I recently came across an article called “Top 101 Theological Questions In 2018 (According To Google).” There were some interesting questions on there that I wanted to answer. Today’s question is:
What Does God Look Like?
This seems to be a natural question that comes up when thinking about God. When we hear someone on the radio that we have never seen before, it’s common to wonder what they look like. So what does the Bible say about God’s appearance?
Scripture indicates that God the Father is a spirit and thus is invisible (John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Col. 1:15). There are also several passages where God appears on earth in certain ways, but these aren’t meant to portray what God actually looks like. An obvious example would be God appearing to Moses as a burning bush.
However, there are two passages in Scripture that specifically describe the appearance of God in heaven. The passages are Ezekiel 1:16-28 and Revelation 1:12-17.
“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”
The prophet Ezekiel began his book by discussing a vision of God that he had seen. As you can see, words escaped him as he tried to describe everything in detail. The first thing that Ezekiel sees is a throne with a human-like person on it. The top half of this person looked like shining metal, along with fire, brightness and a rainbow surrounding him.
The vision Revelation is very similar.
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”
Like Ezekiel, John describes God as having the appearance of a human. However, it’s also clear that the individual that John sees is Jesus, the one who died and is alive again (1:18). Based on the similarities of the two visions, I think it is safe to say that Ezekiel saw Jesus as well.
John is a little more descriptive of the appearance than Ezekiel. John mentions that God has a long robe and sash around him. He has white hair, eyes like fire, feet like bronze, and a voice as loud as rushing waves. Proceeding from his mouth is a sword and his face shines like the sun.
Both of these descriptions are absolutely breathtaking to imagine, but I don’t think that we can conclude that these describe what God looks like all of the time. These visions may simply be how God chose to reveal himself to two finite human beings.
So when we get to heaven, what exactly will we see? I am not sure, but I believe we will probably see what Stephen saw right before his death:
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-57).
In other words, I believe we will see the glory of God and Jesus at his right hand. And we should respond in the same way that Ezekiel and John did when they saw God: fall down on our faces in worship.
4 thoughts on “Top Theology Questions: What Does God Look Like?”
“No one has ever seen God (the Father)–the only God (the Son), who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). So of course both Ezekiel and John saw Jesus, not the Father. For that matter, Jesus after his resurrection was not always recognized by his disciples, so his appearance evidently does change on different occasions. J.
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Great verse and I agree that Ezekiel and John both saw Jesus. Does this verse mean that every appearance of God in the OT was Jesus, not the Father? I.e. Abraham, Jacob, Moses (Ex. 33), Isaiah, etc.?
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After thinking about this more, I can see why people would say this is the case. If no one has ever seen the Father, but people saw God in the OT, then that only leaves Jesus or the Spirit, but the Spirit isn’t physical either. So that leaves Jesus.
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Absolutely yes. Ephesians 1 speaks of Jesus ascending after his resurrection to fill everything in every way. I understand this to refer to time as well as space. So when God ate with Abraham and wrestled with Jacob, he did so in the body that was born of Mary and placed in a manger, the body that walked the roads of Galilee and Judea, the body that was nailed to a cross, killed, buried, and raised on the third day. I would go so far as to say that the hands that formed Adam from the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib were scarred by the nails that had held him to the cross. J.