What Does God Look Like?
Does the Bible provide us any details about God’s appearance? It does. So, what does the Bible say God looks like? Why are those descriptions recorded for us?
What does God look like?
While it’s true that no one has seen God (John 1:18), He has not left every single detail about His appearance a mystery. Piecing together scattered verses throughout the Bible can give us a glimpse of how God describes His appearance.
The biblical answer to the question What does God look like? should fill us with awe and drive us to obey God the way—and there is truly only one way—He says to.
But first, some clarification
When John wrote that nobody had seen God, he was undeniably referring to God the Father. We know from Scripture that there are two beings identified as God—the Father and the Word (John 1:1). The Word is the One who later became Jesus Christ. Both of them are God. (To learn how this can be, read “John 1:1: How Is the Word With God and Also God?”)
That is how to reconcile John’s statement with the several encounters between God and man that we find in the Old Testament. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, 70 of the elders of Israel and others all reportedly saw God (Genesis 17:1; 18:1; Exodus 3:4-6; 24:9-11).
How else should we interpret those personal interactions with God? Did they just “see” God, but not really see Him?
(For more proof that the One who came as Jesus Christ was God in the Old Testament, see our article “Jesus in the Old Testament?”)
The majority of these individuals saw the Word appear like a physical man (see, for example, Genesis 18:1-2). Other passages, which describe God’s splendor and magnificence, are about Jesus Christ in His glorified form, either before or after He came to earth.
These descriptions help us understand what God beings look like.
Does the creation of man hint at what God looks like?
No creature on the face of the earth was made in God’s image in the way that human beings were. God reserved that honor strictly for man and woman, the pinnacle of His physical creation.
Notice the wording in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ . . . So God created man in His own image” (emphasis added throughout).
In other words, humans were patterned after God. He served as the model. We were made in His very likeness.
Combining these scriptures with others, we see that God describes Himself as having a face, eyes and nose (Exodus 33:11; Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 18:8). And just as we have arms, hands and fingers, so does God (Isaiah 40:10; Psalm 110:1; Exodus 31:18).
Basically, looking at ourselves will give us an idea of God’s image. That is the earliest hint of what God looks like.
To learn more, read “What Does It Mean to Be Made in ‘the Image of God’?”
How did the prophets describe God’s appearance?
The book of Ezekiel records a surprisingly detailed vision of God’s throne, but little about His actual appearance.
Scripture says that Ezekiel saw something like a platform supporting God’s throne, and on the throne was “a likeness with the appearance of a man” (Ezekiel 1:26).
He went on, “From the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around” (verse 27).
We may get a clearer image of this spectacular scene by reading it in the New International Version. It renders this verse, “I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.”
Ezekiel related that mind-blowing sight—God and His heavenly entourage—as best he could with the vocabulary available to him. From the description he managed to convey, it becomes obvious why God expressly forbids reducing Him to a mere physical, artistic representation (Exodus 20:4-6). No one can box the glory of Almighty God into a picture frame or carve it into some rock. That’s blasphemy. (To learn more, watch our video “The Second Commandment: Putting God in a Box.”)
What did Daniel add?
Daniel also was privileged to see not just into the future, but into the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2)—the realm where God dwells.
In chapter 7 Daniel described having a vision in which he saw something like a courtroom in heaven. He wrote, “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated” (verse 9).
Now, who is this Ancient of Days?
Being called “Ancient of Days” suggests having seen every single day. This is talking about a firsthand spectator of time itself. No man or woman, no matter how old, can lay claim to such a title.
Human beings are temporal; this Being is eternal.
Daniel’s description matches the one God gives Himself in Isaiah 46:9-10: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.”
But continuing in Daniel’s description, he wrote, “His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire” (Daniel 7:9).
A white garment and hair like pure wool—those are other details Ezekiel didn’t include. With that, Daniel’s description completes the major Old Testament references to God’s appearance.
Needless to say, the details of what God looks like are scant throughout the Old Testament, and the New Testament offers only a bit more.
What does John say about what God looks like?
With a long and arduous night ahead of Him, Jesus Christ prayed, “And Now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).
His physical life was going to expire, and He was looking forward to His own resurrection. Through the Father’s intervention, Jesus was going to reclaim the same glory those Old Testament prophets had written about—the glory of full divinity in the spirit realm.
Humans were patterned after God. He served as the model. We were made in His very likeness.John, the beloved apostle, saw that resurrected glory in a vision and documented it.
Apparently sometime in his 90s, John received “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1). He wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and ‘What you see, write in a book’” (Revelation 1:10-11).
Interestingly, Christ ordered John to write—to record what he was going to see and preserve it. God wanted these visions to be readable and available to His people down through time.
John continued, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man” (verses 12-13).
Notice how John described Jesus’ glorified form: “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters” (verses 14-15).
Then John put this capstone on his description: “He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (verse 16).
In vision, John saw Jesus’ face radiating a kind of blinding light. Overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of it all, John fell down as if he had died (verse 17).
A similar description is given of the returning Jesus Christ in Revelation 19:12.
According to the Bible, this is what God looks like. As mentioned previously, these descriptions do not say a great deal. But God left us His inspired Word with everything we need to know, nothing more or less.
Can anyone see God in His true glory?
One final thing about God’s appearance can be learned from an exchange in the book of Exodus.
Moses undoubtedly had a special relationship with God, to the point that God could speak with him personally, “as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
Mankind’s destiny has always been to join the God plane of existence, to one day inhabit eternity and be like Him.On one occasion, Moses pleaded, “Please, show me Your glory” (verse 18).
God’s response is telling: “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (verse 20).
Having created human beings, God was fully aware that His true glory is beyond what a mortal can bear.
God denied Moses’ request. He did, however, allow him to see His back, which was evidently as much splendor and majesty as a human being could comprehend (verse 23).
Overall, this interaction shows us that the Bible’s descriptions of God, while awesome, must be only a shadow of God’s true glory.
But do you look like God?
Genesis tells us that man was created in God’s image, but the rest of the Bible explains how man will eventually become fully like God.
The same apostle who saw the glorified Jesus Christ in vision reminds us, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
God’s children have to first grow to resemble God in righteous character. By striving to obey Him totally and unconditionally, knowing we serve a glorious and wonderful Creator, He will enable us to one day be like Him and “see Him as He is.”