The writer to the Hebrews here lets a second instance of challenging and conquering faith pass in review. In the former verse we noticed the faith of Moses’ parents in hiding him for three months when he was born because they saw that he was a goodly child; he was beautiful before God. This they saw and apprehended in faith, as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Now the writer turns to the faith of Moses himself. Three things are stated of the faith of Moses. In our present passage mention is made of the faith of Moses and his resolute purpose not longer to be affiliated with the house of Pharaoh. That required faith. Next the writer will speak of the fearlessness of Moses in executing the judgments of God over the mighty Egyptian king. That, too, was faith in God, faith in the unseen God. And, thirdly, Moses’ faith reached across the ages when be instituted the Passover and the shedding of blood. He looked in faith to the Cross on Calvary, the greater Passover to be slain.
We have so much need of studying these instances of faith, lest we become weary and do not run the race with patience, a race which is often long, arduous, and full of disappointments.
A TIME FOR DECISION IN MOSES LIFE
When Moses was a little lad, he had been brought to live in the house of Pharaoh and had been adopted as a legal son, with all the Egyptian rights and privileges. However, when he was hid in his parents’ house, he must have received the rite of circumcision. He was ingrafted into the commonwealth of Israel. He was not a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, nor was he without hope and without God in the world. He had been first under the sign of the covenant and the teaching of the Word of the promise. Later, in Pharaoh’s court he was taught in all the learning of the Egyptians, Moses is a good and convincing example of the proverb, “Train up (catechize) a child in the way he shall go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Now the writer to the Hebrews shows that Moses did not make this resolve to leave the rights and privileges connected with being a son of Pharaoh’s daughter behind till after he had reached a ripe and matured state of mind. (Calvin) It was not a decision of adolescent and fickle youth, but he had reached maturity. He had been schooled in all the teachings of the Egyptians. He had absorbed as a great student, brilliant and precocious, all that the Egyptians’ schools and teachers offered. He had studied languages, literature, history, philosophy and the religions of the nations. He knew that Jehovah-God was not in all their thoughts. And he felt that he was a stranger in a strange, kingly palace; it must have been a matter of much thought. Did he not come to the conclusion that “God was going to deliver Israel,” His people, through the instrumentality of Moses. Was he not that “goodly child” which had been taken from the waters for a special divine intent? After much prayer he had resolved in humble faith and trust that there was only one course open to him.
The time has come for him to leave Egypt, leave it behind once-and-for-all! He cannot be a son of Pharaoh’s daughter any longer. He has faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
MOSES CROSSES HIS “RUBICON”
Irrevocably Moses decides to leave the house of Pharaoh’s daughter; when Moses goes to see his brethren it is not to pay them a casual visit, an inspection-tour to ascertain their condition. He knew all about their condition; he had seen it from the perspective of an Egyptian prince for well-nigh forty years. This time it will be a different visit.
Just how it would all turn out Moses did not know. He walked in faith, did he not? He would join them as the Lord’s deliverer, he resolved. In this he was correct, although the manner and time of this deliverance was not made known to Moses. But one thing was sure: return to Egypt he would never. He refuses to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He disdained and disowned the very thought. Forty years in Egypt had not made him an Egyptian. All the learning of the Egyptians could not alter the teaching of Jochebed, his Israelitish mother. In the house of Amram and Jochebed the seed of the Word had been sown by the Lord in his heart, and it was coming to fruition in Moses’ life. The very thought of being such a son must perish.
It is time for action! He will say farewell to the Egyptian court. It meant: never to return. Just how this would work out Moses does not know. He sees an Egyptian smiting a brother of his, an Israelite. Is he not the deliverer chosen by God to deliver Israel? Well, then let the act be the expression of his sincere resolution: he kills the Egyptian. It raises his hand against the throne of Egypt. It is insurrection, to be sure, but is there not a cause? This seals Moses’ determination to depart from Egypt, to be called legally a son of Pharaoh’s daughter no more.
Moses has crossed the Rubicon.
Never shall he return to the former status of life. Better an outlawed son of Pharaoh than to be guilty of the blood of the people of God.
MOSES’ EITHER-OR CHOICE
Did not the Lord Jesus say, “He that is not against us is for us?” (Luke 9:50.) And, again, did not the Savior say “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad?” (Matt. 12:30) Moses, too, was before this either-or situation. It was either the pleasures of Egypt for a season, or choose to be afflicted with the people of God, to suffer the reproach of Christ. That was exactly the position of the Hebrew Christians in their day, even as it is thus for us in our day. We are to take up Christ’s cross and follow Him. For a servant is not greater than his master. In the world we shall have tribulation, the tribulation of Christ. But we can be of good cheer. Christ has overcome the world, also the world of Sodem and Egypt!
Moses understands that his choice has far-reaching implication. He had, on the one hand, the pleasures of sin. This may mean sinful pleasure in general. It possibly refers to the sinful life of the Egyptian court, with its women, music, and wine; it debaucheries and loose living, a life of sinful and easy refinement. All that Egypt could offer was sinful pleasures. Is Egypt not the house, too, of spiritual bondage? If Moses left Egypt, renounced his status as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, that life, too, was behind. What would await him if he joined Israel, his captive and ill-treated people? He would cast his lot with them and be ill-treated with them. That full implication of sharing the lot with Israel Moses faced in faith, and he those it. The verb in the Greek emphasizes that he chose this for himself. He was not making a choice for others; he knowingly made this choice in relationship to himself.
He took up the cross of suffering evil with the people of God. He said, “Thy God is my God.” He returned to his people, to the people of God for whom there remaineth a Sabbath-rest. This people is the people of God’s choosing, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. They are the people of the promise. Princes and princesses of God are they, the sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah unto whom is the promise to go forth from Egypt with great substance, spoiling the Egyptians! (Gen. 15:13-15) What glorious faith of self-denial, leaving all in Egypt, knowing that he had a better and an enduring substance.
FAITH’S ACCOUNTING IN MOSES’ DECISION
Faith does a bit of accounting. It compares values. Does not the Lord Jesus say, “Seek the things above where Christ is?” And are we not often told not to have any “cares” about what we shall eat, or what we shall drink? Does not the Lord Jesus say: where your treasure is, there shall your heart be? (Matthew 6:21 ff.) We must not seek treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. One cannot serve God and Mammon, for one will either hate the one or love the other. It is an either-or situation. But here faith has its own ratiocination; it chooses unerringly. It always seeks out God, does it not?
So it was in the case of Moses. Faith was such that it made a proper evaluation concerning what constituted true riches. The affliction of Christ was the true riches for Moses’ faith. This affliction is perhaps the affliction which Christ also endured. The question may be asked: how could Moses endure the sufferings of Christ when He was not yet come? Well, dear reader, Christ says to the unbelieving Jews of His day, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) And if Christ was before Abraham, He was also before the days of Israel in Egypt’s bondage. He was there with them as the “Seed” of Abraham. Because of Him, the head, Israel is called “my first-born.” Does not Hosea say, “Out of Egypt have I called my son?” (Hosea 11:1; Matt. 2:15) This son was Christ, the head of His people. And for the sake of Christ Israel suffered. The same persecution, and for the same reason, came upon Christ and upon Israel of old. And this Moses saw. He deliberately chose the affliction of Christ.
He chose it as riches. He chose it as being greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. All that the world can offer, the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, Moses rejects. Thus he sallies forth in faith. He leaves Egypt; he refuses to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter any more.
He is a son of Jochebed and Amram. Aaron is his brother, and Miriam his sister, and he is an Israelite true.
Yes, he killed an Egyptian. He pays the price and must flee and live for forty years in Midian. And it will be a life of loneliness. But this loneliness, too, is affliction of Christ in a very acute form. He will name his son Gershom. He was a stranger in Midian, little understood by his wife, as to the basic rudiments of serving the Lord. However, he has another son whom he calls in faith Eliezer, God is my help! Such was faith in Moses as it conquered the world.
Well may the Hebrew Christians and we take notice of this Moses, the man of God. He will pray: “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of my hands, yea, establish thou it.”