And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Exodus 33:23 (KJV)
Back parts – The Hebrew word is achor and it means much more than just God’s backside. Think about it. God doesn’t have a face, He doesn’t have a backside – He’s spirit. There is no beginning and end to Him – He just IS. Any anthropomorphic expression in the text is used most commonly to strengthen a point being made, and not to be taken as God’s literal body parts. So what’s being shown to Moses?
The word achor literally means “back parts”, but can also mean “backwards” in adverbial phrases. What’s even more interesting is that this is the only place in all of Scripture that uses this word as the back of a person’s anatomy. Those words are usually gab, gaw, or orep. This word achor means “back” in the sense of direction. God is essentially telling Moses that he’s going to show him everywhere that God has been.
Did you ever wonder how Moses gained the knowledge of creation and the history of earth and humanity to be able to write the first 5 books of the Bible? God showed him on Mt. Sinai. God wasn’t just showing Moses a little bit of himself, He was showing Moses everywhere He’s been and everything He’s done since the verse “In the beginning…”
In the Hebraic worldview we aren’t who we are because of some adjectives that describe us, we’re who we are because those adjectives usually describe some sort of action for which we’re known to do. I’m not me because of how I think, I’m me because of what I do. YHVH is showing Moses everything He’s done. He’s showing Moses who He is.
So let’s stop and think about this. If YHVH reveals the past to Moses to express who He is, then shouldn’t we be looking to the past to determine who we want to be? Our lives are filled with future thoughts, and the future is always guiding our decisions. We’re striving to become something better, but shouldn’t it be about restoration? Shouldn’t we strive to be restored back to Adam and Eve? That was God’s original design, that’s how He intended for us to be. We are who we are because of where we’ve been. If you want to be something better in the future, then look further to the past. If you want to be a new man conformed to His image, than be restored to the original man created in His image.