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Has Anyone Ever Seen God?

Carol Brooks

Edited by Vicki Narlee

Many seem to believe that, when it comes to whether anyone has ever seen God, the Bible contradicts itself... some verses seeming to indicate that He cannot be seen, while others seem to unambiguously state that, on occasion, people (especially in the Old Testament) saw Him.

God is Spirit
There is a good reason that God is, as Paul told Timothy, "invisible". As Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman... "God is spirit (Gk. pneuma), and those who worship Him must worship in spirit (Gk. pneuma) and truth" (John 4:24).

    Note that in the Greek text, there is no article before the word "spirit"... ie. God is not a spirit.

Later on, Jesus told us a little more. When He appeared to His disciples after He was resurrected, they were very frightened because they thought they were seeing a spirit. Using the same Greek word which literally means 'wind' or 'breath', Jesus told them to touch Him because a spirit (Gk. pneuma) does not have flesh and bones as He had (Luke 24:37-39).

In other words, spirits do not have bodies. This may confuse some because the Bible does sometimes speak of God as if He has a body. For example...

     Deuteronomy 26:8 says the Lord brought Israel out of slavery "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm".

     Deuteronomy 32:40 has God saying He lifts up His hand to heaven. 

     2 Chronicles 16:9 says "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth", while

     Psalms 34:15 speaks of both the Lords eyes and ears, saying "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry".

     Isaiah 59:1 says "the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.

However, since a spirit has no material substance, as Jesus so clearly pointed out, these expressions are used in a figurative sense, and do not imply that God has an literal physical body. For one thing, if God was limited to a physical body, He could not be omnipresent (present in all places at the same time).

It is true that, at one time, God chose to dwell in the Temple in Jerusalem, where people worshipped. However, it has to be noted that He never visibly appeared in the Temple... God did reveal Himself in a burning bush, a cloud, a pillar of fire etc. although whether He took on these forms is both debatable, and extraneous to this article.

None of which means that God cannot assume any form He wants. But there are those who believe that Deuteronomy 4:12 indicates that God will never appear to us in any form

    "Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form--only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12 NASB)

However, the verse does NOT say God will never take the form of anything. What it says is that because the Israelites did not see any form, they had no idea what God looked like and were forbidden from assuming He looked like a human (or anything else), then making themselves an idol, calling it "god" then worshipping it. As verse 19 further warns, they were also not to look up and see the sun, moon and stars, and be "drawn away and worship them and serve them". In other words, worship the creation, instead of the Creator. (Romans 1:25)


The Controversy

In more than one place the gospel of John says that, apart from Jesus, no man has ever seen God.

    No one has seen (Gk. horao) God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.  (John 1:18 NASB)

    Not that anyone has seen (Gk. horao) the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.  (John 6:46 NASB)

Yet, in the Old Testament, the list of people who claim that they had 'seen' God is rather extensive, and includes Abraham, Jacob, Moses, The entire nation of Israel, 74 Elders, and the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Even the little known prophet Micaiah gave his vision of the Lord as his credentials for being a true prophet. (See Footnote I)

    Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw (Heb. r'h) the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. (1 Kings 22:19 NASB)


Visions Or Dreams?

An oft offered explanation is that these people were having visions or dreams, or what they actually saw was an angel of the Lord, or even Christ. However, none of the examples given say anything about a vision, a dream, or an angel. Much to the contrary, the verses clearly say that the people saw God. Take Abraham as an example...

    Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to (Heb. r'h) Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1 NASB)

    Now the LORD appeared to (Heb. r'h) him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.  (Genesis 18:1 NASB)

Not only do the above verses use the Hebrew word r'h, which is used innumerable times in the OT and, overwhelmingly means to see with one's eyes, but the Lord Himself told Moses that He "appeared (Heb. r'h) to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty", but did not make Himself known to them. He went on to say that He established His covenant with them, "to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned". (Exodus 6:2-4). An angel is not "God Almighty" and no one but God the Father made a covenant with Abraham. In other words, it was not Jesus whom Abraham saw.

Additionally, Stephen confirmed that "the God of glory" appeared to Abraham, an expression that is seen one other time... in Psalm 29, which is again, about God the Father. ("King of Glory" occurs four times in Psalm 24)

    And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, (Acts 7:2 NASB)

    The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters. (Psalms 29:3 NASB)


Face To Face
There are three instances which state that the person, or people, concerned saw the Lord 'face to face' ...

    a) Moses
    Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. (Exodus 33:11 NASB)

    b) The Nation of Israel
    and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. (Numbers 14:14 NASB)

    c) Jacob
    So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." (Genesis 32:30 NASB) See Footnote II

The phrases "face to face" and 'eye to eye' in the first two verses (a and b) of 'seeing' God are figures of speech, and do not necessarily mean that anyone actually saw God's face.

a) Numbers 14:14 which speaks of the Lord being seen 'eye to eye' doesn't mean that God has literal eyes which the Israelites saw. The context of the verse indicates that God's presence was visibly seen in the pillar of cloud that went before them in the day, which changed to a pillar of fire at night.

b) An incident that is recorded just a few verse after Exodus 33:11 actually make it clear that the phrase "face to face" simply indicates that Moses spoke intimately with God. In Exodus 33:18-23, Moses asks the Lord to show him His glory, to which the Lord replied that no man could see his face and live, but He would put Moses in the cleft of a rock and cover him with His hand until He passed by. Then God would take His hand away and Moses would see God's back, but His face would not be seen.

While speaking to God 'face to face, is not the same as seeing God's face, the problem does not disappear. The fact remains that although God covered Moses' eyes with His hand until He had passed by, Moses did see God's back and that constitutes 'seeing' God. Think about it... if someone asks you if you saw Sam that morning, I am very sure that you would say you had, although you might have only caught the briefest glimpse of him disappearing around a corner down a corridor.

In other words, Moses did see God, albeit one side of Him.


Not Seeing God's Face
The problem therefore seems to be more a question of seeing God's face and not living to tell the tale. As God Himself told Moses... But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" (Exodus 33:20 NASB).

    Note: I have some question as to whether or not the word "me" was in the original Hebrew. (See http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/exodus/33.html#20)

This seems to be borne out by other instances where the Old Testament tells us that people saw God, especially Isaiah, and the 74 elders who not only saw God, but ate and drank in His presence.

    Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw (Heb. r'h) the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11 NASB)

    In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw (Heb. r'h) the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (Isaiah 6:1-2 NASB)

As previously mentioned, the Hebrew word r'h, used in both instances, occurs close to 400 times in the first five books of the Bible alone. It overwhelmingly means to visually see something with one's eyes. There is little question that Isaiah and the 74 men of Israel did see God.

However, there is one thing that has to be noted. Both Moses and Isaiah described what they saw, however, in neither case was a description of God forthcoming.... both writers focusing on other things. In fact, Moses said absolutely nothing about the appearance of God, but spoke about the pavement, made of what appeared to be sapphire, under His feet. Isaiah had much more to say about the appearance of the angels than of God Himself, about whom all he said was that God was seated on a throne and that He wore a robe. Even the mention of the robe was from the point of view of God's glory ... how the train of His robe filled the temple.

Which begs the question... what exactly did they see? or, to put it another way... how clearly did they see the Lord? Perhaps the wording of Numbers 12:8, in which we are told that Moses saw the Lord, might throw a little more light on the matter.


The 'Form' Of The Lord
The following verse says Moses saw the 'form' of the Lord

    With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form (Heb. temnh) of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?"  (Numbers 12:8 NASB)

The Hebrew word temnh translated into the English "form" in both the NASB and Young's Literal Translation, was used a mere ten times in the Old Testament, five of which were in connection with the events at Mt. Horeb. In warning the Israelites to beware of idolatry, and to make no likeness of any thing in heaven or earth as an object of adoration, God told them that when He summoned them to the foot of Mt. Horeb to hear His words, He spoke to them from the midst of the fire that burned on the mountain. They heard the sound of words, but saw no form --only a voice. 

    So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form (Heb. temnh) on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire. (Deuteronomy 4:15 NASB) (See Context)

While most of the occurrences make it a little difficult to completely understand the precise meaning of temn, one verse in Job gives us a clue. In relating a vision he had, Eliphaz the Temanite said the following...

    Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake. "Then a spirit passed by my face; The hair of my flesh bristled up. "It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; A form (Heb. temnh) was before my eyes; There was silence, then I heard a voice: (Job 4:14-16 NASB)

In other words, Job saw the spirit itself... he saw a shape, but could not tell what it looked like. Incidentally, the Free Dictionary defines form as

    a. The shape and structure of an object. b. The body or outward appearance of a person or an animal considered separately from the face or head; figure. * [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/form]

This actually makes perfect sense. Just as Eliphaz saw a 'form, or a shape, but could not "discern it's appearance", it is entirely possible that Isaiah and the elders of Israel saw a shape/form which they knew to be God, but could not discern His appearance, which would account for the fact that the Lord "did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel". And that they could only record the appearance of the pavement beneath the Lord's feet, details of the Seraphim's wings etc.

Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel also saw the Lord. Note his wording.... he saw a figure with the "appearance of a man", on what "resembled a throne" surrounded by a fire like radiance.

    Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. .... As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26-28 NASB)

In summary, several people in the Old Testament saw the Lord. However, it is very likely that all they saw was a shape with no discernible details. Moses, on the other hand, saw the back of the Lord. Since nothing is said, in this case, about him seeing a form, one can assume this was not the case.

So what are we to make of statements in the New Testament (One by John the Baptist, and the other two by Jesus Himself) that, apart from Him...


No One Has Ever Seen God.

Which, understandably, many see as a huge contradiction in view of the Old Testament record of people seeing the Lord.

I could be wrong, but I suspect it was to resolve this problem that the King James version translated temnh into 'similitude, and the CLV renders this word "representation". Both words mean an image or perceptible likeness of something, not the thing itself. In other words, what the people in question saw was a 'likeness' of the Lord, not the Lord Himself. But perhaps, just perhaps, we are looking at the wrong word. It may not be the Hebrew temnh we should be concerned about, but should more closely examine the Greek horao used by Jesus on three occasions.

    1. No one has seen (Gk. horao) God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained (Gk. exegeomai) Him. (John 1:18 NASB)

    2. Not that anyone has seen (Gk. horao) the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.  (John 6:46 NASB)

    3. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen (Gk. horao) His form (Gk. eidos). (John 5:37 NASB)

In the first instance, the Greek word rendered 'explained' is exegeomai. Other translations use 'declared' (KJV and Young's), 'explained' (NASB), 'unfold' (CLV), 'made Him known' (NIV and NET), and 'what God is like' (CEV), which all boil down to pretty much the same thing.

However, I had to wonder what visually 'seeing' God had to do with 'making Him known'.

Let me see if I can explain this... If you want to explain what you have 'seen' to someone, then you would want them to 'see' it as well. If you could not show them a photograph, you would paint word pictures. You would tell the person you were talking to how big it was, what it's shape, color etc. was.  In the case of a person you would describe them.. tall, short, fat, thin, shape of face, color of hair, clothes etc. etc.

However, Jesus did not, in any way describe God's 'appearance' but told us about Him which did not stem from visually 'seeing' God, but from 'knowing' Him. in other words... Jesus was the only one who knew God and was now telling us about Him (so we could know Him). Which to me, would have made a lot more sense.


The Greek Word Horao
This incompatibility made me look up the Greek word horao rendered 'seen' across the board. It is used some 58 times in the New Testament, but in only about 30 occurrences does the word mean to "see" with one's eyes. For example...

    But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen (Gk. horao) a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.  (Luke 1:22 NASB)

    Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen (Gk. horao)  the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.  (John 20:18 NASB)

Which means that, over 40% of the time, horao is used in other ways. It often means to 'make sure' or 'be careful'. This is hardly surprising because, even in modern usage, we use "see" in the same way as the first three verses below. Example... 'It was difficult to get the appointment, see (make sure) that you are on time'. 

    And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: "See (Gk. horao) that no one knows about this!" (Matthew 9:30 NASB)

    See (Gk. horao) that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."  (Mark 1:44 NASB)

    who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "see," (Gk. horao) He says, "that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain."  (Hebrews 8:5 NASB)

Horao is even used in the sense of 'be on guard', as in the following examples

    And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out (Gk. horao) ! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."  (Mark 8:15 NASB)

    Then He said to them, "Beware (Gk. horao), and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." (Luke 12:15 NASB)

The problem is that 'beware', 'ensure' or 'be careful' do not fit into the context of Jesus' words "No one has seen (Gk. horao) God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him". (John 1:18 NASB). However, horao is also used in yet one more sense, and may I point out... by the same author. In two separate Epistles, John, using the same Greek word, tells his readers

    No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen (Gk. horao) Him or knows Him.  (1 John 3:6 NASB)

    Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen (Gk. horao) God.  (3 John 1:11 NASB)

It is very, very unlikely that John meant that people who do evil had not 'seen' the Lord with their physical eyes. While we do not know who the letter was written to, not that many people that made up the early church actually 'saw' Jesus. And the fact this Epistle could have been written two to three decades after Jesus left earth, make the whole literal seeing idea implausible. As Robertson's Word Pictures says (Emphasis Added)

    "The habit of sin is proof that one has not the vision or the knowledge (egnoken, perfect active also) of Christ.

In other words, people who claim to be Christians, but do evil, do not know God. (Unfortunately, RWP also goes on to say "He (John) means, of course, spiritual vision and spiritual knowledge, not the literal sense of horao in John 1:18")


Jesus and The Knowledge of God
When John wrote that only Jesus, who was in the bosom of the Father has explained Him (John 1:18), the expression "bosom of the Father" denotes great intimacy, and implies that Jesus had a knowledge of God... His character, nature and plans which no one else, including the ancient prophets, had. He was therefore qualified, above all others, to make him known. Jesus Himself emphasized complete knowledge of all the Father does and His authority in being able to give life to whom He wishes.

    "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. (John 5:20-21 NASB)

In fact, chapter five of John's Gospel is all about Jesus breaking the Sabbath by healing somebody who had been paralyzed for 38 years, which greatly outraged the Jews. Verse 19 on is Jesus' answer to this accusation, in which He reinforces His unique relationship with the Father, telling them that just as His Father was working until then, so He Himself was working. This further provoked the Jews who did not address God, or speak of Him as their 'father' and (rightly) believed that by doing so, Jesus was "making Himself equal with God".

It is in this context that Jesus tells them that they had neither heard God's voice at any time nor seen His form. The entire purpose of these verses is to reprimand the Jews for not believing He was the Messiah. God had given sufficient evidence of his divine mission, but they had disregarded it. They searched the very Scriptures (the word or voice of God) that testified and foretold Jesus, but they were yet unwilling to come to Him. Clearly, Jesus' point is that if they had known God the Father, they would have recognized Him in God the Son

But, as Jesus told them, they had a long history of not hearing (ignoring) God voice.


Hearing His Voice...The Greek Word Akouo

This is further emphasized by the other statement made by Jesus. John 5:37 has Him telling the Jews who were seeking to kill Him that they had neither heard God's voice, nor seen His shape at any time.

    And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard (Gk. akouo) His voice at any time nor seen (Gk. horao) His form (Gk. eidos). (John 5:37 NASB)

The Greek word akouo (rendered "heard)", means to hear, not only with one's physical ears, but to pay attention to..

    "He who has ears to hear (Gk. akouo), let him hear (Gk. akouo). (Matthew 11:15 NASB)

    "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing (Gk. akouo)  they do not hear (Gk. akouo), nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:13 NASB)

    For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear (Gk. akouo) with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.' (Matthew 13:15 NASB)

In other words they 'saw' (the miracles etc) but did not see. They read the Old Testament and 'heard' everything that Jesus said, but did not hear.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that, in John 5:37, both the KJV and the NASB translate eidos into the English "shape".. It is the same word used in Luke 3:22, which says the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the 'shape' of a dove.

    and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form (Gk. eidos) like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."  (NASB)


Conclusion
I have no idea how or why the assumption is made that horao carries a literal meaning in John 1:18, when there is so much evidence to the contrary.  Although the Greek carries several different meanings, and is, in fact, used in quite another sense by John himself, somewhere along the line, we decided that Jesus had to have meant no one has literally seen the Father.

Then of course, we had to scramble to explain what some of the stalwarts of the Old Testament saw.

In reality, their experiences requires no explanation at all. God did appear to a privileged few, but no one ever saw His face, as to do so would mean death. And the wiser-than-we-are Old Testament people knew this.

Gideon was worried that even seeing the angel of the Lord "face to face" was bad news and was reassured that he would not die. (Judges 6:22-23). Similarly Manoah and his wife, who gave birth to Samson, were amazed they did not die for having seen the 'angel of the Lord' (Judges 13:21-23).

    Note: I am aware that many believe that it was the Lord Himself that appeared to Gideon and Sampson's parent, but I have no idea what this belief is based on. The text says angel (mal'k) which means messenger and I see no reason to question that it was an angel.

 


Footnote I
 In 1 Kings 22 Jehoshaphat King of Judah, and Ahab King of Israel, determined to take Ramoth-gilead by force, which Ben-hadad had promised to restore to them, but had not. They inquired of some 400 false prophets who assured them that the battle would be successful. However, Jehoshaphat asked if there was one more prophet of the Lord that they could consult. Although Ahab hated the prophet Micaiah, whom he said never prophesied anything good, they sent for him. When he arrived Micaiah warned them that the Lord had proclaimed disaster against them. [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote II
I have not said anything about Jacob's experience of seeing God "face to face",  simply because the incident of Jacob 'wrestling' with God, being rather hard to understand presents quite a few more questions. Although there are interpretations galore, most of them tend to run along similar lines. The text reads...

    Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled (Heb. baq) with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "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. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. (Genesis 32:24-31 NASB)

Although it is clear that it was God who was the aggressor, not Jacob we are not told what the purpose behind the wrestling  was. Although there are some indications that it was physical, we do not know for certain whether it was physical or spiritual wrestling, since the Hebrew word baq occurs only this once in the Old Testament. Additionally, some believe that it was God Himself who wrestled with Jacob, since only God could have changed Jacob's name to Israel. Yet the prophet Hosea indicated that it was an angel that Jacob wrestled with. Below.

Jacob certainly wasn't anyone's idea of a model citizen. The very word Jacob (Heb. ya'qb) means heel catcher (that is, supplanter). As the prophet Hosea wrote

    In the womb he took his brother by the heel, And in his maturity he contended with God. Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us, (Hosea 12:3-4 NASB)

But yet, God chose him to be the father of the nation, in the sense that with the birth of Jacob's twelve sons, the small family of Abraham expanded into a twelve tribe nation.

What we do know is that just before this incident, Jacob was extremely nervous about coming face to face with his brother Esau, whom he had cheated out of his birthright, and who was coming to meet him with four hundred men. Not only did Jacob hope to appease Esau with a huge number of valuable animals, but he took the precaution of dividing the people and animals into two companies, in the hope that were one company attacked, the other one would escape.

The fact that the 'wrestling' went on all night indicates that Jacob was too stubborn to give in. When the Lord saw this, He touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh and dislocated it. Even then, Jacob did not give in, but now had a different purpose. He clung to the Lord and declared he would not let go until the Lord blessed him. After which, the Lord told him that he would be blessed, and his name would no longer be Jacob, but Israel, which is a combination of the Hebrew words srh (prevail) and l (the Almighty) [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote III
(15) "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,  (16) so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (17) the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky,  (18)  the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. (19) "And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19 NASB) [PLACE IN TEXT]

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