Hebrews 11:28 - By Faith Moses...Part 3
This morning we are looking at Hebrews 11:28, however, we will read Hebrews 11:24-28, 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 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.”
Last week one of the points that we discussed was that God’s grace does two necessary things for a believer.
First, the grace of God opens our eyes to see and understand our great enemies: indwelling sin, sin in the world, and Satan.
Secondly, the grace of God enables a believer to see the invisible God and understand how he saves us from these great enemies through His Son Jesus Christ. When these two things happen the believer responds with repentance and faith and receives grace and mercy.
When we see this happen it is a very beautiful thing. However, when this grace is not evident in a person it can be very frustrating. We find ourselves asking, "Why is this happening?"
These types of things come to the surface for us to observe as we come to the book of Exodus. We see this as Moses interacts with Pharaoh. Throughout the events surrounding the Exodus we discover that Pharaoh’s heart is hardened so that he will not repent and let the people of Israel go. For example, in Exodus 11 God sends Moses to Pharaoh and he tells Pharaoh what will happen if he does not let God’s people go. The LORD speaks through Moses and he says, “About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.” (11:4-6)
Despite the clear warning that Moses gives, and despite the fact that this will now be the tenth plague, Pharaoh does not listen. Because of this we read in Exodus 11:8, “And Moses went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.”
As I have considered Moses’ anger I have often wondered if this anger is a righteous anger, or does this anger come from Moses’ sinful nature that sometimes gets the best of him (Exodus 3:12, Numbers 20:10-13), or is Moses angry because Moses knows that Pharaoh's pride will bring about the death of so many people. This would be understandable because Moses had told Pharaoh that ‘every firstborn in Egypt will die...and there shall be a great cry throughout the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.’.
This week I had a friend who had a doctor tell him one day, “Congratulations, you are the parents of a baby boy!” Then, two days later he was with his mother when a doctor said, “I am sorry to tell you that you have terminal cancer. Unfortunately I have to tell you that you only have a short time to live.”
Which doctor would you want to be as they delivered these messages? Would you want to be the doctor who celebrates the birth of a child or the doctor who has to tell a family that their loved one only has a short time to live?
Moses, was called to do the latter. He had to tell Pharaoh, “...every firstborn in Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on the throne, even to the firstborn behind the handmill, the captive who sits in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.” (11:5, 12:29) Not only was he called to be the bearer of this bad news but we also find out that his ministry will be alot like Isaiah's. He was a prophet who was to go and preach to a people who would keep on hearing, but not understanding; keep on seeing, but not perceiving. His message would make hearts dull, and ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn to be healed. (Isaiah 6:9-10)
Moses' job was not glamorous or fun. He knew that if Pharaoh would not humble himself and repent great devistation would come. Because Pharaoh rejects the prescription thousands upon thousands will die. We are told that ‘there was not a house where someone was not dead’. (12:30) Because of this we can understand why Moses left Pharaoh’s presence in ‘hot anger’.
As I considered this I wondered what I would said to comfort Moses in this moment. How would I have counseled him to bring him some relief? I know that I would want to say something because we all have an opinion to share in these moments.
Would I say, “Moses, your not responsible for this. God will handle this.”
Would I say, “Moses, if you would have said this or that we may have had a different outcome."
Would I say, “Moses, the Egyptians deserve what is coming to them. Remember what they did to our Hebrew boys 40 years earlier?”
Would I say, “Moses, you need to calm down. You could have gotten us killed back there. Remember the Egyptian that you killed and the consequences that followed. Don’t let your anger get the best of you.”
Would I say, “Moses, if you were like Abraham you would not be angry. Instead you would intercede for them like he did for Sodom and Gomorah.”
Would I say, “Moses, if you were like Noah you would not be angry; rather, you would preach to them some more.”
Would Moses have been satisfied with any of those answers? Would any of those answers have been helpful or would I have just added to his frustration and intensified Moses' anger? I am not sure if my advice would have been helpful but I do know that I would have given my advice with the best of intentions. I'd truly want to help him. His ministry and the calling that God had given to him was not an easy one.
As I consider these things I find myself wondering if my advice would have reflected accurately what the all wise and sovereign God would have said to Moses in a moment like this one?
Well, we do not have to wonder for too long because the LORD speaks to Moses in the very next verse. The LORD says to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that His wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” God does not say that Moses will not listen because he is foolish, because he is did not quite understand, or because Moses did not passionately persuade him enough. No, Moses will not listen so that God's wonders will be multiplied. Kind of reminds me of John 9. The disciples ask, "Why was this man born blind? Did he sin or his parents?" Jesus says, "Neither sinned this has happened so that God would be glorified."
OK, there is the LORD's answer and it probably sounds nothing like the advice I would have given to Moses. So I have to ask myself, "Am I satisfied with that answer that the LORD has given or would I object to it and begin to argue with the LORD who is choosing to harden Pharaoh's heart (11:10)?"
Would I say to the LORD,
“God, you are Sovereign and you are wise and I trust you and all that you are doing.”
“God, can you really call the death of every Egyptian firstborn a wonder that will bring you glory?”
“God, can your glory be seen when such a great cry will go fourth in grief and sorrow?”
“God, if you are love and if you are good, how can you intend that this is to be done?”
“God, this may be your plan but I will have no part in it! This goes against everything I believe. This goes against everything that I thought that I knew about you!”
“God, I don’t understand all of this but I will humble myself and believe and do all that you have commanded.”
“God,I don’t think this is right or fair so I will protest and I will not tell the people to observe the Passover. If the Egyptians die then we will too.”
I have just told you how I may have responded in this moment. How do you think Moses will respond after he has been told these things?
Well, we don't have to guess because we are told how Moses responds in the very next verse. In Exodus 11:10 we read, “Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.” If we had any doubt about what the LORD meant when He told Moses, "Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that His wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt”, we are clear about the interpretation of it now. We are told here that the LORD will harden Pharaoh's heart.
After hearing these things Moses does not argue with the LORD; rather, he immediately obeys all that the LORD has said. We see in Exodus 12 that Moses speaks the word of the LORD to God’s people. Moses tells the people everything that the LORD had said to him and he instructs them that they are to faithfully observe all of these things so that they will be saved. Among the many things that Moses tells them he instructs them that a perfect lamb must be chosen and set apart. And then on the fourteenth day they are to sacrifice that lamb and use hyssop to put the blood on the door posts and the lintel of their homes. Then they are to cook this lamb over a fire and eat this meal while faithfully keeping very specific instructions.
If they do not receive Moses’ instruction and obey the LORD’s words they will not be saved from the Destroyer who will pass through the land. The LORD says in Exodus 12:12-13, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Will the people respond to these instructions with faith or will they ignore the LORD’s instruction by presumptuously saying, 'We are God's children so He will not harm us'? Will they respond in obedient faith or will they say, 'We have suffered enough already in Egypt so the LORD would not bring more suffering upon us by His own hand"?
In Exodus 12:28 we discover that they respond with faith and obedience. We read, “Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.'
The people obeyed the LORD and they were saved! However, I must point out that the people did something else just prior to their faithful obedience that is recorded in Exodus 12:27. There we read these words, “And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” What a beautiful display of humility we see as the LORD’s people hear all of these things and then they immediately bow their heads and worship the LORD.
Application: In a few moments we will take communion together and we have a responsibility to follow this same model. Our responsibility is more than just casually eating the bread and drinking the juice and thinking that we have observed Communion. No, we have the responsibility this morning to consider the death of God’s only Son for our benefit and be moved to humble ourselves to worship the LORD for this. We have the responsibility to come to the communion table in humility, in faith, in thankfulness for all that Christ has provided for you and I. His death has saved us from the wrath of God that we justly deserved. His death has reconciled us through the forgiveness of sins and it has brought us peace.
Before we do this, however, I would like to return to our text in Hebrews 11:28 and make a couple observations. Hebrews 11:28 says, “By faith he (Moses) kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Did you know that Hebrews 11 spends more time commending the faith of Moses than any other Old Testament saint. We might ask, ‘Why does the author of Hebrews spend so much time speaking about Moses’ faith? Why does he spend more time talking about Moses than he talked about Abraham who is the father of faith?’
The answer to these questions is simple. In the New Testament we discover that many Jews had an inordinate affection for Moses. The Jews had terribly misunderstood Moses and the Law. They believed that righteousness would come through Moses and through the careful observation of the Law. Yet, these things did not please God because they lacked the faith that true worship requires. Instead of receiving God’s righteousness by faith they set out to establish their own faith through the law (Romans 10:3).
Jesus addressed this when He said 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.” (John 5:45)
These words must have shocked Jesus’ audience. The shocking part wasw that Jesus said that Moses would accuse them to the Father. Jesus was saying that Moses would not justify them, support them, validate their efforts as they sought to vindicate themselves on the Day of Judgment. No, Jesus said that Moses wouldindict them, charge them and prosecute them for their faithlessness concerning his teaching about Jesus Christ that he had faithfully given to them. This is shocking because the same man who stood before Pharaoh without fear as he condemn his faithlessness would also condemn these Jews!
Sadly, these Jews had failed to see that Moses, like Abraham, was not justified by works but by faith alone. Let me put it this way, we have seen that ‘Moses believed in the Five Sola’s. We have seen that Moses believed in the Word of God alone concerning these things. Moses believed that salvation was by Faith Alone, through Grace Alone, in Christ Alone, to the Glory Of God Alone!’ These Jews, however, rejected these things and therefore they were in danger of experiencing the same fate that Pharaoh had experienced.
In that same passage Jesus says to these Jews, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)Jesus goes on to say, “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (5:47)
Notice that ‘belief’, not ‘works’, is mentioned four times in John 5:46-47. Jesus says,“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?” (5:46-47)
The fact that ‘belief’ is mentioned here and not ‘works’ is no small observation to make. Right believing produces righteousness and a sanctified life. But our works will never produce justification and our effort apart from faith will never produce sanctification from the heart.
Our good works are evidence of the fact that we have a saving faith in God. Everyone who has ever been saved has put their faith in the saving, redeeming, and justifying work of Jesus Christ that is freely offered and given to the person who receives the Gospel by faith.
The author of Hebrews has made one fact very clear regarding Moses; Moses lived by faith (Hebrews 11:24-29)! The author of Hebrews has been reminding these Jewish Christians about the real testimony concerning Moses- he was a man of faith. They Christians lived in a society that wrote biographies about Moses, and who taught things in the name of Moses, that simply were not true.
Moses testified to the necessity of faith to be justified by God. The grace of God had opened up Moses' eyes to see his sin, transgressions and iniquities. But grace also opened his eyes to see the invisible God who saves by providing the promise (Genesis 3:15) and the Paschal Lamb whose blood would be shed for the remission of sins (Hebrews 11:27-28).
Hebrews 11:28 says, “By faith he (Moses) kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” Consider for a moment the faith and the humility of Moses as he kept the Passover and was saved from the Destroyer.
We have seen over the last month that Moses has been commended for having done many ‘good works’ prior to observing this Passover. For example,
Moses grew up and refused to called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter (11:24).
Moses chose to be mistreated with God’s people (25).
Moses had forsaken the fleeting pleasures of sin (25).
Moses endured the reproach of Christ and forsook great wealth and treasures in Egypt (26).
Moses did not fear Pharaoh but looked to the LORD (27).
Despite all of these 'good works' Moses did not boast in these things as if these works came through his own strength and righteousness. No, they were all done in faith. Moses did not become prideful and say in his heart, “You know, I don’t think I need to keep the Passover because I have all these ‘good works’ that no one else has done.” To have done this would have been prideful, foolish and led to Moses’ demise.
Instead of doing something so foolish we see that, ‘By faith Moses dept the Passover’. If Moses did not display the faith that he does here in Hebrews 11:28 then all of these other displays of faith in Hebrews 11:24-27 would have meant nothing. If Moses would not have kept the Passover he would not have been shown mercy and kept from the Destroyer. All of those other 'good works' would have ended in great folly and there would be an eternity of weeping and great groaning!
Consider one more thing concerning Moses. We have seen that initially the people had rejected Moses as their leader and judge (Acts 7). Now, however, God was exalting Moses in the eyes of the Egyptians and in the sight of the Hebrews. Yet, Moses does not let these things go to his head. He does not get prideful and think that this means that he is too important, to valuable, to special, to gifted, to need to take the Passover and apply the blood to the door of his house. Again, this would have been foolish and it would have led to his demise.
I wonder if there is one word that would describe Moses because of the things we have seen in Hebrews 11:24-28? Well, once again we don’t have to guess what that word would be. The LORD tells us in Numbers 12:3 what thoat word would be. He says, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
A person who will look to Christ by faith in total dependence upon Him to receive the promises and the blessings of God is a person who is meek and humble. A person who will not try to come to the LORD clothed in his own good works for his justification is a humble and meek person. A person who is will obey the command of the LORD to go to Pharaoh over and over again and preach boldly to him even though he knows God will harden his heart is a humble and meek man.
Moses was a very meek and humble person. We are told that Moses was more meek than anyone else on the face of the earth. Why? Because he lived by faith alone. Moses obeyed the LORD by faith. Moses accepted what He was told by the LORD by faith. Moses did not trust in his own righteousness or in his own successes, but trusted only in what the LORD had told him. (1 Peter 5:5- God resists the proud, He gives grace to the humble).
What a blessing this morning it is for us to participate in communion together after having considered the Passover. We will take the bread and the juice and we will think of Christ and say humbly and meekly, “By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.”
Over the last month Moses’ life has testified to the importance of his faith in Christ. It is a shame that the Jews had so misunderstood Moses. Jesus condemned the faithlessness of the Jews in His day. And if Moses would have stood among them he too would have condemned them. He would have said, with John the Baptist, “Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
I know that the author of Hebrews wishes to convey this because as we begin Hebrews 12 Moses will be placed within the context of a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who had placed their faith in the Messiah who was promised to come. Moses' voice becomes just one of many who have pointed us to the Gospel and to Jesus Christ.
I am convinced that if Moses were to stand before any Jew or Gentile, in any generation who has ever lived, he would proclaim, as John the Baptist had, “I am not the Christ...I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the LORD’” (John 1:20, 22-23).
What a joy it has been to consider the faith of Moses over the last four weeks. It is a greater joy that he has not lead us to trust in ourselves for righteousness, but he has been an example for us to look to Jesus Christ and to trust in His shed blood alone for salvation. Let us now celebrate communion together.