“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter…..” Hebrews 11:24-26
That we must choose is Scriptural. We read of it in this text. Then, too, we are all more or less familiar with the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 28, and the subsequent word of Moses to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19: “Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” And we are all very familiar with the history of Ruth, and with the word of Joshua to all Israel: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Indeed, to choose is for us inevitable. Choose we must and choose we shall, whether it be good or bad. Man is a moral-rational creature. His responsibility is his ability to respond to God’s revelation of Himself, although the natural man can give only one answer: I hate Thee. And our choice is surely inevitable. Moses, when he was come to years, when he was grown (Ex. 2:11), made his choice. He chose the people of God. We, too, must and will make our choice. Only, to choose the people of God and reject the treasures of Egypt is possible only by faith, as seeing the recompense of reward.
We read, “When he was come to years.” In Exodus 2:11, referring to the same time, we read, “When Moses was grown.” And in the light of history, we know that this choice occurred when Moses was approximately forty years of age.
Why did he make this choice at this time, and how must we interpret this? Was this not rather late for him to make a choice? After all, Moses was already forty years old. Is the age of forty to be recommended as the time, for example, when we should make confession of faith? Of course, this would involve us in difficulties. If we make confession of faith at the age of forty, when, then, would the baptism of our infants occur? Besides, would it be wise to instruct our young people that they may very well wait, take their time about making confession of faith?
How must we explain this, first of all, as far as Moses is concerned? First, we must consider Moses’ life span. He lived to be one hundred and twenty years old, So, at the age of forty he had finished one third of his life. Hence, according to our age, he made his choice at the age of twenty-five. Secondly, we must consider the circumstances of Moses’ life. He was, after being found by Pharaoh’s daughter, brought up in his own home, that of Amram and Jochebed. We may safely say that Moses remained in his home sufficiently long to be instructed in all the ways and promises of the Lord. How otherwise can we explain his choice to be with the people of God? Later he was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Now it cannot be true that the learning of the Egyptians was very meager. Moses’ instruction in Egypt, therefore, was very extensive. Thirdly, we must bear in mind that his choice was deliberate. There was nothing hasty about it. Fact is, he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater than all the riches of Egypt. Hence, he did some accounting, some figuring. He weighed and considered the reproach of Christ and the glories of Egypt. He was, therefore, very deliberate.
The same applies to us. To be sure, we must not delay. We may imagine that we can wait, confess the Lord whenever we choose, and in the meantime enjoy the pleasures and treasures of sin. This is wrong, and, of course, miserably arminian, as if we determine the how and when of our confession of faith. Yet, we must also be deliberate, know exactly what we are doing.
What was this choice, essentially and fundamentally?
Moses’ choice, fundamentally, was between being called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and being with the people of God. On the one hand, he could be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, be viewed and treated as a royal prince in the house of Pharaoh. Imagine all the treasures and riches which would be at his disposal. On the other hand, he could cast his lot with the Israelites. He could say, I am not Pharaoh’s grandson and I refuse to be called such. He could insist on being an Israelite, be known as such, and be treated as such, sharing their affliction.
Understand, Moses could make this choice. Of course, not every Israelite could make this choice. Only Moses could. On the one hand, he was born an Israelite. He, therefore, could say, I am an Israelite, and this is exactly what I want to be. On the other hand, he was now a member of Pharaoh’s house. He could be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. This was indeed possible.
For us, our choice is exactly reversed. Moses was born an Israelite, but was in the house of Pharaoh when he made his choice. We are born and continue in the midst of God’s covenant. Moses was in the world and Israel beckoned to him; we are in the church and the world beckons to us. Yet, our choice is fundamentally the same. We must choose to be called an Israelite, to be one with the party of the living God. And this implies that we choose to be treated as such. On the other hand, we can cast our lot with the world. I, then, care not for the people of God; I do not share their life; I care not to have anything to do with them. I am a child of the world and this is exactly what I want to be. And remember, it is either-or. Perhaps some may think that, although they may not desire to walk as children of God, they do not desire to be called the children of the devil either. However, it is either-or; we must choose between God and Mammon. We cannot love both, cannot hate both. It is either-or.
Moses rejected the treasures of Egypt.
What these treasures are we readily understand: the wealth of Egypt which would be his as one of Egypt’s princes, and also the glory and honour which would be his as of the royal family. Only, these treasures could be had only as the enjoyment of sin for a season. The “enjoyments of sin” are the enjoyments that come to us from sin. As such we interpret this expression. Riches and honour are not sinful in themselves. But they become sinful when used in the service of sin and against the Lord. Now this does not necessarily mean that Moses served sin in the lowest, filthiest sense of the word. Moses could also choose for sin, as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, in the sense that he chose Egypt’s idolatry. All this he rejected.
The same also applies to us. We can have the treasures of this present time. We can have access to the riches of this world. The devil is only too eager to give them to us. However, all this we can have as the enjoyment of sin for a season. We can certainly have them if we choose them as the enjoyment of sin. Remember, however, they are only for a season.
What did Moses choose?
He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God. We need not doubt the meaning of this. Affliction and the people of God are inseparably connected. They suffer because they are the people of God. Moses, choosing to be called an Israelite, would also share their persecution and revilement. And it must not escape our attention that for Moses it was either-or. There was no neutrality here. He could not possibly have the one without the other. As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he would stand over against the people of God; if he chose the latter, he would, of course, forfeit the former.
Besides, he also chose the reproach of Christ. This expression, “reproach of Christ,” is a wonderful expression. The reproach of Christ is the reproach upon Christ. Reproach is contempt and scorn and ridicule, it is hatred in one of its worst forms. In a certain sense, this reproach of Christ is Christ’s reproach because, after all, what we are we are because of Christ; that we are reproached is because Christ is in us. But this reproach of Christ is also His reproach because He is its Object. As the people of God are treated with contempt and scorn, Christ takes it to heart, views it as being heaped upon Him (which is surely true); and He will surely avenge Himself.
Thus it is throughout the ages. We, too, must choose to suffer affliction with the people of God. And this affliction is inseparably connected with us because we are the people of God. A servant is never greater than his master. As Christ said, “They hated Me, they will also hate you.” And we must account the reproach of Christ greater than all the riches of Egypt. Indeed, Christ’s reproach is reproach upon Christ. There is something wonderful about this. It not only seals the truth that we are Christ’s, that we belong to Him, but it is wonderful to serve Christ’s vindication of Himself, to suffer in order that we may be used for the purpose of His glory, that Christ may be glorified through us. And when presently He will reveal Himself in all His love and faithfulness, in that day when all shall be ma-de new, we shall share in His glory and Christ will be revealed as having saved His own, also and even then when our cause appeared to be utterly hopeless.
How was this possible for Moses?
Was Moses not apparently a fool? On the one hand, think of what he refused. And, on the other hand, notice what he chose. He chose affliction. Is there any hope in that? We read that he expected to be rewarded. But, upon what can he possibly base his expectation? Are not all things against him as he leaves Pharaoh’s house and casts his lot in with miserable Israel? Is it not folly for him to descend from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the status of a powerful prince to the degradation of a slave?
However, he had his eye fixed upon the recompence of the reward. This reward means literally, the payment of wages due. The word means that God rewards our works, rewards the good and punishes the evil. However, how is this possible? He did this, first of all, by faith. Faith, also here, is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for. Looking forward to this recompense, his faith was surely the evidence of things unseen, the substance of things hoped for. Secondly, how was it possible for Moses to exercise this faith? Faith is, to be sure, a gift of God. But, faith also takes hold of the mind. Moses was not a fool. His faith was not contrary to reason. We must bear in mind that he had been instructed by his parents in all the ways of the Lord and in all His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which pointed to the City that has foundations. We now understand what happened. Moses considered these things, compared the glories of Egypt with the promises of Israel, and he knew and believed that all the riches of Egypt could never be compared with the everlasting glories of Israel.
How truly this applies to us! Christ has come. God indeed rewards the good and He punishes the evil. However, Christ’s work is our reward; He merited it for us, the glory of life everlasting and heavenly immortality. And we believe. This faith is a gift of God, given unto me in sovereign grace and mercy. And, believing, we take hold of Jesus, see Him at the right hand of God, love God and look forward to His everlasting tabernacle. And, seeing our present affliction, we know that it is working for us an eternal and exceeding weight of glory. And well may we say to the world: you can have all your riches and treasures, which are only for a season; give me Jesus, now and forevermore. This is our calling. This choice is wonderful and it is sure.