We Are Radical

Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)

Can God Be Seen or Not?

In attempts to uncover apparent discrepancies in the Bible, regularly appearing on the skeptic’s comparative lists are the biblical claims that God cannot be seen (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18; 6:46; 1 John 4:12), while God has reportedly been seen and communicated with “face to face” (Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11). When set in opposition to each other on a confined itemized chart, there seems to be an obvious disparity. But when contextual and exegetical considerations are involved in the assessment, there is no problem at all. To “see” is an allusion both to physical eyesight (“I see the bird in the tree”) and to mental perception (“We see the matter differently”). God’s full spiritual essence cannot be optically viewed with the human eye (Exodus 33:20), whereas deity can be more clearly understood when cognitively visualized through the revelation of Jesus Christ (John 1:18). It is not with physical eyesight that God is seen but with purity of heart (Matthew 5:8).

The Bible, like all other forms of communication (both written and oral) in every language and culture throughout history, is filled with figures of speech. When two people, living on separate continents, see “eye to eye,” no one envisions them literally facing each other with their eyeballs pressed together! Anthropomorphism is a very common literary device wherein human characteristics are ascribed to nonhuman entities (e.g. “The merciless typhoon was tireless in its malicious tirade”). Since the spiritual realm is beyond the ability of the mortal mind to fully comprehend, God is depicted throughout scripture with imagery to which humans can relate (“face,” “ears,” “hands,” “eyes,” etc.). Thus speaking with God “face to face” is simply a metaphoric description of direct, intelligible, and intimate conversation (see Numbers 12:6-8).

Originally posted on 12 November 2011 by Kevin L. Moore at http://www.poriruachurch.com. Quotations are from the NKJV.

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This entry was posted on 12/11/2011 by in The Bible and tagged , , .