The Gospel Saves Podcast, Season 2, Ep 5
Basic Assumptions About the Bible
I believe the sixty-six individual books that are grouped together and called the Bible, contain the word of God. I also believe the men who wrote those books were inspired by God through the agency of the Holy Spirit. God inspired those men to accurately record what they saw and heard through personal experience. Or, in some cases, God spoke to them through the Holy Spirit to reveal truths about Himself, His Son, or His Kingdom. So when I read from the Bible about God, I assume what is written reflects how God wants Himself to be depicted.
I also assume that though there are other books and collections of books that claim to be God’s word, these sixty-six books have been preserved by divine providence for our learning and no other books can be considered Scripture.
If you don’t believe my assumptions are correct, then it’s quite possible you will disagree with my answer.
God is Spirit
God is a spiritual being. We are composed of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. God is also a triune being composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, He is spiritual in His nature. “God is spirit,” Jesus says to the Samaritan woman in John 4:24. And following His resurrection, Jesus tells His disciples,
“a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).
So as we attempt to understand God, it’s important to remember that God is of a different nature than us – He is spirit.
He Dwells in a Spiritual Realm
Because God differs from us in His nature, the realm where He dwells is fundamentally different from ours. For example, the Bible says God dwells in eternity. The realm we live in has a beginning and it will have an end. We are subject to the law of cause and effect. But God exists outside of time, beyond cause and effect, in eternity.
Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
He Sees Things Differently from Us
God also does not see things from a human perspective.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 11:33-35, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?’ ‘Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’”
So as we seek an answer to the question, “Is God a Woman,” we must first acknowledge that God is someone with a different nature, who dwells in a different realm, who does not see things the same way that we do.
God Defies Our Expectations
Oftentimes, our misunderstandings about God stem from our expectations that He will be like us or see things like we do or that He is subject to the same rules as we are. Though I am created in His image and, for that reason, I reflect some of His divine attributes, I should always bear in mind that God is fundamentally different from human beings. Because God differs from us in significant ways, He chose to reveal Himself in ways that we can more easily comprehend.
Prophetic Visions of God
Isaiah “saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (6:1).
“on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (1:26-28).
Daniel saw someone he described as “the Ancient of Days,” seated on a throne with a “garment…white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool” (7:9-10).
In these visions, Isaiah, Ezekiel, all saw elements they could understand – an ancient king, seated on a high throne, shrouded in light.
But did these men see God?
Paul says God “alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see,” (1 Timothy 6:16). John says with certainty, “No one has seen God at any time” (1:18).
For that reason, it is more likely these prophets saw representations of God that symbolized His eternity, His glory, His sovereignty, and His holiness.
Getting to “Know” God
But these representations help us to better understand what is unknown and unseen through what we can know and see. It’s why Jesus chose to describe His kingdom with parables. He helped us understand the unseen, spiritual kingdom of God – the most abstract of abstract concepts – in concrete, relatable stories.
If, as both John and Paul say, no man has seen God, or can see God, and God
- Consists of a nature different than us,
- And exists in a realm different from our own,
- Then it would stand to reason that the only way for us to comprehend God to some degree is by connecting Himself to what we can see and experience.
It’s one reason why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. One of the missions of Jesus was to show us a perfect representation of the character of God so that we might better understand the unseen through what can be seen.
Because God differs from us in significant ways, He chose to reveal Himself in ways that we can more easily comprehend.
Male and Female are Human Distinctions
Male and female – or masculine and feminine – appear to be distinctions created by God for the benefit of human beings alone.
Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
As I have said in other lessons, the Bible draws no distinction between biological sex and gender identity – it treats them as one in the same. Regardless, male and female are distinctions created by God when humanity was created.
And male and female seem to be distinctions intended for this realm alone: Jesus was asked by the Sadducees if marriage continued after the resurrection. He responds in Matthew 22:30,
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
Angels are also referred to with masculine pronouns in the Bible, but I don’t think Jesus suggests the angelic host is composed of eternal bachelors. He seems to imply that the roles of husband and wife, of man and woman, are no longer relevant in the world to come.
However, you will also notice in Genesis 1:27 that God chose to reveal Himself in the masculine. As you have no doubt noticed, I accept the Bible’s use of masculine nouns and pronouns to describe God – the Father, the Son, He, Him, Himself, etc.
But is God male?
If male and female are entirely human distinctions as the creation account suggests, then the answer is “no.”
But I will say this: “Is God male, or is God female,” are the wrong questions to ask. To me, those are superficial questions designed to sow discord and strife in a world that likes to argue about things that don’t really matter.
Here is what we should be asking: if the Bible is inspired by God and through the Bible God reveals Himself to the world, why would God choose to reveal Himself in the masculine? What is He teaching us about Himself by adopting a masculine identity? What are the attributes of human masculinity that we see and experience that can help us better understand the unseen God? In my estimation, the far more interesting question to explore is what can the masculine teach us about God?
God reserved the feminine to represent His people.
Throughout the Old Testament, God conceptualized His relationship with His chosen people as a marriage covenant.
One example is Isaiah 54:5-6. The prophet draws the comparison between marriage and God’s relationship with His people:
“For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name, And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.  For the LORD has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused,” Says your God.”
God compares the nation of Israel to a woman spurned by other suitors — indeed, God took Israel under His wing when Egypt was poised to destroy her.
Therefore, God urges Israel to think of Him as the “knight in shining armor,” the one who loved her when she was in a low moment.
Hosea 2:14-15 is another example: but God, the jilted lover, seeks reconciliation with unfaithful Israel by drawing her back with cords of love,
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”
And, of course, the husband-wife relationship symbolizes the relationship between Christ and His church as Paul observes in Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
From an even broader perspective, the feminine represents the kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul says in Galatians 4:26,
“but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
“saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)
So there is a very prominent role reserved for the feminine in Scripture: the feminine represents the chosen people of God, the elect, the kingdom of God, the faithful Jews under the Old Law, and the church Jesus redeemed with His own blood.
- God is fundamentally different than human beings: He consists of a different nature, He exists in a realm unlike ours, and He sees things from a different perspective.
- Because God differs from us in significant ways, He chose to reveal Himself in ways that we can more easily comprehend.
- Without question, God reveals Himself in the masculine and reserves the feminine for His people, the church, the kingdom of God.