The last time that we met together in The Strength Of Youth we discussed the fact that every young person when he is become of age must make a choice. The emphasis was placed upon the fact that the child of God, a rational, moral creature, created in the image of God, must choose, and that, too, at the stage of spiritual development called “the years of discretion.” This whole discussion was viewed from the viewpoint of God’s Holy Word as recorded in Hebrews 11:24-26 which we repeat here: “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.”
At this time we will look at what we must choose andwhy. Again, we will consider this from the viewpoint of the choice that Moses made as a young man, a child of the covenant, as he was surrounded by the pleasures of sin in Egypt. As we look at the passage quoted above we see that the object of Moses’ choice is described from a threefold point of view.
The first thing that Moses considered was his very identity. Was he to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter or as the son of Amram and Jochabed? He was born a covenant child, and thus belonged to the people of God. But as a small child he was taken out of the humble home of covenant parents and placed in the richness of the palace of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Now he was “come to years” and had to choose what he was to be called. As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter he had every right to manifest himself as such, as a prince of the land. His instruction in the palace had prepared him for such a life which the people of the land would readily acknowledge. On the other hand, he did not have to choose this name; he could instead have refused it in order to be declared the son of Amram and Jochabed, thus manifesting himself ‘as an Israelite rather than an Egyptian.
What was Moses to choose? Once this question is answered by Moses he will have no trouble with other questions that arise before him. If he chose to be an Israelite, then he also chose to share in their ill treatment, reproach, and oppression. If he decided to be an Egyptian, then he would have the treasures of Egypt and the pleasures of sin.
This same question, young people, you now face as you “come to years.” As you come into contact with the world you must decide whether or not you want to be called a child of the world. There will be no difficulty on the part of the world in receiving you; in fact, they are glad to see you deny your connection with the church and your connection with the covenant. Denying your people and your God you will enjoy the pleasures of sin and the treasures of the world. On the other hand, you can cast your lot with the people of God. Then you also accept and expect to bear the reproach of Christ.
Moses chose the latter. This choice was fundamental to the other two aspects of his choice. These two aspects really are explanations of the same thing, for it all depended upon which name Moses would choose for himself.
If he had chosen to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter he would certainly have chosen and enjoyed the pleasures of sin, the second aspect of his choice. Sin gives birth to and yields pleasure. This does not mean that we have to do with all kinds of gross and vile sins. But rather, whenever we choose against the kingdom of our God, against Christ, and against His people, and for the world and Satan, we sin. For a season we have pleasure in sin and pleasure in them that sin. It may simply be for a little money, maybe the honor of a higher position, or for any other selfish reason. Whatever it is, we deny God, thus enjoying for a while our money, our honor, and escape the ill treatment of God’s people. In these circumstances it is the pleasures of sin that we enjoy.
This can also be said about Moses’ choice. There is no reason to believe that if he would not have chosen for the cause of God’s, people, then he would have led a life of vile sin and dissipation. Certainly, he would have become a prince of a very great nation, enjoying all the honor and might and prestige of having the people bow before him. Moses, in enjoying these pleasures, would have sinned. Riches and honor and might are not in themselves sinful, but they are sinful when they are accompanied by a denial of the covenant God.
On the other hand, the alternative choice for Moses was ill treatment and reproach with the people of God. You have long been familiar with the deplorable conditions under which Israel lived and labored while in Egypt because you have been taught this in the home, in the school, and in catechism. They were slaves, poor and despised, hated with a bitter hatred, oppressed to a terrible degree. To choose for them meant to choose for their condition and to share in their shame and reproach. Thus the two alternatives: prince or slave, honor or revilement, freedom or oppression. All this was implied already in the choice of his name, that of the son of Pharaoh’s daughter or that of the son of Amram and Jochabed.
The third aspect of Moses’ choice was the choice between the treasures of Egypt and the reproach of Christ. These treasures of Egypt are really nothing more than another name for the pleasures of sin. They look at the same thing from two points of view: one from the viewpoint of enjoyment and the other from the viewpoint of its riches. Moses could have had access to all the treasures of Egypt, material and spiritual, if he had wanted to. But if he did not want to, the only alternative was the reproach of Christ. This is not only a beautiful idea, but comforting as well. The ill treatment of the people of God and the reproach of Christ are presented as being identical. In other words, Christ and His people are one. And because they are one, He being the head of the body, His sufferings are theirs, so that through His sufferings He atones for their sins. But their sufferings are also His, so that when they are ill treated, He also suffers reproach. Moses, placed before this choice, was really confronting the choice between the false glory of the world and the reproach of Christ.
There you have it, young people, one or the other, for the two are mutually exclusive. Moses could not be called by both names just as we cannot serve both God and Mammon. Moses made the right choice; he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s .daughter and chose instead the reproach of Christ.
Why? What motivated him to choose the way that he did? From a natural point of view anyone with any sense in his head would call Moses a fool. Moses could have had the world bowing at his feet, a life of ease and splendor, all the treasures of Egypt. Instead he decided to be called an Israelite, hated, oppressed, despised, ill treated, and reproached. The natural man looks over the circumstances and, shaking his head, judges that Moses is not quite all there. Simply put, Moses is a fool.
One then may try to excuse Moses by saying that his decision was of the moment, hastily made, without giving thought to the dire consequences. But Moses did no such thing, for the word translated “esteeming” indicates that he gave the matter much thought and consideration before deciding. He compared both sides, weighed them in the balances, and consciously and deliberately chose to cast his lot with the people of God. And again we ask the question, “Why?” And the answer is given in the words of our text: by faith.
Faith is the evidence of things unseen, and the substance of things hoped for. As such, faith is a power that also influences the mind and the reason, so that in the light of faith we see things which the natural mind cannot perceive. Therefore faith naturally influences a person’s choice. It changes his judgment of things. He puts together an altogether different valuation on things that are placed before him, a valuation which one that does not possess the faith cannot possibly understand. Therefore it causes him to draw a different conclusion than the conclusion of the world. He makes a different choice.
Thus it was for Moses. As he looked at the two sides and considered their worth he could see something that the Egyptians could not see; he could see the recompense of the reward. He was a covenant child in whose heart God had implanted this faith which came to consciousness as he grew up. And as it came to consciousness he embraced the promises of the covenant that had been given to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was the people of God, the people that would inherit these blessed promises. Now they were slaves, but were to become a great people. Yes, Jehovah was their God.
What Moses saw in these blessings of the covenant, given to the people of God, was a recompense of reward so great and so glorious that all the treasures and pleasures of Egypt could not weigh up against it. The choice no longer was difficult. By faith he made a good choice, the right choice.
All of this is for our instruction, especially you, young people, as you arrive at the years of discretion. You must make this same choice. It is between Satan and Christ; the world and the kingdom of heaven, the pleasures of sin and our covenant God. That choice you must make once. That choice you must make repeatedly, yea, all your life here on earth.
According to the flesh the advantages are with the side of Satan and the world while the disadvantages are on the side of Christ. On the one hand, pleasures and greatness of the world; on the other, reproach and ill treatment. Today, you, as well as was Moses in his day, are called to self-denial and cross-bearing after your Savior. But also today the recompense of the reward is there, which can be seen only by faith, as an evidence of things unseen. The world passes away and the lust thereof; but he that does the will of the Father shall abide forever. Everlasting life and glory is the recompense of the reward.
Therefore, choose, consciously and deliberately! Choosing by faith the result is clear and glorious.