For the context of this study, please read Exodus 33-34, as I will not be able to quote it all here.
Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
The first stone tables (tablets) were broken by Moses, and here we see the Lord commanding him to hew out two more tablets to replace the broken ones. Then Moses was told to bring the tablets up with him to the top of Mount Sinai. There the Lord revealed Himself to Moses:
Exodus 34:5-7 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Notice the passage quoted above was in fulfillment of a promise the Lord made to Moses in the previous chapter (see Exodus 33:7-10):
Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Here we see the Lord speaking unto Moses face to face. Considering that Joshua is often a type of Christ - it is interesting to note that here he is continually dwelling in the tabernacle, the presence of God. (See also John 1:18.)
God had promised that His presence would dwell with His people and give them rest (33:14), then He continues:
Exodus 33:17-23 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift 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.
For Moses to truly see God's glory and know the name of the Lord, he would have to be hidden in the cleft of the rock and covered there with the hand of God. This truly pictures the believer being put IN Christ, the Rock, and kept there by God's hand. See my study The Rock Of Horeb for a more indepth look at this wonderful type. If you want to know God the Father, you must come to Him through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In order to see the Lord’s glory, we must first be hid in Christ. There is no other way. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we are then placed in Christ forever, and no one (not even ourselves) can separate us from His love.
Moses was hid in the cleft of the Rock and there he saw God's glory - the following passage describes the effects of his time spent in the presence of God (see also Have You Been With Jesus?):
Exodus 34:29-35 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 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. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
The New Testament opens for us the picture that is presented here. Remember that it was when Moses was hidden in the cleft of the Rock (Christ) that he saw God's glory. The natural (lost) man could not see this glory - he was blinded to it!
2 Corinthians 3:13-17 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The old testament (covenant) kept man at a distance from God - the Law showed that man was a sinner in need of a Saviour, but the Law itself did not have the power to save. We first need to see our sin in the light of God's Word - the many times we have broken God's commandments and sinned against Him. There is a vail over the lost man's heart so that he cannot understand or see the glory of God (see John 3:3 and 1 Corinthians 2:14). Yet when someone repents of their sin and turns to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation - believing the Gospel in their heart (see Romans 10:9-10), this vail is taken away - and that barrier between God and themselves is removed. They are reconciled to God AND placed IN Christ, hidden IN the Rock. NOW they can see the glory of God! Now when they read the Old Testament Scriptures, they are not blinded to the spiritual truths contained therein - no longer blinded to the types and prophecies of Jesus Christ - their eyes are opened to receive and understand the truth. Now they are no longer seeing "through a glass darkly," but instead "face to face" (just as Moses saw the Lord - though we will see Him spiritually, not physically - see 1 Corinthians 13:12) - they can see the Lord Jesus Christ from page to page in the whole of Scriptures ("in the volume of the book")!
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Have you turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you repented of your sins and received His free gift of salvation? If so, now the light has been turned on, and the Scriptures are opened to your view - now you can see the glory of God throughout the Scriptures - it is no longer a dry book, but a living testimony of the Saviour!
Moses' face shone when he was in the presence of the Lord - does yours?