Workmen for Christ

Can God Be Seen, Or Not? - Explained!

(Note: This is a page dedicated to an apparent contradiction in the Word of God, because of the length of the explanation. In case you are coming from a different page, and are interested, click Here to go to the full page devoted to other apparent contradictions in the Bible.)

God CAN Be Seen
Genesis 26:2 And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
Amos 9:1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.
John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?
Genesis 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Exodus 33:11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Exodus 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
God CANNOT Be Seen
Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

The confusion in the Word of God with whether God can be seen or not seen, is often not understood by the world, because of darkened understanding of the Word of God and the Things of God. Though there are verses that say God the Father cannot be seen, and there are verses that show God actually appearing or being seen, there is no contradiction whatsoever. It is only a matter of understanding that the word "seen" has many meanings. There are many "levels" of actually seeing something. One can SEE something with their eyes and yet not really SEE (understand, or know the truth or depth or fulness of) what it is they really are looking at with their eyes. God can be seen . . . but it is the Fulness of the Glory of God which cannot be seen. God, in His Full Glory and Power and Might, cannot be seen. Yet God can appear and be seen by men, because He can be in the appearance of lesser glory, as if He were just a man, or in dreams and visions, and so forth. But just as there are some things in this world alone that are so beautiful and glorious that some people have died when looking at it (perhaps mostly those with healh issues or heart problems), ALL men would die if we tried beholding the Fulness of the Glory and Beauty of God---our human bodies just cannot handle it! However, concerning the verses above, let's examine them each:

Genesis 26:2 recounts the time when the Lord appeared unto Isaac and told him not to dwell in Egypt, but in another land. Here in the Word of God, it does not say that the Lord appeared to Isaac in a physical form even, but just that He appeared and spoke. There is no mention of the Glory of God, and shows that Isaac saw God in the form that God allowed him to see. Isaac saw not the Fulness of the Glory of God.

Exodus 24:10 shows when Moses and others saw a vision of the Lord. Again, they saw God in the form which He saw fit to show them. The people saw God, in perhaps not even an IOTA of the FULL Glory of God, but saw Him as though He were on a paved work of Sapphire stone (representing how Mighty and Beautiful He is), and with the whole body of heaven showing in the clearness . . . Again, God allowed them to see some glorious precious things, but nowhere near the full glory of God.

In Amos 9:1, we see the Prophet Amos, having a vision as so many prophets have, of the Lord. This again, is simply a vision of the Lord in the way the Lord saw fit to show, not His Full Glory.

John 14:9 reveals to us a Wonderful Truth, that Jesus truly was God come in the flesh. Those who saw Jesus, saw God, because He and the Father are One (John 10:30). However, again, in beholding Jesus, they did not behold God in the fulness of His Glory, because God left the Throne, stripped Himself of His Glory, and became just as You and I, a man in a physical body (1 Timothy 3:16). We see Jesus, we see God, but manifest in the flesh, far from the fulness of His Glory in Heaven.

Genesis 32:30 shows a place Jacob named, and why he named it what he did. If we look at this verse in context, we see that Jacob struggled with an angel of the Lord, not God in His Full Glory. Jacob said he had seen God face to face, because the angel of the Lord, represented God, and therefore was able to bless Jacob, because the angel stood in the place of God. Some believe that the angel of the Lord here, was actually God the Son in the form of an Angel, though we cannot exactly be dogmatic about that. Again though, the form of an angel, is far lesser than the full Glory of God!

Exodus 33:11 can be understood by looking at the verse . . . notice that the last part of the first sentence ("as a man speaketh unto his friend.") explains the first part ("And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face,"). The Lord was not meaning physical face to physical face, but rather that nothing was in between them, or separating them or hidden from them . . . (not speaking about seeing, but in talking, nothing was kept from Moses, and Moses kept nothing from God, they talked as friends talk to each other). This can be understood much in looking at what a "friend" means to God, from John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." This is what is meant by "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face," it was not meaning physically face to face, but simply talking with each other as friends, with nothing hidden or kept from each other.

Exodus 33:23 is what the Lord told Moses, when Moses asked to see the Lord more fully. The Lord said he would put Moses in a cleft of a rock in the mountain, and the Lord would pass by but put his hand over Moses' eyes untill He passed, so that Moses could see His back. This is explained in the next verse in the list above:

Exodus 33:20, the Lord tells Moses that no one can see His face, because they would die. This is because the face represents a great deal of the Glory of a person . . . the True Self of the person. The same with God, the Face of God reveals such great glory, that we would not be able to behold it without dying. Moses was wanting to see the Lord more fully, and so the Lord did allow him to see Him in more of His Glory (yet still not His FULL Glory), but in doing that, if Moses saw the Lord's Face it would be too much of His Glory and Moses would have died at the incredible beauty and Glory. So, to give Moses what he asked, God let Moses see his back, which was what Moses COULD handle seeing!

In John 1:18 it is being said that no one could see God . . . and is talking about God in His Fulness of Glory . . . which is why it is then mentioned that Jesus the only Begotten Son of God, God come in the flesh, declared Him . . . showed God, but in the form of man, as explained above.

1 Timothy 6:16, again, if we look at it in context, we see that it is talking about the fulness of the Glory of God the Saviour.

After all that though, it is only a matter of understanding that someone can see something without actually seeing (or understanding) what that thing really is, or what the Fulness of that thing really is. We've heard of situations that are like that. Take for example two people beholding a priceless treasure and one of them says to the other, "Do you see what I see?" The reply is, "Yeah it's a really old vase!" and the first one says, "NO! This 'really old vase' is really our ticket to riches!" It is similar to how some can read the Bible, and yet not really understand it, and the things of God, as said in Mark 4:12!