Please open your Bible at Hebrews 11. We are continuing our series “Living by Faith,” and today we come to the story of Moses.
God had given an amazing promise to Abraham, 500 years before Moses was born saying, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Gen 22:17).
Well Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac fathered Jacob and Esau. After two generations, there had not been much progress.
But Jacob fathered 12 sons, and then things really got going. In the generations that followed, God’s people grew rapidly. They came to Egypt as an extended family of just 70 people. They left Egypt as a great nation of around 2 million people!
We saw last time that when God’s people arrived in Egypt, the smile of the culture was on them. Joseph was loved in Egypt, and his extended family enjoyed the favor of the people.
But “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Ex 1:8). He feared the rapid growth of God’s people. And so, the great oppression began. God’s people endured hard labor. But even then, God blessed His people and their number continued to grow.
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile…” (Exo 1:22).
This was a despicable act of ethnic cleansing.
Notice that the Pharaoh gave this order to “all his people.” He called on the people to ensure compliance. This was a license for mob rule. “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile…” When a Hebrew boy was born, the parents would be required to report the birth to the authorities who would then come and take the child away. And if the parents did not do that it would be up to the neighbors to take action themselves.
A Hebrew boy is born, and word gets around the neighborhood. “There’s a baby in that house and I think its a boy.” Then one night there is a knock on the door. A gang of thugs want to see the baby. It was a horrific evil.
Never under-estimate the evil of which the human heart is capable. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9).
When Jesus was born, Herod purged all the infants in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to Egypt. It was in Egypt that the life of Jesus was guarded, and it was in Egypt that the life of Moses was saved.
We begin today with the remarkable story of how the life of Moses was preserved. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents” (Heb 11:23).
It seems that Moses’ parents were able to hide their son at home for the first weeks of his life, but after three months it was clearly getting more difficult and more dangerous.
Where could they hide the baby? Moses’ parents came up with a clever plan. “The mob would throw the baby into the river. That’s where we should hide him!” So, they made a basket, covered it in pitch, and hid the infant Moses in the reeds at the edge of the river, while Moses older sister Miriam kept watch over the basket from a distance.
One day, the crown princess, the daughter of Pharaoh, came down to the river to bathe. And she found the basket. When her servant opened it, Scripture says, “she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children” (Ex 2:6).
Moses’ sister Miriam was watching. She approached Pharoah’s daughter, and in a stroke of genius she said, Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrews women to nurse the child for you?” (Ex 2:7).
Pharoah’s daughter said “Go” and so the young girl went, and called Moses mother! So, Moses’ mother was paid by the crown princess of Egypt to nurse her own child.
The story reminds us that grace, love and kindness can be found in some unexpected places. The crown princess had every reason to implement the deadly policy of the regime to which she belonged. But she did the opposite. Her heart was opened and the life of Moses was saved.
I want us to focus today on the faith of Moses himself. We’ve seen in this series that the Holy Spirit has drawn out one lesson from each of these heroes of faith. But in the case of Moses there are three things for us to learn.
Notice that the words, “by faith” comes three times (vs. 24, vs. 27, and vs. 28). Today we’re going to look at the choice that faith makes; the courage faith brings and the confidence faith enjoys.
1. The Choice Faith Makes
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:24- 25).
This was an extraordinary decision: Moses grew up in the palace. He was known as the son of the crown princess. He had all the privilege of being a member of the royal household.
Moses could have become like Joseph, who was second only to Pharoah himself. But he made this astonishing decision: He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. I wonder what the crown princess made of this?
She knew, of course that Moses was a Hebrew, and according to the king’s decree, he should not have been alive. But the crown princess had shown kindness to him. She had adopted Moses as her own son. She had prepared him for a royal career, and now he says that this is not what he wants!
He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose rather to be mistreated with the people of God. “I belong with these people who are despised by the world. I would rather take my stand with the people of God than have all the treasures of Egypt.”
In making this decision, Moses points us, very obviously, to Jesus. The Son of God enjoyed a glorious life in heaven but He gave it up. He did not grasp onto what was his by right. He left the pleasures and the treasures of heaven and chose to be mistreated with the people of God. He came from a throne to a manger and went from the manger to the cross.
Moses lived 1500 years before Jesus. But Hebrews makes it clear that, just like Abraham (Jn 8:56), Moses saw Jesus from afar. That is why we read in vs. 26, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb 11:26).
Moses had some glimpse of this wonderful truth that one day, God Himself would come among His people. That He would be mistreated; that he would be reproached, and that out of this would come a glorious reward that He would share with all His people.
Moses had some glimpse of what Jesus would do and he said, “I want to be like Him. I am going to stand with the people of God no matter what it costs.”
The calling of Moses and the calling of Jesus is our calling too. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34).
Jesus is saying, “There is a cross for Me and there will be a cross for you. You must take up your cross. If anyone would come after me, let him… take up his cross. Thomas Boston said that God will lay down a cross at everyone’s door. “God had one Son without sin, but no son without a cross.”
The cross you carry may change but in every season of your life there will be some cost for you to bear in following Jesus. So, here’s the question: How are you going to take up your cross? How will you bear the painful and costly things that confront you as you follow Jesus?
The cross God gave to Moses involved renouncing his royal title and taking his stand with the mistreated people of God. And Hebrews tells us that Moses made his decision by faith. Faith makes it possible to take up your cross. And faith does this in two ways:
i. Faith Takes Up The Cross Because It Sees That The World Is Fleeting
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:24, 25).
Acts tells us that Moses was 40 years old when he made this life changing decision (Acts 7:23). For forty years, Moses had enjoyed the pleasures of the royal lifestyle. Riding in chariots, sailing boats on the Nile, building great structures etc. But through it all, one word kept pressing in on his mind.
“Fleeting” The fleeting pleasures of sin. This is all passing away.
Here I am, 40 years old. And I am living a comfortable life. But God brought me into the world for a greater purpose than this. My life must be about more than the pursuit of pleasure and treasure. These things are fleeting. They are passing away.
ii. Faith Takes Up The Cross Because It Looks To The Reward
“He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb 11:26).
It is clear from the life of Moses that his reward was not in this world. Taking his stand with the people of God meant spending the rest of his years in the desert leading a people who were ungrateful and uncooperative.
Following Jesus means taking up a cross, and if this world is all that there is, it simply isn’t worth it. Paul says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19).
But faith factors in eternity. Following Jesus means taking up a cross now but it does not end there. The cross led to a glorious resurrection for Jesus. Right now, our Lord Jesus enjoys His reward in the glory of heaven, and one day we who follow Him will share in His reward.
Faith factors in eternity. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18).
By faith, Moses saw through the world with its fleeting pleasures and treasures. By faith, he factored in eternity and looked to the reward. If we are going to follow Jesus, we must do the same. You have to factor in eternity.
Some of you who are younger are trying to figure out if you will follow Jesus. You know that if you do, the smile of the culture will not be on you. You wonder if it’s worth it?
There’s only one way you can make the costly decision to follow Jesus. By faith that factors in eternity. Faith that sees through the fleeting pleasures and treasures of the world. Faith that looks to the reward.
2. The Courage Faith Brings
“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb 11:27).
When Moses made his decision to leave the palace, his first venture as an advocate for the people of God was an absolute disaster.
He decided to do some research. He went out to see what life was like for his Hebrew brothers and sisters. And what he saw appalled him. He came across an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves and on an act of impulse, “he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Ex 2:12).
Moses thought that what he had done was hidden, but what he did was seen. And when Pharaoh heard it, “he sought to kill Moses” (Ex 2:15). Moses went from a favored son to a hunted fugitive, in a single day. Scripture tells us that “Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian” (Ex 2:15).
Moving to Midian may not sound like an act of faith and courage, and some scholars suggest that Hebrews is referring to the second time Moses left Egypt in the Exodus.
But I’m convinced that Hebrews is referring to this first time that Moses left Egypt.First, because of the flow of the story: Hebrews tells us that Moses left Egypt after he left the palace and before it tells us about the Passover, which comes in vs. 28. Second, I don’t think this is referring to the Exodus, because the story of God’s people leaving Egypt comes later in vs. 29. Third, Hebrews describes Moses leaving Egypt alone. “By faith he left Egypt.” There is no reference here to the people of God being with him.
The reason some suggest that Moses leaving Egypt by faith is a reference to the exodus is that Exodus tells us Moses was “afraid” when what he did was known (Ex 2:14). But that does not mean that fear was his motive in leaving Egypt. Hebrews tells us that he left Egypt by faith.
a. Why Did Moses Leave Egypt?
Why did Moses not stay and fight ? Two reasons:
i. God’s People Were Not Ready
The first response of God’s people to Moses was to say, “Who made you a prince a judge over us?” (Ex 2:14).
ii. Moses Was Not Ready
Moses clearly had a violent temper. What damage might he have done if he had assumed leadership of the people of God at the age of 40? Moses needed to master himself. He needed to learn self-control. God taught him these things in the desert.
In his book on Hebrews 11, R.T. Kendall records some advice given to him by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones: “The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have success before he is ready.” He says that this was “the best advice he ever gave me.”
Moses was not ready for the work God would call him to do. God’s time had not yet come for him. So, Moses spent the next 40 years of his life in the desert. God taught him to master himself and the man with the violent temper became a man who was known for his meekness (Num 12:3).
b. Why Was This An Act Of Faith?
Moses knew that his time had not yet come, but he also knew and believed that his time would come.
So, by faith he left Egypt, to prepare for the work God would call him to do.
“I believe that God has a future for me and so I am going to prepare for the work He will give me to do.”
After the disaster of his first venture into ministry, Moses might have said, “Its all over for me now. I messed up. God’s people don’t want me. Pharoah wants to kill me. I’m done. I’ve blown it. There’s no future for me.
Moses might have caved in on himself. But he did not do that. By faith Moses left Egypt!
Here’s the principle: Focus your attention of becoming the person God calls you to be, and trust Him to lead you into the right work at the right time.
Never despise the years of preparation. Paul spent years in the Arabia. Jesus worked for years in a carpenter’s shop. Moses spent 40 years in Midian. His great contribution came in the last third of his life.
How did Moses endure these long years of preparation?
His 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s all passed and still he had not entered into the great work that God had prepared for him to do. How did he endure all these years?
“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb 11:27).
Moses endured when everything was against him. God’s people were against him. Pharaoh was against him. His own conscience was against him. But he dared to believe that God was for him. And he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Some of you are going through some very tough things. Here’s the question: How are you going to endure?
If you could see God standing next to you, you would trust Him completely. If you could turn round at any moment, and see the Lord and hear him say “I’m with you. I’ve got you.” You would be able to endure.
One day you will see Him. When faith is turned to sight: When you see the Lord in His glory you will say, why didn’t I trust Him more? Moses trusted God as if he could see him right there in the desert. That is how he endured. He endured as seeing him who is invisible.
3. The Confidence Faith Enjoys
“By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them” (Heb 11:28).
We’re coming to the Lord’s table today, and this brings us there. Here we read about the Passover lamb and the sprinkled blood. We usually think of this in relation to all of God’s people. But Hebrews records the personal faith of Moses in observing the Passover himself.
By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood. Here is this great man of God. A man who has spent 40 years in preparation. A man who would do miracles. A man who God would use to form and lead an entire nation.
And this man says, “I am a sinner who needs a Savior.” I need the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled over me.
But faith says more than “I need a Savior.” Faith says, “I have a Savior.” The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20). The Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin.
1. A prayer for the person who is facing a costly choice:
Sin that is hard to give up. A sacrifice that is hard to make. A price that seems high to pay. Father strengthen my faith, and help me to see through the world with its fleeting pleasures and treasures and look to the eternal reward that belongs to all who take up the cross and follow Jesus.
2. A prayer for the person who needs courage to endure:
Father help me to endure as if I could see you standing right next to me. Help me to say, “I have set the Lord always before me and because be is at mu right hand I will not be shaken” (Ps 16:8).
iii. A prayer for all of us as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table:
Father, I acknowledge my need of a Savior. Thank you that Jesus is the Savior I need. Give me the peace and confidence of knowing that the blood of Christ was shed for my sins, and that through Him, I have peace with you.
© Colin S. Smith
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By Colin S. Smith. © Colin S. Smith. Website: UnlockingtheBible.org
 R. T. Kendall, Who By Faith, p. 142.