According to a Harris Poll, 74 percent of Americans believe in God. And that’s helping people lead better lives. Much has been written about how belief in God can strengthen a person’s immune system and increase life expectancy.
So, naturally, it would also be interesting to discuss what God looks like. God, after all, is the ruler of Heaven, as the story goes. And because God has been placed in many movies, TV shows, and books, there are various ideas about what God looks like.
What Does God Look Like According to Different Religions?
It is important to note that the idea of God’s appearance is often subjective and varies significantly across different religions and cultures. Here are some examples:
In Christianity, God is often portrayed as an older man with a long beard, flowing robes, and a wise, kind expression on his face. The artistic traditions of Western Europe largely influence this depiction.
In Islam, God is not typically depicted in art, and there is a strong prohibition against depicting God or any of the prophets. However, in Islamic texts, God is often described as a just and merciful deity beyond human comprehension.
Hinduism has many gods and goddesses, each with a distinctive appearance. The most important of these gods is usually considered to be Brahma, who is depicted with four faces and four arms and is often associated with creation and wisdom.
Ancient Egyptian religion:
In Ancient Egyptian religion, the god Ra was often depicted as falcon-headed, while Osiris was portrayed as a mummified man with green skin. Other gods and goddesses were depicted with animal heads, such as the cat-headed goddess Bastet or the ibis-headed god Thoth.
In Norse mythology, Odin was often depicted as an older man with a long white beard and a one-eyed, stern expression. Other gods and goddesses were often portrayed as fierce warriors, with Thor depicted with his signature hammer and red hair.
In Buddhism, the concept of a god with a physical appearance is less prominent than in other religions. Instead, Buddha is often depicted as a serene, peaceful figure with a shaved head and simple robes.
Here are 10 of those possibilities of what God looks like:
1. God looks like nothing we could comprehend
According to Got Questions, the Bible refers to God as something people can’t fully understand. For example, John 4:24 says God is a spirit, and as Exodus 33:20 points out, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
“As sinful human beings, we are incapable of seeing God in all his glory,” according to Got Questions. “His appearance is utterly unimaginable and too glorious to be safely perceived by sinful man.”
2. God looks like historical and fictional characters
People’s imaginations have run wild with what God looks like. An artist asked various people what they thought God looked like when they were children, and The Jewish Daily Forward published an infographic of the findings. The image shows God dressed like Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, Kenny Rogers, and a plain old guy with a huge beard.
“He had supernovas for whiskers,” Steph, from Minnesota, told the artist.
3. God looks like rappers
Maybe only in their minds.
That’s right; rappers tend to relate themselves to gods. According to Deseret News National, many rappers, like Kanye West, Eminem, and Jay-Z, use “god” as self-promotion.
“When hip-hop artists deploy the Christ image or story for their own purposes, they tap into a long history of everyday African-Americans trying to maintain belief in the Christian God with the realities of their oppression,” said Edward Blum, associate professor at San Diego State University, to The Atlantic.
4. God looks like Morgan Freeman.
Morgan Freeman played God in the 2003 film “Bruce Almighty,” appearing as both a homeless citizen and a man dressed in a pure white suit. His booming voice and power were enough to make him God in that film.
But Freeman himself took that one step further. In an interview with The Blaze, Freeman said he was God — and it’s for two reasons. First, Freeman said humans are created by God and thus reflect him. Second, God is whatever people want him to be and what they interpret him as; thus, we are the makers of our own God.
5. God looks like an outline in the clouds.
In August, The Huffington Post published a photo of what many thought to be God and an angel in the sky. People in the Cape Coral, Florida, area, where the cloud was first seen, likened the cloud’s vertical shape, with an outline that makes it look like a man in a robe, to the image of God.
“Still, no matter the answer, lots of us will continue to look to the sky, searching for life’s deeper meaning,” HuffPost’s Fiona Finn wrote. “Or are we searching in vain, deluding ourselves while involving our senses that random images are actually miracles or signs from above?”
6. God looks like a face at sunset.
The Blaze reported on a photo seen in the United Kingdom that allegedly had the face of God in it. With the sun’s beaming lights contrasting against dark stormy clouds, an image of a face appeared — one that many said looked like the face of God.
“I realized the image looked remarkably like a face of a man with a beard, so I took a number of shots on my phone. The face appeared to be looking back towards the shore,” Jeremy Fletcher, who took the photo, told the Daily Mail. “The obvious comment is that it looks like God, but it could also be Sean Connery or Karl Marx.”
7. God looks like an ordinary man.
According to religious expert Hugh Mauck, two bible verses point to God looking more like a human than anything else. Genesis 18:1-3 explained that God appeared to Abraham as a man. In Ezekiel 1:26-28, it’s a similar scenario: “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it,” the verses state. So, based on what the Bible says, God looks like a regular guy.
8. God is everything
But God isn’t just a regular man, and he’s not just a cloud in the sky. As the Journal of Biblical Counseling pointed out, God is everything. The Journal explained that an image of God isn’t essential when thinking about him; instead, it’s better to consider what he represents and brings to the world.
“Christians respond to the physical and material aspects of life in our culture,” the Journal explained. “Paul, in Romans 1, remarks on this same issue. The gospel says our deepest needs exist in our hearts, not in our bodies. We must live as though our world is temporary; eternity holds our real home.”
9. God looks like Jesus.
The Holy Trinity is God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, in that sense, God is Jesus, according to Christian Answers. “That Jesus, as the only-begotten Son of God, actually claimed to be God, equal with the Father, is clear from numerous scriptures,” Christian Answers explained.
That means that whatever Jesus looks like, God will look like since they are the same.
10. God is a lot of things, not one thing precisely.
King James Bible Online offered several images of God. The images include valleys, mountains, and scenes from throughout the world that show God’s image and power. God can be a beautiful landscape across the orange plains of the Southwest, or he could be a mother and son working together to overcome a problem. God is the image he’s created, the website explained, and is someone you can see daily.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1:17 reads, according to the King James Bible.
The Bible reveals who God is and how He relates to people. There are a lot of Scriptures that describe what God is like and His character. But a few places in the Bible also describe God’s actual appearance. And these descriptions are pretty similar throughout the Bible.
What Does God Look Like?
Several instances where people saw God or His glory, and each account describes God’s appearance differently. For instance, in Exodus 33:20-23, Moses asked to see God’s glory, and God responded by allowing Moses to see His back. However, the text does not provide any physical description of God.
In Ezekiel 1:26-28, the prophet Ezekiel describes seeing a vision of God, and he describes God’s appearance as a human-like figure with a throne-like structure above Him. Ezekiel describes God’s appearance as glowing, with fire and brightness emanating from Him. He also describes a rainbow-like aura surrounding God.
In Daniel 7:9-14, the prophet Daniel also describes a vision of God, which he sees as an Ancient of Days – an elderly figure with white hair and clothing, sitting on a throne with wheels, surrounded by fiery streams. In this vision, God is also accompanied by heavenly beings who serve Him.
The Bible doesn’t provide a definitive description of God’s appearance. Instead, different accounts offer varying images of God, highlighting His power, majesty, and glory.
Several people in the Bible saw God and lived to tell about it. They describe God’s appearance as a brilliant light and a consuming fire. They also describe the details around His throne. All this reveals who God is and how He relates to people.
The Bible describes God’s appearance as a brilliant light because He has no darkness (1 John 1:5). This represents God’s beauty, holiness, and purity. God is perfect and pure in His dealings with humanity.
1 John 1:5 (ESV)
God’s appearance is also fire because of His fiery desire and burning passion (Heb. 12:29). God is not an emotionless being or an impersonal spirit. The consuming fire speaks of His love for His people and fiery zeal for justice.
For our, God is a consuming fire.
Heb. 12:29 (ESV)
People who saw God also describe His throne. God is the creator and ruler over everything.
People also mention the rainbow that surrounds God’s throne. The rainbow speaks of God’s mercy and faithfulness. This is a reassurance that God’s dealings with humanity are covered by His mercy.
There are other descriptions of God in the Bible, but these are the most common and significant ones. When we put all these pieces together, we get a stunning picture of who God is.
It’s important to note that God is all these, not just one. He is light, but He is also a consuming fire. He has a deep desire and love for His people, but this also means He will remove all that gets in the way of that love. He will also make way for people to come to Him, and He is patient in all His ways.
What Does God Look Like According To The Bible?
The Bible does not provide a specific physical description of God’s appearance. However, it does use anthropomorphic language and imagery to describe God’s attributes and actions. For example, God is often depicted as having human-like qualities, such as speaking, seeing, hearing, and feeling emotions.
In the Old Testament, there are several instances where God appears to people in various forms, such as a burning bush (Exodus 3:2), a cloud (Exodus 13:21), and a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:22). In these cases, God’s form is not described in detail, but rather as a manifestation of His divine presence.
In the New Testament, Jesus is described as the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and is referred to as the “Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Jesus is depicted as a human being who lived on Earth. Although his physical appearance is not described in detail, it is suggested that he looks like an ordinary man (Isaiah 53:2).
The Bible emphasizes God’s spiritual nature and attributes rather than physically describing His appearance.
What Does God Look Like in Revelation?
John, a disciple of Jesus Christ, had an encounter with God recorded in the book of Revelation. He was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos for his faith. Revelation is the last book of the Bible and a fitting conclusion and summary of the Bible. John also records a physical description of God in Revelation.
The book of Revelation shows the leadership of Jesus at the end of this age. God’s physical description fits well with how He relates to the world. I’ll explain this in more detail after looking at God’s appearance.
First, let’s look at the text, and then we’ll look at some of the descriptions in more detail.
At once, I was in the Spirit; behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there appeared to be jasper and carnelian, and a rainbow appeared like an emerald around the throne. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne, there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
Rev. 4:2-6 (ESV)
God is Light
What is God’s appearance like? John describes God’s appearance as Jasper, a precious stone (Rev. 4:3).
Jasper is a stone, like a diamond, that shines brightly when light goes through it. John is highlighting the radiance and clarity of God’s appearance. It speaks of God’s dazzling purity. There’s no darkness in Him at all. Rev. 21:11 describes Jasper as a precious stone that is as clear as a crystal.
Having the glory of God, its radiance is like a rarest jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
Rev. 21:11 (ESV)
John also describes in another book of the Bible that God is light.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light, and in him is no darkness.
1 John 1:5 (ESV)
Those who encounter God often experience the light surrounding Him (Dan. 10; Eze. 10:4; Rev. 4). Paul explains that God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). Psalm 104:2 describes God as having light as a garment that surrounds Him. He is crystal clear and brilliant in His purity and wraps Himself with light.
The first act of God as Creator was to call light into being and separate it from the darkness. It reflects who He is.
Then God said, “Let there be light,”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen. 1:3-4 (ESV)
Why Does It Matter That God Is Light?
God is light, and He is surrounded by light. This speaks of His beauty, holiness, and purity. God is good and related to humanity in His goodness and righteousness. There is not even a hint of evil or wickedness in Him.
God is light, so you can know that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
James describes God as the Father of lights (James. 1:17). Because God is the Father of lights, He is pure and constant in His goodness and purity. He is not 99.99% pure. There is no evil in Him at all.
Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17 (ESV)
God wants you to live in His light. God relates to us in the manifestation of His light. The greatest blessing is to have the light from God’s face shine on you. This is part of the blessing Aaron, the priest, would pray over the people of Israel in the Old Testament.
The LORD make His face shine upon you And be gracious to you.
In the age to come, we will live in the light of God (Rev. 22:5; 21:23). So the book Revelation ends with God’s people living in His light. There is no night and no need for a light source like the sun because God Himself is their light.
God Is a Consuming Fire
John describes God’s appearance as sardius (Rev. 4:3), deep red. Carnelian is the modern term. It’s a stone with a deep red color. Some also say that it could be like a ruby.
This speaks of God’s fiery desire and burning passion. The Bible talks about the zeal of God, His incredible energy, and enthusiasm. God has a great desire for His people.
This also speaks of God’s zeal for justice. But, first, there is the zeal to remove all that is not holy.
John sees the God of sardius-like passion upon His throne. One of the first direct descriptions of God in the Bible is that He is a consuming fire. This means that He is calling for absolute loyalty to Him.
Your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God for the Lord.
Deut. 4:24 (ESV)
God had just delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt, where they were oppressed as enslaved people. God tells them that He wants them to be His people. He wants all nations to be blessed. He calls His people to live in righteousness and justice.
Being jealous has a negative side when it’s fleshly, but when applied to God, it speaks of His zeal, enthusiasm, and passion.
God’s appearance resembles light and fire, and holy fire surrounds His throne. Seven lamps of fire and seraphim (spiritual/angelic beings whose names mean burning ones) also burn before it. There is also a sea of glass that is ablaze before the throne of God.
Whenever people encounter God’s glory in the Bible, they also see the manifestations of fire: clouds, lightning, and thunder. Moses saw God on Mt. Horeb and His glory in the burning bush (Exo. 3:2, 6). Moses learned that God is holy and separate. Isaiah saw Seraphim, the burning ones, that worshiped around the throne of God (Isa. 6:2). Daniel saw the throne of God as a fiery flame (Dan. 7:9).
Why does it matter that God has said-like passion and zeal? God is not only light, purity, and goodness. He is focused on the ones He loves, and this zeal desires exclusivity in the relationship.
Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37).
A Rainbow on a Throne surrounds God.
People who saw God in the Bible also describe His throne and the rainbow surrounding it.
The throne represents God’s rule and reign. We have rulers and governors over nations and regions. There is a throne that is high above every throne. This throne is entirely pure and just. There’s no wickedness or injustice with God, the Judge upon His throne.
Ezekiel saw the same things that John later saw in Revelation. He saw God, the light around Him, and the sea of glass beneath the throne. Ezekiel also saw the throne and the rainbow around it (Eze. 1:26-28; 1:22).
Isaiah and Daniel also saw God’s throne, although they don’t mention the rainbow around it (Isa. 6:1-8; Dan. 7:9-10). Isaiah also says the seraphim, the burning ones that John later saw.
What’s the importance of what all these people saw? First of all, there is a throne. There is one who sits upon it. On the throne, there is a King, and He is also the Judge. Life is different when this is true.
The throne shows that God’s throne and His Kingdom are above every other throne and government. He is patient so that people will have time to turn to Him. But ultimately, God will bring justice to the earth. He has to punish the evil on the planet. Otherwise, He would not be a just judge. His purity and justice require it.
The good news is that there is a rainbow around His throne. All of His dealings with humanity are tempered by His mercy. The rainbow speaks of God’s mercy, patience, and faithfulness. This is excellent news because otherwise, no one would be in His Kingdom.
Where else did a rainbow appear in the Bible? After God sent the flood in Noah’s time, God gave the rainbow as a sign of His endless mercy and patience from that point on (Gen. 9:12-16).
This means God is pure and just but relates to you in His mercy. Unfortunately, everyone has turned away from God’s design and pursued life apart from God. But God makes a way out and gives people time to turn to Him.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.
2 Pet. 3:9 (ESV)
God’s justice will catch up with the earth, but He is patient and merciful to make a way out and gives people time to turn to Him.
Jesus Is the Fullness of the Glory of God
What the Bible says about God’s appearance wouldn’t be complete without seeing Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
John describes Jesus as the light that has come into the world (John 1:4-5). There was a time when Jesus revealed His glory to His disciples, and they saw His face shining like the sun (Matt. 17:1-2). And Jesus says in John 8:12 (ESV): “I am the world’s light. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
Colossians 2:9 (ESV) explains that in Jesus, the “whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
This means that when people saw Jesus, they saw God (John 14:9). That’s one of the reasons Jesus came to earth, to reveal God’s true nature to humanity. People had wrong ideas and religions about what God was like. Jesus removes the blinders.
One fantastic thing is that we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). God created you to look like Him, not any animal or creature. God became a man and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (ESV)
When you look at Jesus, you can see God’s love, justice, and mercy. How Jesus, the Son of God, relates to people in the Bible is how God relates to you. Jesus laid down His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. The cross is where love and justice meet. God’s justice is satisfied through Christ’s death, and His love is extended to you.
Jesus is fierce in His judgment against religious people who hinder others from coming to God. He goes into the temple in Jerusalem and flips over all the tables where people were trying to make money in the house of prayer (Matt. 21:13). But Jesus is tender-hearted and gentle with the hurting and broken.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matt. 11:28-30 (ESV)
We, Will, See God’s Face
Some might wonder whether it’s necessary or proper for people to be curious about what God looks like. Shouldn’t it be enough that you believe in Him?
One thing to note about studying God’s appearance is that people can’t see the fullness of God’s glory. It would be too much in this life (Exo. 33:20).
You can’t stare at the sun directly for long without damaging your eyes. If you see the fullness of the sun, you might never see anything else again! And the sun is millions of miles away. With God, we’re not just talking about physical intensity, but One who is perfect and holy in being.
Although you can’t see Him fully, the Bible repeatedly reveals different aspects of what God looks like. God reveals Himself. And what He does is meant to bless you.
Why does the Bible show how God looks? So that First, you will be fascinated in your spirit and heart (Psa. 27:4). Also, to strengthen and sustain you to endure hardships and difficulties.
When the early church was living in persecution and tribulation, God gave them a revelation of Jesus through the book of Revelation. He showed them what He looked like.
God does the same for you. He reveals His beauty and majesty to you so you can trust Him, knows He is good, and that His justice will triumph. The descriptions of God’s appearance in the Bible are meant to produce something in you. It releases a spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17-21) to know God so that your love and loyalty will be stirred up.
Right now, you might only see Him dimly (1 Cor. 13:12), but Revelation 22:4 says that you will ultimately get to see the face of God. Right now, you might not know the shape of His face or how tall He looks. But you can learn things about Him that are real and significant.
The human heart longs to be fascinated. God created you to draw near Him and reflect His glory in your life (2 Cor. 3:18). Every other craving in life will leave you empty until you are satisfied with God.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
John 17:3 (ESV)
Does your view of God give you the strength to endure and press in to know this beautiful God? That requires a higher vision. The knowledge of God ruins us for status quo Christianity. You cannot stop at anything less than the knowledge of this living God.
This has just been an introduction to the beauty and majesty of God’s appearance in the Bible. I hope it’ll encourage you to press in to know God more. Not just as a curiosity but as something that is meant and given by God in the Bible to exhilarate your spirit.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:4 (ESV)
If you want to go deeper into the knowledge of God, I highly recommend A.W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy (Link to Amazon – opens in a new window). One of my favorite quotes from that book is:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)
Also, you might be interested in this article where I explore what the Bible says about heaven and uncover the five most commonly held myths and misconceptions: 5 Surprising Truths About Heaven in the Bible: What Is Heaven Like? [link opens in a new window]
And lastly, I wrote an article about 11 Ways to Study the Bible [link opens in a new window]. I encourage you to take one of those methods and go deeper in your pursuit of God through His Word.