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.

Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.

5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.

6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.

8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?


MEMORY VERSE: And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel. —Deuteronomy 34:10- 12


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Moses had a very special relationship with Jehovah, in that God appeared to him in a burning bush, spoke audibly with him face-to-face, as a friend, and made him mediator of the Old Covenant and founder and organizer of the kingdom of Israel.




Exodus 33:11 “Face to face”: not at a distance, but “mouth to mouth; not from heaven, as at a distance, and not by an angel, dream or vision. “As a man speaketh to his friend”: “freely, familiarly, plainly, cordially, openly, without any reserve or show of authority, or causing dread and fear; for he also spake to the children of Israel “face to face”, but then it was out of the fire in a terrible manner which they could not bear” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).

Numbers 12:1 “Because of the Ethiopian woman”: either Zipporah, whom he had married forty years earlier, while he was in Midian, or possibly another wife, a recent proselyte (not a Canaanite, with whom God had strictly forbidden marriage) who had come along with the Israelites in the Exodus; Bible commentators are very divided on this issue.

Numbers 12:3 “Meek”: afflicted; humble; lowly; poor. This was either an added sentence by a later prophet, or a sentence spoken by the Lord which Moses, as His servant, included objectively.

Numbers 12:8 “The similitude of the Lord shall he behold”: referring either to Moses’ beholding the burning bush, the “back parts” of the glory of the Lord in Exodus 33:23, or the particular manifestation of God when He spoke face to face with Moses. Not the face or essence of God, because “no man can see my face and live” (Exodus 33:20).




The passages we are reading today begin with the dark time of God’s great displeasure with the Israelites when they worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness (Genesis 32). The Lord had plagued the people and commanded those who were on “the Lord’s side” to slay those responsible for the idolatry. Moses pleaded with God to forgive them; it seems God was planning to forsake them and bring upon them even more judgment. His presence descended to the door of Moses’ little place of worship and He spoke to Moses, face-to-face. The rest of Genesis 33 is the resulting dialogue between God and Moses, as Moses presented God with three requests: 1) “Show me thy way, that I may know thee.” 2) He identifies with and intercedes for the people in his plea for God to go with him. 3) Moses’ last desire is to see God’s glory, even something beyond his face-to-face communion.

God granted the first two requests and assured Moses that He would be with him and also bring up the people to the promised land. The last request He granted in part. He promised to cover Moses with His hand as He passed by behind him, and removed His hand so that His “back parts” might be seen, but not His face.

The next passages tell what happened when Miriam complained to Moses about his wife, getting Aaron to side with her as she made her complaint. God called the three to His presence outside the tabernacle. His anger was kindled against Miriam and Aaron as He defended Moses and stated His close relationship with him. God sent leprosy upon Miriam, after which, at Aaron’s plea, Moses cried to God to heal her. God separated her for seven days and then answered Moses’ prayer and brought her back healed.

The memory verse from Deuteronomy 34 was, according to Bible commentators, very likely written at a later time, perhaps by Joshua or Samuel. “Among all the succeeding prophets none was found so eminent in all respects nor so highly privileged as Moses; with him God spoke face-to-face—admitted him to the closest familiarity and greatest friendship with himself. Now all this continued true till the advent of Jesus Christ, of whom Moses said, ‘A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me;’ but how great was this person when compared with Moses! Moses desired to see God’s glory; this sight he could not bear; he saw his back parts, probably meaning God’s design relative to the latter days: but Jesus, the Almighty Savior, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, who lay in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared God to man” (Clarke’s Commentary).

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. How did God speak to Moses? Explain what this possibly means.
  1. Discuss Moses’ statement about his own meekness. What New Testament apostle had to commend himself when up against the Jewish opposition to his apostleship?
  2. What is the possible meaning of “the similitude of the Lord”?
  3. Where in the New Testament is verse seven quoted?
  4. Describe how intercession, discovered in this and the last two lessons, is an essential part of true friendship.




There are three characteristics of Moses brought out in the lesson that are essential to friendship with Christ and with people. The first is the meek and humble spirit Moses had in dealing with God and others. We may object, saying, “Oh, but he did this and this in anger.” Yet when we consider the mountainous task to which Moses was called and how much he bore, time after time after time, I believe we can say, “That took much humility.” What a challenge: would I be willing to take on the kind of responsibility to which Moses was called? Would I stick with it after 10, 20, 30, 40 years?

The second is faithfulness. To be a friend of God as Moses was, we must have that quality in our lives. Commitment. Self-sacrifice. Perseverance. Endurance. Patience.

Third. Intercession is what I see looming tall in the examples of Abraham and Moses. This is really challenging me. Do I pray for my spouse, my children and grandchildren, my friends, and all souls, as these great Bible men did? This type of intercession involves putting myself in another’s place; identifying with him or with her in their sins and errors, sicknesses, griefs, losses, fears, and temptations. Am I willing to do this?

—Angela Gellenbeck




How precious it is that the Lord spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. In Philippians 2:6 we observe this same close relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” This lesson is a reminder of the many ways in which the life of Moses was the foretelling of Christ, the fulfillment. Here are a few examples:

As Intercessor


“Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus 32:32).


“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).

God’s Brilliant Light


“Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him” (Numbers 34:29).


“And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the
light” (Matthew 17:2).

Forgiveness Amidst Betrayal


“And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee” (Numbers 12:13).


“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).


We are thankful for the example of Moses. But Moses was just a man and many times he grew weary under the stress of the people. But we have a high priest—Jesus Christ—that we can come boldly to and be confident that we will find grace and help in time of trouble.

—LaDawna Adams