May 12, 2016
We all know what faith is, but it’s a hard thing to define. The writer of Hebrews says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. That’s the best description you’ll find anywhere. After making that statement, the author lists people who accomplished great things because they believed God. Christian’s have faith in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. We look back and know His shed blood bought our salvation. If we look farther back into the Old Testament we can see that the people who made the most difference in history all looked forward to the cross. One of the most remarkable people in the list of faithful in Hebrews is Moses.
Moses was born to Jewish parents during the time that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. When Jacob and his family had first entered into Egypt life was good. They went there to escape famine and over the years they prospered. Time passed and Pharaoh began to fear that the children of Israel would come against Egypt so he enslaved them. “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour” Exodus 1:12-13. Pharaoh wasn’t pleased and he told the Hebrew midwives to kill all newborn Hebrew baby boys. The midwives feared God more than Pharaoh and refused to kill the babies. Pharaoh was relentless and required the Egyptians to kill the Jewish boys. When Moses was born his parents chose to stand in faith against Pharaoh and honor God. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.” Hebrews 11:23. Whenever the government makes laws that contradict God’s laws, always honor God.
Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and he was raised as an Egyptian. That meant he was taught Egyptian ways. He was raised as an Egyptian but he didn’t become one of them. He cared about the plight of the children of Israel as they suffered under Pharaoh. “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 recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:24-27. Being raised in Pharaoh’s court, Moses was accustomed to riches and fine living, but notice that the writer of Hebrews says he esteemed “…the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt“. Moses lived many centuries before Christ was born in Bethlehem, but he held Christ in higher honor than the riches of Egypt. Moses looked forward to the cross and chose to honor God Almighty over sin and above the wealth to be had in Egypt. How many professing Christians today honor God above the pagan practices all around us? It isn’t easy to tell Christians from non-believers because Christians use foul language, embrace pagan lifestyles, and generally live little different than non-Christians and dishonor God. Not Moses. Moses esteemed Christ.
Moses wasn’t perfect. He had to flee from Egypt because he murdered an Egyptian who was beating a Jewish man. He went to Midian where he spent 40 years. Eventually Pharaoh died and the children of Israel finally cried out to God because of their bondage. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” Exodus 2:24. God hadn’t forgotten His covenant, but the Hebrews finally turned to Him and He was faithful to answer. God is always ready to help in times of trouble, but He won’t force His way into a situation. It took hundreds of years for the Jewish people to turn to Him for help, and He was ready. God was preparing Moses for the task of freeing the Hebrew slaves.
Many times in life it may seem as if God is far from us. In truth, He’s always with Christians and always knows what we’re doing. Moses had fled Egypt because he murdered a man, but during the next 40 years God knew where to find him. He was in exile in Midian when God spoke to him from a burning bush. Actually, there was fire but the bush didn’t burn. “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2. The term “angel of the LORD” is used when Jesus makes an appearance in the Old Testament. Moses was 80 years old and had lived 40 years as a prince in Egypt then 40 years as a humble shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock. It was time for him to choose to serve God. Moses had many excuses as to why he couldn’t do what God asked. All God wanted him to do was to go back to Egypt, face Pharaoh, then lead the Israelites out of captivity and into the Promised Land. Simple wasn’t it? “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10. With God all things are possible, but Moses wasn’t sure he was ready for such a task. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus3:11. We’re like Moses. God chooses us for a task, but we argue. We dig in our heels and find every excuse possible to not accomplish even the smallest task. Love your neighbor, share the Gospel, turn from the pagan lifestyle of the world, and so on. These are things that God asks of Christians, but like Moses we have a choice. Moses’ excuses were “They won’t listen to me” and “I’m slow of speech and slow of tongue”. With a final plea he wanted God to send somebody else. Isn’t that just like us? There just has to be somebody else who can witness to the grouch down the street.
Many plagues were sent upon Egypt. At any time Pharaoh could have set Israel free, but that wasn’t to be. It took the death of the firstborn of Egypt to finally get Pharaoh to agree to set the children of Israel free from their captivity. Moses was faithful to God during these trials. “Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.” Hebrews 11:28. In faith the children of Israel put the lamb’s blood on their door posts and death passed over them. Today it’s only the blood of the Lamb of God that protects us from eternal death. When we accept the blood sacrifice of Jesus we are given eternal life. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10. Our body will die but our soul will live eternally with Him.
The faith Moses had didn’t stop when they left Egypt. Pharaoh had second thoughts and sent his army after them. Things looked bad because the Hebrews seemed trapped. Moses trusted God, held out his rod, and the Red Sea parted. “By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.” Hebrews 11:29. It’s interesting to note that God parted the sea, but He also dried the land. The Israelites didn’t slosh through mud, but passed through on dry land. God pays attention to details when He does miracles!
Even Moses stumbled in his walk with God. When they came to the Promised Land he sent twelve spies to see what they would face. What they found was unnerving to human thinking, but not a problem for God. “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:33. The Hebrew word nĕphiyl is translated “giants”, but this is also the word used in Genesis 6 to describe the offspring of the fallen angels and human women. No wonder the ten spies were afraid. Joshua and Caleb trusted God and said “Let’s fight”. Instead of trusting God, Moses listened to the wrong people. Thus they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Eventually they did enter the land, but because of disobedience, Moses was not allowed to enter. All the people 20 years old and over who did not trust God to fight for the Promised Land would die in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb, along with those who were under 20 years old at the time of their disobedience, would enter. This land still belongs to the Jewish people and today they are fighting for their rights to the land. It won’t be easy but they will win it back and they will rebuild the Temple. In order to win the land back they will need to turn to God in faith. Prophecy says it will happen, and by faith we know that God’s word is true.
Moses is an example of a man of faith, but he did have struggles. Because his parents had faith in God they hid him from death. He was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, but when he was an adult he chose to identify with God’s people. He “…endured as seeing him who is invisible“. In other words, he kept his eyes upon the one true God. Once he accepted the task set before him, he faced his weaknesses and obeyed God. In doing so he established the Passover, led God’s people out of captivity, and was given the Law. All of this took faith in God. His obedience was tested, and he did have some failures. He let his anger with the Israelites cause him to misrepresent God. They were thirsty and God told Moses to speak to the rock. Once before God had directed him to strike the rock to get water, but this time God directed him to just speak to the rock. Moses’ anger caused him to strike the rock again. This disobedience caused him to lose the earthly reward of entering the Promised Land, but that didn’t bar him from entering Paradise upon death. We know this because when Jesus had taken three disciples onto a mountain they witnessed a marvelous sight. Jesus was transfigured. “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” Matthew 17:2-3. What an amazing event! Moses was there. He had lost blessings on earth, but he was there with Jesus and Elias (Elijah). Disobedience to God always causes trouble and unhappiness in this life. For the Christian, though, disobedience won’t bar us from entering Heaven when we die. Faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ brings salvation.
Moses is a great example of faith. Even though he was raised in a pagan culture he chose to follow God. By faith we need to esteem Christ above all things and turn from the pagan culture surrounding us. Great things can be accomplished when a person walks by faith. Too often Christians let fear or doubt get in the way of obeying God. We must turn our eyes to Jesus and not look back.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.