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Seeing God – Does the Bible contradict Itself?

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Today we’re going to continue looking at passage in Exodus 24 which I read two or three weeks ago.

When I finished the talk on Exodus 24, I referred to a verse which speaks about how the elders of Israel who went up on the mountain with Moses and how they saw God.

Some people said to me: ‘Well, isn’t there a contradiction? It says they saw the God of Israel but there are also verses in the Bible which say “you cannot see God and live“‘

Has anybody ever thought about that? Sometimes, the sceptics might say: ‘Oh! That shows you the Bible doesn’t make sense. It contradicts itself.’

Well, we don’t believe that the Bible does contradict itself, and I believe that there is an explanation for this. Today, we’re going to try and look into it and see what we can learn on this subject.

Let’s just read the scripture from Exodus 24. It comes after Moses has read the Commandments the Law which God has given to him, to the children of Israel; the children of Israel have said as they hear the word: All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient.

All that Lord has commanded me, I will do and be obedient. Then, Moses seals this with the shedding of blood in order to make this Covenant. The Covenant with Moses which was going to be the basis upon which God was going to deal with Israel in the time between Moses and Jesus the Messiah; it was the beginning of the ‘dispensation’ (we call it) of the Law. And after this we see that Moses in verse 9:

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.

Exodus 24.9-11

They saw the God of Israel. In the Hebrew, it uses the most basic word for ‘to see‘. It says Israel saw (the word which just means ‘to see‘), so that the implication is that it wasn’t just some sort of impression, it was something which they actually saw.

It also says that, in God’s presence, there, as they saw the God of Israel, they ate and they drank. And again, it uses the basic words in Hebrew for ‘eat‘ and ‘drink‘, the most basic physical actions we can perform as humans.

So, in the presence of God, they ate and they dranky they saw the God of Israel.

Now, if you go on to chapter 33 of Exodus, in verse 18, we find that there is a passage where Moses asks God to show me your glory. Moses says:

18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33.18-23

You cannot see me and live no man shall see me and live

In John’s Gospel chapter 1, verse 18, John writes:

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1.18

So, let’s see if we can work out if there is an answer to this question.

I put to you that there are three answers.

The first one is that the Bible is very clear that there exists a realm where God exists, where God lives, and a realm where we live. God made the realm where we live but God continues to exist in the realm where He lives, we call it heaven.

There’s also a realm where Satan and the demons live. In fact, in Ephesians chapter 6, it speaks about the powers of darkness in the heavenly realms. So, there’s a realm where God lives, the realm where Satan lives, and a realm where we live.

Since the fall, there’s been a barrier between humanity – the human race – and God. God is Holy, we are sinful, and God and sin cannot coexist, therefore there has to be some separation between a Holy God and the sinful world.

However, at times, we see in the Bible that God breaks through into our realm in a special way.

The second point I want to make and which we’ll look at is that, according to the Bible, according to the Christian understanding of the Bible, God, whose name in Hebrew is Elohim (a plural masculine noun) exists as a triunity, a plural unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Son Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), is the visible person of the Godhead who appears in human form.

The third point refers to the fact that, at special times, especially at the end of one age and the beginning of another age (or a new age of dispensation), each time, God appears on the earth in some visible, special way. And this event which we’re talking about here in Exodus 24, with God appearing to the people in the time of Moses, is the time when He’s beginning the dispensation of the Law which will in turn end with the coming of Jesus.

Jesus is going to appear as God to bring in the dispensation we’re living in now, the dispensation of the church in which we come together God through faith in Jesus the Messiah.