By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen (Hebrews 11:27).
Four hundred years had passed since the Hebrew people had moved to Egypt to seek relief from famine and reunite with Joseph. At the time, they were welcomed by the Pharaoh and honored as the family of Joseph, who had been appointed to the most powerful position in Egypt (Genesis 41:33). But four hundred years later Joseph was dead and the new Pharaoh did not remember Joseph at all. In fact, the new Pharaoh had come to fear that the rapidly growing Hebrew population would soon outnumber the Egyptians. He had relegated the Hebrews to heavy labor and in their misery they called out to God for relief. God heard their cries and raised up Moses to lead the Hebrew people to freedom. But it would not be an easy task for Moses. His faith and endurance were tested over and over again, but Moses obeyed God and took his stand before Pharaoh. He did not allow himself to be overcome by the power of Pharaoh or circumstances surrounding him, but rather looked to God and trusted Him to keep His promises (see Genesis 46:1-4).
Have you ever taken a stand for something you knew was right and then met opposition on every side? If you have, then you have had a taste of how Moses must have felt when he followed God's command to confront Pharaoh and demand he let the Hebrew people go. Repeatedly, in spite of God sending nine plagues upon Egypt, Pharaoh continued to harden his heart; he mocked God and refused Moses’ requests to let the people leave. Not only that, Pharaoh retaliated by placing an increasingly heavy burden upon the Hebrew people - so they turned against Moses too (Exodus 5).
A few months ago, I wrote a letter to my state senators urging them to support a certain upcoming bill. I knew that Biblically I was right in my position, and I felt compelled in my heart to write. A few weeks later I received a form letter from one of the senators. I received no response at all from the other senator, and it was obvious from the form letter that my letter had never been read. When I shared this with a couple of friends, I discovered that their views radically conflicted with mine. To me, this did not make a difference in our friendship, but it did to them. I no longer hear from them. It made me understand in a small way how Moses must have felt, and that encouraged me to continue to stand up for my moral, godly convictions even when it is unpopular and uncomfortable.
When Moses faced opposition, he didn't buckle under pressure from power or people. By faith, he kept right on doing what God had called him to do. He kept right on pressing on for what he knew was God's will. He endured. He never gave up, even when it was hard and lonely. Moses obeyed God rather than give in to Pharaoh and the pressure of his own people. Ten times Moses went before Pharaoh to demand that he let the people go, and finally after the tenth time and God's tenth plague upon Egypt, hard-hearted, angry Pharaoh relented and let the people go. Because Moses had faith in God and never gave up, the Hebrew people marched out of Egypt as a free people, no longer slaves but as the seedling nation of Israel. Of course, Pharaoh had a change of heart soon after, and that led to another crisis for Moses, but Moses pressed on.
The lesson for us as Christians is that we need to take the faith of Moses to heart. His boldness, courage, and endurance should be an encouragement and inspiration to us. God's Word calls us to stand for what is good and true and right, and we need to obey His Word by faith - all the time. Like Moses, we need to endure, even in the face of adversity, and never give up. And when Christian leaders stand up for the Word of God, we need to support them. We need to read and study and meditate on God's Word until it becomes a part of us, until it becomes a compulsion within us to obey and stand up for Biblical principles in an increasingly secular world. Will you embrace God's Word with me? Will you read and study the Bible daily so it can sink into your heart and mind and become a part of you? Christians should stand together as God's people for what is good and right and true. Moses did and God was with him. God never let him down. He is with us too, when we are with Him. Like Moses, we need to endure, keeping our eyes, not on the circumstances but on Him who is unseen.
Faith looks to the reward
From the time Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt and delivered them safely to the borders of the Promised Land, he was one of the most honored and respected patriarchs among the people of Israel. After Jesus Christ and David, he is the most mentioned person in the Bible. For the Jews who lived during New Testament times, Moses’ words and commands were solemnly esteemed and observed. Moses is mentioned seventy-nine times in the New Testament, more than any other Old Testament person, and Jesus referred to Moses and the Law of Moses numerous times in His teachings. So it is no wonder the writer of Hebrews, in encouraging the faith of early Jewish believers in Christ, held Moses up as an inspirational example. We have seen in Hebrews 11:24-25 that by choosing ill treatment with the people of God over the passing pleasures of sin, Moses’ faith was evident. The writer goes on to tell us in 11:26 that Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Stop and think about this statement for a moment. To Moses, the reproach of Christ was greater riches than the treasures of Egypt! What an astounding testimony to Moses’ faith! Of all the treasures he could have had as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses turned his back on them all and chose the reproach of Christ, something most people would not consider a treasure at all. But Moses was familiar with God’s promises and he believed them. He believed and clung to God’s promise that He would make Israel a great nation, that He would bless them as a nation, and that through them all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-4; 17:4-6; 18:18; 26:4; 28:14; 46:3; Deuteronomy 26:5-9).
So when the writer of Hebrews says that Moses chose the reproach of Christ, it means that Moses identified himself with the promises of God, with the people of God, and the purpose of God through Jesus Christ. Of course, Moses and his generation lived long before Christ, but throughout their history the people of Israel were the people of Christ, for they looked forward to the promise of the Messiah who was to come. Every law they followed and every sacrifice they made was a reminder of that promise, and Moses was one who longed for and lived for the fulfillment. He demonstrated that by the choices he made, and by faith he became a part of God’s plan in leading His people out of Egypt to the Promised Land where that promise would be fulfilled.
Identification with the people of God was not a positive thing in the eyes of the world. The Hebrew people were disdained by the Gentile nations, including the Egyptians, particularly because of the covenant of circumcision they had made with God. That is why we see in Joshua 5:9, after the Israelites entered the Promised Land and the children of the wilderness wanderings were finally circumcised, the Lord told Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
Moses was not a shortsighted man. He was not one who looked for instant gratification or for approval from the world he lived in. He looked past the reproach. He looked past the indignity of slavery in Egypt to freedom, to the inheritance of the Promised Land, and ultimately to the heavenly reward. His faith was not in things he could see and touch and taste (Hebrews 11:1). His faith went beyond the promise of the inheritance in the land. Moses looked to the exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1; Numbers 18:20; Psalm 58:11). For other encouraging Bible passages concerning the reward, see Matthew 25:21; Romans 6:3; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:23-24; James 1:12.
By faith, Moses understood that the reproach was temporary and that an eternal reward lay ahead. In a small way, Moses shared in the sufferings of Jesus Christ who left the privileges of glory, came to earth as a human baby, indentified with the suffering of His people, and bore the reproach of rejection and death on the cross. The New Testament admonishes us to look past the reproach of the world also. Jesus called all who would be His disciples to “take up your cross daily and follow me “(Luke 9:23). The apostle Peter tells us we were called for a purpose: Jesus is our example and we are to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
So what is your greatest treasure? Who are you following? What reward are you seeking? Who is your example? These are some of the questions Moses, Peter, and Jesus might call us to consider today.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.