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THE FAITH OF MOSES

Hebrews 11:23-11:28
Key Verse: 11:25-26

Thank God for the faith of Abraham, who obeyed God even when he did not know where he was going, and who lived by faith as a stranger in this world, like others who lived having the words of God’s promise in their hearts and looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God, the country of his own, the heavenly country. That hope was also the hope of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Today we will think about the faith of Moses along with the faith of Moses’ parents. Moses was regarded as the founder of Judaism. He received the law from God and gave it to the people of God to keep. When the Jewish Christians were tempted to go back to Judaism, presumably Moses was in their minds. According to the author of Hebrews he was faithful in all God’s house (3:2,5), and his faithfulness was even compared to that of Christ. It is somewhat surprising that Moses was also one of those patriarchs who lived by faith in this world. In particular, the writer of Hebrews discloses that Moses bore disgrace for the sake of Christ, knowing its value. Moses’ faith is well shown in his choice and value system. Also, the faith of Moses’ parents is striking.

First, the faith of Moses’ parents (23). In verse 23, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” At that time the political and social situation was that every male child had to be thrown in Nile River according to the king’s edit. All the parents except Moses’ parents had thrown their newborn sons into the Nile in deep sorrow out of their fear of the king. However, Moses’ parents hid him three months after he was born. This was an extraordinary act of Moses’ parents. How could they do that? Yes, in short it was by faith. Yet, a clear reason is further written: “because they saw he was no ordinary child.” What does this mean?

To any parents their sons and daughters are no ordinary children. Their children are special to their eyes. However, at such a time of terror, what parents could see their newborn sons as no ordinary children? All the parents besides Moses’ saw them as objects of great sorrow and tragedy, crying over them, questioning, “O my child, why were you born at this time in this generation?” or, “Why were you born as a baby boy, not a girl?” To them, there was no way to see their children as no ordinary. They had no eyes to see the beauty of their children, not because of no love but because of the circumstanced they lived in. But Moses’ parent had eyes to see the beauty and extraordinariness of their child, because they were not afraid of the king’s edict, in other words, because they feared God. In the fear of God they believed that this child was born not by accident or mistake but by God’s deep providence with a clear purpose of God even in that generation. That was the faith of Moses’ parents.

It is true that one’s faith is directly related to one’s view, how to see one’s children and each situation in life, especially at a difficult time. As you know, when Moses sent twelves spies to explore the land of Canaan, the report of ten of the spies was different from that of Joshua and Caleb–even though they saw the same people, the same thing. To ten of the spies, the residents in Canaan were men of great size and they themselves, like grasshoppers. But to Joshua and Caleb, the Canaanites were bread to be deliciously eaten, and they themselves, the great people whom the LORD is with. The view of ten explorers was without faith, and the view of the other, with faith. When their views were different, their reports were different, the one negative and so bad, the other positive and so good. The bad report made all the people of the community of God cry the whole night and they became the object of God’s severe punishment. The former view and report were negative because their hearts were dark, with no God in them. But the letter view and report were positive, because their hearts were bright with God in their hearts. Jesus said in Luke 11:34-35, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Once Jesus and his disciples saw a man born blind. At this sight the disciples were very sorrowful and fatalistic. Their hearts were dark and their thinking and view, negative. But Jesus was different. He said, “…this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (Jn 9:3). To Jesus’ view, the man was born blind not fatalistically but wonderfully to display God’s work in his life. To Jesus the man’s blind condition was an opportunity to display the marvelous work of God. Another time, at the news of the serious sickness of his beloved one, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (Jn 11:4). Then when the man died in Jesus’ intentional delay, his sisters were full of sorrow and bitterness under the power of death. At this Jesus had a holy anger toward the power of darkness of death, Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Soon after Jesus raised the dead and revealed God’s glory, planting faith in the hearts of the sisters and people there. Again, I thank God for granting us this centre anew. In the process and effort for a new centre, we were not anxious but believed that God would lead us in his best way. Although we had different opinions, we all wanted to please God in this matter, ready to deny one’s opinion for the sake of God and the whole community, and prayed to the end. Then God gave us this place anew. As for me this place is like wonder land. May we really serve him better in this centre and see wonders of God by faith. I will believe that he will do a new thing as we put our full faith in him, since he showed this unexpected precious sign.

Again, let’s remember that in such a terrible time Moses’ parent saw he was no ordinary child. This is the way we should see our children regardless of their own conditions and circumstances and pray for them and raise them accordingly. This is also the way to see and serve each of God’s given flock of sheep whom God has sent. This is also the way to see each situation and event happening before us.

Second, the faith of Moses (24-28). In verse 24, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” When Moses had grown up, this was the very time for him to make himself known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter to the Egyptian Empire. What an opportunity to a great success with fame and wealth and love in the world! But amazingly he refused his worldly fascinating identity which most people of the world would envy. He refused all the good things the world could offer, human affection, honour, position, riches and pleasures. We know that it is not easy to attain such things, but also it is not easy at all to refuse them. However, without knowing how to refuse the good things of the world God’s people cannot become the persons God wants them to be and serve God. To be men and women of God we should know what to refuse and how to refuse and when to refuse.

Then in verse 25, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Moses’ refusal and his choice are connected. His refusal was because of his choice. His choice was between mistreatment along with the people of God and temporary pleasures of sin. More fundamentally it was between God and the world. When he had to identify himself as a Hebrew, it meant to be mistreated along with the slave people, whom he believed were the people of God. Living in the palace, he had seen how Hebrew slaves were treated. They were whipped and moved and had to work hard for their daily bread. They groaned day and night. They were slaves one generation after another. Humanly speaking, to be mistreated along with them was unthinkable. Without identifying himself as a Hebrew he could have been well treated and enjoyed palace life in ease and luxury and honour and glory. Yet, Moses chose God and God’s people, although it meant mistreatment and suffering. Because of this choice, he has been known as Moses, a servant of the LORD. Otherwise, he would have been known as Moses, just Prince of Egypt, and remained one of mummies.

Then in verse 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.” Being mistreated along with the people God would not be something graceful at all. It was disgrace and shame in the eyes of people of the world. Yet it was disgrace for the sake of Christ. This is the writer of Hebrews’ insight to see the life of Moses. Moses’ life was connected to Christ. God must have revealed Christ to him at a certain point in his life. And Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt. As we thought of, the treasures of Egypt would be people’s praise and prize in human honour and glory, that is, the earthly reward. 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. The heavenly reward, Christ’ reward is Christ himself along with his kingdom and his praise and honour. Here we see that behind Moses’ making such a choice was his value system. He knew what is truly valuable, what is temporal and what is eternal.

We remember Jesus’ words concerning what is really important in life. He said to his followers, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mk 8:36). We also remember Apostle Paul, who said, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8). And then he said, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

When God made man, he gave man freedom of choice. Certainly, one’s choice reveals what kind person he or she is. Also, we can say that life consists of continuation of choices. According to how one makes a choice at each time, the person’s life path is set. As you know Abraham’s life path and Lot’s life path were divided when they made different choices. Lot chose a beautiful land in Egypt, which was like the Garden of Eden, according to his smart calculation while Abraham chose the promise land according the word of God’s promise to him. Through this choice, Lot’s life path was set to the way of downfall. One Sunday evening in 1855, two drunk young men were stumbling toward a gambling house. But ironically there was a small church on their way. And at the entrance of the church the title of the evening sermon was written, “The wages of sin is death.” One young man began to have guilty feelings and said to the other, “Let’s go to the church tonight, not the gambling house.” But the other young man did not want to change their plan. He said, “We have already decided to have much fun with gambling tonight,” and went into the casino. However, that night the first young man went to the church and heard the sermon. He repented of his life of sin and turned to God. After the conversion he changed his lifestyle and studied very hard, growing in faith in God. But the other man kept on his life of drinking and gambling. 30 years later, the converted young man became a president of America, the 22nd and 24th president. The other man came to know this news through the newspaper in the prison. He beat his chest and regretted his past wrong decision. This is the story of the president Stephen Grover Cleveland (1837-1908).

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (1962 - ) was an English Professor at Syracuse University in New York State, specializing in women’s studies. She had a lesbian partner with whom she owned two homes. These homes were open for students who freely came and went, spending hours discussing relevant issues and plans for social activism. While researching a paper to critique the religious right, she published an article which was read by a local pastor. The pastor sent her a kind, but thought-provoking letter. This led to a personal relationship with him and his wife, who embraced her with love and understanding and shared the truth of God with her. After a couple of years, Rosaria felt a deep conviction of sin. She accepted Jesus as her personal Savior. She is sure that Jesus is living, that he is who the Bible says he is, and that he loves her. After much struggle, and with trembling, she publicly confessed her faith in Christ. She did so through a lecture that people expected to be feminist and anti-Christian. She describes the result on her life as a train wreck. She lost everything: her professor position, her social status, and her friends. People who had been very dear to her felt betrayed by her. Her whole life was turned upside down. But she gained Christ. She now loves to hear God’s word proclaimed truthfully in the Spirit. She has married a pastor and they have opened their home for Bible studies with many young people. Her hope is in the glorious inheritance that Jesus gives. She valued Christ more than anything. We pray that many young people may find Christ and value him most.

In Acts when the apostles, after preaching the name of Jesus, were arrested and flogged by Sanhedrin and kicked out, they rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 4:40-41). In the course of serving God’s flock of sheep and doing the work of God, we can also receive disgrace and reproach and dishonour. In this world, as we stand in the name of Jesus, we can be ridiculed and disgraced. We see that in light of Moses and the apostles and other precious people of Christ it is a privilege, for we can also participate in the sufferings of Christ in such a way. Apostle Peter said, “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Pe 4:13).

Verses 27-28 tell us what Moses did after he made his decision: he led Israel during the Exodus and kept the Passover. After 40 years of his life in the wilderness, God sent Moses to confront Pharaoh and deliver his people from Egyptian bondage. This was a really hard task to do. Humanly speaking, Pharaoh was the mightiest man on earth and Moses was a fugitive criminal. Moses seemed to be no match for Pharaoh; it was like throwing an egg at a rock and expecting the rock to break. However, when Moses obeyed God, God displayed his power going through nine plagues imposed on Egypt. Whenever Pharaoh got angry, he wanted to kill Moses. But by faith Moses persevered; it was because he saw him who is invisible—the King of kings. The Exodus cannot be separated from the Passover. Verse 28 says, “By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” Exodus was possible when the blood of the Passover lambs was shed. It was not easy for Moses to keep the Passover. How could the blood of a lamb on a doorframe save them from the Destroyer? But by faith Moses kept the Passover and the Israelites were saved. The Passover lamb foreshadows the coming of Jesus as the Lamb of God. By his blood, Jesus delivers us from the power of sin and Satan.

Thank God for teaching us the faith of Moses’ parents and that of Moses. May truly have the eyes of faith to see and make a choice with a right and eternal value system.

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