“The Faith of Moses” Hebrews 11:23-27
We are on a guided tour of the saints who have lived by faith. The writer to the Hebrews is our guide. Reading these accounts helps us understand the life of faith. Does it pay to live a life of relationship with the living God? Does it really pay to invest our lives in a reality that we cannot see? These witnesses show us the answer is a resounding yes. We have learned that living by faith pleases God and will ultimately bring us into possession of heavenly promises.
The writer is not through citing witnesses. In our text today, he wrote about Moses. What can we learn from his example? In Moses’ example, we will learn that faith in the living God effects the direction of our lives.
The first way that faith in the living God made a difference in Moses’s life was that through his parent’s faith he was hidden. On the surface we may not see his parents’ action as all that remarkable. What parent would willingly let his or her child be killed? Yet, history is full of accounts of parents who did not love their children.
Still, because Moses’ parents were people of faith, they hid Moses and did not let him become a victim of Pharaoh’s infanticide. The faith Moses’ parents instilled in him became the foundation for the faith that we see displayed in the next several verses.
Faith, which had its birth in the upbringing of his Godly parents, reached maturity in Moses’ life, and expressed itself in the choices he made. The writer is careful to point out when Moses began making these choices. The text says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age.” The Greek literally says, “By faith when Moses became great.” The Greek word can refer to his becoming “large in years” as the NKJV takes it. Or even more interesting, it can refer to his status in life as in, “when he reached the pinnacle of power, influence, and wealth.”
All things being equal, the choice that Moses made was not an easy one. For Moses, all things were not equal. He chose this difficult option when he had the most to lose and apparently nothing to gain.
People would have looked at what he did and said to themselves, “This man has a screw loose.” Nobody who knows what they are doing turns down riches, education, power and a clear shot at becoming the most powerful man on planet earth, or do they?. That is exactly what Moses did, and he did it at the top of his game.
Next, we need to see what the choice was that he made. It had a negative aspect and a positive aspect. First, let’s look at the negative side. We read in verses 24-25 “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” The word “denying” here would have the flavor of renouncing. Moses’ choice involved separating himself from the blessing, rights, and privileges as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. This wasn’t really a separate act from the positive aspect of Moses’ choice.
The positive side of Moses’ choice the writer stated in verse 25. Instead of holding on to the privileges of Egyptian citizenship, Moses chose, “to suffer evil things along with the people of God.” He chose to identify himself with a downtrodden and afflicted people instead of “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time.” There is an important truth found in these verses we must see. To make the positive choice of being identified with the Children of God, which was Moses only desire, required him to at the same time renounce his Egyptian ties. He could not do one without the other. This is also true in the Christian experience. We cannot follow Ephesians 4:24, “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness,” without at the same time doing Ephesians 4:22,“put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” That is the way it always is in the Bible. God tells us we must “put off” and “put on.” If we just do the negative and we do not replace it with the positive, we soon will be doing the negative thing again
Why would Moses make a choice like this? If we were to evaluate this decision from a business perspective, we would say this is the dumbest choice that Moses could have made. On the asset side of the ledger we have wealth, prestige, and power. On the liability side, we have suffering, indignity, and powerlessness. Who in their right mind would make this choice? Ah, but what we see in verses 24-25 is not the whole picture. All we see is the short term results of such a choice. Verse 26 changes the perspective entirely.
He chose based on a long-term perspective (v. 26). “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” Both the suffering and the pleasures of verse 25 are only for a time. The reward will be eternal. Remember Peter’s exhortation to us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,” (1 Peter 1.6). Trials are only for a little while, compared to the joys of eternity. And they are only there because there is a need for them. Moses understood this. In verse 26, the writer lays down the rationale for Moses’ choice. Moses chose God because he valued the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasuries of Egypt. When Moses set up his balance scale the reproach that came with identifying with Christ outweighed the temporal joys and riches of Egypt.
How can this be? It is because Moses was “looking away” to the recompense. Moses was spiritually far sighted. He was looking at something other than what we generally look at. The Greek word means “to look away from all other objects and at a single one — to look with fixed and earnest attention.” His eyes were fixed upon the reward. He looked away unto the blessings that God has in store for those who love Him in the life to come. Moses made his choice based on the unseen realities.
So, by faith Moses was hidden. By faith Moses chose. Finally we discover that by faith, Moses left. Verse 27 says, “By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” In Stephen’s defense in Acts 7:23-25 we learn how that leaving happened. “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.” He took this step because of the decision he had made in his heart. When Moses took this step, although he was still physically present, he had left Egypt behind.
How did Moses have the strength to do this? He endured as “seeing Him who is invisible.” Moses was fearless because he kept the One who is invisible continually before the eyes of his faith. The Apostle Paul did that too. Remember in 2 Corinthians 4:18, he kept on keeping on because he “looked not on the things that could be seen, but those that could not be seen because that which was seen was temporal, that which is not seen is eternal.”
What do we learn about faith from Moses? We have learned several things. First, we saw that faith has a profound effect upon our daily lives. Our faith should cause us to make choices not based on what feels best or seems best in the short run, but based on what pleases God.
Second, we discovered that our faith should make us far sighted. It causes us to “look away” from the objects of this present world to the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessings of the world, which is yet to come.
May God help us to have faith like Moses possessed. Let us daily pray the prayer of the disciples. “Lord, increase our faith.”