Images of God in different passagesThese vary far more than we might imagine, and some of them are far from the usual ones!
The Bible was written by many different people across centuries and in different cultures. It is hardly a surprise they had different ideas. So we begin very near the beginning, in Genesis 2.
A potter. This image will recur later in the scriptures, but here God is taking what should be rendered as 'a clod' rather than 'dust', the lifeless earth, and makes it into something worthy of life. The earth must be made into something which can hold the breath of God.
A builder and a gardener. A garden had walls and ditch to separate it from the outside world, and God prepares those before planting it with the trees that 'were pleasant to the sight and good for food' - trees bearing fruits and nuts. Oh yes - and life, and knowledge.
The butt of the joke. God gives Adam the choice of all the animals as a mate, but none of them was suitable.
A surgeon. The curiosity is that the Hebrews weren't stupid, so they would have known there was no missing rib, or scar where it once was. There are a number of theories to explain this, but they don't change the image of God.
We continue our quest in Genesis 3.
Someone who likes a stroll in the cooling evening breeze at the end of the working day, meeting with the workers in the garden.
A hunter and a leatherworker. The hides have to come from somewhere, and there is no hint of an extra creation here, so hunting it is!
Potter, builder, gardener, unwise creator, surgeon, strolling landowner, hunter, leatherworker.
How can we use these images?Although God is the strolling landowner, hard work is the dominant image here. Working with God's own hands, working with the soil and with plants, with animals and humans, growing to be intimate with human needs and nature, practical and caring.
We often see images of God as ruler or creator, but these images from Genesis point to a God who works with and through nature. God is both natural and supernatural. God is a worker, resting on the Sabbath, but otherwise intensely involved in the world.
Even when humans leave the garden, wiser but chastened, they are clothed and comforted by God.
Go back to the story, and read it again, looking not at Adam, Eve or the serpent, but at God.
Ali (Rev Alistair Jones)