Like so many questions about the Bible, the answer is yes and no. That sounds frustrating, but the “yes and no” answer can actually help us understand the nature of God.
The Old Testament is filled with meetings with God, but all in the context of a strong belief that God could not be seen. That is, you couldn’t see God and live to tell the tale. And yet, Jacob wrestled with the mysterious angel and said, “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” Moses’ face shone after encountering the burning bush. The prophet Isaiah said he saw the Lord sitting on a throne.
Did they see God? It’s a stretch. They all were seeing a representation of God or, in Isaiah’s case, a symbolic vision. Even in such direct encounters, God couldn’t be pinned down to a place or form. The important thing is that they communicated with God, heard God’s teachings and shared that faith with others.
What isn’t a stretch is what happened after the Resurrection. The Apostle Paul talks about all Christians, together, being the body of Christ. And Jesus himself said that when you feed the hungry or clothe the naked, you do it to him — to Jesus himself! We see Christ in each other every day, and our faces should shine with joy because of it.
Michael Rich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville
Our human eyes cannot see the spiritual world
The Bible does give accounts of people seeing and speaking with God. Evidence of this is found in Genesis 18 and Exod. 24:9-11. It’s also made clear in 1 Tim. 6:16 that God dwells in “unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” I wonder if we are asking ourselves the right question. Can this divine spirit be seen as men see each other? Our eyes are not created to see the spiritual things of this world.
Do you remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? It is told through various cultural and religious traditions, however the version by 19th-century poet John Godfrey Saxe may be the most well known. It is the story of six blind men describing their new-found knowledge of the curious animal, the elephant. Each man touched only one part of the animal and, from that one perspective, described the elephant as either a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, a fan and, finally, a rope.
Of course, each man was correct, based on his own perspective alone, but each was also wrong because not one had a full grasp. And so it is with God — each had seen, but only as a man can see.
Maybe the correct question is, “When my time comes, will I see Him?”
E. Steven Richardson, 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston