The mother love of God

Much is spoken in Scripture and in Christian circles of ‘the Father heart of God’ (e.g. Psalm 103:13; Luke 11:11-13). Jesus told of a father’s exuberant ‘welcome home’ for his repentant rebel younger son (Luke 15:11-32). But biblical references to the mother love of God are few, yet those rare mentions are powerfully significant.

            Affectionate love (Jeremiah 31:3)

I first gave thought to this subject in my youth on reading a published sermon on Jeremiah 31:3 by the eloquent London preacher, G. Campbell Morgan. He rendered the Lord’s plea to wilful Israel in that text as: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting mother love.’ Because of such love, God promised his people who were currently headed to Babylon exile: ‘Again I will build you … O virgin Israel’ so they will celebrate abundant harvests in their own land in musical festivities as in earlier times.

Morgan reached his conclusion that the Lord’s devotion to Israel was ‘mother love’ because the Hebrew word ’ahabah (= devotion) is here used in the feminine gender. Jeremiah had also used this form of the word for another phase of female love – Israel’s earliest devotion to Yahweh (the Lord) as of a bride-to-be for her beloved: ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride’ (Jeremiah 2:2). And ’ahabah occurs ten times in the Song of Song, often in that sense of courtship affection (see Jeremiah 2:4,7; 3:5,10; 5:8; 7:6; 8:4,6,7,7). You will find that Morgan’s observation is corroborated in Strong’s concordance and in Thayer’s lexicon of Hebrew words.

            Enduring love (Isaiah 49:15)

But there can be no misunderstanding the Lord’s answer to exiled Israel’s complaint in Isaiah 49:15 that they feel abandoned in Babylon. God declared his abiding love for them as more dependable than the strongest known category of human love, that of a mother for her breast-fed infant: ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?’ Shock horror! – Even these may forget– for God knew the adverse effects of chronic post-natal depression and went on to re-assure the exiles: ‘yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands ’

            Protective love (Matthew 13:37)

Surely, the clearest illustration of God’s mother love was expressed by Jesus in his lament over the city of Jerusalem on his final visit there just prior to his death: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!’ (Matthew 23:37).

             [] Love even unto death (Romans 5:6-8).

One mother hen protected her brood against a farmyard fire. When extinguished, the farmer, finding a charcoal ball in his path, nudged it with his foot and a brood of healthy chicks emerged that mother hen had shielded with her life. Another mother hen, on sensing a hovering bird of prey, called her brood to safety. When the enemy attacked her she fought back, receiving wounds on her wings from the predator’s beak before it left unrewarded. Each chick when released to the outside world got a splash of her blood on its back. Jesus offers us Calvary love against eternal fire.

[] … but you would not

One chick did not want to answer mother’s call as she perceived an impending storm. While she sheltered with the rest of her brood in a safe place, he perched on the water trough for a drink, was swept into the water and drowned: ‘Your house is left to you desolate’ was how Jesus predicted the destruction of Herod’s temple by the Roman armies in the national devastation that occurred in 70AD.

* Sin, hell, repentance, atonement are still the vital issues of the gospel message.

This entry was posted in Christian Doctrine. Bookmark the permalink.