Chapter 33: Face to Face
The Lord promises to be with Israel and drive the people out of the land. The Tabernacle is moved from the camp.
Throughout much of the story of Moses we see him speaking with God and at times it appears as if he is speaking directly to God as if he would to another man. So the question is, Does Moses actually see God? Can any man see God for that matter?
Has anyone seen God? In John 1:18; it says: “No man hath seen God at any time…”
That seems pretty straightforward right? If this is true, why does it say in Exodus 33:11; “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto a friend…”
Doesn’t that clearly state that Moses did in fact see God? Well let’s examine a little further… in the same chapter of Exodus 33, we read: “…thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)
That seems a bit contradictory, right? Because many people have seen God…
Acts 7:55-56: “But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and saw the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
Numbers 11:8: “With him (Moses) I speak mouth to mouth…”
Genesis 32:30: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seeen God face to face, and my life is preserved”
Isaiah 6: Isaiah sees God!
The above are just a few examples of people seeing God and speaking with him. So if this is true, why does John 1:18 say no man has seen God? -OR- Why does Exodus 33:20 say that no man can see God and live? Because Jacob/Israel saw God and his “life was preserved”, how is that possible?
The truth: Any person that God wants to speak with or permits to see him is his choice. After all God is all knowing and all power, why can we say that man can “not see him”, if we were to say that would we be speaking for God? So the question remains, why does the Bible say that men can see him and then says that no one can see him, and no one can live after seeing him? Because the Bible is not perfect, face it. I love the Bible, I know that it was written by men, no doubt, inspired by God, but corrupted and changed over time.
Luckily we have modern prophets today! Joseph Smith translated parts of the King James Version to correct what was possibly mis-written, taken out or changed with time.
Here is Exodus 33:20, King James Version compared to the King James Version – Joseph Smith Translation:
KJV: “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”
KJV-JST: “And he said unto Moses, Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest mine anger be kindled against thee also, and I destroy thee, and thy people; for there shall no man among them see me at this time, and live, for they are exceedingly sinful. And no sinful man hath at anytime, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time, that shall see my face and live”
That makes a lot more sense, no SINFUL man can see God and live. But for those who are righteous and chosen of God can see God, if he permits them. That explains why Jacob was preserved after seeing God “face to face”. In face the KJV-JST elaborates on John 1:18; “…no man hath seen God at any time, except he hath borne record of the Son…”
To me this is a very interesting subject, especially in today’s world where most people either do not believe in God or believe that he is a God of only wrath and destruction. God loves us so much that he calls Prophets, and through those prophets we can be guided, just like the Israelites were guided through Egypt by Moses. God does in fact speak with us, through is prophets, administering angels and through personal revelation.
Chapter 34: Moses in Mt. Sinai = Veil
Moses goes up Mt. Sinai to speak with the Lord. During his visit, the Lord reminded him that him and his congregation (the children of Israel) are to not make any graven image or worship other gods, because the Lord God of Israel is a “…jealous God:” (Exodus 34:14). He also reminds him about the Passover and the importance of the Sabbath day, to keep it as a holy day (Exodus 34:21).
Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights with God, where God also created new tablets containing the 10 commandments, because he had broken the other tablets. In this chapter, we may have learned how a normal person can see God without “perishing”. It says that when Moses spoke with God, the skin on his face “…shone while he talked to him” (Exodus 34:29). After Moses comes down from the Mount, “…all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone…” (Exodus 34:30).
“And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out…” (Exodus 34:33-34)
It is my personal opinion, based on the scriptures I have presented for chapters 33 and 34 of Exodus, that…
- NO one can see God, unless they are righteous and chosen to be seen by him.
- NO one can see God with their natural eyes, until the “veil” be taken from their eyes.
- NO SINFUL man or woman can see God.