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  God seen by Moses?

Did Moses See God?

The idea that Moses saw God exists. This idea may have its origin in the following scripture: (ASV)

Exodus 33:11, And Jehovah spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Let's examine what the scope of the combined scriptures teach.

Ex 33:17-23, And Jehovah said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou hast found favor in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18And he said, Show me, I pray thee, thy glory. 19 . . . 20And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live. 21And Jehovah said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock: 22and 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 until I have passed by: 23and I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back; but my face shall not be seen.

We can see that this is from the same chapter as the verse that said Moses spoke "face to face" with God. It becomes obvious that in this case "face to face" meant directly through his spokesman, the Word, the angel that was the spokesman of God, mediator of God. It did not mean seeing God's face! This leads us to examine our dictionary for what 'face to face' can mean. According to an online query of, it means:

2. involving close contact or direct opposition: 
3. noting, relating to, or promoting interaction that takes place in person


The meaning does not have to take on the connotation of having their faces toward each other in this case.  Thus we have: "involving in close contact", or "interaction that takes place in person." A deeper study of the question leads to an even clearer understanding.

Ex 23:20,21, Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him.

What is meant with "for my name is in him?"

Jude 9, Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

(NJB) Acts 7:53, In spite of being given the Law through angels, you have not kept it.'

(Darby ) Acts 7:37,38, This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up to you out of your brethren like me him shall ye hear . 38This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers; who received living oracles to give to us.

(ASV) Hebrews 2:2, For if the word spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;

Upon considering these scriptures, it is evident that the person Moses spoke to on Mount Sinai was an angel. This angel who represented God, stood in his place, may have been Michael the Archangel since he is mentioned in regard to the Israelites then, and since he would be the foremost one to handle such matters for God. Clearly, as a representative standing in for the most high God, Jehovah, God's name would be in him.

The fact that Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that Christ was involved in this makes it possible to state with a high degree of certainty that the one representing the Almighty God had to be God's spokesman, Jesus Christ, the Word of God.  In 1 Cor 10:1-4, verse four demonstrates this without doubt:
And, all, drank, the same spiritual drink,—for they continued to drink of the spiritual rock that followed them, and, the rock, was the Christ. (Rotherham)

It then becomes possible without encountering any paradox to understand the scripture in John 1:18 and other similar scriptures.


John 1:18, No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, *he* hath declared him. 

Hebrews 11:27, By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he persevered, as seeing him who is invisible.

1 Timothy 1:17, Now to the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God, honour and glory to the ages of ages. Amen.

John 4:24, God is a spirit; and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.

I John 4:12, No one has seen God at any time: if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.

The evidence is in, God is invisible. No man can see God and live, and no man has seen God ever. Christ in his pre-human form saw God when he was an angel. He revealed God to us. (John 1:18)

Someone quoted Genesis 32:30 as proof that Jacob had seen God face to face. However, again the Bible's consistency is demonstrated when in Hosea 12:4, God explains through Hosea that this was not himself but an angelic representative of his. Verify by reading the quote just below please.
Genesis 32:24-29 And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25And when he saw that he did not prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained as he wrestled with him. 26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let thee go unless thou bless me. 27And he said to him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28And he said, Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for thou have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed. 29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Why is it that thou ask for my name? And he blessed him there. (ACV)

32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Phanuel, saying: I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved. (DRC)

Hosea 12:4 Yea, he had strength over the heavenly agent, and prevailed, as he wept, and made supplication to him. He found him at Bethel, and there he spoke with us. (ACV)
(KJV) 4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Beth–el, and there he spake with us
So, in all things, we see that as John explained to us, none have seen God face to face, neither Moses, nor Jacob, nor any other human being.


Briefly, let me say that there are a great many visions in the Bible in which men have 'seen' God in some way or other; so, while the Bible's teaching clearly forbids the real-time seeing of God – telling us that it will cause our death if we do – there is no prohibition from having a vision of God.

Ezekiel, Daniel, Stephen, the apostle John, Jacob, and probably others are said to have seen God in visions.

For more specific information regarding this subject please look at this page: Scriptural Harmony

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