How Metaphors in the Bible Help Us to Understand God

Have you ever stopped to think about how many metaphors are mentioned in the Bible? There are a lot of them, and for a good reason, too. Metaphors are helpful in several ways. They can help us to better understand a spiritual principle or teaching, and they also enable us to build mental links between physical items and a spiritual truth. Ultimately, metaphors remind us that God is not only an integral part of life, but also that he is the founder and sustainer of life itself. Let's explore how Biblical metaphors are able to do such things.

Metaphors Help to Explain Things

Jesus used metaphors regularly when he was teaching spiritual principles. One example is his reference to himself as the "bread of life" (see John 6:35). Bread was something very familiar to the people with whom Jesus was speaking, because it was a food they depended upon for survival. Thus, Jesus used this analogy of bread being like himself to describe how much we depend on Jesus and to remind us of his ability to satisfy and nourish us spiritually.

Metaphors Create Mental Links

Another way that metaphors in the Bible help us to better understand God is by creating mental links that remind us of God or of a spiritual truth. For example, once we understand the metaphor of Jesus being like bread to us, then whenever we eat bread, we can think of Jesus. In other words, eating bread can remind us that Jesus nourishes us and is the foundation of our lives.

The more mental links we can create with things we see and use on a regular basis, the easier it will be to keep our thoughts fixed upon Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2). Think about all the things we experience daily that could be linked to spiritual principles: when we drink we remember the river of life, when we eat we remember the nourishment of Christ, when we turn on the lights we remember that we are the light of the world, when we shake salt onto food we remember that we are the salt of the earth, and so on.

Metaphors Demonstrate God's Involvement in Life

A third thing that Biblical metaphors do is they remind us of God's involvement in our lives. These metaphors demonstrate that God is not simply an idea that is added to life, as if he didn't belong there in the first place, but rather that God is the very foundation of life itself and that the things in this world point to him.

In looking at these ways that metaphors help us to understand God, we see that metaphors in the Bible are very valuable and are critically important. As such, I encourage you to study the scriptures and keep your eyes out for metaphors that are used. Then, think of ways you can integrate those Biblical metaphors into your daily life.
About The AuthorJonathan Hostetler lives in southern Pennsylvania. He grew up in a strong Christian family, dedicated his life completely to Jesus at the age of 9, experienced a spiritual breakthrough at the age of 15, and is now in his mid twenties, joyfully serving Yahweh and sharing Yahweh's message of salvation and hope both on the internet and in person.
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