Sooner or later everyone must make a choice. Not everyday choices such as “What shall I eat?” or “What shall I wear today?” are meant here. The choice that I want to bring to your attention is as important as life itself.
As young people, you must make a choice between the kingdom of heaven and the pleasures of the world. “Wait a minute!” you say, “as an elect child of God I have been chosen by Him; I did not and could not choose Him.” Correct you are. God certainly chooses His people unto everlasting life; but man also chooses. He either chooses the way of sin or by God’s grace he chooses the way of life.
This fact is seen in Scripture, especially at Mt. Ebal and Gerizim where there is placed before Israel the blessing and the curse. Or think of Joshua in his old age when he stands before Israel, “Choose you this day whom ye shall serve.” Joshua had made the choice, as is evident from his confession, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” Thus, today as well, you, as covenant young people, must make a conscious choice. between what your old nature tells you and what your regenerated heart is saying. The two sides are well defined; it is either the world and its pleasures of sin, or Christ and His kingdom. From a natural viewpoint you will never be able to make this choice. Such a choice can only be made by faith, the evidence of things unseen.
We have another example of such a choice made by faith recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures. I refer to the choice made by Moses when he became of age, as we find it in Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”
As we take a good look at the whole matter of making a choice, there are certain considerations that must be borne in mind. First of all, it is very evident and easily understood that for a real choice to be even possible one must be a rational, moral creature. In order to choose, one must act according to intellect and reason. The intellect and reason must make a judgment with respect to two or more objects after considering their relative importance and value. After considering the pro and the con one shows a preference of the one or the other. In addition to the intellect there is also the will. This is the follow-up action whereby the will desires that which the intellect has preferred. Thus, it stands to reason that an inanimate object such as a stone or fence post cannot choose. Even if we turn to living creatures such as trees and plants we see immediately that they do not have the capability to choose. But what about the animals? Even though they may show preference for one thing or another, they do not consciously, rationally, and morally make a choice, nor can they do so.
As young people, however, as rational, moral creatures, created in the image of God, you not only can choose but do choose very often. This occurs daily in one’s life with respect to natural things such as what to eat, what to study, or what to wear. But, more important, with your intellect and reason you must make decisions as to spiritual things. Consciously and willingly you must decide for or against God, for or against Christ and His kingdom. This was the nature of the choice of Moses.
The second consideration is that you as a covenant, rational, moral young people, must make this choice when you become of age, just as Moses did “when he was come to years.” In other words, one must not only be a rational, moral creature, but one must reach a certain stage of development in order to choose. The more important the decision, the more advanced must this development be. You certainly would not expect a small baby in the cradle to make a choice. No doubt the babe is a rational, moral creature as well as is an adult. The babe may also be a child of God, his heart regenerated already at the time of conception. Yet that child has no conscious knowledge of the objects between which a choice must be made. He knows nothing of the covenant of God, nor does he know the pleasures of sin. He has neither knowledge of his sin and misery in which he was conceived and born nor of his salvation in Christ from that sin. Such a child simply has not reached the stage of development at which he can choose for God’s kingdom or the world of sin.
In fact, almost all the decisions are made for him by his parents. They choose his, clothing, his home, and his school. What is true concerning his natural life is also true concerning his spiritual life. The parents choose the church wherein he is baptized and indoctrinated. As long as the child has not come to age, the parents will make these decisions for him.
The day arrives, however, when this cannot be done anymore. As young people you have reached that stage of development, or soon will, when you must make a conscious choice with respect to spiritual things. This is what is sometimes called as “the years of discretion,” here applied to one’s spiritual life. As we see in this passage from Hebrews, Moses arrived at this point in life when he was forty years old. This does not mean that he did not come to years of discretion before, this time, not that he did not make a conscious choice before he reached the age of forty. However, it was at forty that he came to a definite conclusion and revealed his choice. Moses had had a very strange history. Born in Egypt at a time when all the Hebrew male babies were supposed to be killed, he was hid for three months at home by his parents, who then set him afloat in the river Nile for he could not be safely hid any longer. Soon the daughter of Pharaoh discovered him and adopted him for her own child. Because he was yet so small he was returned to his home through the instrumentality of his sister Miriam who was watching from a distance. In the covenant home of his parents Moses learned of his people and their God. The rest of his education was obtained in the courts of Pharaoh.
Therefore, although the age of forty seems late for such a choice, when we remember the circumstances of Moses’ life and education we begin to understand. In addition we may bear in mind that Moses lived to be one hundred twenty years old, which is comparable to our seventy, to eighty. The point, however, is not to say that one must make profession of faith at a specific age such as seventeen or eighteen, but when one comes to years, when one reaches the age of discretion spiritually.
In your case, having been instructed in covenant homes from the day of your birth, this coming of age will not be late in your life. And you will want to reveal this choice publicly before God and His people. Putting this off really is a sign of a definite spiritual weakness, maybe even a revelation of the fact that you have made a choice, but not for God’s kingdom. A child of God knows and loves his Lord and desires to make public that which he has decided in his heart through the operation of the Holy Spirit.
Moses made that choice after a bitter struggle in his heart, and, we might add, at exactly the right moment in history so that he might serve as God’s servant to lead His people out of Egypt, the house of bondage, into the land of Canaan, a picture of heaven.
The object of Moses’ choice and the reason why he chose what he did we will discuss in more detail next time. But in the meantime let us remember that we, you and I, must and always do make the same choice as Moses did. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, which meant that he had cast his lot with the people of God, although they were maltreated and oppressed. So we are called to do the same thing and to make the same choice, not only once, but constantly. We cannot belong to the people of God and to the world at the same time. That is impossible. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God instead of enjoying the pleasures of the world for a season. We must and always do make the same choice before the face of God.
But we will wait until next time to look at this in detail. For now we must remember that there is a time when this choice must be made. Doing so we will rejoice with God’s people in our confession.