Behold the Face of God

By Loyal to the Word

 

Moses...sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence

- Doctrine and Covenants 84:23-24

 

What must a man do to see God? Christ taught, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). We must be pure, “even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). John the Beloved promises us that “we know that, when he shall appear…we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). It is not impossible to behold the face of God, but in order to do so there are strict requirements of purity and worthiness. Since this author obviously has not met the requirements and has not seen the face of God, he must rely on the reports of others. Which brings us to a very interesting question…

 

What Does God Look Like?

 

            It is the report of the scriptures that the Father and the Son look alike. Paul assures us that Christ is “the brightness of [his Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3, emphasis added). We also have from Joseph Smith in the Wentworth Letter a corroborating testimony. “I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision,” Joseph said, “and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness” (Dahl & Cannon, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 267).

            So we have established from credible sources that the Father and the Son look the same, but there must be more information for poor souls such as us to comprehend somewhat what their holy faces look like. And so there is!

            There is further testimony from Joseph Smith that gives many more details. “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us,” Joseph related, “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters” (D&C 110:2-3). This corroborates with John the Revelator’s testimony of Christ, that “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace” (Rev. 1:14-15).

            So that settles what color God’s hair is - white, which is not surprising since he is a resurrected being. The rest is ambiguous, though powerful, in its description. We shall attempt to interpret it. What does it mean to have “eyes…as a flame of fire”? Surely they would not be the color of fire (orange), but this description describes the piercing effect of such Eternal eyes. There are interesting and reliable testimonies that corroborate each other in the matter of God’s eye color. The first that shall be quoted is from a person, Alexander Neibaur, to whom Joseph Smith personally related the story of his First Vision. According to Neibaur, Joseph “saw a fire toward heaven come near and nearer; saw a personage in the fire, light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders [and] his right arm bare” (Dahl & Cannon, Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith’s Teachings, p. 269, spelling modified).  

            According to this account, we learn that God has both a light complexion and blue eyes! Now we are beginning to form a mental image of what the Almighty looks like. What’s more, this is not the only testimony to the fact that God’s eyes are a piercing blue, piercing as eternity. In Kirtland in the School of the Prophets when it was held above the N.K. Whitney store, John Murdock had a marvelous vision opened to his eyes. He relates the occasion thus:

 

In one of these meetings the Prophet told us, if we could humble ourselves before God, and exercise strong faith, we should see the face of the Lord. And about midday the visions of my mind were opened, and the eyes of my understanding were enlightened, and I saw the form of a man, most lovely, the visage of his face was sound and fair as the sun. His hair a bright silver grey, curled in most majestic form, His eyes a keen penetrating blue, and the skin of his neck a most beautiful white and he was covered from the neck to the feet with a loose garment, pure white, whiter than any garment I have ever before seen. His countenance was most penetrating, and yet most lovely. And while I was endeavoring to comprehend the whole personage from head to feet it slipped from me, and the vision was closed up. But it left on my mind the impression of love, for months, that I never before felt to that degree. (John Murdock as quote in Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom, p. 334)

 

           From this testimony of John Murdock we find some very revealing facts: 1) Alexander Neibaur’s account of Joseph’s vision is corroborated both in the fact of the eye color (blue) and the skin complexion (white/light). 2) It is the penetrating aspect of God’s eyes and countenance that led both Joseph Smith and John the Revelator to exclaim that his gaze was “as a flame of fire.” 3) The locks in God’s hair contain curls. 4) John Murdock perceived the hair color of God to be “silver grey,” a slight variation from “white like pure snow” (D&C 110:3) and “white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev. 1:14). It is possible that that is how it seemed only from his perspective, or that God can change the appearance of his hair color as occasion seems appropriate, or “bright silver grey” is simply another way to describe the brilliance of God’s hair color. 

            Zebedee Coltrin also saw the Lord in the School of the Prophets. Though he did not see details like Brother Murdock, he saw enough in vision to give him an impression of what sort of Man God is. He said:

 

[God the Father] was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but his person. I saw his hands, his legs, his feet, his eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man. . . . This appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in his presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it thrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. (Zebedee Coltrin as quoted in Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland: Eyewitness Accounts, p. 110).

 

            Now there is the matter of a beard. Does God have a beard? We may assume so, since Isaiah testified of Christ, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair” (Isaiah 50:6; 2 Ne. 7:6, emphasis added). Also, in the preexistence, Christ would have looked the same, since he told the Brother of Jared, “this body which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit…and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh” (Ether 3:16, emphasis added). If the Lord had a beard in the preexistence, and also as a mortal, we may assume he also has one presently as a resurrected being. In fact, we know further from the Book of Mormon that Christ looked the same in his premortal, mortal, and immortal resurrected state, as that record assures us: "Jesus showed himself unto this man [the Brother of Jared] in the [premortal] spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites [i.e. as a resurrected Being]" (Ether 3:17).  

            Though we have not personally seen God, now we have a vision of what he looks like: bearded, beautiful curly or wavy white hair, blue eyes as penetrating as eternity, beautiful fair skin, and a countenance conveying overwhelming love. This is the likeness of the Man the world prays to and whom we call our Father in Heaven.

 

A Picture of Wilford Woodruff at age 43. Wilford had very penetrating blue or grey eyes that were startling to behold. Perhaps this is somewhat like what was meant by Joseph Smith, John Murdock, and others who saw the Lord - the penetrating blue eyes of God, which are like "as a flame of fire" (D&C 110:3; Rev. 1:14). 

 
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