Much can be learned about how God can dwell in mankind by understanding how He revealed Himself to Abraham. Let's focus first upon the occasion when God and two angels visited Abraham. It was at this time that God first told Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a son, even though she was well beyond the years for childbearing. The entire story does not need to be repeated here, but only that portion that begins to reveal understanding:
The ETERNAL ONE [Yahweh] appeared to him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre, as he [Abraham] sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and there before him were three men that stood out before him. When he saw them he ran from before the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, "My Lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, do not continue on, but please stay here a while with your servant. " (Genesis 18:1-3) The purpose in looking at these verses is to make several points. All three who appeared before Abraham appeared as physical men. Angelic beings are unable to appear to humans unless God grants them the ability to do so. When God reveals Himself through a physical manifestation (in the form of a human body), the conditions are unique. A physical body cannot contain Almighty God, but in some of His earlier encounters with man God did use a physical body through which to communicate.
It should be understood, as the Bible clearly teaches, that no one (no human) has ever seen God. When such a statement is made, it is speaking of the literal sense because mankind is incapable of seeing anything in the spirit world where God resides. Man cannot see spirit. Only when a physical manifestation (of that which is spirit) is given can man see something. This is not to be confused with those things Jesus Christ taught when He spoke of the ability to see the Father (John 14) and Himself (after His resurrection). In those examples, Christ was speaking of things that are of the spirit, which have to do with understanding (seeing spiritually) and the revelation of God
(seeing the ways of God, mind of God, truth of God, and identity of God—to know God). When Jesus explained such things it never concerned a person's physical ability to see God.
There was an occasion when God revealed a glory to Moses that was beyond simply seeing a physical manifestation of a human body (like God used to speak with Abraham). Moses saw a manifestation of light and a shape of a body that was a greater glory than the appearance of a man, but Moses did not see the spirit appearance of Almighty God.
Returning to the story of Abraham, the scripture makes it clear that it was the ETERNAL who spoke to him. Again, God did this by making a physical body appear before Abraham through which God spoke. This physical body was not God. Once God was finished with His visit with Abraham, the physical body through which He manifested Himself no longer existed.
After Jesus Christ died and was resurrected, He appeared to some of his disciples on different occasions. At one point, He appeared to the disciples in a room that was completely closed (Luke 24 and John 20). After being resurrected, He was fully spirit and no longer human in a physical body. Christ was in a spirit body. Yet, even in this, Jesus Christ chose to manifest Himself as he appeared when He was in His physical body, but now with the wounds in His side, feet and hands.
Indeed, if God so chooses, He can make a physical body appear before others and communicate to them through that body; but that body is not God.
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