Why We Can't See God Now
The obstacles to seeing God in this world are huge. God lives in unapproachable light(1 Tim. 6:16), and we can't see Him without holiness(Heb. 12:14). Our sin and imperfection keep us from seeing God(Isa. 59:2). If we did see the Lord in all His glory even for a fraction of a second, we would die.
In the future when we are in our resurrected and redeemed bodies in the Eternal Heaven, we will see God's face(Rev 22:4). This won't be indirectly or second-hand but with our own eyes(Job 19:25-27). Then we will see first-hand the awesome beauty of God(Psa. 27:4)
What will seeing God be like? Can we have any idea what God looks like? Scripture provides some clues.
Biblical Accounts on God on Earth
As Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt in the exodus, God led the way in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night(Exo. 13:21-22). After they arrived at Mount Sinai, God descended on the mountain with thunder and lightning and thick clouds(Exo. 19:16-19). The sight greatly frightened the people.
The only one God would allow on the mountain and speak to was Moses. When Moses met with God, he also could not see God's face or he would have died(Exo. 33:18-23). The closest he came was when he saw God from behind while hiding in a crevice of a rock. After talking with God, Moses' face was radiant and glowed(Exo. 34:29). He had to cover his face so he wouldn't alarm anyone
In ancient Israel the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle was where the glory of God dwelled. Only the high priest could enter it and only once a year(Exo. 30:10; Lev. 16:2). Even then the Most Holy Place could only be entered once filled with smoke of incense(Lev. 16:12-13). If the priest violated any rule, even unintentionally, he would die. In fact, tradition says a rope was tied around the priest's ankle so in case the priest died, he could be pulled out.
God made an appearance when King Solomon finished the temple he built for the Lord. The glory of God filled the temple in what like a cloud(1 Kings 8:10-12) when the Ark of the Covenant was brought in. In case you were wondering, this is the same ark as in the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Biblical Accounts of God in Heaven
The bible records instances of prophets having visions of God in Heaven. Even here, they did not see God in all His glory. The descriptions offered seem vague, but the prophets were describing the indescribable.
During Isaiah's commission, he found himself in Heaven. Once he saw the temple, angels and God on the throne, Isaiah said he was unworthy(Isa. 6:5). Only after an angel touched Isaiah's mouth with a live coal to purify him did he find himself worthy to take on the task before him.
Ezekiel fell face down(Eze. 1:28) when he saw a vision of God in Heaven on a throne. Ezekiel 1:26-28 describes God as glowing metal from waist up and fire from the waist down and had a radiance around Him. Ezekiel was overwhelmed and spent 7 days recovering after his vision(Eze. 3:15).
In the book of Revelation John saw God on a throne. He describes God having the appearance of jasper and carnelian(Rev. 4:3), both precious stones. He also saw a rainbow encircling the throne.
Seeing Jesus is Seeing God
Jesus told Philip that to see Him was to see God(John 14:7-9). Of course when Jesus lived on Earth as a man He didn't look like God. However, the Bible does record instances of Jesus in His glorified form.
The apostle John collapsed after seeing Jesus glorified(Rev. 1:17). Jesus' head and hair were described to be as white as snow and eyes blazing like fire(Rev. 1:14). His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace(Rev. 1:15). In the transfiguration on a mountain, Jesus' clothes were white as lightning (Luke 9:29). Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, was blinded by a light from Heaven and Jesus (Acts 9:3-9) and did not eat or drink for 3 days. Paul only regained his sight after God commanded Ananias to heal him.
Will we see God in Present Heaven before the resurrection?
We will see God in our resurrected bodies, but will we see God in present Heaven? In other words, if we die before we receive our resurrected bodies, will we see God's face? The Bible doesn't explicitly say whether we will see God there. However, it does say we will be with the Lord(Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). Even if we can't see God's face at that point, we'll be closer to the Lord than we ever have been on Earth.
Last updated 3/8/2011