No man has ever seen God before, not even Adam. “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” John 1:18 (John 5:37; 6:46; Matthew 11:27; 1 John 4:12).
There is one Biblical account of Moses seeing God’s glory pass before him, as God placed Moses in the cleft of a mountain and put his hand over Moses eyes, God allowed Moses to see his backside as He passed by him (Exodus 33:18-23). There is no contradiction in the story. God states to Moses that no man can see His face and live, which is to say, that Moses saw an aspect of God’s person, but not God Himself. At best, to see my hand, is not to say you have seen me, even though my hand is part of my body, my hand, in and of itself is not representative of me. My hand is an aspect of me, like other parts of my body individually or collectively, but my body and all its parts are not me without my spirit and soul to animate them. My hand is an aspect of me without being me. Such is the case here with Moses and an Aspect of Gods glory He showed him.
When mankind is perfected, which takes place after Satan is released from prison and after the Judgment (Revelation 20:1–9) man will see God’s actual face, which is what is at the heart of salvation. Once in Heaven, man will see Jesus at the Judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), God the Father will be in the North side of Heaven where man will not be. We know Gods location in Heaven as written by Isaiah.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13-15 The first time man see’s God the Father is at the Great White Throne Judgement, not upon arrival in Heaven (Revelation 20:11–15). Man is not perfected merely by going to Heaven. Mans sinful nature remains even while in Heaven. We know that the thousand year reign is attended only by Christians as the Anti Christ, false prophet and all unbelievers are relegated to Hell after Armageddon (Revelation 19:19–21). There is no biblical support that suggest mankind is perfected in Heaven prior to the judgment, nor is there any account of mans nature being perfected during the thousand year reign. For this reason we know that all who reign with Christ a thousand years are believers and these same believers are deceived by Satan and become part of his army that goes to Hell prior to the judgment. We know these to be numerable people, as the sands of the sea.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:7–9
Jesus states.. ”Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”Matthew 7:13-15 Habakkuk states that God Himself does not look upon sin or have a relationship with sin, which is to say that while man is in Heaven there can be no relationship.
“Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:”Habakkuk 1:12–13
The journey of man’s reconciliation to God takes man full circle. This journey has taken thousands of years, through countless lives, one person at a time. God perfects man’s heart by giving him free will and choice. Placing man in spiritual warfare, God imbues man with power through the Holy Spirit, provides a heavenly advocate for him in Jesus the Christ, sets up communication with man, beyond his sins in the form of prayers.
He provides insight through His written word inspired directly by God Himself, speaking through men in the form of prophesies, dreams at night, visions by day, sending Angels at times to intercede with man. God has even performed miracles where appropriate in His judgment. Through it all, man will be reconciled to God over time, through our own choices. Adam never saw God face to face. His relationship with God, though more direct than ours today, was not one of physical proximity. Adam only experienced God through some manifestation of God’s Spirit. More often than not, it was some verbal encounter, not unlike those experienced by Moses, the Prophets of Old, or even what the disciples experienced (2 Peter 1:16-17; Matthew 17:5-6; 3:17; Luke 3:22). When Moses is said to have seen God, or any reference to anyone seeing God, it is only in respect to experiencing an aspect of Gods glory, but that is not the same thing as seeing God face to face. God provided Moses some aspect of a manifestation of Himself, but that manifestation, was “NOT” the physical manifestation of God Himself. They were things like a burning bush… “And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto Him, in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed”Exodus 3:2-6. In this case it was an “Angel” of the Lord that appeared on God’s behalf, but not God Himself. Another manifestation was in a pillar of a cloud.
“the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the Tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses” Exodus 33:9 “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto a friend” Exodus 33:9-11 This suggest that Moses would have seen God, face to face, but it is not a literal physical manifestation of God with Moses. God certainly spoke to Moses, and the conversation they had was an intimate one, which is what is meant by “face to face, as a man speaks to a friend” But this passage is figurative and not literal, God Himself says that no man can see His face and live. “And He said, thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me, and live” Exodus 33:20
“And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” Exodus 33:14-23. Here we see that God is telling Moses that His “presence” will go with Him, but again, this refers to an “aspect” of God’s presence, just like Gods voice, it is His voice, but a voice is not God, any more than a hand, or hair, or a finger would be you. Those things may be connected to you, and represent an “aspect” of you, but those things in and of themselves are not you. Any more than Angels, voices, clouds, burning bushes or other manifestations of God are God Himself, they are “of” God, but they are not the physical manifestations of God Himself.
“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” Exodus. 33:22-23 Here God says plainly, that what Moses experienced was an aspect of Gods glory, whether it was Gods actual Spirit or not, is unknown, but it was not His physical manifest presence. It could not be, as it is written, No man has seen God at any time. “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, He hath seen the Father”John 6:46. Jesus was speaking about Himself, He is the only one to have ever seen God.
“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bossom of the Father, He hath declared Him” John 1:18 (1 John 4:12, Matthew 11:27). In all this we know that Jesus is saying that He is the only one to have seen God and that no man has ever seen God, so whatever God revealed to Moses, was an aspect of His glory, but not exactly, literally, physically, God Himself. Mankind has not seen God yet, many teach and believe that we shall all live with God in Heaven, this is not the case. We see God for the first time in Heaven at the Great White Throne Judgment. Man will not have been perfected at the time we are in Heaven. You can’t see God face to face outside of His final judgment until then.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Revelation 21:1–3