Parshat Mishpatim says of the 70 elders who went up on Har Sinai with Moshe and Aharon:
וַיִּרְאוּ, אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו, כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר, וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם, לָטֹהַר.
and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness.
Later, Ki Tisa says, when Moshe asks to see God's glory:
וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא תוּכַל לִרְאֹת אֶת-פָּנָי: כִּי לֹא-יִרְאַנִי הָאָדָם, וָחָי.
And He said: 'Thou canst not see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.'
How do we reconcile these two passages? The verb ראה is the same in both places. If the 70 elders can "see" God, how is it that God is not able to let Moshe "see" him later?
Of course God is free to enact whatever rules he chooses, but is there another way to read these two passages?