Let’s take our Bibles this morning and turn to Hebrews 11:23-26. While we are looking there, I will also be in Exodus and Genesis. Background information is needed for these passages, especially if you have never read them before and know nothing about the Old Testament. We need to learn how to use our sword, which is the Word of God.
Hebrews 11:23-26 says:
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.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for the privilege to hear the Word of God and to have it explained. Weld it on our hearts and memories so we don’t forget the teaching of what it looks like to live by enduring faith. This is so we can do the same and follow in the footsteps of a bunch of people who have gone before us in your presence. Help us to be found faithful, Lord, by understanding what it means to be faithful. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
So in the honor roll of faith, we have seen God’s faithful, believing followers putting their faith into action, displaying to us what faith is and what it does. Biblical faith is alive and is full of movement, action, convictions, struggles, decisions and choices. Once you start growing in the faith, you start developing deep convictions in your heart based on the Word of God and promises of God. Every day that passes, we are making decisions based on those convictions from what God is teaching us. The choices that we make are in direct relation to our commitment to please and honor God.
Either we are going to please and honor someone else or God. Life and faith is all about pleasing and honoring Him. The Holy Spirit is leading you and I to include the Lord’s will in our decisions. Which we did not consider before we became believers. I did not even care about God’s will because I didn’t know about it. Once we know about God’s will, we want to accomplish it! Is there a struggle in that, absolutely! But God gives us the strength to do it.
If you know the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you need to endure by faith. How does that look in real life? What does an enduring faith actually do? Well the life of Moses in the Exodus generation can help us make sense of those questions. The portion of Scripture we are examining today display five instances of faith from the life of Moses. I’ll just cover two of them today. Moses is definitely a major player in God’s plan of redemption.
It maybe that some of the recipients of the letter of Hebrews were ready to forsake Christ for the safety and security of the religious system, Judaism. This religion included Moses, God’s Commandments, the sacrificial system. There was organization and familiarity. But the author of Hebrews paints Moses as one of the greatest examples of faith in Christ, which puts a problem in their theology. In other words, he says that if you follow Moses’ example of faith it will lead you straight to Jesus Christ. So then they would have a real problem if they’re going to forsake Christ for a system they feel comfortable in. Just as Jesus said to the multitude in John 5:45:
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.
In other words, this group of people that were following Jesus at this time were setting their hope and putting their stock in Moses alone. But look at what Jesus says to them in John 5:46:
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.
As a matter of fact, Moses wrote a lot of the Old Testament. So if you forsake Christ you would actually forsake Moses even though you claim him. Or you would forsake Judaism or the Old Testament or whatever else it is. Christ is saying no, if you listen and follow Moses, he will lead you straight to me. And then it says this in John 5:47:
But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
You cannot have Moses and not have Christ. They go together and are in God’s plan of redemption. Moses was in the chain link that God has designed from the beginning of time until the cross. So let’s examine two of the five acts of faith in the life of Moses today. Notice that the first instance of enduring faith in the life of Moses is that a faith that endures actually overcomes fear. Now look at Hebrews 11:23 and notice what it says:
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.
The point of faith for Moses’ parents was that they were not afraid of the governmental authority over them. They weren’t afraid of that structure. Moses’ parents are unnamed here in Scripture, but they may represent all the common people of faith. It was their faith in action that was highlighted in verse 23. The action of their faith is that fear did not deter them from carrying out the will of God. Now what was the king’s edict? We need to find out what they actually were not afraid of doing to see what should have caused fear. Turn back to Exodus 1 where we’ll see plan A of the king of Egypt.
In the community of Egypt, Israel was living in slavery under the Egyptians. It’s been a long time, probably 390 years or more, and they are beginning to think that the prophecies of God delivering them will not happen. This is trickling up to the authorities of Egypt. So what does the Egyptian king do? Look at Exodus 1:15-16 which says:
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.
So here it is, a pretty strong edict. You can see how it would cause fear that if you did not put a Hebrew child to death, in turn you would be put to death. That kind of edict can cause great fear. But notice the midwives and their response in Exodus 1:17-22:
But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”
Moses’ parents clearly and deliberately disobeyed the Egyptian king’s edict in lieu of obedience to the greater King of Heaven, the God who made the covenant promise with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In fact that’s what he says in Exodus 2:24-25 where it says:
So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
The reason for hiding their son was because they saw he was a beautiful child. That’s in most of the translations we read. But it would be more helpful to know that this Greek term is a more general one and means favored, approved, and unusual attractiveness. One translation says it like this:
They saw that God had given them an unusual child.
The point is this, that the parents of Moses hid the child because they saw an indication that God would do great things through this child. Now with that in mind, we also cannot forget the fact that the prophecy spoken of Israel being under bondage for 400 years, so that they were aware they were close to the time when God would intervene to deliver them. They were close to that time. In fact, let’s look back to Genesis 15. God said to Abram, before changing his name to Abraham, before there was an Isaac and a Jacob, before Moses, this in Genesis 15:13:
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
This was a told to him a long time before it ever happened. This is before Jacob moved to Egypt during the drought. Exodus tells us that the time the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. They had not only the promise of God, but also the bones of Joseph from Hebrews 11:22 which says:
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
Genesis 50:25 says:
Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.”
After 390 years in Egypt, Moses is born around 1530 B.C. in which God provides a deliverer and Moses remembers Joseph’s request, recorded in Exodus 13, and brings his bones out of Egypt.
Moses’ parents were not afraid because they were emboldened by the fear they had toward God. They were emboldened by the anticipation of the promises. They were emboldened by those things when they could say they would not listen to the king, and rather listen to a greater King.
If you look at Genesis 15:14, it says this:
But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
In other words, God was going to hold judgment upon Egypt at a particular point and when they came out, they were going to come out with a lot of gold and silver that the Egyptian people would give them. That served a purpose later on in the wilderness to be melted down and be used to make the tabernacle to worship God.
Remember, fearing God is an appropriate response and is in line with a faithful response. Proverbs 1:7 says:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
To fear God is to stay away from sin and know what He wants us to do and what He is going to do next. Biblical faith fears God and so we overcome fear by faith in God and His promises. All other fear would be less than nothing than the fear that we ought to have for the great and almighty God in whom we serve.
Through their suffering, their faith did not weaken. Through their suffering, their faith became so strong that the powerful edicts of the king could not push it over and move it. That’s what God is going to do even in our lives in a very real way. It’s going to be through the trouble that we experience in our lives that brings about a strong faith as we respond in the correct way.
You see, God must exercise sovereignty over the evil hearts of men to fulfill His promises and to carry out His will. Now look at Acts 7:18-19 because it gives us a bit of information that is important to show where I’m going next. It says this:
Until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive.
So a king rose up who knew nothing the exploits of Joseph, which is hard to believe. But this is what happened. This is the point I want to make, God allowed that to happen. Why? Remember when Israel went to Egypt? They were going from a drought to a place of plenty. According to the math, Joseph was still around for 70 more years while the people were living there. For about 70 years they lived in the best part of Egypt, they had the best land and they were multiplying there. The pharaoh at the time loved them and they were living like kings in the land! Who wants to leave when you live like that?
So here’s the mystery, that none of us can adequately wrap our minds around. I’m talking about the inscrutable wisdom of God that we can not follow on our own. We think we understand what God is doing and then he takes a left turn and we lose the clarity of the way He is doing things. And yet, that is what God has done. He has used this evil kingdom Egypt and turned pharaoh’s heart for His purposes, so that pharaoh would hate this people. God allowed His people to suffer greatly under pharaoh. In fact, the psalms say this in Psalm 105:25:
He turned their heart to hate His people, To deal craftily with His servants.
Why has God done this and why does God still do this? Before I get back to the text in Hebrews, this background information is important. Well the only adequate answer is this, it is the only way that God make it so that His people are delivered. The children of Israel came out of Egypt during a time of great blessing so the people prospered in the best part of the land. They enjoyed being there and they did not want to leave. But remember the promise of God is that He would bring them to the land of Canaan and the land of promise where He would bless them and give them the land. They couldn’t stay in Egypt or would not be able to fulfill His promise and His will.
Isn’t it true of anyone of us that when things are going well and we are prospering, we want to hang around. We want to ride that wave! What happens when we get to the place of prosperity? Of course we tend to forget what God wants us to do. We tend to forget the plan of God and the promises of God and we start making excuses why we haven’t been around and faithful to the Lord and His Word. That’s what prosperity and materialism does to us. It makes us spiritual comfortable and mushy and not strong. We become pushovers!
That’s not what the Israelites did! They stood up to the king because the King of Heaven said to do that. So just think before you became a Christian and things were going well and you were prospering. Back then you did not think of God or your eternal soul. You probably thought only of getting the most amount of pleasure on this side of eternity. You were enjoying the land of the walking dead, as did I. We were enjoying the good things that come from the common grace of God. You were enjoying the food, drink, partying, and the indulging of the flesh. You were probably thinking to yourself that life is pretty good! We still are prosperous despite the fall outs.
It is not until God disturbs you, frustrates your plans, and until you suffer persecutions and trials that God ordains the circumstances that get you to long for Him. Because other than that, neither you or I would seek God unless He intervenes and does something. Do we ever seek salvation on our own? Not until God Almighty disturbs our souls and comfort zones. That is when we start realizing what God is doing and we begin to ask the right questions.
How does God disturb us? Well He allowed a king to rise up that knows nothing about Joseph or his faith. All that this king wanted to know is how they could use this people who were multiplying quickly as slaves to make their nation wealthier. The Egyptians gave the Israelite children over to exposure and left them outside until they died. What was God doing there? He was making them unhappy so that they would want to get out of Egypt and out from under bondage. In order for pharaoh to despise the children of Israel and rid them from his kingdom, God had to change his heart. He also had to change the hearts of the Israelites and of Moses.
This was all to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has to disturb us and cause us to be restless in our souls and fear where we are gonna go when we die. We have to start thinking like that. Thank goodness God does that in us otherwise we would just sit back on our easy chairs with a tropical drink and just enjoy life. Thank the Lord He disturbs us. I praise Him for that.
So it looks like God’s people, at least in Egypt, were doomed. Even on their way to extinction and right at the perfect time, God provides a deliverer. There’s a fundamental principle that we all must learn if anyone is to be saved and be made right with God. If anyone is going to grow spiritually and become a person of enduring faith then they must remember the matter of divine disturbance. Some of the puritans talked about it like that. What do you think brethren? If God is going to set His heart upon you what do you think He is going to do?
Will He not choose to take away from you and I everything that is keeping you from Him? Will He not choose to make things uneasy and uncertain and insecure so that you will begin to ask the right questions? Sometimes He may cause you to lose your money. He may you cause you to lose your health or a secure job. Sometimes He may even take a spouse or a child. He may send trouble upon trouble in your life. That is the matter of divine disturbance to get your and my attention.
But the main reason that God will ever allow these things to be brought upon you and I is to make us low and unhappy. It is never for our destruction but only for our good and His glory. Once He removes from you and I those things that keep us from Him, then deliverance is at hand and we are ready to be saved. Then we are asking the right way, and this is what we see in our text. That’s the background of where I am going now.
So if we are going to fear God and make the right choices, then our hearts have to be changed. There is a second thing that we learn from enduring faith and it’s this, that a faith that endures chooses more wisely. Let’s go back to Hebrews 11:24-26 where it says:
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.
See we have Moses pictured here as grown up. At this point he was 40 years old. He was making choices based on experience, wisdom, and empirical data. In other words Moses saw what was happening around him and he knew he needed to make a choice. The book of Acts gives us a peek into the first forty years. It says in Acts 7:23-25:
But 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. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.
God was already showing Moses that He was going to be the one who did something about the people’s problem. The people weren’t looking at Moses and saying he was the one because to them he was an Egyptian in the highest level of government. How could he help them? They were a persecuted lowly people who were just slaves! It didn’t enter their minds at that time but he could not longer stay neutral. He had to pick what people he had to side with: the Egyptians or Israel. There could be no fence straddling for him. He had to flat out deny one or another.
Look again at what it says in Hebrews 11:24:
When he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
He actually made a decisive choice to refuse something offered to him. His choice was to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and that meant a break with the family that schooled and raised him. This was 39 years and 9 months that Pharaoh raised him and had a great influence in his life. It says in Acts that Pharaoh’s daughter had nurtured him and had a good relationship with him. But Moses would have to make a choice to refuse his high position, his power, his honor, his wealth, his privilege, and of course the prerogative of being in the royal family of Pharaoh, which was the most powerful nation in the world at that time. It would be crazy to leave Egypt and forsake those Egyptians for Israelite slaves.
But God was already stirring his heart and moving inside him to change his volition and will. That’s what Biblical faith does, it changes your will and causes you to go in the direction that God wants you to go in. For that to happen, things radically go on inside your heart and the Spirit of God doesn’t leave you own. He begins to show you how wicked you are and how you have treated the God of Heaven. He shows you how you despised the cross and how you thought the message to be foolish. God changes your will and he did the same for Moses. Look at Hebrews 11:25:
Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
The Egyptians were not the people of God. They were godless and idolators. They were a nation without a true God, but rather had many gods. Now Moses realizes that and also that the Israelites were the chosen people of promise who served the real God. In verse 25 he chose rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God. This means to be treated ill with a group and to get in there with the people of slavery and suffer what they were suffering. He didn’t suffer as one who had privilege but one who was mistreated with the Israelites because they were God’s people.
If you look down to Hebrews 11:37 it gives you some sense of the mistreatment. It says:
hey were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated.
Those are the people that Moses got in there with. He never thought that to retain his high position, power, honor, wealth, and privilege was an advantage. That good be a great noose, a millstone around your neck. It had to be a clear cut off and he turned his back on all of it. But in choosing one thing he had to deny himself another thing. He denied himself the passing pleasures of sin. The very word used here means pleasure based on the satisfaction of one’s desires. We want our passions and desires to be fed. We are all hedonists, we want pleasure and everything to be nice and smooth.
The pleasures set before Moses were not only fleeting, because that was sin is, but they were sinful. That’s what we usually choose. We live for the moment and for pleasure, not considering that the pleasure of sin is only temporary and always comes with a consequence. Both temporal consequences and eternal. And then there’s God’s judgment. Only fools live lives of pleasure while denying and ignoring the reality of death and judgment. There’s this quote by Ravi Zacharias:
Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.
But for Moses his sin would have been apostasy. His sin would be the disowning of the people of God for the purpose of enjoying the privileges of high position for the short lived grandeur of Pharaoh’s palaces and courts. That means that Moses would have placed himself outside of the purposes of God. But that’s not going to happen. By faith, Moses, as well as you and I, can make choices not on the things that please ourselves but on that which pleases God, exalts Christ, and helps our brethren. And that’s where real, enduring faith will take you.
So don’t commit to sin, like Moses, to apostasy and leave once you know the truth. The faith given by God is one that moves the will. But it also does something else. It changes the mind. Look at what it says in Hebrews 11:26:
Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
See that word “considering”? It means to think deeply, to examine and compare. What is he comparing? He is comparing the riches that go with Christ to the riches he has known in Egypt. It is a picture of what we have available to us, to know that there is a comparison to be made. Do we want to live for ourselves and our own goals? Or are we going to live for Christ? That’s always the question. A mind that thinks spiritually and considers God’s plan of deliverance and salvation not just for the people of Israel in bondage of Egypt, but also for Moses. This would actually be the picture of the one who would come after him to be the greatest of all Deliverers. The One greater than Moses is Christ.
So Moses is choosing hardship, which is actually a foreshadowing of the Perfecter of Faith. It says in Hebrews 12:2:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It is through suffering that Jesus Christ redeems and delivers His people from the spiritual bondage of sin. His mind pondered the eternal plan of God the spiritual deliverance through the suffering of the Messiah. How much did Moses know about Christ? It seems like way more than anyone ever gave him credit for in Scripture. He considered the reproach of the Messiah to be greater than all the riches of Egypt! The reproach of Christ is all the shame that was piled on Christ leading up to His death on the cross as a crucified criminal. Hebrews later on refers to it in Hebrews 13:13 this way:
So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
The Lord had to be crucified outside of Jerusalem because His death was a defilement. He was crucified as a criminal, as someone who was guilty. Whoever comes into contact with Christ by true faith must bear His part of the reproach. If our Lord suffered, we must suffer in some way too. We will bear some of the stigma that goes along with being a Christian. It says in Luke 14:33:
So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
And then Philippians 3:7-8 says:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
When you gain Christ, everything else that anybody can offer you is just a pile of dung. That’s what Paul is saying. “Rubbish” means stuff that goes in the pots that are unworthy vessels, the stuff that you go to the bathroom in. He says everything else is just a pile of dung compared to what you gain in Christ. Why would you want to make that switch? It’s absurd to even think of it! This is what is going on in Moses.
See the question is, what or who is of greater value? The treasure of the world or the treasure of Christ? When the great treasure of Egypt is placed along the lost-suffered in reproach for Christ’s sake according to Moses constituted in infinitely greater treasure. Moses was driven by the conviction of a greater wealth than the treasure of Egypt, and he knew the wealth of Egypt greater than anybody. He knew the power of Egypt and the power of temptation to stay in that position. He also knew that people depended on Egypt to get their needs meet. He realized that it was all fleeting, just a passing time of sinful pleasure.
By faith Moses came to realize that abuse suffered for Christ was of greater value eternally than anything this world could ever offer him. So the faith that is given to us by God is a faith the not only moves our will but it changes our mind about God’s plan. There is a third thing that he mentions here. It is also a faith that fixes our eyes on the right thing. Look at what it says in Hebrews 11:26:
He was looking to the reward.
It means to turn the eyes away from one thing to another and then to look at that thing with a steadfast mental gaze. Moses turned his gaze away from the present suffering to what was Heavenly and lasting and true. It even uses an imperfect verb that emphasizes the continual action in the past time. In other words, once Moses looked at Christ he never took his eyes off of Him. He never looked back. He understood the difference, but he knew what it would take.
It’s like an artist fixing his attention on the object he is reproducing whether in a painting or sculpture. He has to look intently at it to get it right and to get the details. If you remember back when we were in Hebrews 10:34 when the believers looked at past sufferings. Six things became evident so that they would gain something greater in their suffering. This is what it says in the verse:
Knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
This knowing is to know positively. If you think seriously about what you have gained by being in Christ, you will conclude that it would be utterly foolish to throw away so precious and so valuable a gift as salvation. How shall we neglect so great a salvation? And if you are a believer and know that Christ is your Savior, you know this to be true. We all get tempted every single day to forsake Christ and to get the pleasures of the world. When we get tempted, we get slaughtered with temptation.
But someone who is growing in enduring faith says that they don’t want it. All of my fulfillment and pleasure is found in Christ. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain because then I’ll be in the presence of Christ and I’ll be removed from this world. That’s the way we must think and live. That’s enduring faith. When you have that kind of faith, no one is going to push you around. No government authority is going to cause you to flinch. You are going to stand on the Word of God and you are going to know that Christ delivers from spiritual bondage of sin and gives eternal life and no one else can do that.
So we choose more wisely by faith when God moves our wills and changes our minds and fixes our eyes upon our lasting reward. And ultimately our reward is God Himself. How could He compare with anything else? He cannot. We must have a high view of God, and if we do then we’ll believe that the Word of God is sufficient for life and godliness. We will have a correct view of man, what the church ought to be doing, and what leadership in the church ought to be doing. When we bring God down to our level, then He will become just like us, and that becomes idolatry. Don’t let that happen.
So whom are you living for? The world, yourself, or the Lord Jesus Christ? And do you have enduring faith works that proves that? So today you may have to make a decision to come to Christ and know Him. If you are a believer and you’ve been riding the fence and doing your own thing, you may need to come and get saved also. You today you may need to throw yourself before the Lord and ask Him to take you and use you as His servant. Believe me, God will never disappoint you. We will never be disappointed. Let’s pray.
Lord, thank You so much for the Word of God. You have been to me a great Lord and Savior. You have placed upon my life many trials and tribulations. But Lord You have been found faithful. I’ve known Your love and compassion. I know when You take a hold on me when all I’ve wanted was to leave and do my own thing. I know when sin and temptation was so strong and yet your Spirit was stronger. Lord, Your Word has been a mighty tower. Thank You, Lord, for the faith You give us. It’s not a common faith, but one that can only come from God. So Lord I pray that You would build us and make us strong. Help us to see what You are doing in our own lives. Use us, with the time we have left, that we would not waste the space we have on this earth but instead use it for Your glory. Lord, this morning whatever choices people have to make, move them to make a choice according to Your will. Convict them of their sin and unrighteousness, that they would realize they are under Your wrath and the only way they can be removed is by Christ. Oh Lord, please strengthen those who are weak in faith and embolden those who need it as they face great trials. I thank You, Lord Jesus, for all the things You are already going to do. Make us a people of God that make a difference on this side of eternity. And I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.