A captivating photo of a serene landscape, bathed in golden light, capturing the silhouette of a person kneeling in prayer, symbolizing biblical characters connecting with God in divine encounters.

Bible Characters Who Had Encounters With God

Encountering the divine can be a life-changing experience. Throughout the Bible, we find stories of people whose lives were radically transformed after an encounter with God. If you are looking for biblical examples of God revealing himself to mankind, you have come to the right place.

Here is a quick overview of the key characters we will cover who had direct experiences with God: Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, Saul/Paul, John the Baptist, and Mary the mother of Jesus. We will explore the nature of their encounters, how they responded, and the impact the experiences had on their lives and faith.

In this comprehensive article, we will take a deep dive into 7 major biblical figures who had profound supernatural encounters with God. We will analyze their stories, the context, highlights of the encounters, and the effects it had on them spiritually.

Whether it was hearing God’s voice, seeing a heavenly vision, or being visited by angels, these transformative events shaped these individual’s lives and their purpose. Read on to learn how God makes His presence known to mankind in mysterious ways throughout Scripture.

Moses’ Encounters With God

The Burning Bush

The first recorded encounter between God and Moses occurred when Moses was tending sheep near Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up.

When Moses approached the bush to investigate this strange sight, God called to him from within the flames and told him to remove his sandals, for he was standing on holy ground. God then revealed that He had seen the oppression of His people in Egypt, and He was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-10).

This began Moses’ amazing journey as the leader of the Exodus.

Receiving the 10 Commandments

Another dramatic encounter between God and Moses took place on Mount Sinai. After God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through 10 awe-inspiring plagues, He led them to Sinai where He made a covenant with them.

God told Moses to come up the mountain so He could give him two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments and other laws. There was thunder and lightning as Moses approached, and a thick cloud covered the mountain.

The glory of the Lord settled on Sinai and the whole mountain was wrapped in smoke (Exodus 19:16-20). What an intense and unforgettable way for Moses to receive God’s holy law!

Speaking With God ‘Face to Face’

The Bible says Moses spoke to God “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). This seems to refer to an intimate, close relationship, though not necessarily seeing God’s actual face. After Israel’s rebellion with the golden calf, Moses pleaded with God to show him His glory.

God placed Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered him with His hand while His glory passed by, and allowed Moses to see only His back (Exodus 33:18-23). So Moses had very personal encounters with God but didn’t see His full glory.

Nevertheless, the LORD spoke with Moses “as a man speaks to his friend” and “mouth to mouth” (Numbers 12:8).

Abraham’s Covenants With God

The Covenant Promise

God made a covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, stating that He would make Abraham a great nation, bless him, make his name great, and that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. This covenant was unconditional, resting solely on God’s faithfulness and grace.

Though Abraham stumbled at times, God remained true to His promise. The LORD appeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old and formally ratified His covenant by instructing Abraham to walk blamelessly before Him (Genesis 17). God promised to be Abraham’s God and the God of his descendants.

Circumcision was instituted as a sign of the covenant. God also announced that Sarah would give birth to Isaac, the son of promise. The covenant with Abraham laid the foundation for God’s future blessings on Israel and the coming of the Messiah.

Instruction to Sacrifice Isaac

One of Abraham’s most famous encounters with God was when the LORD instructed him to sacrifice his promised son Isaac (Genesis 22). This was an extreme test of Abraham’s faith. Yet he obeyed promptly, demonstrating his utmost trust in God’s purposes.

As Abraham raised the knife to kill his son, the Angel of the LORD stopped him and provided a ram to sacrifice instead. This incident profoundly foreshadowed God the Father offering His beloved Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice on our behalf.

Abraham passed the test and reaffirmed his faith that God would keep His covenant promises. This story illustrates Abraham’s exemplary faith and the LORD’s gracious provision.

Entertaining Angels Unaware

In Genesis 18, Abraham graciously hosted three mysterious visitors who turned out to be angels. Abraham humbled himself and treated them with utmost hospitality by having a meal prepared and waiting on them himself.

The angels came to inform Abraham that Sarah would conceive and bear Isaac within a year, which seemed impossible from a human perspective since she was barren and past child-bearing age. Hebrews 13:2 reminds believers to show hospitality to strangers because by doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Like Abraham, when we demonstrate selfless service to others, we may encounter divine appointments where God sends His messengers to bless us in miraculous ways beyond our expectations.

Jacob Wrestling With God

A Night of Struggle

As described in Genesis 32, Jacob was left alone one night and wrestled with a mysterious man until daybreak. Neither overpowered the other, but the man struck Jacob’s hip and put it out of joint before asking Jacob to let him go as dawn was breaking.

Jacob, however, refused to let the man go unless he blessed him first.

Name Change to Israel

The mysterious man then changed Jacob’s name to Israel, declaring “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome. “ This marked a turning point in Jacob’s life, as his new name Israel symbolized his transformed nature after wrestling with God.

A Permanent Limp

Although Jacob demanded a blessing from the man, he did not escape their encounter unscathed. Genesis 32 notes that the man touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and caused it to be wrenched as they wrestled.

So although Jacob prevailed in obtaining a blessing, he walked with a permanent limp from then on as a reminder of his intense all-night struggle.

As the Bible Study Tools website notes, this story offers rich insight into Jacob’s tenacious spirit and God’s desire to transform His children’s character and identity. Jacob emerged from the struggle with a new name, a distinct limp, and a greater awareness of God’s power and blessing over his life.

Isaiah’s Heavenly Vision

Seeing the Lord on His Throne

The prophet Isaiah had an awe-inspiring vision of God’s glory while worshipping in the temple. As described in Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a lofty throne, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim surrounded the throne, calling out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty!”

(Isaiah 6:3). Overwhelmed by God’s grandeur and holiness, Isaiah cried out, “Woe to me! For I am ruined!” (v.5). Yet one of the seraphim touched Isaiah’s mouth with a burning coal from the altar, symbolizing cleansing from sin.

This powerful encounter changed Isaiah’s life and propelled him into his prophetic ministry.

Called as a Prophet

After witnessing the Lord’s glory and power, Isaiah heard God’s voice calling, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8). Despite feeling inadequate, Isaiah responded courageously, “Here am I. Send me!”

He left the temple committed to warning the people of Judah about coming judgment if they refused to turn back to God. Isaiah also proclaimed messages of hope – that a remnant would return to the Lord and a future Messiah would establish His righteous kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Isaiah’s far-reaching prophecies lived on for centuries, offering both warning and comfort.

Message of Coming Messiah

Amid pronouncements of judgment, Isaiah delivered stunning prophecies about the Messiah to come. He foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), come from the line of David (Isaiah 9:7), have God’s Spirit rest on Him (Isaiah 11:2), and die for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Isaiah described the Messiah reigning in righteousness and bringing peace (Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:1-9). The apostles later recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of these messianic prophecies. Though written over 700 years earlier, Isaiah’s predictions offer powerful testimony about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Saul/Paul’s Damascus Road Encounter

A Blinding Light

Saul, later known as Paul, was traveling to Damascus to persecute followers of Jesus when a blinding light suddenly flashed around him (Acts 9:3). This startling event left Saul unable to see, and he had to be led into the city by his companions.

The bright light and Saul’s subsequent blindness symbolize how Saul’s previous understanding was darkness compared to the light of truly knowing Jesus.

Confrontation With Jesus

As Saul was reeling from the mysterious light, Jesus spoke to him and identified himself. Imagine Saul’s shock at realizing he had been opposing the very Messiah he had long waited for! Jesus’ words convinced Saul that Jesus truly was the Son of God, completely transforming Saul’s beliefs about Jesus (Acts 9:5).

This direct encounter with the risen Jesus was the catalyst that turned zealous persecutor Saul into Christ’s devoted apostle Paul.

Life Mission Revealed

Not only did Saul have his sight restored after three days of blindness, he also received a new life mission from the Lord. Instead of persecuting Jesus’ followers, he would become “a chosen instrument” to bring the gospel to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites (Acts 9:15).

God used Ananias to relay this message to Saul about his new purpose. The man who had breathed threats against Christians would now breathe the name of Christ throughout the world. Saul’s zeal was redirected to spreading, not stifling, the Good News far and wide.

The Damascus road encounter reshaped the rest of Paul’s life. From persecutor to preacher, Paul tirelessly carried the gospel across land and sea, forever transformed by meeting the risen Lord.

John the Baptist Witnesses the Spirit

Baptizing Jesus

John the Baptist had been preaching in the wilderness of Judea, calling people to repent and be baptized as a sign of turning away from sin and turning toward God (Matthew 3:1-12). When Jesus came to be baptized by John, it was a humbling experience for John since he knew Jesus was the Messiah.

Yet Jesus insisted that His baptism by John was necessary “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-17).

Seeing the Holy Spirit Descend

When John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, a marvelous thing happened. The Bible says “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” (Mark 1:9-11).

It was a visible and miraculous manifestation of God’s Spirit coming upon Jesus in a special way to empower Him for ministry.

Declaring the Messiah

John had been telling people that he was preparing the way for one greater than himself who would baptize with the Holy Spirit rather than just water (Mark 1:7-8). When John witnessed the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus at His baptism, John declared “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit'” (John 1:32-34). John was now confident that Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah and Son of God.

Mary’s Divine Favor

Visited by an Angel

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a young woman living in Nazareth when she received a visit from the angel Gabriel. This encounter is recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Gabriel greeted Mary with the words “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28 ESV).

Understandably, Mary was initially afraid and confused by this heavenly visitor. However, Gabriel proclaimed to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” He then delivered the incredible news that she would conceive and bear a son named Jesus, the promised Messiah.

Despite her virginity, Mary believed Gabriel’s message that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Her willingness to become the mother of the Savior is a prime example of faith and obedience.

Mary replied humbly, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This divine encounter set Mary’s life on a new course as the mother of the long-awaited Messiah.

Told She Would Birth the Savior

When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, he brought her the amazing news that she would give birth to Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah and Savior of the world. This was an incredible pronouncement, as Mary was a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph.

However, Gabriel declared, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32 ESV). As a humble peasant girl, Mary likely never imagined herself in this divinely favored role.

Yet, by God’s grace, she was chosen to deliver the Savior into the world. Despite the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage, Mary courageously trusted God’s seemingly impossible plan. With quiet strength she replied to Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 ESV).

Mary’s willingness to surrender her own reputation and comfort to fulfill God’s purposes is a powerful example of faith and obedience. Her divine motherhood paved the way for the Messiah to come as a human baby, bringing salvation within reach of all people.

Example of Faith

When Mary received the angel’s message that she would miraculously conceive and bear the Son of God, she responded with unwavering faith and surrender. Mary declared to Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 ESV).

Despite the drastic social consequences she might face, Mary trusted completely in God’s plan. Her courageous example of faith in the face of uncertainty is inspiring. Mary embraced her divine calling with grace and fortitude, faithfully walking with God even when others questioned the miraculous circumstances surrounding her pregnancy.

She believed the angel’s declaration that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). When Mary visited her relative Elizabeth, who was also expecting a miracle child in old age, Elizabeth pronounced a blessing on Mary “who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Indeed, Mary’s faith and obedience made her a model disciple. Through her supreme willingness to carry, birth and raise the Savior, according to God’s timing and purposes, Mary participated intimately in the fulfillment of prophecy and the dawning of salvation for the world.


Throughout history, God has chosen to reveal Himself to certain individuals in order to advance His divine plan. As highlighted in this article, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, Paul, John the Baptist and Mary all had supernatural encounters that transformed their lives.

While the nature and context of each experience differed, the impact was profound. God used these pivotal interactions to establish covenants, give guidance, reveal His glory, bestow favor, and impart purpose. The responses ranged from awe and submission to doubt and disbelief at first.

Despite the mystery surrounding such manifestations of the divine, the biblical accounts inspire our faith. God may still be Appearing to people today in unexpected ways. As we read these stories, we are reminded of God’s majesty while being assured of His real presence among those who seek Him.

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