Our next stop as we look at the great heroes who exhibited great faith in God is Moses. There are a number of statements of faith concerning Moses that we will examine in Hebrews 11:23-28.
By Faith Moses Was Hidden… (11:23)
The statement made by the writer seems to be confusing to us and even to many commentators. On the surface it sounds like Moses’ parents decided to hide Moses because he was physically beautiful. The implication seems to be that if Moses was not beautiful, his parents would have obeyed Pharaoh’s command and he would have been tossed into the Nile River. Exodus 2:2 seems to make a similar point. The Acts account points out in what way Moses was beautiful.
At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. (Acts 7:20; ESV)
The beauty was not simply that Moses was good looking. We ought to realize that the scriptures would not mean something so superficial. Rather, Moses was beautiful but to God. Moses’ parents understood that Moses was beautiful to God and they needed to do everything they could to keep him alive and not be subjected to death. Moses’ parents decided to do the right thing against the edict of Pharaoh.
But the text reads “By faith Moses,” not “By faith Moses’ parents.” Some versions have changed to the text to read “Moses’ parents,” but that is not what the text says. Why not? I think there is a greater point being made that is lost by changing the text. Moses learned about faith from the very beginning of his life. What a way to learn about obeying God and not obeying rulers! We will see that this is the transition into the other statements of faith about Moses. Moses learned from his parents what true faith looked like. The parents were not afraid of Pharaoh’s command and went against it because this child was beautiful to God. God was going to use Moses.
Lesson #1 – Parents, while we cannot pass on our faith, we certainly teach our children about faith. They learn from us what is the most important thing in life. Our worship and service to God sets the tone for our children about how they will look at God. While my faith has grown and changed over the years of my life, my faith is certainly colored and affected by the faith of my parents. Children learn about faith from us. They will see if we are merely church goers or if we have a faith filled life. Our decisions show our children what is important in life. Amram and Jochabed showed Moses that God was the most important.
Lesson #2 – We also see the words of the apostles performed: “We must obey God rather than men.” Moses’ parents went against the command of Pharaoh knowing that God’s way must be obeyed above all else.
By Faith Moses Refused… (11:23-25)
The second point of faith for Moses was his rejection of the pleasures of Egypt, choosing to suffering mistreatment with the people of God. We can easily pass over this section thinking that Moses simply rejected the life of sin for the life of righteousness. But notice the parallel made between “the fleeting pleasures of sin” in verse 25 and “the treasures of Egypt” in verse 26. The phrase “pleasures of sin” is not referring merely to lusts and gross iniquities. The phrase describes a way of life that we today would call successful. The writer is referring to position, prestige, power, and wealth. Moses turned away great amounts of success, growing up in the house of Pharaoh. Moses rejected huge amounts of riches. He could have remained in the lap of luxury and had the easy life being called the “son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Moses had position and prestige in Egypt. Moses refused all of that because he was going to be God’s servant. Moses could have rejected God’s call and simply decided to be an Egyptian, turning his back in the Hebrews and turning his back on God. By faith Moses gave all of that up.
Faith means that we do not make decisions based upon the things of this world. Living by faith means that we will look at the pleasures of this world- the wealth, success, prestige, and power- and give it up so that we can be disciples. Faithful living is not making life decisions based upon a need for money, a need for work, or what have you. Faith is trusting God to take care of that because I am making decisions to serve God. This is what Moses did and God took care of him. I don’t know that we would make the same sacrifice. I think, when presented with the choice that Moses was presented with, we would argue that we need to make money and that there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. I think we would argue that we could serve the Lord while remaining in Egypt. What we do is try to justify why we can continue our own selfish pursuits under the guise of serving the Lord.
Moses looked for spiritual riches rather than physical riches. Moses looked for the permanent blessings of God rather than the temporary wealth of this world. More accurately, it was a choice between being on God’s side and aligning with the people of God or being on the side of comfort and wealth.
By Faith Moses Left Egypt… (11:27)
The writer of Hebrews points out the bravery of Moses to take a stand against Pharaoh. Moses did this on a number of occasions. He did this early in life by helping the Hebrews and striking down an Egyptian for his ill treatment. Moses took a stand by leaving Egypt. Moses took a stand against Pharoah, telling him that he must let the Hebrews go. The writer of Hebrews relates these tribulations of Moses because of what we read about in our first lesson at the end of Hebrews 10. These Jewish Christians were suffering affliction, persecution, arrest, and loss of property. How did Moses handle his difficulties? How could Moses side with God and stand against the Egyptian rulers? Verse 27 tells us- he endured by seeing him who is invisible.
The writer of Hebrews ties back into the overall theme of this section of writing. The heroes all kept their eyes on the invisible God. Recall Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is seeing the unseen. In terms of Moses, faith was bolstered in seeing the unseen God. Back to verse 13, the heroes did not receive the promises, but saw them from afar and greeted them. They saw the unseen. God was with them and God was keeping his word to them. This is the faith that all Christians who have died for the cause of Christ have had. They all saw the blessings of God as more valuable.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18; ESV)
By Faith Moses Kept the Passover… (11:28)
Finally, Moses’ faith led him to obedience. Obedience has been a common feature of faith from all of the heroes we have studied. We have seen that these heroes were asked to obey commands that were difficult or challenging. Abraham had to leave his home and go to a land that would be shown to him. He had to offer his son on the altar. Moses had to obey the command of the Passover, believing that placing blood on the doorposts would spare the firstborn of the Israelites from death. There was nothing else Moses and the Hebrews could do to avoid the destroyer. They could not pray. They could not fast. They could not do anything except exactly what God commanded. Faith is not about having desire. Faith is not about saying that we have a love for God. Faith is not saying a prayer. Faith is doing what God commands. Why has the religious world watered down biblical faith? Belief is not faith. Faith is seeing the unseen God which causes us to renounce the pleasures of this world and to serve God.
Lessons To Take Home:
- Parents can help pass on their faith through life decisions.
- Obey God, not man
- Reject the pleasures of earth. We do this by suffering with Christ and by looking forward to the reward.
- Leave behind the comfort, ease, and convenience which is our God.
- Faith is to obey God, believing obedience will spare us from destruction.