In Exodus 33:11

So the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

This could just mean that they spoke in an intimate way because a bit later in Exodus 33:20

He further said, “You cannot see My face, for mankind shall not see Me and live!”

Still, in Judges 13:22

So Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, for we have seen God.”

  • Do you mean - when a person declares they've seen God, is it really just a Messenger of YHWH? : If you read Judges 13:3 - it says "The angel of the Lord appeared to her", not God; In Judges 13:9 - "God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her.", again not God Himself. Dec 19, 2020 at 1:18
  • Did Moses see God in the burning bush (or) just hear God through a Messenger? In Exodus 3:2 "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush." Dec 19, 2020 at 1:35
  • This is very close to the question I asked not too long ago. I’m debating to vote to close this question. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/50582/… Dec 19, 2020 at 4:35
  • Does this answer your question? No one has seen the father John 1:18 & John 6:46
    – Dottard
    Dec 19, 2020 at 8:55

5 Answers 5


Can God make a rock so big that even He can't lift it?

God is generally held to be omnipotent, and there's a classical logical paradox involving that omnipotence: can God make a rock so big even He can't lift it? If He can't make the rock, he's not omnipotent, but if He can't lift it, he's not omnipotent either. Personally, I believe that the logical answer to this conundrum is that God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, and then He can go ahead and lift it anyway.

I think that the same principle applies to people seeing God and dying: anyone who sees God will die, but God is capable of using his omnipotence to prevent people who see Him from dying.

As for whether or not anyone has actually done so and survived, the prophet Ezekiel not only saw God and survived, he left a written description of God's physical appearance.

I then saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure in the shape of a human. From the waist up, it was glowing like metal in a hot furnace, and from the waist down it looked like the flames of a fire. The figure was surrounded by a bright light, as colorful as a rainbow that appears after a storm.

I realized I was seeing the brightness of the Lord’s glory! So I bowed with my face to the ground, and just then I heard a voice speaking to me.

Ezekiel 1:26-28

  • Hi nick012000, welcome. Interesting take (+1). Dec 19, 2020 at 11:33
  • Were hallucinogens used in the time of Ezekiel? Dec 19, 2020 at 13:30
  • @chasly-supportsMonica I dunno, but what Ezekiel saw is consistent with the fire/light imagery that's frequently associated with appearances of God in the Bible (though it's the only written account of the appearance of God's person). The burning bush, the cloud of fire around Mount Sinai, the transfiguration of Jesus, the fire that appeared above the heads of the apostles during the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, et cetera.
    – nick012000
    Dec 19, 2020 at 14:47

"Has anyone seen God or not?"

That depends upon what you think "God" means.

If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is the same person as the Father of the New Testament, you will find a glaring contradiction within a single chapter of the Bible.

John 1 begins with stating that Jesus is God. Later in the same chapter he says "No man hath seen God at any time …", even though obviously John himself had seen Jesus.

So either John lied, or the God of the Old Testament is not the same person as the Father of the New Testament.

John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and other New Testament scriptures clearly say that the God of the Old Testament, referred to as "I AM", or "JHVH", was Jesus himself, before being incarnated as a human.

In saying that no one has seen God, John was not referring to God (YHVH), but to God (the Father).

God the Father never showed himself to humans, and was effectively unknown throughout the Old Testament.

John 1:18 says that the Father has finally been fully revealed to mankind by Jesus, "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.".

In Luke 10:22 Jesus says, "… no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.".

Until Jesus revealed to mankind that the Father exists, only Jesus knew the Father. Humanity knew of only YHWH, who was the pre-incarnation Jesus.

So yes, many people in both testaments have seen God (YHVH or Jesus), but no, no one has yet seen God (the Father).

  • 1
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    – curiousdannii
    Dec 21, 2020 at 5:26

This question is actually a very god question. To understand the answer, you need to understand the Hebraic concept of representation - a very important one to grasp.

Essentially.... if a ‘person’ or ‘entity’ representing a ‘higher’ or more authoritative ‘one’ is standing in front of you, it is as if that ‘higher’ person themselves is standing there. If they bring a message, and read it, it is as if that ‘higher’ person themselves is saying it.

But more - if there was a written account of the ‘meeting’, it would be written as if that ‘higher being’ was actually there saying it.

The problems occur when you ‘read’ Torah with a western ‘view’. So let’s have a look at how this looks ...

EXODUS 3:2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. [snip]

The angel representing Yahweh. The angel is speaking as Yahweh. He is, in all intents and purposes Yahweh. So in the next verse we see ...

EXODUS 3:4 So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

For us to correctly interpret these numerous passages and accounts, you need to both understand the Hebraic perspective, and/or take the New Testaments ‘interpretation’.

ACTS 6:30 *”And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. *

31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,

So we see that in the burning bush, it was an angel, and angel of the Lord, yet, it was [as if] the Lord, it was Yahweh.

So that [can] explains these apparent contractions - which arise out of failing to use the correct foundation for interpretation. There are online scholarly, peer reviewed references available for referencing this concept of ‘representation’. Also, some Lexicon’s reflect these interpretations, e.g. Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

So, many have indeed ‘seen’ God. Jesus ‘represented’ God. When people saw Jesus, it was as if they were looking and seeing God. Now we, believers’ are representatives, we are ‘ambassadors’, and when others ‘see’ us, they should increasingly see Jesus being reflected ‘through us’.

This is actually bordering on the meaning of ‘in the image of God’, imageo deo - but, that’s another question.

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    Thanks, I've heard this concept (or at least a very similar one) described as Divine Investiture. You mentioned some articles in scholarly literature; could you add a couple in the footnotes? Feb 25, 2021 at 20:12
  • @Dave can you suggest some literature on the concept of "representation"? May 21, 2021 at 9:07

Absolutely and unequivocally yes. At Genesis 16:13 Hagar says, "Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, "Thou are a God who sees;" for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"

So on what basis did Hagar come to that conclusion? Going back to verse 7, "Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur," At verse 9, the angel of the Lord said to her, I WILL greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count." (I'm not going to quote every verse but highlight the important ones).

Now look at Genesis 17:1-2. Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless, vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly."

The question I have is "Rhetorical." I maintain that the same being who multiplied Hagar's descendants is the same being who multiplied Abram's descendants. It's already been pointed out that God the Father cannot be seen even by Jesus Christ Himself. John 5:37, John 6:46 and by others at John 1:18 and 1 Timothy6:16. Besides, Jesus also said at John 4:24, "God is spirit (or a spiritual being if you will) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth."

Now, getting back to Genesis 17:1-2 some may say and do say that God appeared to Abram in a dream or even a vision. God did appear to Abram in a vision at Genesis 15:1. Even in a vision you are seeing, that's why it's called a "vision." But at Genesis 17:1-2 it was not a vision which is verified at Genesis 17:22. "And when He/God finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham."

I maintain the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God the Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. The Son is the only manifestation and revelation of the Father. What is known of the Father is revealed through the Son. To see the Son is to see the essence of the Father. (John 1:18; 10;30; 12:45; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

Now turning to Genesis 18:1, "Now the Lord appeared to him/Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day." In this chapter it was the angel of the Lord who appeared to Abraham with two actual angels.

In the rest of the chapter Abraham and the Lord discuss Sodom and Gomorrah. The last verse says, "And as soon as He/God finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed; and Abraham returned to his place. Now look at Genesis 19:1, "Now the TWO ANGELS came to Sodom in the evening etc. Conclusion, the angel of the Lord is not an actual angel but the other two persons were actual angels.

The Hebrew word for angel is "malik" and it simply means messenger. It should be noted that in all the appearances of the angel of the Lord he not only acts as a messenger but he also intercedes for the nation of Israel. And another side note worth mentioning is the fact that the angel of the Lord never appears in the New Testament as the angel of the Lord, although he is mentioned by Stephen at Acts 7.

Some very interesting things regarding the angel of the Lord at Genesis 22. Verse 1, "Now it came about after these things, that GOD tested Abrahm." He tested him by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Verse 10, "And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."

Verse 11, "But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Vs12, And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld you son, your only son from Me." (As a side note Isaac was not Abraham's only son).

Vs14, "And Abraham called the name of that place the Lord will provide." Jumping to vs15, "Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, vs16, and said, "BY MYSELF I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld you son, your only son,

vs17, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies." Vs18, "And in your seed all the nations shall be blessed, because YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE."

It should be noted that the Jews have what is know as the "Shaliach" principle. That is that an agent/emissary was often appointed to represent a principal. In this case it is said the angel of the Lord is simply representing God, who is the principal. He is speaking the words for God just like a prophet speaks words for God.

A couple of things to note is that a "Shaliach" is limited on what he can do on behalf of a principal. More importantly and this point puts the nail in the coffin so to speak as to why the "Shaliach" principle does not apply by reading Hebrews 6:13,14.

"For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could not swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, Vs14, saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you."

An an actual angel cannot swear an oath on behalf of God because angels are not greater than God. Although, angels can swear oaths on their own at Revelation 10:5-6. This not only means that the angel of the Lord is not an actual angel, but it proves (at least to me according to the evidence) that the angel of the Lord has to be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. And at Hebrews 6:16 regarding oaths, men swear by God who is greater than they are. They do so in order to convince other men that they are truthful and intend to abide by their promise.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 21, 2020 at 5:26

Has anyone seen God or not?

The answer is No.

In Exodus 33:11

So the Lord used to speak to Moses' face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

No one has seen God. The expression that Moses spoke to God "face to face" denotes an intimate two-way conversation. God said to Moses “You cannot see My face, for mankind shall not see Me and live!” Hence Moses did not see God but spoke to God's representatives.

Under inspiration by God's spirit, Paul wrote that the Law was transmitted through angels at the hand of the mediator.

Galatians 3:19 NASB

19 Why the Law then? It was added on account of the violations, having been ordered through angels at the hand of a mediator, until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made.

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    Counterpoint: the prophet Ezekiel writes of seeing God, and leaves a description of God's physical appearance.
    – nick012000
    Dec 21, 2020 at 0:38
  • It was a vision, a great privilege, Ezekiel was given a most extensive vision, one that will surely bring that faithful man a great deal of comfort and hope! The prophetic message of the vision was that pure worship would be restored! Dec 21, 2020 at 16:37

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