Hebrews 11:27- By Faith Moses...(Part 2)
Let’s begin by reading Hebrews 11:24-29. This sermon will focus primarily on Hebrews 11:27. It says, “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 (Moses) 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. By faiththe people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.”
As we consider Hebrews 11:27 I would like to address a dilemma that people see when they study it. There is a question as to whether verse 27 is referring to Hebrews 11:24-26 or if it is a reference to Hebrews 11:28-29.
Hebrews 11:24-26refers to Moses had when he was 40 years old and God began to separate him from the house of Pharaoh and when Moses identified with Christ and His people.
Hebrews 11:28-29 refers to Moses when he is 80 years old when God uses Moses to bring His people out of Egypt.
The question is whether Hebrews 11:27 is a reference to the former or the latter.
When Moses was 40 God began to separate Moses he went out to visit with his peopleand he ended up killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew man. When his sin became known Moses immediately fled to Midian in fear (Exodus 2:14). The fear of Moses on this occasion is where we encounter the dilemma in Hebrews 11:27. Hebrews 11:27commends the faith that Moses displayed when heleft Egypt and was not afraid of the anger of the king.
There are two views concerning this dilemma. Some argue that Hebrews 11:27 is a description of Moses’ life when he flees from Pharaoh after killing the man. They argue that Hebrews 11:27 means that Moses believed that God would still use him as a Leader and as a Judge for the deliverance of His people(Acts 7:35, Exodus 2:14).
Others believe that Hebrews 11:27 refers to when God used Moses during the time of the Exile (Exodus 3-14). During this time we see several things. For example,
Moses was afraid the Hebrews would not believe that God had sent him to them (4:1).
Moses was afraid that he was not gifted to fulfill the calling that God had given to him (4:10, 6:28).
But thescriptures do not tell us that Moses was afraid of Pharaoh (Ex.4:18-23,5:1,6:10,7:1-6,20; 8:8,25-28; 9:1,8,13, 27; 10:3,16,24; 11:8;12:31).
Those who take this latter view will also point out that when Hebrews 11:27 says, ‘By faith Moses left Egypt…’, the Greek word translated ‘left’ speaks of someone who leaves and never returns again. Therefore, they argue that Hebrews 11:27 is a reference to the Exodus when God powerfully redeems His people out of Egypt and Moses says to them, “The Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.”
I always believe that the Holy Spirit is intentional about how passages are written. Therefore, this text may be written this way because there is truth to be seen in both directions. After all, we are seeing that Moses’ life was characterized by faith (v. 23,24,27,28,29). Moses lived by faith so we can see his faith in all these things. Having said this, I will take the view that Hebrews 11:27 will encourage us see Moses as his faith grows and is strengthened more and more over time.
As we consider Hebrews 11:27 I would like to read from Exodus 14:1-14. We will discover that at this time Moses did not fear Pharaoh even under terrifying circumstances. We read,
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’
Last week we witnessed the grace of God working in Moses’ heart as it began to separate him unto the calling that God has given to him. This grace was applied to Moses’ heart and his life became messy.
When the grace of God worked in Moses he was compelled to go and ‘visit’ with his people (2:11,13). Moses went out to be with his people and he saw Israel’s burdens and afflictions (11). Having received the grace Moses began to see and hear things as God sees them. In Exodus 3:7 God says to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and I have heard their cry…”.
We can be encouraged that God sees the suffering of His people more clarity than anyone else does (Proverbs 14:10, 2:23-24). As God sees these things He is not overwhelmed. No, He is the God of all grace and of all comfort (1 Peter 5:10, 2 Cor. 1:3-4). In fact, not only does God see the suffering of His people, but He joins with them in their suffering (Acts 9:4, 2Cor. 5:21, Philippians 2:6-8). Next week we will consider that the Christ who instituted the Passover will Himself become our Paschal Lamb! (1 Cor.5:7)
When God opened the eyes of Moses to the burdens of his people, he saw something else. He saw a Hebrew being beaten to death by an Egyptian (11). When this happened Moses did not command the Egyptian to stop even though Moses was an Egyptian prince. Instead,Moses looked both ways and then killed the Egyptian and thenburied his body.
After this Moses returns to the palace and the next day he does not hide out there and try to forget what had been done; instead, he goes out again to be among his people again (2:13). When Moses goes out this time he sees two Hebrews fighting with each other.
Unlike with the Egyptian, Moses tries to reason with his brothers and broker a reconciliation between them. During this interchange Moses discovers two things.
First, Moses discovers that the Hebrews do nor see him as their leader and their judge (Acts 7:35). The wrongdoer says to Moses, “Who made you prince and a judge over us?” (2:14)
Secondly, Moses discovers that his secret sin has become public! The wrongdoer says to Moses, “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (2:14) Because Moses’ secret has become known we read in Exodus 2:14, “Moses was afraid, and thought, ‘Surely this thing is known.’” Moses immediately flees to Midian for safety. We read in Acts 7:29, “At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian.”
Will you all agree with me that Moses’ life has now become messy? One day Moses is an Egyptian prince living in the palace; the next day he is a fugitive fleeing from Pharaoh.
If we agree that the grace of God has complicated Moses’ life as it separates Him unto his calling, then you will also might expect to see this happen to the nation of Israel when the grace of God begins to separate them from Egypt.
Application: The grace of God can make things messyfor an individual. And the grace of God can also make things messy within a congregation.Many people are looking for the perfect church to join but if the grace of God is there things may be messy!Sin messes up things for sure and we should strive to walk in the grace that teaches us to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:12)! But if the grace of God comes and then things get messy we should notbe discouraged or pessimistic about the church. Instead we should appreciate that this messiness among believers may be the work of grace in our lives.
When the grace of God compelled Moses to go out and visit his people he was rejected by his people as their leader and judge (Acts 7:35). Because of Moses’ sin Moses was rejected by Pharaoh and the Egyptians (2:15). As Moses experiences this rejection we could ask,
“What will help Moses from giving up and falling into despair?
How will Moses find comfort as he lives as a sojourner in a foreign land (2:22)?
What will Moses fix his attention upon during this time?
The answer these questions is found in Hebrews 11:27.
Moses will discover that the grace opens our eyes to fearful things. (By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king… (Hebrews 11:27a).
Moses will discover that grace also opens our eyes to see Someone who overcomes our fears. (...for he endured as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27b).
As this sermon ends we will consider how we can cooperate with the grace of God in this proces.
The Grace of God Opens Our Eyes To Fearful Things
The grace of God makes a person aware ofcertain things that they were not aware of before. For example, grace applied to the heart makes a Christian aware of the three great enemies.
First, they see the sin that dwells in themselves.
Secondly, they see the sin that is in the world.
Third, they see the sin, rebellion and lawlessness that is working through the power and influence of Satan.
These are three terrifying foes that the grace of God makes the Christian aware of. It reminds me of Exodus 14 and the three enemies that the Israelite’s saw when they were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. As they stood at the edge of the Red Sea they faced one enemy which was divided into three parts: Pharaoh, his chariots, and his army and all their officers. We read in Exodus 14:5, “Pharaoh made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and he took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.”
Exodus 14:10 tells us how Israel reacted when they saw this great enemy. We read, “When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly.”
Imagine yourself standing with the Israelite’s at the edge of the Red Sea. As you stand there you look up and you see the full might of the Egyptian army bearing down upon you and you have nowhere to go! The sight of this army would be terrifying.
As if things could not get any worse, the LORD tells Moses that He has hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the Israelite’s (14:4). Because of this the Egyptian army would be even more ruthless towards them if they were to overtake the Hebrew people. Because of these things God’s people ‘feared greatly’.
From a human perspective we can understand this fear. This fear is not irrational or unwarranted (2:14). There is a powerful army pursuing them!
We must ask, ‘Is there anything that canhelp us overcome fears such as these?’
Our first point this morning is the grace of God opens our eyes to see fearful things. If the grace of God only opened up our eyes to see these three great enemies we would not find any comfort in the work of grace in our lives! The sight of these things is meant to get us to look to the LORD. Let me give you two examples of this.
In 1 Chronicles 21 David had his eyes opened to two terrifying things. First, David became aware of his great sin and to the sin of the people. Secondly, David also had his eyes opened to see the judgment that was coming upon Jerusalem because of this sin. We read, “And David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in His hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” (16)
When David sees these things He looks to God for mercy. In 1 Chronicles 21:8 David says, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
When David sees that Judgment is coming upon Jerusalem we read, “Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.” (16)
If the grace of God only allowed us to see our fears we would be like the Elisha’s servant who woke up one morning and saw the city surrounded by Syria’s army (2 Kings 6:8-23). At the sight of this army Elisha’s servant cried out in fear, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (6:15).
Elisha says to him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (6:16). Then Elisha prayed and his servants eyes were opened up to see something amazing. We read, “So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (6:17) The Grace of God makes us see our enemies but it also makes us see Him who is invisible! The grace of God opens our eyes to see that mercy and salvation is from the LORD!
The Grace of God Allows Us To See The LORD Who Will Overcome Our Enemies
Hebrews 11:27 commends the type of faith that sees God and overcomesall our fears. We read, “By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.”
The faith that Moses possessed was not overwhelmed by the fear of Pharaoh and his army. By faith Moses understood and believed certain things which gave him peace, courage, and confidence.
He believed that God was directing everything (14:1-2),
he believed that God was working His plan and drawing Pharaoh into a trap (14:3),
he believed that God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that he would pursue them toward their own folly (14:4),
Moses believed that God would get the glory for the victory over Pharaoh and his army. (14:4, 13).
Similarly, we face our own enemies and we know that our faith in God will overcome these enemies:indwelling sin, sin in the world, and the power of Satan who roams around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). We need to know and trust that…
God is directing everything(14:1-2),
God is working His plan (14:3),
God hardens the hearts of our enemies so that they are lead to their own folly(14:4),
God would get the glory for the victory over all our enemies.(14:4, 13).
We can be confident that even if all three of these enemies assail us at the same time our faith will prevail to the very end for the glory of God! (14:4- ‘...and I will get the glory over Pharaoh and all his host...’). Indeed, in Christ these enemies have already been defeated (Colossians 2:15).
In Exodus 14:13 Moses encourages the Israelite’s to display this type of faith. Moses says to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Prayer: May the grace of God to openour eyes to see the invisible God and His saving power.
In Hebrews 11 and in the Book of Exodus we have witnessed two things. First, we have seen that the grace of God opened Moses’ eyes to see the sin in his own life, to seethe sin in this world, and to see the god of this worldly kingdom- Satan. Secondly, we have seen that the grace of God enabled Moses to see the invisible God through the eyes of faith(Hebrews 11:26).
Have these two things happened to you?
How Can We Cooperate With The Grace Of God To Overcome Our Fears?
As I read through Exodus 11-14 I was amazed at just how much God had spoken to Moses and His people about what He was doing. Leading up to the fearful moment when the people would see the Egyptian army pursuing them God had given His people many assurances and many promises that could have strengthened their faith. Let me give you just a few examples,
Exodus 11:1- “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward, he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.’”
When the LORD institutes the Passover in Exodus 12 He says, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever…”. If God’s people believed what the LORD said they would not have said, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”
In Hebrews 13:4-5, 10 the LORD says to the people, “Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month...You shall keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.”
In Exodus 14:1-4, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp...I will harden Israel’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. And they did so.”
God has been promising His people that He intended to fulfill His promises (6:1-8). God promised that He would redeem them with a strong hand from Pharaoh and bring them into the Promised Land. God had promised that His people would be brought into the Promised Land and celebrate the Passover in future generations. Yet, despite these strong encouragements God’s people consistently failed to believe these things and experience the blessings that these promises could provide (6:9, 14:11-12). Instead, they believed the worst and doubted.
Therefore, we can cooperate with the grace of God when we...
look to the LORD in faith as we study and meditate upon His Word,
remember His promises,
pray continually for the grace of God to open our eyes to see God,
praise while in peril,
imitate others who are displaying great faith,
remember God’s past faithfulness, etc.
We cooperate with the grace of God when we see the mess around us and acknowledge God’s grace and what it is doing.
We should not grumble and complain (14:10) but we should ‘fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for us’ (14:13).
I have stressed two things this morning. First, grace opens our eyes to see sin. Secondly, grace also opens our eyes so that we can see the LORD. Are you cooperating with the grace of God in these things? When we see our sin we are not to wallow in it as if there is no hope. We need to see our sin and then look to Christ for salvation. When we see our wretchedness we need not despair; instead we need to consider Christ and the Good News.