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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Doesn't the Bible Say People Actually Saw God?

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Don Stewart

There are several passages of Scripture that seem to indicate people actually saw God:

Jacob At Peniel

Jacob saw God face to face at Peniel.

And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:30).


The Bible says that Moses saw God on a number of occasions.

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God (Exodus 3:6).

Scripture declares.

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:11).

In Deuteronomy we read.

But since there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10).


Isaiah the prophet records himself seeing God.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).

Did Not See God

Did these people actually see God? No. What these people saw was not the essence of God but a physical representation of Him. As spirit God is invisible to humanity. No one can see Him directly. The Apostle Paul said of Jesus:

He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

Though God, in His essence, is invisible He has taken a physical form on occasions to communicate with His creation. He did this for the benefit of those to whom He was speaking. The physical form gave man a point of reference to which he could communicate with God.

No One Is Able To See God

But that which the people saw was not the essence of God, for no one has seen or can see God in His essence:

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, but the only is at the Father's side, has made him known (John 1:18).

Paul wrote.

Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever (1 Timothy 6:16).

Sinful humanity does not have access to a holy God.


During the Old Testament period God appeared to certain people in a physical form. This form was not the essence of God but rather a physical representation of God for the benefit of those to whom He was speaking. Nobody has seen God or can see God for, by nature, He is an invisible spirit.

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