When you imagine what God looks like, you might think of something like Michelangelo’s painting, Adam’s Creation, in the Sistine Chapel. God is pictured as a white man, elderly yet muscular, dressed in white drapery to complement his white hair. Our portrayal of God reflects our cultural ideologies more than it does God’s real attributes.
The Bible, however, doesn’t give us any indication that God looks like this. In fact, the Bible says very little about what God looks like at all. And when it does, the description is often unclear.
When the Prophet Ezekiel saw God, for example, he describes Him as having a “human appearance,” (Ezekiel 1:26). But as he gives more details, the picture becomes confusing. Ezekiel says God looks like, “gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire,” (vs. 27).
The Apostle John’s description of God is even more confusing when he portrays God as having, “the appearance of jasper and ruby,” (Revelation 4:3).
Daniel is the only one in scripture who describes God as wearing clothes that are “white as snow,” and hair “white like wool,” (Daniel 7:9). But the rest of the chapter speaks in the same symbolic language as other scriptures, implying that God’s white clothes may symbolize His purity, and His white hair may symbolize His infinite wisdom, rather than His actual hair color.
So what does God really look like? If you want facial features, height or skin tone, you’re not going to find any clarity from scripture. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that no one has seen God’s face (Exodus 33:20). That’s why the descriptions we have are both vague and symbolic. But what the Bible does tell us about what God looks like is much more important than His physical features. It tells us about His character.
Here are three ways the Bible depicts God.
1. God looks like Jesus
In John 14:8-9, Philip tells Jesus, “‘Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip… Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’”
Jesus doesn’t mean God looks like a Jewish man. The Bible says clearly, “God is Spirit,” (John 4:23). In other words, God is not a man. While God sometimes chooses to reveal Himself as a man, He also reveals Himself in other Biblical passages as a “burning bush” (Exodus 3:2), or “pillar of cloud,” (Exodus 13:21).
When Jesus says God the Father looks like Him, He’s talking about His character. Jesus heals the sick just like God. Jesus restores relationships just like God. Jesus loves unconditionally just like God. “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15). If you want to see God, look at Jesus.
2. God looks like you
Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image…” In other words, if you want to know what God looks like, look in the mirror. Again, this doesn’t mean that God, who throughout scripture is described as, “Spirit,” (John 4:24), “fire” (Ex. 3:2) or even “invisible” (Col. 1:15), has two eyes, ears and nostrils like you. It means we reflect God’s essence.
We are creative and imaginative just like God. We can feel deeply just like God. We appreciate beauty and art just like God. And we long for community and love just like God. We look like God because He has imprinted His spirit into our souls and we can’t help reflecting it, even if imperfectly.
3. God looks like love
1 John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” There is no better description of God than love. Whatever love does, God does. It’s who He is.
So if you want to know what God looks like, find out what love looks like.