In the Bible we are told that no one can look directly at God face to face and survive. However, there were people in the Old Testament who claimed to have seen God face to face and yet lived to tell about it. How could this be? Is this a contradiction? In these studies we will reconcile these two seemingly opposite statements of scripture and see that there is no contradiction in this matter. So let’s begin…
Michael S. Heiser, a Bible believing Christian and an excellent Hebrew scholar and author of the book “The Unseen Realm” said in a video presentation; “Certain passages in the Old Testament sounded to the ear like the God of Israel were “two.” Rabbis took note of this and referred to the idea as “The Two Powers” in Heaven. This belief was acceptable in Judaism until around 100 AD when it was declared a heresy. One reason was because of the Jewish response to Christianity.”
Yahweh (God) has revealed Himself as invisible yet visible in both the Old and the New Testaments. They is only one God yet in the Hebrew text we see Him revealed in another one who is exactly the same as He is Himself and equal with Him in every divine attribute. This is the basis of John 1:1-2 and 1 John 1:1-2. These two “are one” (Echud) yet “two” and both are eternal, never having been created. Sometimes they appear in the same passage of scripture in the Old Testament while at other times they are separate but there are passages in scripture where you see both involved together but acting as one.
“Elohim” in the Old Testament
The word “Elohim” in the singular usage of the word in Hebrew refers to the one and only God or the supreme and eternal “Elohim” who has no beginning and no end and the one who created everything there is. In the Hebrew Bible we also find other “Elohim” mentioned and these are created spirit-beings called “the sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1) they were around at creation. (Job 38:7) However, they were also among the ‘sons of god’ who left their position in heaven and rebelled against God and came to earthy to have sexual relations with human women. (Genesis 6:1-4) (Jude 1:6) (2 Peter 2:4) (1 Enoch 6-11)
In the Bible God is an Elohim (singular) but no other Elohim (plural-meaning more than one) is God or equal to God. God Himself is unique. God is what He is and there is no other like Him. He is the eternal “I AM.” This is consistent with the Shema, the Great Hebrew confession. (Deuteronomy 6:4) God is also called “Eloah” meaning He is the one and only God and there is no other gods the same as He is that exist.
“He that has seen Me has seen the Father”
When we look at both the Old and the New Testament together in this matter we see that the second Yahweh figure in the Old Testament text turns out to be the Lord Jesus, the eternal Yahweh who was side by side and yet the same as Yahweh and one with Him. As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “I and the Father are one.” (John 10: 30) This was an affirmation that He was God and equal with God and the same as God. He made other statements such as “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works.” (John 14:9-10)
Because He said this and other statements about His unique and eternal relationship with the Father the Jewish religious leaders wanted to stone Him because He made Himself equal with God, which of course He was because He was the Yahweh who was side by side and one with Yahweh and the one who was face to face with Yahweh in eternity before He became a flesh and blood human being. (John 1:14, 18) The Lord Jesus was the exact visible image of the invisible God and all of the fullness of the deity dwelt in Him in bodily form. (Colossians 1:15-17, 19; 2:9)
The Only “Begotten” Son
The Apostle John tells us that the Lord Jesus was the only begotten Son who had always been at the Father’s side and yet is at the Father’s side who has made Him known. The Lord Jesus was fully human yet because He was also fully God at any time He could enter the eternal realm where time as we know it down here on earth does not exist. We see this happening on the Mount of transfiguration (Mt Hermon) when He appears with Moses and Elijah in glory. They were all shining with the same brightness. The word “begotten” describes one who is unique and that there are no others like him or equal to Him anywhere in the whole universe and even beyond that. (John 1:18) a denial of this truth concerning the Father and the Sons eternal relationship as the One Yahweh is the spirit of antichrist. (1 John 2:22-23)
“A Double Yahweh”
The whole idea of “a double Yahweh” is completely consistent with the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus Himself had a belief in “the Two Powers of Heaven.” He knew about this because He spoke of God as being His father and one with Him in every way and in every divine attribute. He also spoke about His eternal relationship with the Father when He said; “No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven— the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13) Clearly He identified Himself as the Yahweh of heaven. He was the visible manifestation of Yahweh on earth who is known as the invisible Yahweh living in heaven and yet filling the whole universe by His Spirit who is Himself also God (Yahweh the Spirit) and the third member in the Tri-Unity of the Godhead. (Psalm 139:7-10)
The Invisible Yahweh made visible
Because He was equal with God and proved it by his words and deeds the Jews could not accept this fact that God could also be a man. This to them was a violation of the commandment in Torah which stated; “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4) If they had the revelation of the Spirit of God they would have seen that the Lord Jesus was the visible manifestation or image of the invisible God. He was Yahweh made visible to men. (Colossians 1:15) While the religious leaders knew about “the two powers” in heaven from the Hebrew text they had no revelation of the fact that the one whom they encountered as a man known as Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Yahweh who had always been in and with and at the Father’ side from all eternity.
Worshipped as God incarnate
We also see in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus received the worship of men. It was not an act of homage to a greater dignitary but an act of worship. For example the blind man who had been healed by Jesus worshipped the Lord Jesus as God. “Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped Him.”(John 9:38) When Thomas was confronted with the Lord Jesus after His resurrection we read where Thomas exclaimed “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) In all of the cases where the Lord Jesus was worshipped He received it as the visible Yahweh on earth and did not stop men and women from worshipping Him much to the chagrin of the Jewish religious leaders. The person standing before these religious leaders was claiming to be Yahweh (the son) and yet the Yahweh at the right hand of Yahweh (the father) The Lord Jesus was the Yahweh sent from Yahweh that passed through the portal of Mary’s birth canal and was born as a fully human being. This is why Yahweh (God) could be in heaven and on earth at the same time. (John 3:13) This is Old Testament theology and the writers of the New Testament understood who the Lord Jesus really was, namely the invisible Yahweh (the father) made the visible Yahweh (the Son) (Colossians 1:15)
As the Lord Jesus himself said; “He that has seen Me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9-11) The Bible of the first century believers was the Old Testament and added to this the writers of the New Testament had access to other literature which was not inspired yet historically factual and which they used to illuminate what the Holy Spirit was revealing to them, such books as 1 Enoch which fills us in on the events of Genesis 6:1-4 which is mentioned in 2nd Peter and in the Book of Jude who himself actually quotes from 1 Enoch and defines him as the author of the Book. (Jude 1:14)