“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known.” John 1:18 (emphasis mine)
Have you ever thought about that verse?
I mean stop and think about what John has just said.
“Nobody has ever seen God.”
“And He said, ‘Hear My words when there are prophets among you, I The Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with Moses; he is entrusted with all My house. With him I speak face to face – clearly not in riddles; and he beholds the form of The Lord.'” Numbers 12:6-8 (emphasis mine)
What about this time when Moses and 73 other people saw God
“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11 (emphasis mine)
Then there was Isaiah:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw The Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty, and the hem of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 (emphasis mine)
Job said the following:
“I had heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you” Job 42:5 (emphasis mine)
Abram, Issac & Jacob?
“I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord’ I did not make myself known to them.” Exodus 6:3 (emphasis mine)
A couple more for Abram:
“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.” Gen 17:1 (emphasis mine)
“The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.” Gen 18:1 (emphasis mine)
These are just a few examples of many people who saw God before Jesus showed up in Bethlehem.
I won’t bother going into details of the many others who did. That’s not the main point of this article.
So what is your point Phil?
This is my point.
Is the scripture full of lies? Did these accounts not really happen?
Or is John lying in his Gospel account when He says until Jesus nobody had seen the Father?
I don’t personally think it’s either.
In fact Jesus Himself backs up John’s statement:
“And the Father who sent Me has himself testified on My behalf. You have never heard His voice or seen His form,” John 5:37 (emphasis mine)
“Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.” John 6:46 (emphasis mine)
I think each and every account recorded is true. Those people saw God.
But I think John and Jesus are pointing out something important.
While those people saw God, they did not see Him clearly.
They did not see Him as He was.
Without Jesus as a lens through which to see the Father we have all perverted the image of God.
We read our fears and failings into God. We assume the worst rather than seeing Him for who He is.
People’s number one response to seeing God in the Old Covenant was fear. They grew fearful and aware of their sin.
He wanted to point out our value to Him not our failings.
So what is John saying?
If we build our knowledge of God on the way He was perceived by those in the Old Covenant we will surely fail to recognise Him.
This of course is what the Pharisses did. They stood right in front of Jesus and failed to see He was God! He wasn’t what they expected to see!
But John highlights what Paul does in His letter to the Colossians – that “Jesus is the image of the invisible God”. We don’t know what God is like, and we will always mess up figuring out that. The only way to truly see Him as He is, is to look upon Jesus. As Jesus said – “if you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.”
I think John is challenging our preconceived images of God. We tend to make Him in our image.
Let’s not fall into that trap. Let’s instead trust this:
*Image by Gabriel Doyle