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?