Colossians 1:15 (NKJV) He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
The Bible is such an incredible collection of books. The more I dig into it---the more I am amazed. It is a collection of sixty-six books, written by more than 40 authors, over a period spanning about two thousand years. I find it remarkable that no book in the Bible contradicts another book. Each time I think I have found an inconsistency, I learn something new.
One such seeming contradiction is the face of God. God said to Moses in Exodus 33:20, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." A few verses earlier in Exodus 33:11 the Bible tells us, "So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." Then our verse at the top---from the book of Colossians---says God is invisible.
In review, no man can see God and live, Moses talked to God face to face, and God is invisible. How do we explain this?
To understand it, you have to appreciate that God can reveal Himself in three different persons. Just as water is frozen, liquid, or Gaseous; God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God can present Himself as magnificent glory the way He did to Moses on Mount Sinai. God told Moses, "while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by" (Ex. 33:22). The glory was the face of God that no man could see.
Several times in the Old Testament, God also revealed Himself as a man. He did this with Moses, Abraham, and Jacob to name a few (Ex. 33:11, Ge. 17:15, Ge. 32:24-28). In Hebrews 11:27 the Bible says, "By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible." The Scripture at the top refers to Jesus as being the image of Him who is invisible. This reveals that Moses saw Jesus before He became flesh and blood.
God can also reveal Himself as the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and then later translated into our own language. The Hebrew word for spirit is pronounced, "roo'-akh". In simple English, this word means breath*. The Holy Spirit is the holy breath of God. This is the invisible presence of God.
When God told Moses, "no man shall see Me and live" (V. 20), He was clearly talking about His magnificent glory. We know that God had already been talking to Moses as a man because verse 11 says, "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man..."
The Jesus we read about in the New Testament, existed before all creation. Our verse at the top asserts this. He eventually was made flesh and dwelt among us to become the first, flawless, human being. He gave Himself to become the most powerful sacrifice ever possible. From the beginning of all creation, God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I love to find things in Scripture that seem to contradict. It always turns out to be an amazing revelation. The Bible never disagrees with itself. Whenever you find something in Scripture that does not seem to make sense---ask God to give you insight. This will take your learning to a whole new level.
* James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek and Hebrew Dictionary (Austin, TX: Wordsearch Corp., 2002), Bible study software, Strong’s number, H7307.