This chapter gives us a fascinating glimpse into Moses' relationship with God. He had his own tent outside the Israelite camp where God used to come to speak with him face to face, as one would speak to a friend (v.11).
But this was not enough for Moses: it seems that he has come a long way since his first encounter with God when Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God (3:6). He had recently spent 40 days in God's glorious presence on the mountain (24:15-18). And this had taught him that he wanted to experience more of God.
Although Moses had already been face to face with God, and had seen his glory, he knew there was more. But there were limits to how much God could reveal of himself without Moses being overcome. At the end of this chapter we have what theologians call an anthropomorphism - God condescending to reveal himself using human imagery. Thus God says that he will place his hand over Moses, and will let Moses see God's back, but not his face (vv.19-23).
Does God actually have a hand, a back and a face? Maybe not. But he is making a point to Moses. He is going to reveal as much of himself as possible, and he will also protect Moses from seeing too much.
Questions to ponder: As we begin this special week, let's ask ourselves how much of God we really want to experience this Easter. Would you like to know more of God in all his glory? Have you told him that? Is there a place where you could go, or some time you could set aside this week, for that to happen?