Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Does God Look Like?

The other day one of my elderly clients asked me what God looks like. I'm not sure why she thought I would know, but we had an interesting discussion about it. I'd actually just read Exodus 24 that morning. Verses 9-11 say:

"Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank."

Years ago I wrote "WOW!" next to this. Imagine being invited to see God!

But notice that Moses does not describe God's appearance. The only word picture he gives us is of the sapphire-like pavement under his feet.

Today's reading came from Exodus 33. Moses and God are talking when Moses asks if he can see God's glory. God agrees under this condition:

"There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not be seen." (v. 21-23)

Ahhhh. Now I see why Moses didn't describe God back in Ex. 24. Apparently he and the others didn't actually see God's face when they were in His presence.

Isaiah saw God, too. In Isaiah 6:1 he says:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted and the train of his robe filled the temple."

No description here either, but what an awesome image this must have been!!

My elderly client also wanted to know if I thought Jesus looked like the picture she has hanging near her bed. You know the one. We've all seen it and even had similar pictures in our homes. (My Mom has the one my Grandma owned hanging in her room.) The man in the picture does have a sweetness about him. His face is very serene and peaceful. So it this what Jesus will look like when we see Him?

I told my client: I don't think so.

Why don't I think Jesus looks like that portrait? Well, for one, that picture is simply one artists idea of what Jesus looked like. We know Jesus would have had dark hair and eyes because of the region he lived in. But other than that, the Bible doesn't give us any real description of him. You know what that says to me? It says that Jesus was a very ordinary looking man.

But does He still look like He did when He was on earth?

Again, I don't think so. After Jesus rose from the grave, He appeared to many. Yet...

In Luke 24:16 the two disciples walking to Emmaus don't recognize him.
In John 20:14 Mary Magdalene doesn't recognize him.
In John 2l:4 a boat load of fishing disciples, including Peter and John, didn't recognize him on the shore.

I think Revelation 19 explains why. John, still recording the revelation that Jesus gave him, gives this description of Jesus in verse 11-16:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped with blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

That description doesn't sound like the meek and mild Jesus who walked the earth and was hung on a cross by an angry mob!

All of this tells me we can't really answer the question, "What does God look like?" We are obviously not supposed to know. But will we know someday?


Revelation 21:3 says, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God."

I can't wait for that day, folks!! The day I see God!


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