October 28, 2001 / Volume 1, Issue 34
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Can God be seen or not? Some passages (ie. Exodus 24:9-10; 32:30; 33:11, 23 Amos 9:1; Genesis 26:2 and John 14:9) say that God can be and has been seen. Some passages (ie. John 1:18; Exodus 33:20; 1 Timothy 6:16) say that God cannot be and has not been seen.
Is there a contradiction?
No man can see the Lord as He is. One text cited above states, He "...alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." (1 Timothy 6:16). When we read of someone in the Bible seeing the Lord, they have not seen Him in this unapproachable form.
For there to be a contradiction, the questioner needs to produce a passage which states that someone has approached the Lord's "...unapproachable light..." We find several times in Scripture the Lord appearing in various forms, such as -- a burning bush (Exodus 3); with the appearance of a man (Ezekiel 1:26); as the Angel of the Lord (Numbers 22:27; Judges 6:22); and through a cloud and pillar of fire (Numbers 14:14). The only time it seems that a man came close to seeing the Lord in His unapproachable form is Moses in Exodus 33. The face to face meeting with the Lord in verse 11 is not with His "unapproachable light", for in verses 20-23, the Lord tells Moses he cannot see His face. Moses could not see while the glory of the Lord passed by.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible