“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 of Egypt for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” Heb. 11:24-26
Choose to suffer?
What man would do such a thing.
I know, it’s one thing to suffer when we have no choice. There are many who suffer a great deal, some all their life. The hospitals are full of such people; many homes bear the groans of such suffering; the battle field is smeared with it. Such however, do not choose it! This suffering is laid upon them by a higher Hand than theirs. And many bear up admirably.
Our text speaks of suffering by choice!
That has especially preponderous significance when the fact remains that they could choose otherwise! Over against that way of suffering, prosperity, popularity, fame and pleasure lie before them. But, they reject these and choose suffering.
Such a strange man is a man of faith. A man whom God has fashioned and groomed by His grace to make such a choice.
Are you such? Do you choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? Do you who are ripe with age and seasoned with life’s experiences make this choice? Do you fathers and mothers make this choice in your homes and with your children? Do you young people who are filled with the zest of life make this choice?
No, it’s not easy. By faith it’s possible.
Moses was one who made such a choice.
God had revealed to Amram and Jochebed that Moses was a special child. We read in Scripture, “And they saw him that he was a goodly child.” Recognizing that God has a special purpose with their newborn son, they defied the order of Pharaoh and did not throw him into the Nile River as commanded. For three months they hid him and finally contrived the scheme to place him in the basket and float him on the Nile River near to the place where Pharaoh’s daughter would come to bathe. God overruled these plans and provided for Moses’ safety when He caused the babe to cry and aroused the compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter. As hopefully planned, Moses was taken back to be nursed by his own mother. These must have been two or three precious years in which Moses’ parents put forth every effort to instruct their son in the promises of the covenant. What God had said of Abraham was also true of them, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
After the early years of infancy, Moses was taken into Pharaoh’s court and became officially the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He was schooled in the best institution of learning. He entered into the court life of the ruling monarch of Egypt. He ate of the King’s dainties and was favored by the whole land of Egypt.
It was when Moses was about 40 years old that suddenly he made this choice of faith of which our text speaks. He must have faced a crisis. His education having come to its conclusion, for in Egypt this education was extended over a longer period of time, Pharaoh must have begun to make preparations to give Moses a position of honor. Perhaps he was arranging to give him a high position in the military, maybe in government. Moses interpreted this turn of events as a threat to his position in relation to the Hebrews. All through these years he had not forgotten the instruction of his parents; he knew he was to be numbered with Israel and perhaps he even knew he was to he instrumental in leading their exodus from Egypt. This aroused him to make the choice of faith.
He slew the Egyptian.
You say, that was a choice of faith? That was sin! He murdered.
Indeed that is true. Nevertheless, Moses acted out of faith, a faith that as yet had to be schooled another 40 years in the wilderness. It was wrong and the subsequent events make that clear, yet it was an act on his part whereby he severed all connections with Egypt in order to be counted with the Hebrews, God’s people. This he did by faith.
By this choice, Moses rejected Egypt. In his day, Egypt had established herself as a powerful nation. Militarily, the armies of Pharaoh had distinguished themselves by their trained horsemen and clever foot soldiers able to handle the sword. Egypt was one of the great centers of learning. In science and letters she stood second to none. She was rich: the treasures of grain and fruits abounded in the Nile valley. Yes, along with all the rest, and it usually is that way, Egypt also had all the pleasures of sin. In her luxury she bathed in depravity.
As such you understand Egypt represents the world of all times. Today it is no different. Look at America and Europe: you will find the same lust for power. Oh how we boast of our first-rate military preparedness, our fighters, our missiles, our bombs, and even our manpower. How the world dreams of one great united world power! How the same world boasts of its great educational systems, its science, its schools, its methods in learning; it’s all “progress.” We are rich, in fact the richest country in the world. And Egypt of this day offers everything to make it even better. Join Egypt’s unions and work 35 hours a week with twice as much pay. Look to the government of Egypt for security, social security, aid to dependent children, county welfare, Medicare and what have you. Yes, with all the security of peace, prosperity, we can also add pleasure. Want fun? Join Egypt! With them you can dance and “sing” with a beat. With Egypt you can let your troubles and cares behind, forget your guilty conscience, drown it in alcohol and have fun besides. You don’t even have to be seen by others enjoying the pleasures of Egypt, just pop the cork at home and flick the switch on the radio or T.V. or snuggle in a chair with a book and have as much fun without even the bother of going out.
By contrast we see the children of God. Our text identifies them as “suffering affliction.” The whip lashed the backs of the Hebrew slaves. Muffled cries of suppressed agony sounded as the oppressor’s heel punctured their flesh. The fading horizon beckoned not a brighter day but a darkened night.
These Hebrews were not just another nation of people. They were the people of God! Eternally God had chosen them and their names were written on the palms of His hands. He loved them with an everlasting love. To them He had given the promises of the coming Savior of men. He blessed them greatly; God realized His promise to them; He would make of them a great nation and their seed would be as the stars of the heaven.
Yet, they were afflicted.
So it always is. Look at God’s people today and do you see anything different? Be careful that you look at God’s people! Not all who are called Israel are truly Israel. All who stand with the faithful Hebrews of Moses’ day surely bear a like load. There are not many rich among the people of God. It’s usually hard for the people of God to find a job, and when they do their pay doesn’t compare with Egypt’s. While dwelling in the midst of this world, Egypt usually has something to say to God’s people. It’s not the kind of language that appeals to our flesh—mockery derision, and speaking evil. Somehow we don’t fit into their frame of mind, they don’t care to have us around.
To be sure, if we will only grant them the right to live as they please, we will at least be able to get along. If we only say that everyone is entitled to live as they see fit and we all must have the right of freedom of speech, even the freedom to curse God and mock His commandments, we will at least be given a place on their streets. If we however, speak out against sin, confront that salesman who curses God, with the testimony of the Holy God, speak to that man who violates the Sabbath day, condemn the evil practices of the world, expose the hypocrisy of the apostate church and you will soon feel the hot breath of wrath and condemnation. For Christ’s sake we suffer.
We must choose between the pleasures of Egypt and the afflictions of the people of God. On the one hand you have Egypt—all that appeals to the lust of the flesh and with it the just condemnation of the righteous God. On the other we find the people of God—the sufferings and trials of the pilgrim who will pass through this world on the way to the city of God. The choice is either God or man.
We can’t avoid this choice. We can’t say, “I’ll just not choose.” That’s impossible, for no matter what we do we make a choice and that choice is either Egypt or Israel. Neither can we say, “I’ll have both.” That may be appealing, but it is so wrong, for in thinking we can have both we will inevitably lose our connection with Israel, God’s people. If we imagine that we can he counted as God’s people and at the same time join Egypt with the supposed intention of witnessing to Egypt, our witness will come to naught. Imagine the folly of Moses thinking that he could choose Egypt and thus try to “convert” Egypt to follow the God of the Hebrews. That never works.
We must choose either—or. Moses chose the suffering Hebrews over against the throne of Egypt. We make that choice from infancy to the grave. We make the choice of faith when we reject “friends” who wallow in the mire of filth and pleasure. Instead of singing the songs of Egypt, we sing Jehovah’s praise. Instead of the pleasure of the cinema, we find the pleasure of God’s Divine Revelation. In determining our place of work, if a prospective job will not allow us to worship on the Sabbath day, if we would be required to forsake the church and move to some distant place, if we have to join the union, we say by faith, “No.” We will work for less money, have more difficulty, but our God comes first! Rather than marry a young man or woman with whom we cannot be joined in faith; we choose by faith to remain single until God opens the way. We rather belong to a small church which preaches the truth and for this remains small and does not appear on the ecclesiastical census, than to be big and spiritually empty. By faith we choose to be honest and make a living honorably before God rather than cheat and steal our neighbor’s property. In our worship, our speech, our whole life, we choose to be counted with those who live in the favor of God rather than those who live in the pleasure of Egypt.
It doesn’t make sense! Choose to receive smaller wages, choose to remain unmarried, choose to spend our money on the things of the Kingdom of Heaven as manifest in the church and forego the pleasures of life? It is the choice of faith! This faith values the friendship of God above all else and will bring into subjection all of life in the service of the God whom we love.
Such faith considers the reproach of Christ greater riches than the pleasures of Egypt. You see, our system of values is different from Egypt. At the top of the list appears the name of our God, under that our Lord Jesus Christ, and under that our fellow saints in this world. These three form the grand triumvirate of the Covenant. If, for the sake of God in Christ and the brethren we must suffer, we count it all joy. In that suffering we have the seal of our divine calling. Jesus reminded us, “They have hated me, they will hate you also.” There is something wrong if Egypt is our friend and not our foe. Suffering at the hand of Egypt is our assurance that we are in the right camp.
Finally, we with Moses have respect unto the recompense unto the reward. There is life after death. For Egypt that existence is terrible, it makes us shudder, it is called in God’s Book, hell! For the children of God who suffered at the hand of Egypt, it is called heaven. What a contrast!
May we through that faith which joins us to Christ from Whom flows all the necessary wisdom and grace, make this proper choice.
This choice is not of man, it is of faith!
That faith is the gift of God.