Hebrews 11. Part 32. Pandemic.
God is with you! We live in a culture that is being deconstructed before our very eyes, our civic structures being challenged and reconfigured as we discover corruption and wrongdoing. Changes are being made for good, God is working, and yet resistance often comes from within our churches.
Simultaneously, a virus ravages our land without much resistance on our part. We’ve proven to be largely non-compliant with the simple measures required to stop this virus. As of this writing, we’re the nation with the most infections and deaths: 3,987,584 cases of the 15,284,136 total in the world, with 143,446 loved ones dead of the global 624,665 (Johns Hopkins).
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:1, 6 ESV)."Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). #Faith Click To Tweet
At this time, as always, we turn to the Lord and to his Word, keeping our eyes on the Lord of creation, the one who brought Israel out of captivity, the founder of our salvation. The Lord has carried and helped millions of believers who have gone before us. The blessing of his presence will sustain us, as it did Moses in the challenging circumstances of his time.The Lord has carried and helped millions of believers who have gone before us. The blessing of his presence will sustain us, as it did Moses in the challenging circumstances of his time. #Faith Click To Tweet
Moses became a man in a decadent rock-star culture. The ancient Egyptian culture was so debauched that God gave detailed instructions (Leviticus 18) to the Hebrews when they were finally freed from their four hundred years of slavery, so they would know what was right and what was wrong within human sexual relations. They were leaving one pagan land and would be entering another. They needed to know.
The beautiful baby grew to be an exceedingly handsome man. Moses was a member of the royal household, and he was probably pursued by the women of the court. In this decadent world, Moses, however, did not forsake his faith.
Contrary to the movie The Ten Commandments, Moses knew his heritage. He knew God had chosen Israel (Jacob) to father the family who would produce the Messiah. He knew the promises given by God. Decades later, he said this to Pharaoh, speaking the words God had given him: “Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22 ESV).
After Moses reached the age of forty (Acts 7:23), he went out to witness firsthand the enslavement of his people (Exodus 2:11). His first action was to kill an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, demonstrating that Moses knew his family’s history and his own lineage. Moses identified with the Hebrew slave, opposing the Egyptian’s actions. A member of Pharaoh’s household would normally have acted with no concern whatsoever.
Moses’ impetuous response was wrong — he looked about beforehand and then he buried the body to hide it, rightly fearing that someone had seen. However, Moses’ sense of justice and his defense of the downtrodden was not wrong, even if his first attempt wasn’t according to God’s will. At this time, he still acted like a privileged member of the royal family, taking matters into his own hands without seeking God’s guidance.
Two Hebrew slaves who witnessed this action, also knew that Moses was one of them, a Hebrew. “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” one asked, thrusting Moses aside when he intervened in their argument. “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14b; Acts 7:27,28).
Stephen tells us Moses “supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25 ESV). When he heard what the Hebrew slaves thought of him, Moses fled to Midian. (Acts 7:29) Violence was the only tool he had as a pseudo-Egyptian, and it hadn’t worked.
The murder of the Egyptian revealed to Pharaoh that Moses had chosen to side with his family of origin, and so, Pharaoh sought to kill Moses.
“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 ESV).
Moses perceived that the invisible God had a different plan to bring his people out of captivity, but didn’t know what it was or that it involved the revelation of God’s power, and so Moses left Egypt, “not being afraid.”
The phrase “being afraid” means “To put in fear, terrify, frighten. In the Class. Gr., to cause to run away” (Logos, WSNTDICT). The word “not,” in “not being afraid,” negates this.
Moses’ purpose for leaving was not fear. Moses deliberately chose to go, realizing that he had a mission — God had called him to bring out the people. However, the people weren’t ready to be brought out yet, and not in the way that he had sought when he killed the Egyptian. Moses fled his adoptive family, choosing not to ask his Egyptian adoptive mother to seek reconciliation with his Egyptian grandfather. Their relationships changed.
Moses Identifies with God’s People
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:24-25 NIV).
All of Moses’ actions and convictions were emboldened by his belief in the coming Redeemer, the Messiah promised through the lineage of Adam, Seth, Noah, Eber, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Judah.
Moses chose to bear the cultural disgrace of his decision to kill the Egyptian taskmaster, rather than to continue to identify as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son. Why do this? Why risk his life? Moses’ eyes were fixed earnestly and attentively on the reward, the recompense, of God’s pleasure in him, because of his faith and obedience to his calling.
“He considered the reproach of Christ [who was still to come at that time] greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt [which were right before his eyes], for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:26 ESV)."Moses considered the reproach of Christ [who was still to come at that time] greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt [which were right before his eyes], for he was looking to the reward"(Hebrews 11:26).#Faith Click To Tweet Moses' eyes were fixed earnestly and attentively on the reward, the recompense, of God’s pleasure in him, because of his #faith and obedience to his calling. Do we likewise seek to please God? Click To Tweet
How Moses’ decision impacted the recipients of the letter:
“To readers whose perseverance was in danger of faltering because of the stigma attached to the name of Christ, the example of Moses was calculated to be a challenge and encouragement. It would help them to fix their eyes on the reward held out to faith if they remembered how Moses weighed the issues of time in the balances of eternity: ‘his eyes were fixed’ upon the coming day of recompense’ (NEB). . . To our author’s mind Moses, as truly as the patriarchs, looked for his perfect recompense in the well-founded city of God” (F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans, pg. 312).
Like Abraham, Moses looked to a city with solid foundations whose builder and architect was God. One day it would come. He staked his life on it. With his eyes on God, he persevered, enduring his time in Midian. And then, at God’s bidding, after the Lord had strengthened and encouraged him, since by then Moses had lost all of his swagger, he returned with God’s help to bring God’s people out of bondage.
‘By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 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. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned” (Hebrews 11:27-29 NIV).
Though the journey was messy, and Moses made many mistakes, still he believed as firmly as those who witnessed Messiah Jesus in his post-resurrection body, touched the nail holes in his hands, and walked and talked with the Redeemer. Moses staked his life on his belief that God would keep his promise of a Redeemer, for he had always been faithful.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV).
Where are my eyes? Where are yours? Are we seeking only to please God, only to receive our reward from him?
Are our feet headed toward a better country — a heavenly one? Is the eternal and unchanging God our rock and our focus?
I pray we all will seek Him in every moment. I pray we will worship Him and not worship idols. Mistakes will happen. There is comfort in knowing God forgives.
Thank you for stopping by, Melissa. God’s forgiveness is indeed a great comfort.
This speaks to me. I love Moses’s story and how he felt the weight of the oppression of his people. I, too, feel the oppression—and I know God does, too.
Thank you for raising that point, Jessica. I am one who also feels deeply, and I’m often weeping over the injustices and heartaches of our current time and doing everything I can to help. Moses surely also had a big heart, for he was driven to action and endured the years and years of leading a grumbling group of people all around the desert. His compassion on his fellow Hebrews here was encouraging to dig into.
We must seek Him continuously so we are always connected to the source of true life. Thanks for the encouraging words of hope Melinda.
Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne. Moses’ life is certainly encouraging.
Good insights, Melinda. I’d not thought before that Moses didn’t run away in fear. I struggle with fear often these days. Then, I pray for God’s peace. Sweet sleep. Great message!
Like you, I also struggle with fear. Fear for my adult kids and their kids scattered all over the country. Fear for my own health. Fear of the unknown. Therefore, Hebrews 11 has been such an encouragement. I’m glad the story of Moses’ faith uplifted you, too. Thanks for commenting, Nancy.
Such a beautiful reality of how we should view the world. This is not our final destination, and God constantly reminds us of this. We have to keep our eyes focused on Him so we do not get sidetracked in looking toward what God has in store for each of us.
You’re so right, Brittany! This is not our final destination, therefore, a focus on the Lord and what he has in store for us is the most powerful, obedient, and trusting response. Moses’ model here impressed me as I dug down deep into the realities of it (while eradicating “The Ten Commandments” fallacies from my mind).
I love this study, Melinda. If we read about Moses in Egypt and Midian without the benefit of his story in Hebrews, we figure he was raised Egyptian with maybe a limited sense of who God is and why his people were special, perhaps from his mother as she cared for him in his early years. And we wonder whether and how much he understood about God when he stood before the burning bush. But his understanding was deeper and he did have a faith relationship with God. This is so key to his story. Thank you for enlightening us.
Thanks for the encouraging words, Stephen. Digging into Hebrews and connecting to it the Old Testament realities of Moses was really a blessing to me. Comparing Stephen’s history lesson before his martyrdom with the account in Exodus and then with the revelations we find in Hebrews was a rich and deep study that spanned months. I had to read, study, ponder, and walk away to let what I was gleaning sink down into my heart and mind. Seeking only to please God, to have my mind on the reward of faithfulness and trust in the Savior — that model set by Moses and then perfectly by Jesus is a challenge, especially during this hard time, and yet doing so brings great blessing.
Thank you, Melinda, for weaving the Old Testament and New Testament passages together so beautifully and powerfully! Each passage illuminates the other. I have always been so moved by Hebrews 11. Especially the end where we read that they did not see the promises fulfilled at their death, but they saw and welcomed them from afar. Oh Mighty God, give me this kind of pure faith, I pray. May we walk closely with our Lord during these perilous times, that others see our faith, are blessed and come to love Christ through us.
During this pandemic, Melissa, that focus on all the promises not yet being fulfilled by the time of their deaths, and yet these people seeing and welcoming the promises from afar — this reality of their faith has also been a great blessing to me. Christ has come, we have him, and yet we have feet planted here on earth. The pressing need to focus on the eternal pokes through the fabric of this pandemic tapestry.
I live in a state that has handled COVID19 disastrously. I’m in a high risk group. I feel like I’m preparing to leave early, simply because of the circumstances, so I’m particularly touched by the faith of these people who looked to the eternal, who knew they could leave their children in God’s hands, blessing them and trusting in God with confidence as they departed this earth. This is the type of heart I seek. Thank you for your encouraging words! You’re such a blessing to me!
I feel like 2020 is relevant to Exodus, wandering in the desert, questioning God, thirsty for water from the rock.
Candice, yes! I love that comparison. We’re wandering in the desert. We’re questioning God. And, Lord Jesus, how we long for the living water from the Rock that is You. Beautiful observation, dear friend!
Through these unsettling times I find a peace and calmness in my heart that I have never had before…I know He is in charge…I see prophecy being fulfilled…I know I am called to intercede for my bloodline…I know the Lord will put the right people in their lives to continue to minister to them…So many people come to know the Lord through His love…it didn’t happen to me in that way…I came to know the Lord out of fear…and now I have the wisdom and keep learning…(you knew what a rebel I was in HS)…I get SO much out of your teachings…oh and tell Mr. Tim I forgive him for picking on me all those times ?… Thank u for who u are little one….love u !
Terri, it’s so good to hear from you! I passed on your message to Mr. Tim :). The Lord is good to open our hearts when we were teen mothers, full of mistakes, full of sin, and yet with hearts prepared to receive the Savior. Our lives were shaped by the Lord Jesus. Many of the events of youth, we skipped right over, because we were busy being mommas. But these events were used by the Lord and allowed in our lives to bring us closer to him and to make us the women we are today. We pray, pray, pray for our offspring, for those of our bloodlines. Isn’t God good to us! God bless you and keep you, dear friend and sister in Christ!
Melinda, this year has seemed surreal. Right out of the gate, 2020 placed me in a valley I never would have chosen for myself. Then Covid hit in March and we all know the rest of the story. None us celebrating the new year imagined what hardships and testing our faith were waiting for us on the other side of January. Moses and his life mirror much of the faith and patience we must set before us.
So, I love how you expressed this: “Moses’ eyes were fixed earnestly and attentively on the reward, the recompense, of God’s pleasure in him, because of his faith and obedience to his calling.” May this be the example, including that of Christ, to fix our eyes on the spiritual reward and our obedience to our own calling.
This year has been one of the most challenging in our family’s history, so I can relate. One trial after another that we never expected Rocked our world, on top of the pandemic. These words of faith about believers like Moses who were also tested have been a great blessing! Moses’s eyes being fixed on obedience to the Father and on the reward he knew the Lord would bestow as recompense for his faithfulness is so encouraging! The Lord sees, and he rewards our faithfulness to him. This is a treasure when all feels like chaos. Like you, Karen, I’m so glad for this reality. God bless you, sister!
Loved this: “Though the journey was messy, and Moses made many mistakes, still he believed as firmly as those who witnessed Messiah Jesus in his post-resurrection body, touched the nail holes in his hands, and walked and talked with the Redeemer.”
What an encouragement to me in my own messy journey!
Ava, thank you for commenting. My journey is quite messy as well! This is why I love writing about all of the messy people (everyone) that the Lord holds us for us to look at and to recognize as being just as messy as we are and yet still people of faith. The Lord loves messy people. The faith of these messy people is an encouragement to us as we see the mistakes they made, and yet the faith they lived. It encourages me that I too can trust the Lord completely in every situation, just like they did. One day we’ll be with him, and we will be so glad that we entrusted ourselves to our Redeemer.