. Oh, they really piss you off! And there’s yelling and crying and screaming (from both parties…have you read Lamentations?).
But God wasn’t really going to destroy Israel and make Moses into a greater nation and thus break his promises to the Patriarchs (Ex 32:10). God actually made an empty threat (Ex 32:14), although the Bible doesn’t state it as so. Moses didn’t actually change God’s mind. It’s like when a parent yells, “If you don’t finish your food, you’re sleeping outside.” Empty threat. But there’s real fear, and the kid says sorry. Good job kid, you changed your parent’s mind.
Sometimes God sounds so mean (e.g. Amos 4). If you think it’s easy being a parent, take my kids for a week, or the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, and let’s see what words come out of your mouth. Yet even harsh discipline comes from a loving parent. Without discipline, the child will never mature. You’ve seen these brats in the mall, right? and they’re already in their 20s.
Jeremiah 7 makes sense as a disappointed parent. In contrast, a king would’ve just wiped out his insubordinate. God punishes like a parent, not a king. He may send others to hell, as a judge and executioner, but not to his own children.
“You need milk, not solid food!” Doesn’t Hebrews 5:12-14 sound like a parent? Actually, if you read the Bible again, most of it sounds like a parent (except Song of Solomon). Why does God bribe his people with blessings, just for doing what is right? Shouldn’t we be kind to others, honor our parents, and do good because that’s right? Yeah, try convincing a 2 year old about calories and nutrition and what’s “good for you.” God, as a parent, knows what works for 2-year-olds, and when we get more spiritually mature, hopefully we’ll love one another, exercise our faith, and serve at church, not for heavenly rewards, but because we actually like vegetables now.
Parenting is more than just keeping kids safe – any babysitter can do that – but parents seek to raise up and train the child. That’s the hard part. If you want the kid to walk by herself, you have to let her fall. He’ll never learn to ride a bike if you keep holding onto it. You can’t just remove the bully or obstacle from his life. You want to teach him to be assertive, fight for himself, learn to climb. You get the illustration, right? God is not just letting us learn or get stronger from experience. More than a coach, he’s a parent, and he’s very emotionally involved even in his non-involvement. He’s not just watching over like a god; he’s parenting.
Parents actually feel pain when the kid falls, but sometimes you have to let her climb on her own. That’s how they grow. That’s how we grow. That’s how we learn to ride faith. by trying when you think you can’t. And usually the kid is so nervous or stupid he’s oblivious to the father’s hand hovering all around, just in case. And we have no idea how much God is involved even when he’s letting us fight Goliath all by ourselves. But the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Sam 17:47). If you look up, you’ll realize he’s the ultimate helicopter parent.
I know it’s cliché to hear that the Bible is a love letter. But it really is. not as a lover to his bride (Song of Solomon), but as a father to his kid. and we’re all still kids, trying our best to grow up. And growing up gets easier when you actually listen to your father.