Hebrews 11:23 - The Faith of Moses' Parents Part Two
Let’s read Hebrews 11:23-28, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Let us also read Exodus 2:1-10, “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
As we begin I would like to remind us of two thingsabout Moses. First, the Jews considered Moses to be one of the greatest leaders ever in Israel. For good reason,Moses had delivered God’s people from Egypt and He had been given the Law of God on Mount Sinai.
Even though both Moses and the Law both were faithfully pointing to the promised Messiah the people were failing to receive this promise by faith. Instead they placed their trust in Moses and in the Law. They were trying to earn their own righteousness before a holy God.
Jesus addressed the folly of doing this in John 5 when He says to the Jews, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For, if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for He wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (45-46)
Our Thursday morning Community Group is going through the book of Exodus. Every week we see that God isconsistently setting Moses apart as the leader of God’s people. This week in Exodus 24 we saw that theLORD gives Moses His Law to give to the people(24:2-3. 12-18).
We also saw that when Moses read the Law the people they responded, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” (7)
Future generations would respond similarlyand they also would not be able to keep this promise. Therewas always a remnant, however, who would hear Moses and the Law and say, “All that the LORD has spoke we will receive and believe and continue to look forward to the coming of the Messiah.”
The second thing we should remember this morning is that the Book of Hebrews was written to believers of Jesus Christ. However, they were surrounded by Jews that did not believe in Jesus;rather, they trusted in Moses and the Law.
Jesus said to the Jews who believed these things, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in His own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (5:39-43)
The book of Hebrews was written to people who had believed upon Christ,and because of this they were rejected by their Jewish society and they were being persecuted. As a result of this…
They stopped paying close attention to the Gospel (2:1).
They needed to be encouraged to hold fast to their confidence, their boasting and their hope (3:6).
They were exhorted to not have an unbelieving heart that would lead them away from God (3:12).
They were to exhort one another every day to not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and to hold on to their confidence firm to the end (3:13-14).
They were exhorted to ‘strive to enter into that rest’. (4:11)
They were to continue to receive the Word of God and remember that we will all one day stand before God (4:12-13).
They had become dull of hearing, unable to teach and instruct others, they were unskilled in the word of righteousness and they were spiritually immature (5:11-14).
They needed to recall the former days when they endured hard struggles with suffering. They suffered reproach and affliction, partnered with those who were so treated, they had compassion on those in prison, and joyfully accepted the plundering of their property (10:32-35).
The author of Hebrews reminds them that they did these things with joy because they ‘knew that they had a better possession and an abiding one.’ (10:34)
Right before we came to Hebrews 11 the author exhorts them, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised...We are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (10:35-36, 39)
As we come to Hebrews 11weconsider Old Testament saints who lived by faith in God and in His promises under all sorts of circumstances.
Here we find that even Moses had to live by faith and it was accredited to him as righteousness. Moses endured suffering the reproach of men as he looked to his eternal reward (11:26-27) This fact would encourage these believers needed to remain steadfast under the trials that they were experiencing.
Last week we considered the hundreds of years that spanned between the death of Joseph described in Hebrews 11:22and the birth of Moses that is described in Hebrews 11:23. When you turn to Exodus 1 & 2 you will discover that the narrative concentrates on the entire nation of Israel and then as the story focuses on the faith of particular individuals.
Exodus 1:7 begins by telling us about the nation of Israel. It says, “The people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.”
As wonderful as this numerical growth was we may find ourselves asking,
How is Israel’s faith?
Are God’s people trusting in God and in His promises?
Are God’s people remaining steadfast under these trials, afflictions, adversities, and afflictions?
Much of Exodus 1 & 2 answers these questions. The narrative focuses in on two examples of great faith that was expressed by individuals under very difficult circumstances.
First, we see the faith of the Hebrew midwives (Exodus1:15-21).
Secondly, we see the faith of Moses’ parents (Exodus2:1-10).
We ended last weeks sermon with the last verse in Exodus 1 which says, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” (22)
Can God still protect Israel from this command that Pharaoh?
Can God protect Israel from an even greater amplification of the ruthlessness of the Egyptians (1:13-14)?
Ruthless means that the Israelite's were not shown pity or compassionby the Egyptians. Theytreated Israel increasingly morebrutally, callously, cruelly, ferociously.
Hebrews 11:23 celebrates the faith of Moses’ parents as they lived under these conditions. By faith theyhid Moses and did not fear Pharaoh. Because Moses’ parents responded to these things with faith Moses survivedand become God’s instrument of deliverance for God’s people.
As I considered this story I often found myself not really wanting to think about what really happened to so many Hebrew babies. I kept wanting to tell myself that maybe God saved the majority of these kids miraculously but we are only told about this particular story. The reality of some things that happen in this world are hard to stomach. The reality that God allowed this to happen can be hard to comprehend. And yet, the bible is not timid about confessing God’s sovereignty in all these events. We read in Psalm 105:23-25, “Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the LORD made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with His servants.”
Because of these verses I could not continue to assume the best about these circumstances. Consider what Stephen says in Acts 7:19-20. Stephen says, “He (Pharaoh) dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive.At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight.”
Let’s consider a four things concerning this verse. First, Pharaoh dealt ‘shrewdly’ with God’s people.
‘Shrewd’ means that cunning was used to take advantage of, to victimize by subtlety, and this is often with false arguments(Friberg).
‘Shrewd’ means to take advantage of others by trickery(Gingrich).
‘Shrewd’ means, ‘to act subtlety to gain the advantage, to beguile (underhandedness, deceive) (Danker).
Satan always comes against believers with deception and falsehood. He is the father of lies and the truth is not in him. Satan uses cunning and deception to blind the hearts and minds of men.
Because of this a believer needs divine wisdom from God as they seek to stand fast under these trials. James speaks of this when he says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given...Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” (1:2-5, 12)
Secondly, Stephen also says, ‘Pharaoh...forced our fathers to expose their infants…”. The verb ‘forced’ is an infinitive verbwhich stresses the state of affairs that resulted from the other verbs in the context. The stress is on the fact that Pharaoh and the Egyptians took advantage of God’s people by cunning, they did this to mistreat and harm them, and these thingsforced the fathers to expose their infants so that they would not be kept alive.
It was against this evil, cunning, deceptive system that Moses’ father and mother responded in faith.
Faith can overcome falsehood!
Faith can overcome fear!
Faith can give spiritual wisdom and clarity!
Moses’ parents hid Moses for three months and then wisely placed him in the river, in a well constructed ark, where Pharaoh’s daughter would find him. And although the ruthlessness of the Egyptians has been stressed throughout Exodus 1&2 Pharaoh’s daughter has pity and compassion upon the child and adopts Moses as her very own son. We are told, “She took pity on him…”.
Third, we should observe that in Hebrews 11:23 and in Exodus 2:2 Moses’ parents see that this child is beautiful. Through faith wisdom is given to know that God. Moses’ parents know that God will use Moses in a special way.
In Hebrews 11we have often seen two things. We have seen parents who knew very specific things about the blessings that God would give to their descendants. We have also seen that sometimes these parents did not understand, and even struggled, with the will of the LORD concerning their children. For example...
Isaac wanted to bless Esau instead of Jacob.
Jacob knew to bless Ephraim and not Manasseh even though this made Joseph angry.
In our text this morning we see that even though Moses was just a newborn baby the parents knew that God had a special plan for the child and they responded in faith to protect this child.
They see that Moses is ‘good’. This is the same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 1 when God creates things and calls them ‘good’. Every child is made in God’s image and is to be loved and cared for as a special creation of God.
In Acts 7:20 we see that there is a divine aspect of the ‘good’ that they see in their son. Stephen says, “At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight.” Faith that is at work in the hearts of God’s people will see things the way that God sees them. At one time we did not see Jesus as beautiful but when faith came we saw Christ’s glory and beauty. Faith sees things the way the LORD does and then responds appropriately even when pressure is put upon someone to think and act differently than God would will to be done.
This is why we must come to the Scriptures and exercise faith.
This is why we must pray for wisdom in faith and not doubt.
Such a person is unstable in all their ways and receives nothing from God (James 1:5-8)
Fourth, Stephen’s inspired testimony of this event does not allow us to wear rose colored glasses as we think about this situation. This story is a very sad and heartbreaking story about a great evil that was done against God’s people. We live in a very evil world where terrible things happen.
Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”
Notice that Peter tells us that we are able to rejoice now and we are to rejoice more fully when Jesus’ glory is revealed.
We rejoice now because we share in Christ’s sufferings.
We may rejoice later when Christ reveals His glory in delivering us.
We will rejoice in eternity with gladness when His glory is revealed at His return.
We are to rejoice always! Philippians 4:4-6 says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The LORD is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Can we even begin to imagine the sorrow throughout the nation of Israel as these things happened to God’s people?
James and Peter’s admonition to consider trials like this with joy may seem strange and even unreasonable if we do not receive these words with faith.
Peter reminds us that during these times we may not be able to rejoice in our circumstances, but we can remember that there will be a day when Christ’s glory is revealed that we will fully rejoice. Peter says in 1 Peter 5:7-10, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” Then Peter says, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
Not only does Peter exhort us that we can have joy now in these things, but James does as well. James says that we are to consider these trials with joy.
The joy that James speaks ofdoes not have to deny the sorrow we may be experiencing.In our present suffering we rejoice in the sufferings of Christ, we rejoice in His resurrection, and we rejoice in His glorious return.When we do this in faith the joy we experience replaces the fear and sorrow that our circumstances seek to impose upon a believer.
For example, Moses’ parents had a baby during a time when the babies would be killed.
By faith theysaw that Moses was beautiful and they rejoiced in the birth.
By faith they were not afraid of the kings edict.
Their faith overcame fear.
Their hope in God gave them joy even in these circumstances.
You often hear that the young people today are not getting married and having kids because they do not have a lot of hope for the future. Moses’ parents had kids when things seemed hopeless but they had faith and hope and they rejoiced at the birth of Moses and risked their lives to protect him. May the young generation in our day experience this same faith and hope in their lives. Our hope is not in this world (1 John 2:15-17). Our hope is in God and in His promises and in eternal things that the eye cannot see.
Faithful God-fearing men and women can, and will, experience terrible things in this world. Hebrews 11 will testify to this as we study Hebrews 11:36-38. We read, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated- whom the world was not worthy- wandering in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” These things are a reality for believers; but by faith believers can experience the joy of knowing that ‘they will rise again to a better life’ (11:35).
The Egyptians did not have this hope. They rejected the Word of the Living God and when the judgment of God came upon them they grieved as people who had no hope. Interestingly, the judgment that God brought upon them has some similarities to the things that are done to the Israelite's during this time. This principle can be seen in places like Psalm 7:12-16 says, “If a man does not repent, God will whet His sword; He has bent and readied His bow; He has prepared for him His deadly weapons, making His arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and fives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”
For example, we see this inExodus 12:29-32.We read, “At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.” (29-30) When this great calamity and judgment came upon the Egyptiansthere was a great cry that came from a people who had no faith or eternal hope in the One true and living God. In Moses’ day, as these Hebrew boys were killed, there must have been great weeping and sorrow. Yet, there would have been weeping and sorrow mixed with the comfort that comes with faith and hope in God.
We also see that there is a similarity concerning Pharaoh’s command that the male Hebrew babies were to be thrown into the waters of the Nile. In the future, 80 years later, God would judge the people of Egypt with a similar calamity when God drowns the Egyptian army. This event is recorded in Exodus 14:26-31 and we read, “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.” (14:28)
Apart from repentance and receiving by faith the mercy of God we will all remain under the wrath of God. Hebrews 9:27 reminded us, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…”. Our only hope is to turn to Christ and cling to Him in faith to the very end. Hebrews 9:28 says, “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”
By faith may we all receive the grace that we need to remain steadfast in Christ as we eagerly wait for His return. That day will be salvation for us but it will be terrifying for all those who like the Egyptians did not respond to the gospel with faith.
Let me close with these words from the Heidelberg Catechism which encourage us to live by faith.
Question: “What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?”
Answer: “That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ the Son. I trust God so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends upon me in this sad world. God is able to do this because He is almighty God and desires to do this because He is a faithful Father.”
If we receive and believe these words by faith our hearts will be comforted in God and we will experience His joy in every circumstance. Amen.