According to Google, there are over 246,000 searches each month asking:
what does God look like.
The movie industry facetiously gives God the face of George Burns in Oh God. Even the Bible gives God anthropomorphic characteristics. God is formless yet takes many forms.
In the Biblical old testament we are told that God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others. But these appearances are vague and have a variety of manifestations.
Some Forms God Takes
Jacob wrestled with a man, but did not recognize the man as God until God revealed Himself by saying
“Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And He blessed him there” (Genesis 32:28,29).
The important thing to observe here is that when God appeared to Jacob, His appearance was as a man. No mention is made of glowing white garments or brilliant light. Jacob did not and we would not have known it was God by mere appearance.
Another biblical example is the form God used to guide His people in the famous Exodus account. As Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, God took the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (Exodus 13:21)
Vague Descriptions of God
Isaiah also saw God:
“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
Then Isaiah goes on the describe the angels, but no further description of God. The angels did not proclaim what God looked like. They proclaimed the character of God. They spoke of His holiness and of His glory.
God appeared to Solomon in a dream, but he makes no attempt to describe God’s appearance. 1 Kings 3:5
There are many more Biblical examples, some of which are referred to the excerpt below by Bob Deffinbaugh
To See God’s Face is Fatal
Bible scripture repeatedly says that to see God’s face would be fatal. In the following Biblical examples, although people were said to have seen God, descriptions are vague or nonexistent.
In those instances where men are said to have seen God, surprise is expressed that they lived to tell about it.
Jacob marveled that his life had been preserved (Genesis 32:30).
Moses noted that God “did not stretch out His hand” against the 74 men who are said to have seen the God of Israel (Exodus 24:10-11).
God informed Moses that he could not see Him and live (Exodus 33:20).
When Gideon realized he had seen the “angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges 6:22), he was encouraged with the assurance that he would not die (verse 23).
Manoah and his wife, soon to become the parents of Samson, were amazed they did not die for having seen God as the “angel of the Lord” (Judges 13:21-23).
Paul seems to be saying that men cannot see God and live when he declares that God dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16).
Getting close to God is like drawing near to a blast furnace. It is dangerous to one’s health (see also Exodus 33:2-5).
Bob Deffinbaugh write in his article Invisibility of God
Speaking to God Face-to-Face
The expression, “face to face” is a figure of speech. Consider the example of Moses, where, in the early portion of Exodus 33, Moses is said to have spoken to God “face to face:”
“And it came about, whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.”
God spoke with Moses. Moses could hear His voice but could not see Him in the cloud. Just as people today can hear God’s voice, but do not see Him.
The Nature of God is Not Visible
The Bible tells us God’s nature, but none of His qualities are physical qualities that we can see. A few examples:
God is Infinite
“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” – Psalm 147:5
“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Malachi 3:6
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” – Psalm 33:6
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” Psalm 139:7-10
God is Wise
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” – Romans 11:33
God is Faithful
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” – Deut 7:9
God is Good
“O, taste and see that the Lord is good” – Psalm 34:8
God is Gracious and Merciful
“The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness.” – Psalm 145:8
God is Loving
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8
God does show Himself, but not so we can see Him. We may hear Him or feel His presence, but we will not see Him. We may see His angels, and people have seen His son, but we will not see Him. We can understand His qualities, but they are attributes, not physical characteristics.
Other posts on this site describe spiritual experiences when God has shown Himself through words or activities, but still, God is not seen. God is far too big and all-encompassing to be seen. Some say God is a spirit, but even this word, as we understand it, is too narrow.
God’s Touch and a Soul Ascended – in which God touched Tim’s hand to reassure him
God’s Faithfulness Changed My Life-in which God restored my income through a chance meeting on an airplane.
A Miraculous Intervention by Accident-in which God saved the lives of Tim and Lisa
God is Within Us
Jesus summed it up when he said;
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also. In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:18-21). [italics are mine]
Nowhere does Jesus say we will physically see God while on earth, but we will be aware of God if we love Him. And we will recognize God’s disclosure to us through regular prayer and meditation as described in How to Meditate to Reach Higher God Consciousness.
For a more in-depth understanding of how to become aware of God’s activities in your life refer to Joel Goldsmith lecture on the Inner Kingdom and The Art of Meditation.
God does not have physical qualities and, therefore, cannot be described regarding appearance. However, God does show Himself through His many ‘personality’ qualities that are evidenced by experiences and interactions people have had with God. Each individual can become more aware of God’s activities in their lives through meditation / prayer as described in How to Meditate to Reach Higher God Consciousness.