Matthew 5:8, blessed are the pure in heart
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
(Matt 5:8 WEB)
Pure enough to see God and live
On many occasions the Bible associates clean hands with a proper attitude of heart. Both were required to enter the presence of God safely.
Approach God with the wrong attitude, and the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that the outcome can be suffering or even death. However, for people who approached reverently and in a state of ritual cleanliness, it was possible to encounter God face to face. It was often just individuals who experienced this privilege, people like Moses, Aaron, David, Isaiah and Amos. However, at Mount Sinai there was one occasion on which the entire nation of Israel met God in this face-to-face manner. After those same people rebelled, Moses brought the news that none of them could see God face to face and live.
Psalm 24 explains that those with a pure heart may stand in the holy place (Ps 24:3), i.e. the place where God chooses to manifest himself, his nature or his judgments. There they see God and receive a blessing from the Lord, the righteousness that enables them to avoid condemnation; they see God and live.
The righteousness to stand before God is not something that we can achieve ourselves, for it is a gift God gives so that we may approach him. He declares us pure, as only he can, but whether he does so depends upon our attitude. We must come motivated to seek his ways, without guile, and with an honest evaluation of our own state. In the Hebrew Bible this was achieved through a complex system of cleanliness regulations and sacrifices. However, Jesus met the requirements of that legislation in such a way as to render it redundant. Henceforth, accepting Jesus’ authority over your life became the sole prerequisite for encountering God face-to-face and the only way to do so.
Those who see God may perceive a physical form, but that is exceptional. Usually they come away from such an encounter knowing that they have met with the invisible God, but having perceived his nature or his purposes for them just a bit more deeply than they had before.