Exodus 33:20

20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Exodus 33:20 in Other Translations

KJV
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
ESV
20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live."
NLT
20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.”
MSG
20 God continued, "But you may not see my face. No one can see me and live."
CSB
20 But He answered, "You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live."

Exodus 33:20 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 33:20

And he said, thou canst not see my face
Meaning not his form, his essence, his very nature, and the glory of it, that Moses must know he could never see; but the brightest displays of his grace and goodness in Christ, the fullest discoveries of it, which are too much for man, in the present state of things, to have, who sees in part, and but through a glass darkly, not face to face, or in the most complete and perfect manner; it is but a small part and portion of God, and of his ways and works, as of creation and providence, so more especially of grace, salvation, and redemption by Jesus Christ, that is known of him; the things of the Gospel in their full perfection are what eye has not seen; and particularly were more hidden and unseen under the legal dispensation; this face was covered with types and shadows, and dark representations of things; though, in comparison of that state, we now, with open face, behold the glory of the Lord, yet still it is through a glass darkly, and we have not the clear and full view of things as will be hereafter:

for there shall no man see me and live:
if there was to be such a revelation made of the grace and goodness, and glory of God in Christ, as it really is in itself, it would be too much for mortals in the present state to bear; it would break their earthen vessels in pieces; the full discovery therefore is reserved to a future state, when these things will be seen as they are, and men will be in a condition to receive them; otherwise we find that men have, in a sense, seen the face of God in this life, and have lived; though many, and even good men, have been possessed with such a notion, that if a man saw God he must die, see ( Genesis 32:30 ) ( Exodus 24:11 ) ( Judges 13:22 ) .

Exodus 33:20 In-Context

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

Cross References 1

  • 1. S Genesis 16:13; S Exodus 3:6; S Deuteronomy 5:26; S John 1:18; Genesis 32:30; Isaiah 6:5