In the first chapter of today’s Bible reading I ran into this interesting section:
9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank (Exodus 24:9-11, English Standard Version, emphasis mine).
The reason I found it interesting is because it brought this other verse to mind:
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (John 1:18).
And…if that isn’t enough…also check out Exodus 33:20, John 6:46, Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 John 4:12.
What gives? Nobody has seen God but Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel “saw the God of Israel” and “beheld God”?
The answer is simple. We should take the Bible literally…but we also should take it literarily. That is, when we read any other literature we have no difficulty understanding how language works, including levels of meaning for the same word. Those seventy-four men saw God in that they saw His effects and how He chose to reveal Himself. It is applying the words “saw” and “beheld” too literally to insist it is the same as you and I sitting across from each other at a booth at a diner.
Having said all this, if you long to see God you can…and I’m not talking about waiting until you are on the other side of eternity (assuming you are saved).
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:1-3, emphasis mine).
Or, more simply (from the mouth of Jesus)…
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9, in part).
And whoever sees me sees him who sent me (John 12:45).