************ Sermon on Hebrews 11:24-26 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 2, 2017
"Moses' Faith (1)"
Who was Moses? What can we say about him? Better yet, what does the Bible say about him? He was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. Why? Because the Lord spoke to him face to face (cf Deut 34:10-12; Num 12:6-8).
He was a great writer. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.
He was the great lawgiver. All of God's laws came through Moses: the Ten Commandments, the ceremonial law, the sacrifices, the instructions for the priests and tabernacle.
He was a man of great intellect who was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22).
He was powerful in speech and action (Acts 7:22).
He was the great deliverer. He was God's chosen instrument to deliver two million people from the hand of Pharaoh and out of the land of Egypt.
He was the great intercessor. He prayed for the people. Over and over again he prayed for the people. Even when God wanted to destroy them and start all over again, there was Moses praying for the people.
He was a humble man. We are told that Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (Num 12:3).
In spite of all of these great things what sticks out as far as Hebrews is concerned is that Moses was a man of faith.
I Faith's Refusal
A We ended last time with the faith of Moses' parents. By faith they hid him for three months after he was born. They were not afraid of the king's edict that all the Hebrew baby boys were to be killed. But then came the time they could no longer hide him. According to Josephus, they determined to entrust the safety and care of their child to God, rather than to depend on their concealment of him. So they coated a papyrus basket with tar and pitch, placed Moses in it, and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Miriam stood at a distance to see what would happen.
By the providence of God, Pharaoh's daughter saw the basket, felt sorry for the baby, and made arrangements for his care and safety. Last time I said some of our English translations suggest that Moses was a beautiful child (cf Ex 2:2; Heb 11:23). In line with this, some have suggested Pharaoh's daughter saved Moses because she was struck by his great beauty; we don't know if this actually was the case. Then, by the providence of God, Moses' own mother was appointed and even paid to look after the baby. Aren't the works of God amazing and wonderful?
B What do you think happened during the years Moses was in the care of his own mother and father? He was trained in the faith of his father and mother. He was trained in godliness. He learned about YHWH, the one true God. He learned about the covenant and the covenant sign of circumcision and that Israel was God's covenant people. He learned about his own special calling to deliver Israel from Egypt. During the most important years of his life, during his formative years, Moses was in an atmosphere of faith.
"When the child grew older, his mother took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son" (Ex 2:10). Pharaoh's daughter adopted him as her own. Just like that, Moses became a prince of Egypt -- with all sorts of status, honor, and grandeur. Josephus suggests this happened when Moses reached the age of maturity -- around 13 or 14 years of age. Under the providence of God, Moses was raised in the Egyptian court, received an Egyptian education, and knew the finest luxuries life had to offer. It is believed by some that Moses was even being groomed to be the next ruler of Egypt.
C "Who am I?" Do you think Moses ever asked this question? "Am I a Hebrew of the Hebrews, one of the sand on the seashore people promised to Abraham, a child of the covenant, the future deliverer of Israel? Or, am I a prince and future leader of Egypt?" Can you imagine the conflicting emotions and thoughts that went through Moses' mind? The clash of cultures? The clash of religions? The clash of roles?
"Who am I?" This question was answered when Moses was forty years old; at that time he showed his true colors (Acts 7:23). He visited his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.
"Who am I?" Our text interprets Moses' actions for us. It tells us that Moses, when he had grown up, "refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Heb 11:24). "Who am I?" "I am not a prince of Egypt. I am not Pharaoh's grandson. I am not the future leader of Egypt." "Who am I?" "I am a Hebrew. I am of Israel. I am their future deliverer and savior." Just like that, Moses declared his allegiance to Israel.
"Who am I?" Moses knew who he was. Trouble was, no one else did. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not (Acts 7:25). So Moses was forced to flee for his life. And for the next 40 years he was in the wilderness of Midian.
"Who am I?" Moses "refused" to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Heb 11:24). That word "refused" shows up elsewhere in the Bible. Do you remember Peter's vehement denial of knowing the Lord? Same word. Remember how the crowds disowned Jesus before Pilate (Acts 3:13-14)? Same word again. I want you to pick up the intensity of emotion and action in this word. It is not something soft and pliable. It is something hard and steadfast on the part of Moses. Moses "refused" to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Heb 11:24).
"By faith." "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Heb 11:24). By faith. Acting on the basis of faith. This was an act of faith on the part of Moses. A faith impressed upon him by godly parents in his early years. A faith that never died out in the idolatry and luxury and fleshpots of Egypt.
"Who am I?" Think of this question in terms of the original audience of Hebrews. Some of them were torn between being a Jew and being a Christian. On account of persecution and hostility and hatred on the part of Roman and Jewish authorities, they were thinking of leaving the Christian faith and going back to the Jewish faith. Do you hear what Hebrews is saying to them? Just like Moses refused to be known as the son of Egypt so you are to refuse to be known as a child of Rome.
"Who am I?" Don't we also face this same question? Are we first of all a Christian? Or are we first of all part of modern American culture? What defines us? What says who we are? "Who am I?"
II Faith's Choosing
A We have heard what faith refused, what faith rejected. Now, let us turn to what faith chose instead.
(Heb 11:25) He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
Now, it is really easy to jump to the wrong conclusion here. It is really easy to conclude that Moses lived an immoral lifestyle among the Egyptians; that his was a life of self-indulgence and godlessness and sensuality. That is not what Hebrews is saying.
Nor is Hebrews telling us that a royal life in Egypt necessarily implies a life of sin. Hebrews is not telling us that great wealth, riches, power, and influence is a sign of a compromised faith. If that were the case, how was Joseph able to serve as the second most powerful man in Egypt and remain as a hero of faith?
B When he was forty, Moses saw there were two different pathways through life. One path, the Egyptian path, involved being known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, involved the pleasures of sin, and involved the treasures of Egypt. Moses realized something: that if he stayed in Egypt, he would probably follow this path of sin and worldly treasure. He knew that for the good of his soul he needed to follow the other path. This other path, the Hebrew path, involved refusal of his adoption as an Egyptian, involved mistreatment, and involved disgrace.
What did Moses choose, then? He chose not to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Instead, he chose to be mistreated. He chose disgrace. What mistreatment? What disgrace? His fellow Israelites refused to acknowledge him as their rescuer. Instead, they mocked him, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?" (Acts 7:28). He fled for his life. He lived in exile in Midian for 40 years. He who was being groomed to look after Egypt instead looked after sheep.
At stake here, the issue here, is the call and plan of God in Moses' life.
We also have the calling of God. And, like Moses, Paul, the apostles, and the Hebrew Christians we can expect mistreatment, disgrace, and persecution. It may not be imprisonment and death, but consider how the public media mocks us. Think of how recent candidates for the presidency look down upon us. Think of how liberal Christians laugh at us as being the frozen chosen. Think of how the world wants to silence our voice on the cultural and moral issues of the day. But by faith we -- like Moses -- choose to be mistreated rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin. And, by faith, we regard disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than all the treasures of the world.
III Faith's Reason
A So why did Moses do what he did by faith? What compelled him to choose danger and mistreatment? What was the driving force? Life certainly would have been easier if he kept silent and went along to get along. The wealth and opulence of the palace certainly was more comfortable than the tents of Midian. So why did he set aside his royal position, wealth, power, dignity, honor, and earthly security?
Here is the first reason: he identified himself with the people of God. He chose to be mistreated "along with the people of God." Not mistreated like. Not mistreated similar to. But mistreated "along with the people of God."
By faith, Moses chose to be identified with the people of God. By faith, Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God.
Don't forget that faith is a response to God's Word, God's revelation. Moses knew from revelation that Israel is God's covenant people, the chosen people, the people of the promise, the people belonging to God. Moses identified himself with these people. "I, too, am one of the chosen people, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the people belonging to God" (1 Pet 2:9). That's what Moses was saying.
By faith, Moses chose to identify himself with the people of God. He wanted to be with the people of God even though it meant he was mistreated and disgraced.
Now think about this. For 40 years Moses hung around with people who were cultured, well-bred, sophisticated, educated; people of power; people of means. The Israelites were anything but: uneducated, unsophisticated, unpolished, blue-collar types with callouses on their hands.
Maybe, you are thinking to yourself, the Israelites were better company. Remember who we are talking about? Remember what we find out about them in Exodus through Deuteronomy? They were whiners, complainers, stubborn, complainers, rebellious, complainers, idolaters, complainers. You get the picture?! But they were God's people. So Moses loved them and wanted to be with them. And identified with them. And was mistreated along with them.
Remember back in Hebrews 10 how some of the Hebrew Christians neglected to meet together with the other believers (Heb 10:25)? Moses puts them to shame. Being with God's people was so important to Moses that he was willing to be mistreated along with them.
Let me ask you: how important are the people of God to you? How important do you consider the assembling together of God's people? What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to minister to and among the people of God? Are God's people high on your list of priorities?
B And now a second reason of why Moses, by faith, chose danger and mistreatment. Look at verse 26:
(Heb 11:26) He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.Notice the word because. Because. "Because he was looking ahead to his reward." What reward? The reward of life in the new heaven and new earth. The reward of life with Jesus. The reward of a resurrection body and life everlasting. The reward of life without death or mourning or crying or pain. The reward of perfectly living for and serving God.
The treasures of Egypt -- the wealth, honor, comfort, foods, pleasures, power, honor, glory, servants -- all of this is compared to the future reward. Yet, is there really any comparison?
(2 Cor 4:17-18) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.Face it, says Paul, the treasures of this earth are temporary. When you die, you can't take them with you. But notice, the troubles -- the mistreatment and disgrace -- are also temporary; Paul says they are "light and momentary."
The temporary treasures of Egypt on the one hand. The eternal reward on the other hand. There is no comparison. God's people don't live for treasure on earth but for treasure in heaven. That's what Moses lived for. That's what he pursued.
We've been looking at Moses. His kind of faith is worthy of imitation. His kind of faith allows you to endure the most demanding sacrifices as a follower of Jesus Christ. His kind of faith keeps you from falling away from Jesus Christ when doing so becomes attractive.
I can't leave you with the faith of Moses. Like the author of Hebrews I have to make you look beyond Moses to the one greater than Moses -- even Jesus Christ.
When we look beyond Moses to Jesus we see that the faith of Moses and the sacrifice of Moses is nothing when compared to Jesus. For what did Jesus do? He turned His back on the eternal glories of heaven that were always His. He consciously laid aside His royal robes and became a servant. He chose mistreatment, disgrace, and the reproach of the cross. And why was He able to do this? Listen to how Hebrews puts this:
(Heb 12:2) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Who for the joy set before Him. Who for the reward that awaited Him. What reward? Being seated at the right hand of God. Saving His people, including you and me. Bringing all glory to God.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, my brothers and sisters. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. So we too can endure shame and mistreatment. So we too can look forward to our reward.
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