Seen and Heard

God is seen and heard

Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Ex 24:9-11/ Ex 33:11/ Ex 33:23/ Is 6:1

God is invisible and cannot be heard

Ex 33:20/ John 1:18/ John 5:37/ 1 Tim 6:16

1) What is the supposed contradiction and why is it believable?

SEEN AND HEARD

Genesis 3:9-10 says 9But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? 10He said, I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Genesis 32:30 says “30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away.”

Exodus 24:9-11 says “9Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up [the mountainside].10And they saw the God of Israel [that is, a convincing manifestation of His presence], and under His feet it was like pavement of bright sapphire stone, like the very heavens in clearness.11And upon the nobles of the Israelites He laid not His hand [to conceal Himself from them, to rebuke their daring, or to harm them]; but they saw [the manifestation of the presence of] God, and ate and drank.”

Exodus 33:11 says, “11And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Moses returned to the camp, but his minister Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the [temporary prayer] tent.”

Isaiah 6:1 says, “1IN THE year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple.”

INVISIBLE AND CANNOT BE HEARD

Exodus 33:20 says, “20But, He said, You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.”

John 1:18 says, “18No man has ever seen God at any time; the only [a]unique Son, or [b]the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].”

John 5:37 says, “37And the Father Who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. Not one of you has ever given ear to His voice or seen His form (His face–what He is like). [You have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him.]”

1 Timothy 6:16 says, “16Who alone has immortality [in the sense of exemption from every kind of death] and lives in unapproachable light, Whom no man has ever seen or can see. Unto Him be honor and everlasting power and dominion. Amen (so be it).”

Honestly, this one excites me. It is the first time in the list that I can look at these verses and see a contradiction in terms, as it appears with these verses plucked out. It’s finally a conflict with some meat in it. I’m especially intrigued by the verses from Exodus 33, where it says Moses and God spoke face to face and just 9 verses later God says Moses cannot see His face.

2) What is the truth in these verses and why do they NOT actually contradict each other?

I’m going to first start with the following verses:

Exodus 24:9-11 says “9Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up [the mountainside].10And they saw the God of Israel [that is, a convincing manifestation of His presence], and under His feet it was like pavement of bright sapphire stone, like the very heavens in clearness.11And upon the nobles of the Israelites He laid not His hand [to conceal Himself from them, to rebuke their daring, or to harm them]; but they saw [the manifestation of the presence of] God, and ate and drank.”

Isaiah 6:1 says, “1IN THE year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple.”

These are merely visions or interpretations of God. Specifically in Isaiah, he says he saw God in a vision. This happens may times throughout the text. God appears to prophets in visions. This is not a physical meeting where God and man stand toe to toe.

Genesis 3:9-10 says 9But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? 10He said, I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

One of many times in the bible where God is not only heard, but the rest of the verses in this example show that man has talked with God. This one is a no brainer, God continues to talk with man to this day.

Next I will discuss Jacob’s naming of Peniel:

“ 24And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak.25And when [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against [Jacob], He touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him.26Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me.27[The Man] asked him, What is your name? And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!28And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.29Then Jacob asked Him, Tell me, I pray You, what [in contrast] is Your name? But He said, Why is it that you ask My name? And [the Angel of God declared] a blessing on [Jacob] there.30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away.”

Again, we see another manifestation of God: an angel that wrestled with Jacob. A messenger to Jacob, and as we can see, to the rest of us that Israel’s root is in struggle against God. It is a foreshadowing of the story told throughout the Old Testament and still witnessed today. Beliefs and faith aside, it is clear in this instance that God Himself did not physically come down to wrestle with Jacob. It was the representation of God that Jacob saw. Much like saying we see God in everyday occurrences, in visions or dreams, etc.

John 1:18 says, “18No man has ever seen God at any time; the only [a]unique Son, or [b]the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].”

Nobody has ever witnessed God in His purest form. As we have seen above, God has only appeared as a mental picture (visions, dreams, etc.) or in physical representations (angels, pillars of smoke and fire). In John 4:24, Christ even details the reason for this: “24God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” Even if you are an unbeliever and reading this as a “story book” or historical context, there is not an example in the bible that contradicts this. God’s appearances throughout the bible are manifestations. Even Christ Himself is considered “God Incarnate” = a physical representation of God. This is why the Christian belief is that the physical appearances of God are the “preincarnate Christ”. While this is faith based, the point is that God in His purest form has never been seen by man, for our mortal selves could not handle it. We see this in the next passage. 1 Timothy 6:16 says, “16Who alone has immortality [in the sense of exemption from every kind of death] and lives in unapproachable light, Whom no man has ever seen or can see. Unto Him be honor and everlasting power and dominion. Amen (so be it).” This was discussed in the last contradiction. Since man cannot handle God in His purest form, then it only makes sense to describe Him as an unapproachable light, does it not? In all the biblical descriptions of God, they are but attempts to describe His Awesome Being. Even in Revelation, John’s vision of God, heaven, and the events of the future were indescribable. John could only say, “it was like…” in an attempt to tell us what he saw.

In the same token, as John begins his gospel, he explains that Christ has come to “explain” or interpret God for us. This does 1 of 2 things: it exemplifies the relationship between God and Christ and it shows that for the first time, God will be shown to us by more than just visual representations. John 1:18 says, “18No man has ever seen God at any time; the only [a]unique Son, or [b]the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].” You see, before Christ when God appeared to man (regardless of the form), He told man what to do. In Christ, God exemplified what He wants us to do by acting it out. By providing a perfect example, mentor, and teacher we can relate better. It makes sense that He would take the form of man to show man how to be a man, doesn’t it? I’ve had people tell me why God would do such a thing…WHY WOULDN’T HE? How much have we retained from a burning bush, a pillar of fire, a cloud of smoke, or even a host of angels? We can’t relate to any of those things, but a man we can. How can we say, “you don’t understand what I am going through…” to someone who we KNOW has gone through it? This is His point in the next passage. It’s actually sad that even though God provided us with all this knowledge, the answers to the questions man has been asking since the beginning of time, we neglect to acknowledge them.

John 5:37 says, “37And the Father Who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. Not one of you has ever given ear to His voice or seen His form (His face–what He is like). [You have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him.]”

Before I begin on this verse, I would like to continue Christ’s train of thought by following it up with the next few verses: “38And you have not His word (His thought) living in your hearts, because you do not believe and adhere to and trust in and rely on Him Whom He has sent. [That is why you do not keep His message living in you, because you do not believe in the Messenger Whom He has sent.] 39You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these [very Scriptures] testify about Me! 40And still you are not willing [but refuse] to come to Me, so that you might have life. 41I receive not glory from men [I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame],42But I know you and recognize and understand that you have not the love of God in you.” The pretext to the speech He is giving here is the result of the Jews surrounding Him telling Him how wrong He was for healing people on the Sabbath and even…get this…telling a man to pick up the pallet he was laying on because he was lame and could not walk (John 5:10). His statement to the audience that they have not seen or heard the voice of God is accusatory. He is telling them that they focus on man’s rules, not the rules set forth by God and that their religiousness has taken precedence in their lives over God. They refuse to listen to or see God in their lives, rather their own self righteousness. They deny Christ as the Messiah, even though they continually look for the Messiah. It is the story of Judaism as told in the bible, how they patiently wait their Messiah, yet they rejected Him when He appeared because they did not listen to God’s voice, only their own.

Exodus 33:11 says, “11And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Moses returned to the camp, but his minister Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the [temporary prayer] tent.”

Exodus 33:20 says, “20But, He said, You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.”

Again, it is important to know why God said what he did. “ 18And Moses said, I beseech You, show me Your glory.19And God said, I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE LORD, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy and loving-kindness on whom I will show mercy and loving-kindness. 20But, He said, You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live. 21And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place beside Me, and you shall stand upon the rock, 22And while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Perhaps if we only read “And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face…” it would mean physically face to face, however we cannot ignore the second part of the sentence, “as a man speaks to his friend.” You see, this was meant to explain the relationship between God and Moses. Prior to this verse, we see the set up of the point behind this passage. If we look at the elements as a story book (religion aside) we can see that God set Moses apart from the people. When the camp was set up, Moses’ tent was set up outside, a distance from the rest of Israel (33:7). Once he entered the tent, the presence of God in the form of a cloud would descend upon the tent and Moses and God would converse (33:9). This is the same cloud we see leading Israel during the day along their journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 13:21), the cloud over Mt. Sinai when Moses received The Law (Exodus 19:11), and the cloud that appeared over the tabernacle as a sign of God’s presence (Exodus 40:34). We see in verses 18-23 a couple key points:

1) If Moses was already seeing God face to face, why would he ask to see God’s face (think about it, he is asking this as he is speaking face to face with God) in verse 18. It is because Moses knew that he was only seeing a representation of God. He knew he was only seeing a manifestation/ representation of God and wanted to see God in His purest state.

2) God’s response is that of love. He replies that He will do all things for man, and one of those things is to not show His pure Glory to man, for it will kill man. But, to do His best to satisfy Moses’ request, God promises to show him as much as is possible for Moses to endure.

3) How can we use this to educate ourselves and others to further the Kingdom?

We CAN see and hear God, if we choose to do so. People say they don’t hear or see God, but they refuse to listen for or look for Him the way He CAN be heard. If we close our eyes and say we cannot see, whose fault is that, the one who cannot see or the One who cannot be seen? If we cover our ears, who are we to blame the speaker for not being heard?

God has laid out for us in His Word how we can see and hear Him in order to have a relationship with Him. If we refuse to explore this then how can we learn to hear or see Him? The sad thing is that not everyone wishes to see Him because of fear. For fear is the opposite of faith. Even if we can only wish to have faith, we have more faith than those who deny faith even exists. Fear of not having control (pride), fear of being judged (false sense of who God really is), or fear of not being good enough (false understanding of grace) are all stumbling blocks to faith. This is what Christ means by denying ourselves.

The awesome thing is that all we have to do is ask. God doesn’t want us to be perfect FOR Him, He wants us to recognize that we are imperfect WITHOUT Him! His perfect love casts out all fear, but how does it do it? It casts out all fear by seeing His awesome power and hearing His powerful Word.

Another important lesson to take from this is the fact that those who do not see or hear we cannot make see or hear. I’ve struggled with this frustration over the years. I’ve done my best to explain the Truth to others but they refuse to believe it, this is because it is not up to us, but the One who is the Truth. It is merely our job as disciples and bearers of the Word to plant the seed. We merely are to tell people of His Gospel. We cannot make anyone believe any more than the planter can make a flower grow. The planter can provide things that help but the actual growing process is not up to the planter. Rather, it is up to the One who designed the seed to grow in the first place. It’s a hard Truth to swallow, but it is one we should accept.

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