The people having, besides their submission to the ceremony of the sprinkling of blood, declared their well-pleasedness in their God and his law, again and again, God here gives to their representatives some special tokens of his favour to them (for God meets him that rejoices and works righteousness), and admits them nearer to him than they could have expected. Thus, in the New Testament church, we find the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, honoured with places round the throne, being redeemed unto God by the blood of the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, Rev 4:4, Rev 4:6; Rev 5:8, Rev 5:9. Observe,
1. They saw the God of Israel (Exo 24:10), that is, they had some glimpse of his glory, in light and fire, though they saw no manner of similitude, and his being no man hath seen nor can see, 1Ti 6:16. They saw the place where the God of Israel stood (so the Septuagint), something that came near a similitude, but was not; whatever they saw, it was certainly something of which no image nor picture could be made, and yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but that which was under his feet; for our conceptions of God are all below him, and fall infinitely short of being adequate. They saw not so much as God's feet; but at the bottom of the brightness, and as the footstool or pedestal of it, they saw a most rich and splendid pavement, such as they never saw before nor after, as it had been of sapphires, azure or sky-coloured. The heavens themselves are the pavement of God's palace, and his throne is above the firmament. See how much better wisdom is than the precious onyx or the sapphires, for wisdom was from eternity God's delight (Pro 8:30), and lay in his bosom, but the sapphires are the pavement under his feet; there let us put all the wealth of this world, and not in our hearts.
2. Upon the nobles (or elders) of Israel, he laid not his hand, Exo 24:11. Though they were men, the dazzling splendour of his glory did not overwhelm them; but it was so moderated (Job 26:9), and they were so strengthened (Dan 10:19), that they were able to bear it. Nay, though they were sinful men, and obnoxious to God's justice, yet he did not lay his punishing avenging hand upon them, as they feared he would. When we consider what a consuming fire God is, and what stubble we are before him, we shall have reason to say, in all our approaches to him, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.
3. They saw God, and did eat and drink. They had not only their lives preserved, but their vigour, courage, and comfort; it cast no damp upon their joy, but rather increased and elevated it. They feasted upon the sacrifice, before God, in token of their cheerful consent to the covenant now made, their grateful acceptance of the benefits of it, and their communion with God, in pursuance of that covenant. Thus believers eat and drink with Christ at his table, Luk 22:30. Blessed are those that shall eat bread in the kingdom of our Father, and drink of the wine new there.
—Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible
But in the Scriptures God is always represented as a being invisible by the bodily eye (ἀόρατος), as, indeed, every spirit is. The texts of Scripture which speak of seeing God have been misunderstood: they signify, sometimes, the more distinct knowledge of God, as we speak of knowing by seeing, of seeing with the eyes of the mind Joh 1:18; 1Jn 3:2; 1Jn 4:12; comp. 5:20; 1Ti 6:16); and Paul uses βλέπειν and γινώσκειν as synonymous (1Co 13:12-13; comp. 5:10). Again, they express the idea of felicity, the enjoyment of God's favor, the being thought worthy of his friendship, etc. Still more frequently are both of these meanings comprehended under the phrase to see God. The image is taken from Oriental princes, to see whose face and to be in whose presence was esteemed a great favor (Matthew 5, 8; Heb 7:14).
—Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Prepared by The Rev John M'Clintock, D.D., and James Strong, S.T.D.