The Apostle John claimed, “No one has ever seen God;…” 1 John 4:12 And yet, the Bible repeatedly records God as coming among his people. (Academically referred to as a Theophany.) One of the more recognizable times God initiated contact with humans being – obviously – at creation, which was not done at a distance and then left to its own outcome, but rather God spent time with his “children” – walking and talking with them in their newly-formed garden paradise. (Genesis 3:8)
Genesis 18 records God as appearing to Abraham – as a “man” announcing to him and Sarah their soon-to-be answered prayer for a son – consequently bargaining with Abraham over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. God literally “wrestling” with Jacob, a forefather of Israel along with Abraham and Isaac, as he struggled to make amends with his brother Esau and the rest of his family while striving to understand his place in the world. (Genesis 32:24-28)
Exodus then depicts God delivering his commands and statutes to Moses from Mt. Sinai by inscribing them with his own “finger” on the tablets of Testimony. (Exodus 19:3 & 31:18) A meeting between God, Moses and Aaron, as well as 72 elders of Israel noted in Exodus 24:9-11; at which they all saw God and even dined in his presence. It was at this “meeting” that God then invited Moses back to the mountaintop to receive his instructions for the people of Israel. Exodus 34:5,6 describing how God came down to Moses on Mt. Sinai in a cloud, standing before him and proclaiming his name along with the attributes he and that name stood for. (See also Exodus 33:19-23)
One of the most familiar and dramatic appearances of God in his initial dealing with Moses – and through him the Israeli people – came about through a burning bush (Exodus 3:4); setting the stage for Moses’ life and leadership and Israel’s nationhood. Later, in leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, God did so as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. (Exodus 13:21) He then offered to “tabernacle” with them once their departure from Egypt had been successfully accomplished. (Exodus 25:8,9) Upon completion of that dwelling-place of the Lord in their midst, God filled it to capacity with his presence; in the form of a cloud of glory. (Exodus 40:34) A similar occurrence taking place at the consecration of the permeant temple in Jerusalem at the start of Solomon’s reign in Israel. (2 Chronicles 7:1 The Shekinah glory filling the temple as it had the tabernacle.
But then, as a consequence of their establishment not just as a nation but as a covenant people, and their subsequent failure to keep their side of the bargain, the Israelites were repeatedly dispersed, resettled and finally restored – to God and nation-hood. The Most High reaching out to them time after time through judges and prophets such as Samuel, Gideon, Deborah and Sampson; Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah; Hosea, Amos – and others. (Some scholars believing several appearances of an “Angel of the Lord” may actually be Old Testament appearances of the The Lord – or Jesus himself. In particular, Judges describes this apparition as the angel of the Lord, The Lord and the Sovereign Lord; later referring to the Spirit of the Lord coming upon and empowering Gideon with Gideon talking to – and in reality, bargaining with God.
In speaking through the Prophet Ezekiel God at one point accused the designated “Shepherds of Israel” of woefully failing to care for and lead their flock of wandering people, being more concerned for their own welfare and comfort; neglecting the sick, weak, poor and lost. (Ezekiel 34:1-6) God finally declaring, “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” Ezekiel 34:11 Which did not change with the advent of the New Testament, Jesus explaining his mission as consisting, at least in part, of “..seek(ing) and…sav(ing) the lost.” Luke 19:10 The second part of the God-head coming not, “…to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 God so loving, “…the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 God’s quest never changing, as “…the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 Seeking those who worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23)
Many years before the fact, Isaiah prophesied that a “…virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (God with us) That child ultimately being called, “…Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is. 7:14 & 9:6 Those prophecies finding fulfillment in Jesus (Luke 1:26-33 & Matthew 1:23), who scripture reveals as, “…with God in the beginning.”; and having an integral part in creation as God’s Word – the universe being spoken into existence. (God said – and there was, uttered repeatedly through the creation story in Genesis 1, the Greek word for word – Logos – embracing two concepts; reason and speech, as in logic and dialogue. God’s word embodying the power to create and the means to reason with people, re-creating them. See Is. 1:18,1 Peter 3:15 & Luke 1:1-4)
The Apostle John writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. Without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (God’s ongoing intent being to, “…make men in our image, in our likeness,…” Genesis 1:26) Finally insisting that, “The word became flesh (in the person of Jesus) and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-14
Finally, the God who no one had ever seen – directly – came into view explicitly and graphically as a baby, a child, a young working man, a crusader for truly righteous living and a Savior to free us from our sin. John further explaining, “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” John1:18 The Hebrew writer giving ample testimony to the God who created us, provides for us , sustains us, saved us and now intercedes for us; the God who initiated contact with us and who continues to reach out to us even today. As, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:1-3 (See also Hebrews 1:4,7:25 & Romans 8:26,27 & 34)
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