We all have our own concept of what God looks like. Some of us think of God as an old man with a long gray beard and robes; a young youthful powerful man; a carved or molten totem made by man; or even an inanimate object found in nature. With all these differing ideas about God’s appearance, how does God appear in His Word?
Dan 7:9-14 (KJV)
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld [even] till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
Several times in God’s Word we find man seeing God in visions or dreams. Some of the many times God is seen is found in: Ezek 1:26-28, Dan 7:9-14, Rev 1:13-16, Rev 14:14 etc. In every case, the vision of God varies in appearance, with each descriptive element of the vision symbolizing a truth about our God.
In this blog entry, we will be looking at Daniel 7:9-14 to help us illustrate the use of symbolism in descriptions of God’s appearance:
The appearance of God the Father:
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit,
The “thrones” that are cast down signifies the overturning of the different nations and rulers of this world by the ultimate authority holder, God Himself. God is given the title the “Ancient of Days” referring to the fact that He is the One who has, and will eternally exist.
whose garment [was] white as snow,
Here, the purity of God is being described using the symbolism of white clothing. White being symbolic of purity, while black many times is used to illustrate the wickedness or “darkness” of this world.
and the hair of his head like the pure wool:
Here the wisdom of God is in view. The head being the center of the thought and judgment processes, while the symbolism of wool for His hair is a representation of thickness, vitality and abundance. The white color of wool is a picture of purity.
Remember, in the context, we are looking at God who is the Judge of all “the judgment was set and the books were opened”. What is being described is the fact that God’s judicial decisions are always wise, pure and in abundance. He never lacks perfect wisdom, nor does He ever cease to exercise it.
his throne [was like] the fiery flame,
His throne, speaks of His authority to rule. The fiery flame is a picture of punishment of sin (example: lake of fire) and also it pictures judgment based upon the truth of His Word. His Word is described as a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” by the psalmist.
[and] his wheels [as] burning fire.
In those days, thrones had wheels on them allowing them to be moved swiftly. Here in symbol, we are taught that the judgments of God, even though brought upon the guilty very swiftly, are still just and right.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him:
As the Lord renders His sentence upon the lost it is much like a flame of fire, picturing His Word as it departs from His mouth. The flames are also a picture of the end result of His decrees … the judgment of sin.
thousand thousands ministered unto him,
Again, we have the authority of Lord being illustrated. Millions of people serving the Lord shows His authority over all. This is a picture of those saved by His grace now serving Him throughout eternity.
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him:
His judgment of hundreds of millions of people, again shows what great authority and control He exercises over all mankind. These hundreds of millions show us that He has authority over all the lost. He stands in righteous, pure judgment over them.
the judgment was set, and the books were opened…
the time of His judging the lost has come…. The 66 books of the Bible are opened, a prelude to the judgment of their works. (see Rev 20:12)
The appearance of God the Son:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man
Daniel had received these visions in the nighttime (perhaps they were dreams). In this vision he sees the Lord Jesus Christ entering the throne room.
came with the clouds of heaven,
Several times in the Scriptures Christ’s coming to the earth is associated with the clouds. Besides His literal coming in the clouds at His second coming, the symbolism here is teaching us that Christ’s origin is heaven. It also teaches us of His glory and majesty as He is exalted over mankind.
and came to the Ancient of days,
He comes to God the Father, having perfect communion with Him.
and they brought him near before him.
The servants of God now escort Christ to God… much like a visiting King is escorted into a city by its citizenry. This procession was a symbol of respect and recognition of authority.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,
Here, due to the faithfulness of Christ during His first coming, is exalted as King of King and Lord of Lords. The Father is placing Christ in a position of authority and honor. (Phils 2:1-11)
that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him:
The authority of Christ places Him over all mankind. No man or created being holds authority over Him.
his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.
The authority of Christ will never be taken away, it is without end. Throughout eternity, He will be looked upon as our King and Lord.
As we have seen in this example, Daniel’s vision of God was symbolic in nature, teaching us many truths about the attributes of our God. This principle holds true with all the other sightings of God that we find in the Word of God. As a matter of fact, the Bible makes it very plain that…
John 1:18 (KJV)
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].
So basically what we are told in the Bible is that by looking at Christ, His life and His words, we will see the Father in Him. Christ is the ultimate representative of God on earth… He WAS God on earth. This is why to be able to see God we must look to Christ.
What does God look like? I have no idea. Remember, God is a spirit, it is possible that He is not visible to man, apart from the fleshly body He took upon Himself when He came in the person of Jesus Christ to the earth.
For those who have experienced God’s gracious salvation…
We have already come to know God through His Son Jesus Christ… as we live our lives on earth, our search for God’s will and ways should be centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our central focus to see God and learn of His ways.
For those who have never been saved from their sins…
The answer to your search for God is find in Christ Jesus and Him alone. Your first priority is to learn of the grace and truth of God. It is through a knowledge of His Word and His gracious intervention in your life that you may be saved and enter a close relationship with God…
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.