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The Faith of Moses

Read Hebrews 11:24-26

What Moses Refuses (verse 24)

Moses is an outstanding example of a believer who by faith overcomes all that this present world can offer in the way of attraction and glory. His parents overcame fear of the world's dangers and uncertainties, while their son overcame its allurements and temptations. This is an important lesson for us, because we may overcome the fear of the world and yet fall to its attractions.

It is well to recall what Scripture presents as to Moses' remarkable character, as well as the high position he occupied in the world. In his address before the Jewish council, Stephen gives us a brief but remarkable summary of the character and position of Moses (Acts 7:20-22). There we are told that he was "exceeding fair," and also that he "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds." Here then was a man whose appearance was attractive, and whose mind was well stored with all the learning of the leading country of the world in that day. He could apply his wisdom with weighty words, and he could follow up his words with mighty deeds. By adoption, he was the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and thus in the direct line to the throne of the pharaohs. Moses, then, was fitted in every way to fill with distinction the highest position the world had to offer.

Under circumstances so favorable to advancement in this world, how does Moses act? First we read, "When he was come to years"—when the moment was favorable for him to take advantage of his great abilities and position—he turned his back on all this world's glory, and "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter."

What Moses Chooses (verse 25)

Secondly, we learn that what he chooses is as striking as what he refuses. In his day there were a large number of people who formed the lowest class in Egypt. They were unwanted foreigners, treated with the utmost rigor as slaves. Their lives were made bitter because of their hard bondage as they labored at brick making and worked in the fields under the scorching sun (Exodus 1:13,14). But, in spite of their low estate and hard bondage, these slaves were the people of God. With these people Moses chose to throw in his lot, preferring to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

In the presence of this remarkable "refusing" and "choosing" we may well ask what the spring of his actions was. In one word we are told the answer: it was faith. In faith he refused the world; in faith he chose affliction with the people of God. Moreover, faith allowed him to act in the face of providence, in spite of the dictates of natural feelings, and in a way that appeared to contradict common sense.

Could it not have been argued that it would be wrong for Moses to ignore the remarkable providence by which God had placed him in the very highest position before the king? Also, it might have been said that gratitude to Pharaoh's daughter demanded that he remain in the palace. Reason and common sense would suggest that his great abilities and his high position could be used to promote the interest of his poor brethren.

Faith, however, looks to God, knowing that while providence, right natural feelings, and common sense may have their place, they cannot be a true guide or rule of conduct in the path of faith.

What Moses Esteems (verse 26)

There must be some hidden power—some secret motive—that enables faith to take a path so contrary to nature. In verse 26, the "esteeming" of Moses uncovers for us the secret of his refusing and choosing.

Faith is not a step in the dark. Far otherwise, for faith forms a deliberate estimate of values, faith has a long outlook, and faith has an object. The faith of Moses formed a true estimate of things seen and unseen. He looked these things in the face and he weighed them up. On the one hand there was his great position in the world; on the other hand there was taking his place with the people of God. Having weighed them up he deliberately refused the world with its pleasures and treasures, and chose to suffer with the people of God.

What gave him the strength to make this choice? It was his faith: "He had respect unto the recompense of the reward," and in verse 27: "He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." In the light of the coming world, he formed a true estimate of the present world. He saw that connected with the reproach of Christ there were greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt.

—Adapted from The Epistle to the Hebrews by Hamilton Smith