As we turn to the Word of God tonight, for our lesson in Scripture, I draw your attention to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – Hebrews chapter 11. We’re going to look at verses 23 to 29 – 23 to 29. It’s a brief portion of Scripture that sort of encompasses the salient characteristics of faith that are indicated in the life of one very, very well-known Old Testament figure, the man Moses.
Let me read it to you, starting in verse 23. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. B faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.”
Now, there you have a condensed version of the story of Moses. And we have been learning a lot about faith. The emphasis here, in this book of Hebrews, for you that haven’t been with us or might have forgotten, the writer of Hebrews is unknown to us. We don’t know which of the apostles or associates of the apostles, actually under the inspiration of the Spirit, penned this wonderful, wonderful book, but we do know that it was written to a group of Jewish believers.
And some Jewish people who were associated with those believers, who had heard the gospel, were interested in the gospel, but who had not yet come to put their faith in Christ. And one of the questions that the Jewish folks would have about the gospel of Jesus Christ would be this: that since salvation according to the gospel is by faith, isn’t that something new? Their understanding of the Old Testament and of Judaism – the Judaism that they were exposed to in the era that the Lord lived and the apostles ministered, that Judaism had developed into a system of works. And the essence of it was that if you’re good enough and moral enough, and observe all of the ceremonies and all the rituals, and do your part to keep the Law externally, and do all of the required things that the rabbis have added to Scripture, if you manage to make a good effort at that and get to a certain point, you’ll be accepted by God. But it’s a matter of your own effort and your own works. That’s what Judaism had become.
So, when the gospel comes along and says, “Forget the Law, forget keeping the Law, forget circumcision, forget the rituals – none of those contribute to your salvation; it’s all a matter of grace and faith,” the Jews would wonder if this was not some new message. And so, the writer of Hebrews is pointing out, in this chapter, that salvation has always been by faith. And to make his point, he goes all the way back to the beginning of the Old Testament.
And we have already learned about Abel and how he demonstrated faith. And it was by his faith that he was reconciled to God. And then we learned about Enoch, and then we learned about Noah. Then we learned about Abraham, and then we began to learn about the rest of the patriarchs as well – Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph. And in every case, we have seen that those men all had a right relationship with God through faith. Faith defined their relationship.
And now we leave the book of Genesis behind, which records the story of all of those people that we have looked at up through verse 22. And we come into the book of Exodus, and the book of Exodus tells us the story of Moses. In fact, the story of Moses actually goes from the beginning of the book of Exodus all the way to the thirty-fourth chapter of Deuteronomy. His story is so extensive that it goes through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
The elements of the story of Moses are contained in all of those. The only part of the Pentateuch that isn’t written by Moses, including the book of Genesis, is the account of his death at the end of Deuteronomy. So, he’s the author of Genesis, but his story actually fills Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. So, he has a lot to tell us.
Now, the assumption of the Jews would be that Moses is the model of the Law. In fact, the Law was even called the Mosaic Law. It was even called the Law of Moses. And so, the Jews would assume that if anybody was a model of legalism, it had to be Moses. Moses was the ultimate archetypal legalist, and so it is a stunning thing to say that Moses operated in the spiritual realm not by law, but by faith.
And just having read that, the way that the writer of Hebrews lays out the faith of Moses is to show you how His faith acted, the choices that it made. It made a series of choices. In fact, verse 25 even uses the word “choosing.” And so, his life is marked by choices related to his faith. So, I’ve titled this “Things Faith Accepts, and Things Faith Rejects: The Choices of Faith.” And this extends way beyond Moses because this is a good way to look, in general, at the life of faith, because genuine saving faith is selective. If you have a true and saving faith, and you make choices, there are certain things that you accept, and there are certain things that you reject. And they’re really modeled for us here in the story of Moses.
But in the bigger theme, the grander scale, Moses is the next example of the truth that salvation comes not by works, not by religiosity, ceremony, or ritual, but by faith. That is personal belief in the Word of God. And the man Moses, then, is added to the others. In studying Abel, we learned how one comes to life by faith, and that is through sacrifice. Abel showed us, then, how to live by faith. Enoch then showed us how to walk by faith. And Noah showed us how to work by faith. And Abraham showed us the pattern of faith. And then the other patriarchs last time showed us the victory of faith in facing death with hope, for they were given the recitation of the Abrahamic covenant, but they never saw it come to pass, and yet Abraham died in faith, and so did Isaac, and so did Jacob, and so did Joseph.
So, they are all models of faith to one degree or in one facet or another. And now we look at Moses, and he shows us how faith acts in terms of the decisions that it makes. And that’s a basic way to look at life. Life is a series of choices that we make. We make either good choices or bad choices. It’s a series of decisions. You often hear people, these days, who make a rather modest mea culpa and say, “I made some bad choices.” That seems to be kind of a metaphor for mistakes in life that very often people don’t want to admit were really lustful, passionate sins. “I made some bad choices.” Well, that’s true. That is absolutely true. Sin is always a bad choice.
Our lives are marked by either making the right choice or making the wrong choice. And so again I say, life is made up of decisions. And every day and every circumstance poses another opportunity for us to make a choice. We face opportunity every single day of our lives, over and over again, to make the right choice.
I love what J. J. Ingalls wrote many, many years ago. He wrote of opportunity in these words. Describing opportunity, he said, “Master of human destinies am I!/Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait./Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate/Deserts and seas remote, and passing by/Hovel and mart and palace – soon or late/I knock unbidden once at every gate!/If sleeping wake – if fasting, rise before/I turn away. It is the hour of fate/And they who follow me reach every state/Mortals desire, and conquer every foe/Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate/Condemned to failure, penury, and woe/Seek me in vain and needlessly implore./I answer not, and I return no more!” Opportunity.
Every circumstance in life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the right choice. Shakespeare put it this way, “There is a tide in the affairs of men./Taken at its ebb, leads on to fortune;/Omitted, all the voyage of life/Is strewn in shallows and in miseries.”
Napoleon used to say that in every battle there is a 10- or 15-minute period of time in which the issue of the battle is settled. To gain this is victory, to lose it is defeat.
And so, every turn in life is an opportunity to make a right choice. It is a singular opportunity never to come by again. Either you grasp that opportunity for the glory of God, you choose the way of God, the way of truth, the way of righteousness, or you choose the way of the flesh, the way of the world, the way of Satan. This is life.
In Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19, scripture says, “I call heaven and Earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life that both you and your seed may live.”
Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Or 1 Kings 18:21, “And Elijah said, ‘How long do you halt between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people answered not a word.”
Abel chose God’s way, the more excellent way of sacrifice; his brother didn’t. Abel was blessed, and his brother was cursed. Enoch chose God’s way to walk with God. The rest of the world didn’t, and it was destroyed with the exception of eight souls. Noah chose God’s way, and the rest of the human race drowned in his generation.
Abraham chose God’s way to live a life of faith, and the people in whose land he dwelt did not and were tragically destroyed. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph chose God’s way to believe in God for what they couldn’t see, and they died in hope. And here is the model of Moses who made the right choices. There are many others in the Scripture that you could look at as heroes of faith, but these are the monumental lives that are delineated so carefully in the Old Testament, which would have so much meaning to the Jews.
First Kings 19:18 says, “Yea, I have left me 7,000 in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” There were 7,000 more in Israel who made the right choice. And then there was that king, Josiah, 2 Kings 22:2, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and turned not aside either to the right hand or to the left.” And there were others as well.
There was a time when all Israel made an affirmation that sounded like a right choice. Exodus 24, when they all collectively said, “We will obey your Word.” And they said it again in Nehemiah 10:28 and 29. That’s the right choice, to be obedient.
So, now we look at Moses, and Moses made the right choice. He chose God’s way. He chose to believe God, to believe the revelation of God, the Word of God, to live a life of faith. And his faith is demonstrated in his decisions, the decisions that related to things he rejected and things he accepted.
Let’s take a look at what he rejected. What does true faith reject? Verses 24 to 27, the first thing that true faith rejects is the world’s prestige. Look at verse 24, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” You know the story. Moses had, by the providence of God, been put in a basket covered with pitch and set in the Nile River to float away. His mother did that because there was a decree to kill all of the Hebrew babies. And so, in order to save his life, they simply let him float away, cared only for by the providence of God. Had he been one of the Hebrew babies to be killed by Pharaoh, there would have been no story of Moses, and God’s history would never have been what God ordained it to be. And so, there was no way he was going to die. God providentially ordered the circumstances. His parents hid him, put him in a basket after they had hidden him for a while, put him in the river. He floated down the river. Just happened to be that he floated right into a bathing party, where the daughter of Pharaoh was bathing, and he became the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Look at Exodus chapter 2, and obviously we can’t go through the whole story, but this kind of touches on what happened. Verse 5 of Exodus 2, “The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and brought it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’” There was no mystery as to the fact that this was a little Jewish boy.
“And she had pity on him however” – it says in verse 6. “And then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter” – she just happened to be strolling along the river, Miriam, the sister of Moses, making sure somebody had an eye on him as he floated along – “‘Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?’
“Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go ahead.’ So, the girl went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I’ll give you your wages.’ So, the woman took the child and nursed him.” Is that an incredible thing or not? It just so happens that he is now officially adopted as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but she can’t nurse him. And so, she wants him to be properly nursed by a Jewish mother. And it just so happens that her daughter, Miriam, is going along, watching for her little brother, and she sets is up so that he can be nursed by his own mother.
Now, the child grew. That’s what it tells us. Verse 10, “The child grew.” That’s sort of undetermined. We can’t be specific about how long that growing took place. I tend to think it was probably years, maybe as many as 12 years before that child was brought back. “The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.” And I kind of lean toward the idea that by then he was maybe 12 years old or near that. And that would mean that he had had all the proper training. Some might argue that it was only until he was weaned, and it would be more likely that he was maybe three years old or so. But I tend to think as long as she could hang onto him, she would hang onto him and give him the proper training in the things of God, which would inform the later decisions of his life. If she gave him to Pharaoh at the age of three, or four, or five, it would be unlikely that he would have any idea of the Word of God or the knowledge of God. How would he have known anything about God?
And so, if she kept him until 10, or 11, or 12, he would have learned of the promise to Abraham. He would have learned of the reiteration of that promise to Isaac and Jacob and Joseph. He would have learned the history of Joseph, that Joseph had died in hope – in hope of the Promised Land, knowing that there would come a time when God would lead His people out of Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land, and that God had promised to send a deliverer for Israel, and an ultimate Deliverer, and an ultimate hope, and an ultimate Messiah, One who would have the scepter - Genesis 49:10 - One who would be the ultimate Prophet.
He would have learned that the people were hoping for the time of their deliverance and their entrance into the Promised Land. They were hoping for the coming of their Messiah, the One who would bruise the serpent’s head. He would have been trained in everything that God had revealed up to that time. The great covenant promise to Abraham reiterated to the other patriarchs.
And after all of that training in what had been revealed by God up to the time of Moses, she took him back, and took him back to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He became her son – not her baby, not her child, but her son – another indication that he was perhaps at that age that I suggested. She named him Moses, “Because I drew him out of water” – Moshe, which has that significance.
Now, verse 10 says, “The child grew.” And verse 11 then says, “Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up” – 40 years between verse 10 and verse 11 – 40 years, the years of Moses maturing, which according to Acts 7:22 were the years in which he learned all the wisdom of Egypt. So, he started out with a foundation in his life, and the foundation in his life was the truth of God revealed up to that point. And so, he knew the truth of God from his parents. And now he’s learning the wisdom of the Egyptians.
Now, what is going to take hold of his heart? Is it going to be the wisdom of the Egyptians, or is it going to be the truth of God? With the formal education in Egypt, the inculcation of Egyptian wisdom, Egyptian idolatry, he would have learned hieroglyphics; he would have learned the hieratic scripts. He no doubt would have been involved in copying the texts that was part of formal education. He would have learned multi languages. He would have learned the languages of surrounding nations, the languages – the various languages of the Canaanites so that he could interact with them in trade. But would he have lost what he had as a foundation of his life, the Word of God? When he reached the age of maturity, he faced a crucial decision. Actually, he reaches 40, so it’s not a full 40 years of Egyptian education, but he faces a crucial decision. He is now to become fully absorbed into Egyptian culture. When he had grown up, he has to make a choice. What is his choice going to be?
Let’s go back to the book of Hebrews, and we’ll return to Exodus a little later. This is what we’ve been doing every time, bouncing between the front and back of Scripture to look at both of these – both Genesis in the earlier text, and now Exodus and the book of Hebrews.
The answer to the dilemma comes in verse 24, “By faith, when he had grown up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” and that is the first point that I want you to underscore in your mind. He rejected the world’s prestige. I don’t know how it could be any more prestigious, for somebody living in the world, to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, to be the grandson of the Pharaoh, the greatest ruler on the planet at that time - the most sophisticated culture, the most sophisticated society, highly advanced. He had the privileges - he knew what they were – of prestige. He had seen them for the decades that he had been there. He understood the honors of being a prince in Egypt. He understood the status. He understood all the royal rigmarole that went with it. He understood the comforts. He understood the servants that he would have, the power that he would have, the wealth that he would have, the privileges that he would have.
And so, this is the biggest decision of his life so far. Should he hold onto the world’s prestige or should he forsake it for the call of God? And he knew that God had called him. That is indicated to us again in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts, because Stephen, in preaching that wonderful sermon that he preached, gives the history of Israel and incorporates the story of Moses. In verse 22 of Acts 7, says Stephen – well, verse 21 – “Pharmacy’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians. He was a man of power in words and deeds. And when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian.” Killed him. “And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.”
You know, he already had, at that time, begun to realize that God was going to use him to be the deliverer. He knew God had called him. Somewhere along the line, God had disclosed that to him, “You’re in the position you’re in because you’re going to be my deliverer for Israel.” And so, he kills an Egyptian to defend his people, and there is where he makes his decision. Exodus chapter 2, you’ll notice it describes the very same thing. That is the moment at which he rejected the prestige and the honor and everything that came with being a prince in Egypt. He threw it all away and took his place with the slaves. He rejected the prestige that Egypt had to offer, that the world had to offer, because he knew God had a better kingdom, a better reward, and a higher calling for him.
This is an act of faith. Why? Because if you operate on sight, you’re going to take what you’ve got – right? – power, prestige, money, fame, all of that that is his as a prince in Egypt. He exchanged what he had for what he didn’t have. He exchanged what he could see for what he couldn’t see. This is an act of faith. Prestige – believe me – honor, power, fame, those are very, very seductive realities. Most people live all their life chasing those things. And they wouldn’t even leave the chase to live a life of faith. He wasn’t in the chase; he had them all, and he gave it up. And he went all the way from the palace to becoming a slave. He identified with the slaves because they were God’s people. And because God had a plan for them, and he knew what the plan was. The plan was for a land and for a promise, the kingdom and salvation, everything bound up in the Abrahamic promise. God was going to reward His people with things far greater than what Egypt could offer.
So, Moses trusts God to reward and fulfill and accomplish His purpose in his life. He literally rejects what He has in hand, the prestige and power of Egypt, and he takes the reproach of his people - the reproach of his people - choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God. And in verse 28, it even talks about the reproach. This is the choice that faith makes. To put it in our common context today, faith rejects the world; it rejects all that the world has to offer. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life – 1 John 2 describes it.
The disciple said in Matthew 19:27, “We’ve forsaken all to follow You.” That’s this.
“Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Me,” in the words of Jesus.
This is the first act that we see in expressing faith on Moses’ part. Faith is willing to deny itself, to deny all that it possesses. It will break with everything to do the will of God, to put itself in God’s hands. If someone will not let go of the things of the world, they cannot come to God. Remember, that’s what happened to the weedy soil, thorny ground. Right? The deceitfulness of riches and the preoccupation with this world, and that’s what led to the unfruitfulness.
Years ago, Baron Von Veltz rejected his title in Europe - his estates, his revenues - because he wanted to become a missionary to British Guiana. And today, his body fills a lonely grave there. At the time that he renounced his title to become a missionary, he wrote this, “What is it to me to have the title ‘well-born’ when I am born again to Christ? What is it to me to have the title ‘Lord’ when I desire to be the servant of Christ? What is it to be called ‘Your grace’ when I have need of God’s grace? All these vanities I throw away and lay at the feet of my dear Lord Jesus.” And thus did Moses, rejecting the world’s prestige.
Secondly, he rejected the world’s pleasure. Look at verse 25, “- choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” The old Authorized said, “- the pleasures of sin for a season. Sin is fun. Sin is pleasurable. The hamartias apolausis, the enjoyment of sin. And there was plenty of it in that Egyptian culture. Plenty of it. You can indulge all your lusts at will, especially if you were the prince. Nothing would be held from you. No sensory desire would be unfulfilled. No lust would go unmet. And Moses had to be willing to turn his back on all the pleasures of sin, and they were replete in the position that he was in in Egypt. He was called to give it up – to give all of it up – to become, as it were, a slave with his people.
I think of Isaiah 21 – I think it’s verse 4 – that says, “The night of my pleasure has turned into fear,” just reminding us that it’s the pleasure that’s passing, and it passes really fast. Job 20, verse 5, “The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the enjoyment of the hypocrite is but for a moment.” And you can add to that Job chapter 21, Psalm chapter 73 which deal with the same kinds of things.
Moses chose to reject the pleasures of sin, which are momentary and passing, to do the work of God because it produces dividends that are lasting. I’m sure David – I’m sure David never really thought about what it was going to cost him to lie with Bathsheba. And later, in the darkness of his own guilt, he cried, “My sin, my sin is ever before me.” And the pleasure passed so fast, and it led to him becoming a murderer, the death of the child, the rebellion of Absalom his own son, and a horrible stain on his life. The passing pleasure of sin.
Moses made the right choice. That’s the choice that faith makes. It puts its trust in God and says, “I’m willing to let go of the world. It puts its trust in God and says, “I’m willing to let go of the pleasures of sin.” And what do we get? The Bible says pleasures forevermore, eternal joy.
So, Moses made a conscience choice to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Instead of having everything he wanted, he virtually put himself in a position to have nothing. Nothing. That’s what faith does. That’s the real deal. That’s consistent with what our Lord said – isn’t it? – about self-denial, “Take up your cross”; about the fact that if you’re still hanging onto the world in a deceitfulness of riches, you’re going to choke out the seed.
God has called us to holiness, and Moses responded to that. And he had all the sin that his heart could imagine at his command, and he walked away from it.
The third thing that he turned from – not only the world’s prestige and the world’s pleasure, but let’s just call it the world’s plenty, verse 26, “- considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” He considered – in the Greek he judged; he made a judgment. This is not a rash conclusion; this is a very careful consideration. He had prestige to the max. He had pleasure to the max at his fingertips, and he had treasure to the max, but faith rejects all of those things. True saving faith. “He considered the reproach of Christ great riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” The implication there is to the final reward, to the divine reward, to the eternal reward.
Now, just what does he mean by the reproach of Christ? Well, there’s a wonderful thought there. It would be a reproach that was similar to that which Christ endured, although Moses didn’t know about Christ and didn’t know Christ, he knew that there was the promise of a coming Deliverer. But we know, and the readers of Hebrews know that he was willing to take a reproach to move from having everything to basically having nothing, from being honored, to being treated with scorn and disdain as was Christ. He who was rich became – what? – poor, speaking of Christ. A wonderful thought.
He bore a reproach, the kind of reproach that is characteristic of Christ who was infinitely rich, infinitely privileged, infinitely satisfied in the presence of God and set it all aside to do the will of God, to come down, to suffer ill treatment on behalf of the people of God. He is, in that sense, like Christ.
And there’s one other thing that I think we can say without exhausting this particular portion of Scripture. Let’s just say this; he rejected the world’s pressure. He rejected the world’s pressure. You can be pretty sure there was some pressure on him – serious pressure. If you want to know how serious, look at verse 27. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is unseen.”
If you ask, “How could he be willing to give up all the treasures of Egypt to become a reproach,” the answer, “Because he considered that the pathway to greater riches than anything Egypt had to offer.” How could he then, in verse 27, not be afraid of Pharaoh? How could he do what he did, kill an Egyptian, which would go back to the Pharaoh and his life would be then on the line? They would come after him; he would have to flee for his life, and that’s exactly what he did. And you remember he fled to Midian, where he had to stay for 40 years. How could he not feel the pressure of what was liable to happen to him under the powerful Pharaoh when he took the life of an Egyptian? Answer: he endured because he saw the One who was invisible. He knew his life was in the hands of the invisible and eternal God.
What it actually says there, in verse 27, “By faith he left Egypt” – it’s a stronger word than that – kataleipō. It can refer to a simple departure, but it really is a deeper word, especially here. Some commentators have said it means a heart renunciation in the Greek, both here in Hebrews 11, and also in Luke. “They forsook all to follow Jesus.” It’s the same verb “forsook.” So, it has the idea of not just simply physically leaving Egypt, but renouncing Egypt. He rejected Egypt as having any power over his life. He rejected the power that Pharaoh supposedly had over his life. “He rejected the fear of man,” to borrow the words of Proverbs 29:25.
And, you know, not everybody had been so strong. Certainly Abraham hadn’t. Right? He wound up calling his wife his sister because he feared the king. Isaac did the same thing because he feared an earthly king. Jacob functioned in fear, fleeing from Laban. Aaron functioned in fear, yielding to the people when they demanded a golden calf. So it goes. David functioned in fear, fleeing from Absalom.
So, here we have the faith of one who does not fear the wrath of the king because he knows his life is in the hands of God. How bold is he? How fearless is he? Well, you remember the story. You get to Exodus 5, and you remember what happens. After 40 years in Midian, what does he do? He comes back. And where does he go? Walks right into Pharaoh’s palace, goes up to Pharaoh and says, “Pharaoh, let my people go.” That’s fearless, isn’t it? That’s about as bold as you can get. Boldness is amazing.
Forty years he’d been living in the land of Midian as a shepherd, and now he walks back into Pharaoh’s palace. He’s got no army. He’s got no weapon. Egypt’s court is ready to arrest him. And he’s facing a proud, haughty, pagan monarch who reigns over the greatest empire in the world. And everybody knows; it’s been passed down that this man, who was once the prince in the palace, murdered an Egyptian and has been gone for 40 years, and in boldness he walks right into the face of Pharaoh and makes his demands. And he tells Pharaoh he better respond or it’s not going to go well. And it doesn’t take long. First the waters turn to blood, then the frogs come, then the dust and the gnats, and then the dog flies, and the blood-sucking insects, then the death of domestic animals, then the ashes, the dust, the boils, the hail, the fire, the locust, the darkness, and verse 28 would indicate the final plague: the death of the firstborn.
And he goes nose to nose with Pharaoh and warns him about all of this. This is a man of faith. And where did he get this kind of faith? Where did he get this kind of courage? Where did he get, the Jewish would say, this chutzpah, this macho. He endured as seeing Him who was unseen, seeing Him who is invisible. He saw a greater king with the eyes of faith. Right? He believed God and then made the right decisions. He chose to reject the world’s prestige, to reject the world’s pleasure, to reject the world’s plenty, and to reject the world’s pressure. And in each case, it was monumental. We’re talking about more prestige than you would have anywhere else on the planet in Pharaoh’s palace, more pleasure than you might find anywhere else, more pleasure than you might find anywhere else, more treasure than you might find anywhere else, and more power against you - were it to be set against you – than you might find anywhere else.
And in the face of all of that, he makes the right decision. What I love about it is when you might assume that Moses would be a model of the legalist, Moses is a model of a man of faith who believed the Word of God. And thus he was accepted by God.
Well, to close out, in the last little bit, let’s kind of turn the tables and make some suggestions about, since we know what true faith rejects, and at the same time, obviously, we know what it accepts. It accepts the Word of God, even though the fulfillment is yet unseen.
But let’s look a little deeper into what it means to accept the Word of God. Let’s ask the question, “What does true faith accept?” First of all, the Lord’s plans – the Lord’s plans. Back to verse 23, some interesting things, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” It was after that period of time that they floated him down the river and then got him back and kept him for years. His father’s name was Amram, and his mother’s name was Jochebed.
A little bit of background. Pharaoh had made a decree to kill these Hebrew boys, and they fearlessly hid the child. And they protected the child. And the only thing it tells us about it is this – “because they saw he was a beautiful child.”
You say, “What? That’s every parent’s thought. Everybody thinks – nobody’s got an ugly child. Everybody’s child’s the most beautiful, the most intelligent. What is this?”
Well, the word “beautiful” is a very, very interesting word. In Exodus 2:2 it appears in the record there, “The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.” In Acts, it also describes him in similar language as to what we would assume was his looks or his form. But certainly there’s more here than just that. “He was a lovely child,” it says in verse 20 of Acts 7 – this is Stephen – “lovely in the sight of God.” Now, that tells us a little more, doesn’t it? Oh, so “beautiful” in Exodus and even “beautiful” in Hebrew means lovely in the sight of God. Now we’re getting to something far more important. Literally asteios tō Theō, goodly unto God, fair unto God, beautiful unto God. It isn’t just that his parents thought they had a cute baby and wanted to protect him because he was just such a cute baby. God had set His sights on this child. They knew this child was God’s child, that he was fair in God’s eyes. It was not their human attraction to his looks or form that caused them to hide the newborn. Of course they loved him, but all other parents love their children. Of course they thought he was a beautiful child; all other parents think their children are beautiful. But this is a child who was special to God, fair to God. They knew that the child had a divine destiny. They trusted God, then, that they could protect that child, and they could put that child in a basket and let that child go, and God would bring about the destiny that He had planned for that child.
So, this is how faith acts. Not just with Moses, but we back up to Amram and Jochebed, and we learn that faith accepts the plan of God; or, if you will, the promise of God; or, if you will, the purpose of God. They were so confident – or, if you will, the providence of God – in the fact that God had a purpose for this life, that this little boy, of all little boys, was special to God. And we don’t know how they knew that, but certainly it had been declared to them and indicated to them.
And so, Moses’ parents are models of faith who trusted the plan of God. Do you think that after Pharaoh’s daughter found the little baby, and Miriam said, “By the way, if you’d like a Hebrew mother to nurse the baby, I know of a perfect one,” and the baby went back to Jochebed and stayed there for years and was developed, don’t you think that the responsibility of Moses was clarified to him in those years? That his parents said, “You’ve been specialty called by God”? And so that by the time he went back to Pharaoh’s court, as a teenager, if so, or early before his teenage years, he had already known that God had a special plan for him?
This is maybe where the unfolding of that calling originally began, and maybe was reiterated to him as he grew through those 40 years. And the whole time he was being exposed to the Egyptian wisdom, he never deviated from what he knew was his calling. And so, his faith was like his parents’, and that is what is behind the fact that he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; he refused the prestige; he refused the prominence; he refused the treasure, the power, the pleasure, the pressure. None of it had any effect on him because early on it was pretty clear to everybody in the family – conveyed to him, I’m sure, that he was special to God. He knew it, he believed it, and he acted on it.
Chapter 2 of Exodus, verse 11, “It came about in those days” – that is when Moses reaches his forties – “he had grown up. He went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So, he looked this way and that” – checking to make sure nobody’s looking – “and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” The Bible doesn’t say this is the right thing to do. It’s not the right thing to do; it’s a sinful thing to do, but it does indicate that he was willing to make the choice to pay the consequences to be identified with his people. He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’
“But he said, ‘Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Uh-oh, now he knows the word’s out.
“He was afraid and said, ‘Surely the matter has become known.’” But isn’t it interesting that he went out the next day and he acted like he was in charge of people’s behavior. Why? Why did he presume to do that? I think he had been well-informed of the plan. He didn’t know how the plan was going to unfold.
And it unfolded the way God wanted it to unfold. The slaying of the Egyptian was an important turning point in his life, and the deed cannot be condoned. But it did express his deep and profound identification with the purpose of God and the people of God, and his total rejection of everything that Egypt had to offer. But even his own people rejected him because they were afraid that the Egyptians would come and kill them all.
He was forced to leave the land for 40 years, live in the land of Midian, while God shaped him into the leader He wanted him to be. And for those 40 years, he knew he was Israel’s deliverer. I’m confident of that. He bore the reproach of an Anointed One; he knew what he was to do. And when the time came, and he had been prepared by God, he waited 40 years and then went back, commissioned at a burning bush, sent back boldness personified, walks into Pharaoh’s presence, pronounces divine judgment on him, calls him to let the people of Israel go. True faith accepts the Lord’s plan.
Secondly, it accepts the Lord’s provision. “By faith” – I love this – “he kept” – what? – “the Passover and the sprinkling of blood so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.” The last plague was the angel of death is going to come and kill all the firstborn unless the blood is splattered on the doorpost and the lintel. And you can read about it in Exodus 11, Exodus 12. Moses did it because he knew that was God’s provision for their deliverance. He didn’t try to make it on his own. He didn’t try to develop his own strategy. He accepted God’s provision, “You will be spared if you do this.” Took God at His word.
And we’re out of time. So, let me give you one final one. He accepted the Lord’s plans, and the Lord’s provisions, and the Lord’s promise. “By faith” – verse 29 – “he and all the people of Israel” – as many as two million – “passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.” That is a stunning act of faith. It is really a stunning act of faith to stand there, as you lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, and to see this massive body of water part, just leaving a pathway through the middle.
The people felt trapped. That’s Exodus 14 – the people felt trapped; they’re up against the sea. Pharaoh’s breathing down on them, and they’re full of fear. They look at the waters, the army coming behind, and Moses gives them a command. He says this, “Stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah. That’s a lot of faith. I mean he was believing God for a massive miracle.
Now, he had some experience with miracles admittedly – right? – in the plagues. But faith takes God’s word, God’s promise and moves right into the fury. So, if you’re waiting for a ferry boat, forget it. God’s going to do something miraculous, and that’s what He did. He split the Red Sea, and they all walked through on dry land. And when Pharaoh tried to follow, you know the story. Right? His entire army was drowned.
Really, the story of Moses is not the story of law, is the story of faith. Isn’t it? Amazing, amazing story of faith. Faith makes all the right choices.
Father, thank You for giving us a – really a bird’s-eye view, an overview of this, letting us kind of look at it from afar. But a wonderful story it is. And that was the intention of the writer of Hebrews, and thus the Holy Spirit, to give us this view of the story of Moses, the view that indicates that he is a man of faith. That’s not natural; that’s not normal; that’s not human. That’s the kind of faith that only You can give. That’s the faith that saves; that’s the faith that trusts You when it can’t really see the results. It says no to prestige that it can see and hold in its hand, and yes to prestige that is unseen. It says no to pleasures that are present, for pleasure that’s deferred; no to treasure that’s in your hand, for treasure that’s laid up in heaven. It will not be intimidated by the pressure, the fear of man, but operates in the confidence of the unseen power of God to protect His own.
What a model of faith, the faith that chooses to follow the plan that You’ve laid out, Your purpose, to see it unfold. A faith that is bold to move ahead in confidence of promise to be fulfilled. And we live in that faith, Lord. We love the One we haven’t seen. We have a hope for a heaven we’ve never seen; and an eternal reward that we’ve never seen; and fellowship with You, the unseen God, and the Lord Jesus Christ whom we love, though we have not seen Him.
And where does this faith come from? This is a gift of God. And we thank You for the gift of faith and for giving us this kind of faith that says no to the passing world and yes to what is eternal. And we give You praise and gratitude, in the name of Christ, amen.
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