“We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see” 2 Corinthians 4:18a, NCV
I have a hazy memory of a moment in my childhood when my sister and I were talking. I can’t really recall what we were talking about, but I remember myself saying, “To see is to believe.” My father heard that. He immediately called my attention and asked, “Do you see God?” I knew at once what he meant, so I just kept quiet. My sister did, too. (Papa, do you remember this?) 😂
One of The Attributes of God that describes His being is INVISIBILITY. Being immaterial, He doesn’t have a physical form. He is not composed of any kind of material or substance perceivable by the bodily senses. God is invisible. His total essence, all of His being, will never be visible to us.
John was one of the first several witnesses who had testimonies about Jesus. In his book, he spoke of God who has never been seen by anyone ever except Jesus who is Himself God.
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God…” John 1:18a, NIV
However, there were these great men in the Bible who claimed to have seen God face to face:
“Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘for I’ve seen God face to face, and my life has been spared’” (Gen. 32:30, TLV).
“The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11, NCV).
John’s statement regarding God’s invisibility may seem to contradict Jacob, Moses, and many others’ experiences in “seeing God face to face,” but no, it does not. To assimilate this apparent contradiction, we must dig in to these important biblical truths:
GOD HAS NO FORM. God is immaterial. Both the Old and the New Testament tell us that God has no form — His existence is non-physical.
GOD IS SPIRIT. God is invisible because He is Spirit, not flesh. God is Spirit so that He is not restricted to one place. He is omnipresent — present everywhere; that’s why worship is not restricted to one place either.
GOD APPEARED TO MEN IN VAGUE FORMS. God, who has no form, appeared to men in vague forms — forms with descriptions that are not clearly sensed and fully expressed.
This is an amazing account of the leaders of Israel’s claim to have seen God. But how much detail about God’s looks and appearance do we get from these verses? They saw God but just His feet. Moses managed to describe what’s under His feet; apart from that, we don’t get much of a description about God Himself. God may have been visible to them at that moment but certainly not fully so.
Another spectacular account of God being “seen” is found in Isaiah 6 — when Isaiah had a glimpse of God and the heavens. If we read all the way until the fifth verse, we can tell that it had a tremendous impact on him. But again, how much of how God looks can we know about this passage? God was sitting on the throne, wearing a robe that fills the temple. That’s it! Isaiah has more to say about the angels. The angels, on the other hand, only speak of God’s character — holy, holy, holy, and full of glory!
SEEING GOD “FACE TO FACE” IS NOT SEEING GOD’S FACE. In Exodus 33, Moses is said to have spoken to God face to face. Here, we must understand that the expression “speaking face to face” is a figure of speech. The point of these words is not that God’s face was actually seen. It means speaking with someone on an intimate and personal manner — as a friend speaks to a friend.
SEEING GOD’S FACE WOULD BE FATAL. In the verses that follow the above passage, the Lord Himself told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:20, NJV). To see God’s face would be fatal. Even men in the olden days knew about that. Jacob marveled that his life had been preserved after wrestling with God (Gen. 32:30). Samson’s “soon-to-be-parents” were amazed they didn’t die for having seen God (Judg. 13:22).
THE INVISIBLE GOD APPEARED TO MANKIND IN THE APPEARANCE OF A MAN AS JESUS CHRIST. He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being (Heb. 1:3). He is the one and only Son, who is Himself God (John 1:18). But He took the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8) to give His life as ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).
Jesus dwelt among men and was visible for a time. Despite seeing Him and witnessing numerous signs and wonders, there were still many who refused to believe. Some even asked for more signs! (Matt. 12:38-40). The hearts of the unbelieving are so hardened, their eyes are so tightly closed shut that, for them, no evidence will ever be so convincing. For them, seeing is not believing.
Since the time of Jesus’s resurrection and ascension, He has no longer been visible to men in the flesh. The invisibility of the Lord Jesus holds a beautiful promise:
“If you love Me, you will obey My commands. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it does not see Him or know Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you and He will be in you. I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live, too. On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and that you are in Me and I am in you” John 14:15-20, NCV
JESUS’s PHYSICAL ABSENCE RESULTS IN THE SENDING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT who will be our Helper. While Jesus dwelt among men during His “man-life” on Earth, He now dwells within every believer through the Holy Spirit. Though the world shall never see Jesus in the flesh again, He will be seen by His people — this seeing is not literal or physical but spiritual. We see God by faith, being assured that He is with us and in us.
THE INVISIBILITY OF GOD CAN SOMETIMES BE A PROBLEM TO THE SAINTS. There may be some dark moments in our lives when we lose sight of the presence of God. We want to be assured that He is with us. We must never be tempted to seek for visible signs to prove His presence. Let us not focus our eyes on things that are seen; they are just temporary. Things unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18)
May the invisibility of God teach us to look to things other than those which are unseen. After all, we should be really walking by faith and not by sight. ❤️
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7, KJV).
This is an updated edition of an article originally published on thegodiknow.home.blog
Featured Image by Breno Machado