“The Lord Spoke to Moses Face to Face”
Some wonder about God’s Words that say, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (Exodus 33:20). Yet, “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). How did God speak to Moses without him dying?
These verses are in perfect harmony once we understand the context. In Exodus 33:11, the Bible is speaking of God the Son as “manifest in the flesh,” in the person of Jesus and thus with His glory hidden. And in Exodus 33:20, the Bible is speaking of God the Father in His undimmed Glory which would kill any man.
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us that God spoke to men in the person of Jesus. For example, in the Old Testament, the Son of God spoke to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3), Jacob (Genesis 32:24–25, 30), Joshua (Joshua 5:14, 15), Gideon (Judges 6:22; 13:22), Daniel (Daniel 3:25) etc. And in the New Testament as well, He spoke to the believers (John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Timothy1:17; 1 John 4:12.
No man can see the Father and live. If at the appearance of one angel, the Roman soldiers at the tomb of the risen Christ “became as dead men” (Matthew 28:4), what might be expected when a sinful man is ushered into the very presence of the Father? Jesus stated, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). And He added, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from God; He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).
Therefore, when Moses asked to see the full glory of God the Father (Exodus 33:18), his request was denied (Exodus 33:20). Instead, the Lord revealed His character to him saying “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilt” (Exodus 34:6, 7).
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In His service,