John 5:37 - "The Father who sent me ... his form you have never seen"-RSV
Numbers 12:8 - "with [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth ... and he beholds the form of [Jehovah]."
Therefore, some trinitarians claim, Moses saw the form of Jehovah. And since Jesus said that men have never seen the form of the Father, the Father must not be Jehovah. Jehovah God of the Old Testament must really be Jesus, they say.
First, we should note that Jesus was speaking to first century Jews at John 5:37. Of course they had never seen the "form" of Jehovah. That does not necessarily mean that Moses did not see the "form" of the Father more than a thousand years earlier!
Second, John tells us that no man has ever seen God (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12). And yet many men have seen Jesus (hundreds saw him even after his resurrection). Therefore, Jesus cannot be God, but Jehovah certainly is God. Therefore Jesus cannot be Jehovah!
Furthermore, we know Jehovah is not Jesus:
Psalm 110:1 - "Jehovah saith unto [Jesus - compare Acts 2:34-36]" - ASV;
Ps. 2:2 - "the rulers take counsel together against Jehovah, and against his anointed [Messiah - compare Acts 4:24-27]" - ASV;
Ps. 2:7 - "I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee' [compare Acts 13:33,34]" - ASV;
Micah 5:2, 4 - "And he [Jesus] shall stand, and shall feed his flock ... in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God." - ASV.
We also know that Jehovah is the Father, not the Son. Jehovah is never called "the Son," "the Messiah," "the only-begotten," "the firstborn," etc. But he is called the Father: "O Jehovah, thou art our Father" - Is. 64:8 ASV (compare Is. 63:16; Jer. 3:19, 20; Deut. 32:6; Ps. 89:26, 27).
And we know that Jehovah alone is the only true God.
"Father,.... This is eternal life to know thee who alone art truly God..." - Jn 17:1, 3, NEB. Cf. Ps. 86:6, 10; Is. 45:5, 6, 21, 22.
Numbers 12:8 Examined
So, how can we reconcile Nu. 12:8 ("[Moses] beholds the form of Jehovah") with the rest of the Bible? Especially when Jehovah Himself said just before he showed Moses His "form": "man shall not see me and live" (Ex. 33:20 - ASV)!
First, Robert Young tells us in Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, "Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation":
"What a SERVANT says or does is ascribed to the MASTER."
That is why angels sent directly from God and perfectly speaking God's very words to humans are frequently called "God" or "Jehovah": Ex. 3:2, 4; Gen. 32:24-28, 30 and Hosea 12:3, 4; Gen. 31:11, 13; Gen. 16:11, 13; Judges 13:21, 22. Therefore, seeing the form of one of God's perfect representatives was spoken of as seeing God. (E.g. Manoa knew he had spoken with an angel of Jehovah and yet said: "we shall surely die because we have seen God." - Judges 13:21, 22 ASV.)
Second, the Hebrew word translated "form" at Nu. 12:8 is temunah which is used 10 times in the entire Old Testament. It can be translated "form," "likeness," "image," or "similitude" (as in KJV). "Similitude" means "one that is like or similar; a facsimile."
In fact, Dr. William F. Beck, noted Lutheran scholar, translated Nu.12:8 - "[Moses] sees what the LORD is like." - The Holy Bible in the Language of Today.
And the Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version translates Nu. 12:8 - "Moses can look at the very image of the Lord." (Examine uses of temunah at Ex. 20:4; Deut. 4:16, 23, 25; and 5:8.)
So, just because Jehovah's angel, speaking and acting for Jehovah, showed Moses a portion of his glory as a "likeness" or "image" of God does not mean that Moses literally saw God "face to face." (For another interpretation of Nu. 12:8 examine the footnote in the NIVSB.) In fact, we see that, even though Moses had just spoken "face-to-face" with God (Ex. 33:11), God says that no man (including Moses, of course) can actually see His "face" and live! (Ex. 33:20, 23).
We can see, then, that when John said that no man had ever seen God, he meant it in the literal, physical sense: no man has actually seen the very person of God (who is the Father, Jehovah, only) with his physical eyes. We can also be confident that, since many men have seen Jesus (both before and after his resurrection - and, probably, in his pre-existent form as the Angel of Jehovah whom Moses saw, as even some trinitarian reference works show ), Jesus cannot be God!
(To read the entire research article, click here.)
Since "No Man Has Seen God at Any Time", Then How Was it That Moses Knew God "Face to Face"? (Deut. 34:10) (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
"Seen Me: Seen Father" - John 14:7-9 (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)
"Omnipresence"/ "Abiding In"/ "See Me: See Father" (Search For Bible Truths)