This term, applied to the direct or hidden appearances of God in the Scriptures, is derived from the Greek, meaning literally “God in brightness.”
God appearing on Mt. Sinai, in storm, in the cloud and at the transfiguration are examples. The most ancient forms of God’s appearances are in the forces of nature, such as in fire, and in human “likenesses.”
The direct communication or appearance by God to human beings are also identified with God confronting Adam and Eve after their disobedience; God appearing to Moses out of a burning bush; Abraham pleading with Yahweh to be merciful to Sodomites.
These theophanies were temporary manifestations. They were not like the Incarnation, which, though it began in time, will continue for all eternity. In Christian times God is recognized by faith. (7:40)