The apostle John makes the following declaration in his gospel: “No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him” (John 1:18). I mentioned this verse to some Argentinean theologians who visited me in my house ten years ago, and I told them that, in the Old Testament, God was not known, and that only Jesus had brought him to the knowledge of men. They said that God had revealed himself, but because they had been blind, Jesus, then, had made Him known. But one thing is certain: They called John a liar, as he said that God had never been seen by men, and it is written that the god of the Old Testament was seen (Ex. 24:9-10). These theologians called Jehovah a liar, too, for Jehovah affirms that he made himself known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 6:2-3). And Jehovah said more: “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me” (Ps. 87:4).
But why has not the natural man ever seen God, or known Him? That is because the natural man, this man stained with sin, who is under the powers of darkness, has things that are incompatible with the nature of God (Eph. 2:2-3; Col. 1:12-13). Let us look at the barriers that separate men from the true God:
- Man is an animal, for Solomon said: “I said in my heart, ‘As for the sons of men, God tests them, so that they may see that they themselves are like animals. For that which happens to the sons of men happens to animals. Even one thing happens to them. As the one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals: for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?” (Eccl. 3:18-21). And God, on the contrary, is a spirit, and he is of a purely spiritual nature.
- Man is darkness, and God is light. Jesus declared: “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness” (John 12:46). “He who says He is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now” (1 John 2:9). Man needs to leave darkness in order to be able to see and know God. Paul was sent by Jesus: “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). The one who is in darkness is under the will and the government of Satan and, therefore, blind to the things of God (2 Cor. 4:4). God is light (1 John 1:5).
- Man is unclean, and God is pure and immaculate. Concerning the uncleanness of man, we read in the book of Job: “What is man, that he should be clean? What is he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” (Job 15:14). “How then can man be just with God? Or how can he who is born of a woman be clean? Behold, even the moon has no brightness, and the stars are not pure in his sight; How much less man, who is a worm, the son of man, who is a worm!” (Job 25:4-6). “They have all gone aside. They have together become corrupt. There is none who does good, no, not one” (Ps. 14:3).
- Man is a sinner, and God is holy. Since Adam and Eve, all men are under sin. Paul gives a picture of all humanity since Adam, saying: “Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12). And the same Paul tells us: “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
- Man is a liar, and God is truth. Paul wrote: “Let God be found true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4; Ps. 62:9). John, in his gospel, said: “For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
How can man come close to God in this state of moral poverty? How can God come close to man, as man are generated by sin, by lust, by selfishness, by pride, by anger, by arrogance, by interest, by vanity, etc., etc. According to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, in order for man to come to God he has to be born again (John 3:3-6). To see God, man has to be created anew by Jesus Christ, therefore Paul says: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Man is begotten from an unclean seed. To come to God, he has to be generated again by another seed. Peter says: “Therefore having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever” (1 Pet. 1:23).
To say that God revealed himself to men in the Old Testament before Jesus Christ is to cancel the work of Christ in man, and for man. Only the blind do not see this aberration.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira