It is well to pick up the thread just a bit at this juncture of our series of essays on Hebrews 11. The writer is concerned about the spiritual attitude of the Hebrews. There is a great temptation which besets them inasmuch as the way to receiving the final promise, with all that this implies, seems a long way off. The church enters into glory and salvation through much tribulation; often this tribulation is deep, intense and repetitive. The end is not in sight, except for the eye of faith and hope!
In view of this great conflict of faith and hope, the writer urges the believers to call to mind a definite former time in their life and Christian experience. That was a time when they were first enlightened. No, for this time and this affliction they can not take any credit and self-glorying. They were enlightened by the sovereign and mighty grace of God. Also in this enlightenment they have nothing which they have not received. All boasting is excluded. It was during that time that they had had endurance. Yes, it was a great fight of affliction; but they had contended like warriors who sought the crown of victory. And remembering all this they must be spurred on in the present conflict. They must not lag in the fight.
Nothing strange happens to them when they thus must wait in patience upon God, for their ultimate salvation and deliverance. Had not God thus spoken to Israel inIsaiah 26:20, 21, saying “yet a little while and he that cometh shall come.” And does not the word spoken by the Lord through Habakkuk stand, which says “Now my just one shall live by faith, and if any man falleth back my soul hath no delight in him.”
The writer is convinced that the believers are not of those who fall back into perdition, but that they are those who are believing to the saving of the soul! And now the writer recounts the men of like passion as the Hebrews and us, to show how they believed to the saving of the soul.
Israel is in Egypt at this time. It is now a long time ago that Jacob, the patriarch, left the land of promise with his seventy souls because of the famine in the land, with the sanction of the Lord. And he was with Israel in a very singular way; He was causing Israel to multiply exceedingly in the land of Egypt according to His sure promise and mercies. This increase of Israel was a cause of fear for the king of Egypt. As we all know this was not the same Pharaoh as in the time of Joseph, nor was this the same kingly dynasty. It was another Pharaoh, another line of kings in Egypt. He adopted a new policy toward the children of Israel.
It was of the Lord to bring His people out of Egypt. God had foretold Israel’s departure from Egypt to Abraham in a vision as recorded in Genesis 15:16 “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full . . .” The time of Israel’s deliverance was at hand. They would obtain the promise of God. But it must be through afflictions. They will need patience, that, after having done the will of God, they may obtain the promise. Israel is in the great arena of the conflict and battle of faith; they are in the very vortex of the storm.
The storm rages in Egypt. It is in the mighty will of God that Egypt becomes a ghetto, which is a house of bondage. Satan rages against the people of God, and the seed of the serpent attempts mightily to triumph over the seed of the woman, the Christ and His church! The will of God will be done, and even the wrath of man shall praise the Lord. In futile wrath and anguished fear the king of Egypt takes his hellish measures against the people of God’s own choosing. He will proceed with guile to keep Israel in Egypt, weak enough to keep her in subjection, and strong enough to serve him in building his cities, to achieve his civic improvements and cultural attainments.
The wicked king’s attempt to destroy Israel and to prevent the birth of Christ the firstborn son of Israel are threefold:
The first attempt is to make Israel serve with rigor in Egypt and to make them slaves instead of free men. Their legal status in Israel was changed. An entire nation was simply subjugated to slavery by the fiat of the king, and by the stroke of the pen; all the former decisions concerning Israel were declared null and void! They were simply an outlawed people, without rights and possessions any more! Legally and actually they were declared slaves and the wheels of enslavement were set in motion.
The second attempt, when the former failed to stem the miraculous growth of Israel, was to command all the midwives in Israel—it seems that from here on a close tabulation was kept of Israel’s birth and the matter was placed under the direct control of Egypt—to kill all the male children when they were born. However, the midwives did not heed the command of the king, and thus the purposes of the king were nullified. And the king feared the more with a despotic fear. And the king is horrified by the growth of Israel. His is the courage of despair!
The final measure is now taken. All the children, the male children of Israel, must be cast into the river Nile. That is the final and grand assault upon Israel.
Here in this boiling caldron of Satan’s fires Israel must endure a great fight of affliction to receive the promised deliverance, which the Lord revealed and predicted to Abraham. Here faith will be tried. And faith must become manifest to be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For without faith it is impossible to please God.
The reasoning of faith is not of the natural man. Faith is the gift of God and clings to the promised salvation; it does not fall back into perdition, but reaches out unto salvation. Such was the faith of the parents and family of Moses. Here were these sons of Levi scattered in Israel; yet, they are firm in faith and in looking for the redemption of Israel. Amram and Jochebed, famous parents in Israel they! They had lived through affliction and had named their daughter Miriam, and in hope they had looked for the light to arise in darkness and had named their first son, Aaron. But their faith did not fail when their third child, this time a son, was born. This time God gave them a child, a child of exceptional beauty, and full of promise. He was fair before God. (Acts 7:20)
Hebrews 11:24 tells us that they saw this “by faith.” Faith has its own reasoning, its own ratiocination. In the midst of this impenetrable darkness of Egypt’s affliction these parents saw the day dawn in the birth of their son. They saw, as it were, the redeemer and deliverer of Israel in this son. Great things are in store for them. The horizons are lifting! Nay, not in reality yet! For the king’s command stands to cast all the sons in the river. The king’s command also obtains in regard to their child, this beautiful son! But here is faith in the midst of “conflict and conquest.” And faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
The young child is not declared and handed over to the king’s bench-men. He is hid. He is hid in faith. No, he is not hid awaiting the inevitable day when the king’s men will ferret him out of his parents’ hiding-place. He is placed in the secret place of the Most High and under the shadow of the Almighty. He is given over by faith into the secret and loving providence of the protector of Israel. And at the end of three months Moses’ mother does not perform an act of desperation by placing him in a little ark and placing him in the river’s edge in the bushes. It was faith that prompted her to action. She hid him three months in faith, and now in faith she will place this child in the very mouth of the lion, in the home of the murderer of Israel’s seed.
It was not a mere happenstance that the king’s daughter came to the river at this time. It was not such even from the viewpoint of Moses’ parents. They must have observed the king’s daughter’s schedule and routine and proceeded accordingly in faith! In faith they reasoned that God would take care of their child. No, they were not acting from the courage of desperation. Three months they did hide this child in faith; now they will place this child in the ark in the river in faith. It is the strategy of faith’s own ratiocination. They will place the child in the very den of the enemy and the Lord will provide. Such was faith which conquered in the conquest.
Yes, it all seems so natural. God overrules the motherly instincts of Pharaoh’s daughter to fulfill His design in liberating Moses and in preparing him to be the law-giver of Israel. All things will work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to the Divine purpose of election.
What an amazing turn of events. Miriam inquired whether she shall find a nurse for the little baby brother. And the Lord makes this daughter of Egypt’s king to respond in the affirmative, and thus Moses is once more in his parental home, free from the threat of being cast into the river. Moses’ mother receives a reward of faith in the money received from Pharaoh’s daughter. Such a reward of faith could only prompt them to greater heights of faith and expectancy of hope. And in this hope Moses will be instructed in his infant days in the house of his parents concerning the “affection of Christ” which Israel is enduring in Egypt.
The reasoning of a faith which clings to the faithful promise of God cannot be in error!
It seems that the conjecture if some that the “king’s command” to cast all the sons of Israel into the river was not executed on a large scale. Quite likely also this command was set aside through the instrumentality of the king’s daughter. Thus the Lord takes the crafty king in his own craftiness.
The Hebrew Christians and we do well to note this lesson from the Word of God contained in holy Scriptures. It was this Moses upon whom 1ewry set their affections, whose very life depended not on the works of the law, but upon the faith in the promises of God. If Moses’ parents needed patience to do the will of God in order to obtain the promise, surely we do well to press these foot-prints of these erstwhile saints. And he that endureth to the end shall be saved.