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THE FAITH OF MOSES

Hebrews 11:23-11:28
Key Verse: 11:24,25

One of the most dramatic events in the bible is the exodus. According to Hebrews 11:22, Joseph spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt that would happen 400 years later. He spoke it by faith in God’s promise to Abraham. However, this prophecy did not happen smoothly. During the 400 years, Israelites became a slave to Egypt. Exodus looked seemingly impossible because of the strong oppression of Pharaoh. However, God’s promise was indeed fulfilled. Today’s passage highlights the faith of people who were preciously used in such a great historical event.

Part I. The faith of Moses’ parents.

Before learning about Moses’ life, Moses’ parents were mentioned first for their faith. Let’s think about their faith. Look at 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.” The situation of Israelites when Moses was born is well described in Exodus 1. In BC 1876, 70 people of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt by the invitation of Joseph, who was a prime minister of Egypt and a great influential leader. During the next 400 years, the number of Israelite grew to 2 million. A new king, presumably Thutmose III who did not know Joseph feared for the growing number of Israelites in the land. The king devised a plan to decrease the number; so, he persecuted and enslaved them to build two cities. However, despite the hard labor, their number grew more. Each family easily could make one basket ball team or even soccer team. Then, he made more cruel order and commanded midwives to kill all baby boys when they were born. However, the midwives feared God more than the king so that the plan did not work either. Then, he issued an edict to throw every new born Hebrew boy into the Nile. Under this command, all Israelite boys were destined to die right after birth. What a tragedy! Birth of baby must be joyful but many parents and family members wailed much for the tragedy.

That was the time when Moses’ parents (Amram and Jochebed) had him. However, they overcame such fatalistic situation with faith. They saw that the bay was no ordinary child. Other translation says that the boy was beautiful and good. What does it mean? It is quite common that all babies look special and extra ordinary to their parents. So, why does this parents’ view sound special? Did Moses have special birth mark? One day, Grace came to me and said “I am beautiful because I have a birth mark here” She was told that her birth mark in that position is considered as a beauty mark in some countries. So, did Moses have such mark? Probably not. If Moses’ parents said their view when Moses could show some special talents, their view could make more sense. But, what this new born baby did was just smiling, crying, sleeping, and pooing like other ordinary babies.

Nevertheless, the Bible emphasized their view in these three books: Exodus, Acts, and Hebrews. Why? It was because they saw the baby with eyes of faith, which means that their view was not ordinary. From the ordinary worldly viewpoint, Moses was a just son of slaves who would be one of victim under the king’s edict. However, the parents saw him differently in the hope of God who created him in his purpose and will. They believed that he was sent to reveal God’s glory. Such view is well connected with God’s view on each individual. After man’s creation, God exclaimed “it is very good”. However, in this fallen world, such view is not an ordinary one.

Moses’ parents kept this faith when evil power was so ruling and God looked silent. In addition, their faith was also rooted in God’s promise given to Abraham. Gen 15:13 says “your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.” In their heart, God’s promise was alive. They were eagerly waiting for God’s salvation.

So, they made a decision of faith to raise him as God’s instrument in his time. They hid him not being afraid of the king’s edict. By faith, they overcame the fear. At that time, due to the king’s dreadful edict, fear penetrated people’s heart. So Israelites were outwardly slave to the king and also inwardly slave to fear of death. Sometimes, such fear (fear to people and something) binds us not to live as God’s child. But Moses’ parents overcame the fear through faith in God who is greater than the king. They hid him for three months and took care of him during the critical time.

Exodus 2 described how God blessed their faith. After three months, the parents could not hide him anymore. They put him in a basket and placed it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. At that time, Pharaoh’s daughter found and adopted him. More amazingly, she told his mother to nurse him until he grew older. In this way, his life was preserved and he could grow under his parents’ godly teaching.

Through their faith, we see how important it is to have eyes of faith. When we have eyes of faith, we can overcome any fatalistic situation. In 1982, a baby was born without four limbs because of tetra-amelia syndrome. But his parents believed that he can do something in his life. Due to his disability, he was bullied at school and decided to kill himself when he was just 10. But he could overcome his fatalistic thinking and body conditions when he had faith in God. He spoke about his belief that God can use any willing heart to do his work and that God is big enough to overcome any disability. His name is Nick Vujicic. His life has now inspired many people around the world. In the Bible, when Jesus saw a fatalistic man with born-blind, he said to his disciples that this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Likewise, we are created in God’s plan and purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” With faith, Moses’ parents took care of him and made good environment for him to grow as a man of God. God blessed their faith and the seed of faith was planted in Moses. Finally God’s promise was fulfilled through Exodus. We could learn that helping a little one with eyes of faith is the way of serving God’s work. I pray that I may learn of such faith and dedicate to taking care of helpless souls with faith.

Part II. The faith of Moses

Look at verse 24 “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Moses had grown up – this means that Moses’ value system has been formed. He became 40 years old. He had a fascinating title, a prince of Egypt. He was a promising future leader. He was admired by many young people. Many Miss Egyptians followed up with his social network to become a future queen.

However, one day he made a decision that he would not live as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Wow! This could be the most shocking headline news to the people around him. Usually, people have a strong desire to be known as somebody; somebody in school, work, and any community they belong to. It feels good if we are famous and respected by others. Moses was already in such a position. So, many have wondered why Moses made such decision. That was because of his true identity and godly value systems. One’s identity is the answer to a fundamental question; “Who am I?”. When we think about Moses’ background, we can see that he received all kinds of advanced educations from his palace tutors; philosophy, science, engineering, literature, and arts. He was excellent in speech and action. He also lived in secular environment in which various gods were worshiped; the god of the sun, the god of the moon, the god of the earth, the god of the desert, the god of the river, the god of crocodile, the god of hippos, etc. However, his great knowledge and many different gods could not help him to know his true identity. His position, wealth, and privilege could not give him true satisfaction. However, through the promise of God’s word, he believed the true God who created him. He knew how he was miraculously saved. He could think why God preserved his life.

Then, he deeply thought about where he should belong to and how to love God with all his heart and strength. By faith, he refused to be called as a prince and chose to live as God’s child. This is not easy decision at all since we live in the society in which wealth and fame is considered the measurement of success and happiness. But his rejection shows his strong desire to keep his identity as God’s child in the environment that all kinds of ungodly and sinful life were prevalent. Around this time every year, people usually make new year resolutions. For instance, to pursue a better health condition, they decide to stop unhealthy dietary. Similarly, it is obvious that to live as God’s children, we also need to refuse something in our lives in order to have a healthy faith.

With his refusal, Moses also positively sought godly life. Look at verse 25-26. “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 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.” His choice shows his value system very well. People do not want to live a hard life and rather prefer life with less suffering and troubles. However, Moses chose suffering with God’s people instead of easy and cozy life in the palace. He chose disgrace for Christ rather than treasures of Egypt. Why he valued the suffering so much more than sweet happiness in the palace?

It was because he knew that what he enjoyed is temporal and meaningless. Moses sang in Psalm 90:10 “The length of our days is seventy years--or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” But, life for Christ, God’s promised one is meaningful indeed. Moses believed God’s promise that God saves his people from the oppression of the king in the land and also from the oppression of his enemy in this fallen world through Christ. Moses wanted to serve Christ as his king and live a life for him. Moses believed that in the end, Christ will give him his reward far better than any reward in this temporal world. Moses already experienced all the good things in the world. What could be his best reward to expect? That is God himself. God said to Abraham “I am your great reward” Apostle Paul also sought this reward “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” (Philippians 3:8) When Moses fixed his heart on Christ and God’s work, he could willingly sacrifice his privilege and participate in his redemptive work. He believed that his suffering is so much valuable than any treasures in the world.

Look at verse 27 “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” This verse is related to the event in Exodus 2. After such decision of faith, Moses went out to see his people. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. At this, he attacked and killed the Egyptian with his palace martial art and hid him in the sand. However, this was known to others. He was also rejected by Israelites. Pharaoh was also angry and tried to kill him. Moses could not belong to any of them. He fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian. This event looked unexpected to Moses who somehow tried to help his people. But when he was rejected by them, he did not go back to Pharaoh. He left Egypt by faith and lived in Midian for 40 years as a shepherd. Prince of Egypt became a nameless shepherd. He was somebody but now became nobody. He who had many servants became a person who should serve many others. Previously, he enjoyed various lamb dishes. But now he had to take care of them. He read “feeding sheep for dummies” and learned how to prepare food, make shelter, and protect them, etc. This was God’s guidance for him to become a humble servant.

Moses had a great zeal for the work of God. But God couldn’t use him as he was. God put a great hope for Israelites to be a kingdom of priest and holy nation. But, they had deep slavery mentality. They were so weak to live according to God’s will. They easily complained and lived with flesh desire. With prince mentality, Moses would not bear their weakness. He was ready to command rather than to understand and serve them. So through the Midian life, God moulded Moses into meek shepherd and an obedient servant so that he can take care of helpless sheep like people. Moses also learned perseverance through this time. Rather to use his strong one punch with hot temper, he prayed and helped his people with a great patience. Later, God commented about Moses in Numbers 12:3 “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

But, his Midian life was not easy at all when his heart and strong self-ego was broken many times in a lowly position. But he persevered the time because he saw him who is invisible. This means that he acknowledged God at the time of trial. With eyes of faith, he considered the time as God’s discipline. Like him, God’s people had a time of humble discipline. Job said when he was in a painful trial, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). More than Job and Moses, Jesus, the son of God, also suffered much to save helpless sinners. So Hebrews 12:3 “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.” Moses fixed his eyes on God during his trials. His spiritual sight was getting better and brighter, so he learned of God more and better.

When God’s time came, he sent Moses back to Egypt to deliver his people from the hand of Pharaoh. Look at verse 28. “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.”

This is the last plague given to Egypt. Before this event, God sent nine plagues to Pharaoh and his people. However, he was so stubborn and unyielding and refused to let Israelites go. Finally, God prepared this final plague and called Moses to prepare Israel with Passover instruction. In Exodus 12, God instructed about the Passover. ‘Each man is to take a lamb (year old males without defect) for his family. They should slaughter the lamb and take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses. God said "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn--both men and animals--and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” God said “… it is the LORD'S Passover.”

Unlike other plagues, the Israelites needed to keep this LORD’s Passover to escape from the final judgement. So, this shows that the Passover was the day of presenting God’s deep grace and judgment at the same time. His grace is shown to those who follow his instruction while his righteous judgment is revealed to those who reject. This shows that God’s salvation can be effective only through faith in him. Verse 28 says again “By faith Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” As a result of this judgment, Israelites, more than two million people could come out of Egypt. With God’s grace and their faith, they experienced a brand new historical event, unprecedented work of God. In this way, God freed Israelites from the hand of the cruel king. This Moses’ faith also showed the way of our salvation in Christ. The sprinkling of the blood is the shadow of work of our Lamb of God, Jesus who shed his blood for us. Thus, with faith in his blood, we can also receive God’s grace. This Jesus saves us from our sins. Our strong sins are like Pharaoh. We were slaves to sin and died in sin. But faith in Jesus set us free from the power of our sins and death. So, we can truly live a new life in Jesus.

In conclusion, God redeemed his people as he promised. Moses and his parents participated in his work by faith. Moses refused sinful life and chose life for Christ. Their faith was greatly blessed. I pray that we may continue to grow in such faith and serve God’s work with faith.

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