Did People see God the Father in visions? When will His immortal Children see Him in His Glory?
In a recent Editorial, we stated “that no one has seen God the Father, except in a vision.” When people saw God in the Old Testament, they saw Jesus Christ. We continued:
“When we consider the example of Moses, we find in Exodus 33:11 that ‘the LORD spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend’… in Exodus 33:18, Moses asked to see God’s glory. In verse 20 God or Jesus Christ replied and said: ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’ In verse 23 we find that God did allow Moses to see His back, but not His face. God stated later that Moses saw the form or similitude of the LORD (Numbers 12:8). In these examples, men and, at times, women, had seen the appearance of God, actually Jesus Christ…”
We state much more about Jesus Christ, being the God of the Old Testament, in our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—A Great Mystery.”
On the other hand, while people never saw God the Father “face to face,” they DID see Him in visions. The Old Testament writers knew about the existence of the Father, and in the New Testament, further visions were given about God the Father to confirm His existence and involvement in our lives. It is interesting to note how the Father is described in these visions.
We read in the book of Daniel about a vision showing both God the Father and Jesus Christ. In Daniel 7, 9-10, we read about what Daniel had seen:
“I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened…”
The description of the Ancient of Days reminds us of the description of Jesus Christ, in His glory, as revealed in Revelation 1:12-16:
“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.”
But the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9-10 was not that of Jesus Christ, but of God the Father, as we continue to read about Christ who was brought before the Ancient of Days (the Father) in Daniel 7:13-14:
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”
The similarities in the glorious appearance of the Father and Jesus Christ are understandable when we realize that Christ is the image of the Father. We read in Hebrews 1:3 that Christ is “the brightness of His [the Father’s] glory and the express image of His [the Father’s] person.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 confirms that Christ “is the image of God.”
At one time, Philip asked Christ to show him and the other disciples the Father, adding,”…and it is sufficient for us.” But Jesus responded with astonishment: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (compare John 14:8-9).
We also read this about the glory of Jesus Christ, in Ezekiel 1:4-6,22, 26-28, showing again that Christ is the “image” of God the Father:
“Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings….
“The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads… And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”
Ezekiel 1 describes the “glory of the LORD,” Jesus Christ, on His throne, which was transported by four living angelic creatures or Cherubim.
Stephen was allowed to see the Father and Jesus Christ in a vision, just prior to his death, as revealed in Acts 7:55-58:
“… But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him…”
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul explains that he was transferred in a vision to the third heaven where he heard unspeakable words. Even though he does not specifically say that he saw God the Father in that vision, from the context, it appears that he did.
We read in the book of Revelation that John saw God the Father in a vision. We read in Revelation 4:2-11; 5:1:
“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
“The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’ Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals…”
This is a description of God the Father, not of Jesus Christ, who, pictured as a Lamb, is being brought before the Father, as we read in verses 6 and 7:
“And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.”
So we note that some have seen God the Father in a vision. We also know that God’s born-again children will see Jesus Christ in His full glory, as He is, when He returns (1 John 3:1-2). We also know that they will see God the Father, when He comes down to the new earth, as we read in Revelation 22:1-4:
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.”
This confirms what Christ told His disciples, in Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”
But will we have to wait for seeing the Father in His glory until the new heavens and the new earth are created and the Father comes down from heaven to the new earth to dwell here?
First of all, as born-again Spirit members of the God Family, we can see God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, dwelling in and emanating from us wherever He may be. God the Father and Jesus Christ can see everything through their Holy Spirit emanating from them, even though they, as Persons, are at one given “time” in one given “place.”
But will we, as born-again Spirit beings, see and meet God the Father “face to face,” from Person to Person, standing right next to Him and before Him, long before He comes down to the new earth?
We read that when Jesus Christ comes back in all His glory, a marriage supper will be held between Him and His Bride—the spirit-born members of His Church (Revelation 19:7-9). We do not read in the Bible that the marriage supper will take place in heaven; rather, Christ will return to this earth where, apparently, the marriage supper will take place.
We state in our Q&A about where the marriage supper between Christ and His Church will be held https://www.eternalgod.org/q-a-16/ :
“Christ gave a parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, presupposing that the wedding feast or marriage supper will take place here on earth. We read in verse 11: ‘But when the king [who had arranged the marriage for his son, verse 2] came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.’ In the parable, ‘the king’ represents God the Father, and ‘the son’ represents Jesus Christ. If the marriage supper were to take place in heaven, the guest without a wedding garment could not have been there — neither as a physical being nor as a fallen spirit being. He could not have been a disqualified saint, as there are no physical beings in heaven and as the disqualified saint would not have been changed to spirit. Nor could he have been a ‘fallen’ spirit being, i.e., Satan or a demon, as by that time, Satan and his angels will have no more access to God’s throne in heaven. Revelation 12:8 speaks of a time, before the marriage supper, stating, ‘…nor was a place found for them [Satan and his demons, verse 7] in heaven any longer.’”
Even though the Bible does not say that Christ will return to take us to heaven to celebrate the marriage supper there and then return with us to the earth, the Bible does say that the Father arranges the marriage supper for His Son and comes into the marriage hall to see the guests. The guests do not refer here to born-again Spirit beings, but rather to Old Testament Israel and the religious leadership at Christ’s first coming who had been called to have a physical relationship with God (see “Are you Predestined to be Saved?”, page 53). The Father comes in to see and be seen by the guests… even though, as human beings, they will not be able to see Him in His glory. (The presence of physical guests would also prove that the marriage supper cannot be held in heaven.) We also realize, of course, that Christ is telling a parable, and the analogies only go so far.
But what can be gleaned from this parable is that the Father presents Himself to those at the wedding, including His servants (verse 13), to see them and be seen by them. If this is true for the “guests,” how much more so for His immortal sons and daughters—born-again Spirit beings in His Family? They would of course see Him at the wedding supper as He is—in His glory. This would be one passage strongly implying that we will see the Father in His full glory, face to face and from “Person to Person,” already at the time of the wedding supper.
Is there also any biblical indication that we will ascend to the third heaven and meet with the Father face to face there, from Person to Person, before new heavens and a new earth are created? The short answer is that the Bible does not tell us. What we do know is that we will not be in the third heaven to rule from there over the earth, but we will rule with and under Christ on the earth (Revelation 5:10). God promises us that we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). We are the spiritual descendants of and co-heirs with Abraham who received the promise to be the heir of the world (Romans 4:13). We also read in Psalm 115:16: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S; But the earth He has given to the children of men.”
These passages do not prove, of course, that we could not ascend to the third heaven to “visit” the Father in person, face to face. After all, we read, for example, that God’s angels in heaven always see the face of the Father (Matthew 18:10). And we will be so much more and greater than angels.
On the other hand, nothing is revealed in the Bible that we will ascend to the third heaven, where God’s throne is; and the question as to why we might not do so is therefore moot. As we saw above, God the Father may visit us on earth, and we have pointed out that as born-again Spirit members of the God Family, we can see God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, dwelling in and emanating from us, at any “time” and wherever He may be.
IF the Bible indicates an answer to the question as to whether we will ascend to the third heaven before new heavens will be created, we might turn to John 3:13, which is translated in the Authorized Version (AV) as follows:
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
The words, “which is in heaven” are not found in many old manuscripts or, if they are genuine, they would have been John’s addition who would have commented on Jesus being in heaven at the time of John’s writing (Christ would not have said that He was in heaven when He spoke the words, as He was at that time here on earth and not in heaven.) But even the remainder of the statement is odd, as worded in the AV: “…no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven.” At the time of Christ’s statement, He had not ascended up to heaven.
For this reason, the rendition in the old Luther Bible of 1891, republished in 1964, seems to make more sense, stating: “No one ascends up to heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man.” With that rendering, it is clear that Jesus, after His resurrection, would ascend to heaven, but it could also follow that no one else would. If this conclusion is correct, then it might perhaps indicate that even we, after our resurrection, would still not ascend up to the third heaven. We could speculate as to whether this would indeed be so, and why that might be the case, but since the Bible does not give us any answers to these questions at this point, we will leave it there.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link