The Bible tells us that no one has ever seen God (John 1:18) except the Lord Jesus Christ. InExodus 33:20, God declares, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” These Scriptures seem to contradict other Scriptures which describe various people “seeing” God. For example, Exodus 33:11describes Moses speaking to God “face to face.” How could Moses speak with God “face to face” if no one can see God’s face and live? In this instance, the phrase “face to face” is a figure of speech indicating they were in very close communion. God and Moses were speaking to each other as if they were two human beings having a close conversation.
In Genesis 32:30, Jacob saw God appearing as a man; he did not truly see God. Samson’s parents were terrified when they realized they had seen God (Judges 13:22), but they had only seen Him appearing as an angel. Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14) so when people saw Him, they were seeing God. So, yes, God can be “seen” and many people have “seen” God. At the same time, no one has ever seen God revealed in all His glory. In our fallen human condition, if God were to fully reveal Himself to us, we would be consumed and destroyed. Therefore, God veils Himself and appears in forms in which we can “see” Him. However, this is different than seeing God with all His glory and holiness displayed. People have seen visions of God, images of God, and appearances of God, but no one has ever seen God in all His fullness (Exodus 33:20).
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