First, let’s read John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  This is a declaration that no one had ever seen God, except for the Lord Jesus, who spoke of Him to others. 

Now, let’s read some of the accounts of the Lord and Moses.  We read in Exodus 33:11, “And the LORD spake unto Moses FACE TO FACE, as a man speaketh unto his friend…” We also read the words of the Lord in Numbers 12:8, “With him will I speak MOUTH TO MOUTH, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”  Face to face.  Mouth to mouth.  What are we to make of these descriptions of the Lord’s relationship and appearances to Moses?  On top of that, we read in Exodus 33:20, “And he said, THOU CANST NOT SEE MY FACE: for there shall no man see me, and live.”  I realize this sounds a little confusing.  Let us look a little deeper to see if Moses truly saw the Lord.

To speak ‘face to face’ or ‘mouth to mouth’ is more of an expression to convey a close, personal relationship.  As we just read in Exodus 33:11, “…as a man speaketh unto his friend.”  From this, we understand that the Lord did not speak to Moses through dreams or visions, but He audibly spoke to him.  So unique was this relationship between the Lord and Moses, we read in Deuteronomy 34:10, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”

John 4:24 tells us that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  As a spirit, God has no human form…He has no face or mouth!  The Lord never appeared to Moses in the fullness of His glory, but only so far as his physical infirmity could handle.  It would be impossible for natural man to see the Lord in His intrinsic glory and survive.  Let us see how the Lord truly appeared unto Moses.

In Exodus 33:21-23 we read, “And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

In a cleft in this nearby rock, Moses was to stand as the glory of the Lord passed by him. To protect him, the Lord covered his eyes as He passed by.  Moses was allowed to see the ‘back parts’ of the form the Lord appeared in but was not allowed to see the face of that form. 

We can see that Moses did not see the Lord in His glorious form, so the truth of John 1:18 has not been compromised.  Yet, we are promised that in a future day we will see the Lord.  David wrote of that day in Psalm 17:15, “As for me, I WILL BEHOLD THY FACE in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”  We read of that day in Revelation 22:3-4, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: AND THEY SHALL SEE HIS FACE; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”  (CC)  (532.2)