Humans have never seen God’s face (John 6:46; 1 John 4:12). God is invisible to men (1 Timothy 1:17; Colossians 1:15). The apostle John wrote, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Christ veiled His divinity and took a human body to show mankind the Father, and those who saw Him saw the Father (John 14:7–11).
There is no contradiction between these texts, which state that no man has seen God’s face, and the many verses that tell us that God walked among men in the person of Jesus Christ and was seen by people (1 John 1:1–3; 1 Tim. 3:16; etc.). In the first set of verses the Bible authors are speaking of God in His undimmed Glory; in the second, of God as “manifest in the flesh,” and thus with His glory concealed.
Some have beheld the glory of the divine presence (John 1:14), but, except in vision, none have beheld the glorious person of God (Isa. 6:5). Jacob was amazed when he saw God the Son in the form of a man “face to face” and yet lived (Gen. 32:30). Sinners cannot see the face of God and live. Not even Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, was allowed to behold Him. When the Lord first appeared to Moses He spoke to him out of the midst of the fire but Moses “saw no form” he “only heard a voice” (Deut. 4:12).
When Moses requested to see God’s glory, the Lord answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But He said, You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. And the LORD said, Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:18-23).
Unholy men get consumed by God’s holiness. If at the presence of one angel the Roman soldiers at the resurrection of Christ, “became as dead men” (Matt. 28:4), what would happen when a sinful person is led into the very presence of God? But at the second coming, the redeemed will see God and live forever with Him “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
In His service,
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