Moses' Faith As God's Grace Separates Him From Egypt And Unites Him To His People - Hebrews 11:24-27
It is a beautiful thing to see the grace of God at work in a persons life. However, the grace of God in a persons life can bring its own set of challenges. We are going to see this in our text today with Moses. When the grace of God begins to separate Moses things can got messy for him. When things get messy we should not assume that it is because God’s grace is absent; rather, it may be messy because the grace of God is present! Therefore, when this happens we need to walk by faith because the same grace that calls us is the same grace that guides, protects, and matures us for the calling God has given.
We will begin this morning by reading two passages. We will begin by reading Hebrews 11:24-27 which 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 was invisible.”
Now we will read Exodus 2:11-15 which says, “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.”
Over the last two weeks we have looked a lot at Exodus 1&2. In those chapters we discovered that the Egyptians showed little mercy for God’s people. For example,
In Exodus 1:10 Pharaoh convinced his people that they must deal shrewdly with the people. We saw that the Egyptians put taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens.
In Exodus 1:13-14 we were told twice that the Egyptians made their lives bitter.
In Exodus 1:22 Pharaoh commanded his people to cast every male Hebrew child into the Nile.
Having seen the ruthlessness of the Egyptians I was surprised when we see Pharaoh’s daughter have mercy, pity and compassion for a Hebrew child. This happened when Pharaoh’s daughter was down by the Nile river and something happened that she did not expect. She saw an ark in the reeds and in Exodus 2:6 we read, “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.’”
Pharaoh’s daughter has four reactions in this verse. First, she opens up the ark where the baby had been placed. Secondly, she saw that there was a child inside. Third, she heard the child crying. Fourth, she took pity upon the child and said, “This is one of the Hebrews children”.
Everything about this moment could have evoked a great deal of emotion from Pharaoh’s daughter. Pharaoh’s daughter could have responded in two ways. First, she could have tried to ignore all of these things and suppress any compassion that she initially felt. She could have said to herself, “Well, there really is not much I can do about this situation.”. As a result, she could have told her servants to return the child to the place where they had found him. Secondly, she could have experienced these things and expressed mercy and compassion for this child.
In Exodus 2:4 we see that as these things were happening Moses’ sister, Mariam, stood at a distance to see what would happen to the child. Mariam will either see Pharaoh’s daughter display a great act of compassion and mercy, or she will witness another moment of Egyptian callousness and hard-heartedness which will result in a great tragedy concerning her brother.
As Pharaoh’s daughter is looking at this child Mariam comes up to her and nudges her towards being compassionate by quickly giving her an option to help this child. She says, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” (7)
Pharaoh’s daughter tells Mariam to go and bring back a Hebrew mother to nurse the child. When Moses’ mother arrives Pharaoh’s daughter says to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” (9)
Moses’ mother gladly does all that she has been commanded to do. Then in Exodus 2:10 we read, “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.’”
I would like you to noticed that this was not a temporary moment of compassion and pity for this child. I say this this for four reasons. First, Pharaoh’s daughter saved the child and then made a decision to seek his welfare. We see that immediately Pharaoh’s daughter was willing to pay for this child’s care. From the first day until the time when Moses was given back to her she continued to pay Moses’ mother for caring for him. She never had any second thoughts about the decision that she had made concerning this child. In fact, I would venture to say that her love increased for the child.
Secondly, we see that this was no temporary compassion when the child is weaned and then he is given to Pharaoh’s daughter. When this happens she adopted him into her family. We read, “When the child grew older, Moses’ mother brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.” (Exodus 2:10)
Third, we see that the compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter was not temporary when she gives this child a name. Notice that she did not pick a name that would have been customary among the Egyptians. No, she calls him Moses. This is a Hebrew word that speaks of how the child was ‘drawn out’ of the water. Every time she spoke this name Moses would remember his Hebaic lineage and he would remember how he was brought out of the Nile. He would never be able to forget this defining moment in his life, the life of his family, or in the life of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Fourth, we see that this was no fleeting compassion displayed by Pharaoh’s daughter because she was willing to adopt this Hebrew baby and bring this child into Pharaoh’s household. Moses’ parents had to hide the child for three months to protect him from the Egyptians, but now he lives in the palace among Pharaoh’s family. Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses and treated him as her very own.
Having taken a moment to consider these four things about Pharaoh’s daughter I would like to ask a question. If this type of compassion and care can be seen in Pharaoh’s daughter, then how much more can we know that God will not have a momentary and fleeting mercy and compassion for all of those that have been adopted into his family by grace. Oh, that we would rest in His steadfast love.
I spent time speaking about the compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter because it may help us to appreciate how difficult this situation is that Moses finds himself in. The call upon his life will lead him to refuse to identify with Pharaoh’s daughter who had shown him such mercy and kindness. By faith this is exactly what Moses does. We read, “When Moses was grown up, he 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.”
When Moses was born his parents had to make a very hard choice. They decided to fear God and not Pharaoh? Similarly, when Pharaoh’s daughter found this Hebrew baby she had to make a choice. She could either put this child back in the river or she could raise the child as her own. Now Moses, when he was forty years old, he had to make a choice. He will either identify as an Egyptian prince or he will choose to be mistreated with the people of God. He will either choose the fleeting pleasures of sin or he will have to identify with the reproach of Christ and look to an eternal reward. Moses will not be able to walk two paths. He will not be able to serve two masters.
Hebrews 11:24-27celebrates the faith of Moses and how it was expressed when he identified with God’s people. Our text celebrates Moses’ faith when he chose to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Our text celebrates Moses’ faith as he considered the reproach of Christ of greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt. Our text celebrates Moses’ faith that looked forward to the eternal reward. It is faith in God and in His promises that allows Moses to do these things.
Without faith one will not offer a pleasing sacrifice to the LORD. Without faith a person will not enter into the Ark to save their life. Without faith a person will sell his birthright for a bowl of soup as Esau did. Without faith the Hebrew midwives would have feared Pharaoh and obeyed his command. Without faith Moses’ parents would have feared Pharaoh and not have hidden their child. Without faith Moses would not have identified with God’s people and forsaken all of the wealth and privilege that he had in Egypt.
To help us to appreciate Hebrews 11:24-27 we must consider Exodus 2:11-15. We begin by reading there, “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.” (11)
Let me make three observations about this verse. First,we see that there was a day when Moses went out to be among his people. Acts 7:23emphasizes that this was not simply a decision of the mind because it was a nice day. Moses did not do this because he was not bored inside the palace. No, Stephen emphasizes that this was a decision driven by Moses’ heart. Stephen says, “It came into his heart to visit his brothers”.
The ‘heart’ speaks of the whole inner life of a person. It refers to a persons emotions, will and mind (Gingrich Lexicon). Not every translation translates this word here as ‘heart’. For example, the New American Standard translates this phrase as ‘it came into his mind to visit his brothers’. Others translate this as ‘he decided to visit his brothers’.
All of these are appropriate but they do not convey the effect of grace upon Moses’ heart that is at work at this time. Therefore, I like how the ESV translates this as, ‘It came into his heart’. I think the ESV’s translation is goodfor several reasons.
First, all of the other times this word ‘καρδίαν’ is used (19x) it is translated as ‘heart’ in the NASV.
Second, I like it translated ‘heart’ because we are told that Moses came ‘to visit his brethren’. The word ‘visit’ speaks of looking after the sick, to visit the afflicted, to go to help someone, to care for someone who is poor, to look upon someone with the intent to help (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). All of these require the heart to be engaged.
Third, I like the translation ‘heart’ because in Acts 7:25 we see what was behind the motivation of Moses’ heart. We read, “He (Moses) supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand…”. Moses is being called and separated by God for a special role and his heart is being drawn to help his people. His heart is being separated from Pharaoh’s palace as it is being united to God’s people. This is not simply Moses’ idea, but it is the grace of God at work according to the calling that was upon his life.
Secondly, verse 11 says, “One day, when Moses had grown up…”. We know that this happened when Moses was forty years old because of Acts 7:23 which says, “When he was forty years old, it came to his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.”
As we worked towards starting a Classical Christian School here in Stevens Point I discovered an interesting fact about people. I learned that kids are instructed in many things but a lot of these things do not seem to come together and make sense until they are in their 30’s and 40’s. We have a tendency to learn until a certain point and then we get prideful and think we know it all. But if we make it a priority to teach children to love the good, the true and the beautiful. If we will make it a priority to teach them to be lifelong students who love learning there will be a time, usually in their 30’s and 40’s, when they will begin to humbly embrace what they have learned and how God can use these things appropriately in their life.
Moses has been instructed in many things during his upbringing in Egypt. His parents instructed him in the things of the LORD while he lived with them. Then he was instructed in the best wisdom in Egypt (Acts 7:22). And now that Moses is older God is going to humble him and use all of these things to clarify the calling and the way that calling will be carried out by God. God is patient with Moses because this is going to take a lot of time!
At this time Moses is beginning to want to identify with the Hebrew people, he is willing to suffer with them, he has come to believe that God will to use him as an instrument for their deliverance, his heart is drawn more and more to be with God’s people during this time. In all of these things we see that God’s grace effects the heart and the mind of a person. Grace effects every area of a persons life and this is what is happening to Moses.
Third, we read in verse 11, “Moses went out to his people and looked on their burdens.” The calling of God on Moses’ life made him discontent to stay in the palace and so he ventured out. The grace of God allowed him to see things clearly when he visited among the people. He saw that God’s people were burdened and treated ruthlessly. I would imagine that this would have been overwhelming for Moses and that he often found himself asking, “What am I supposed to do about this?”
Many of us have found ourselves in situations like Moses. We look at the world we live in and we ask, “What am I supposed to do about this?” We see a problem around us and we ask, “What am I supposed to do about this?” We look at the church and we see a problem and we say, “What are we to do about this situation?”
Put yourself in Moses’ place for a moment. You are out ‘visiting’ your people who are suffering. Everywhere you turn you see pain and frustration. You see the heavy burden that is upon your people. You look around and you want to cover your ears and close your eyes. You wonder how much more of this you can witness. Then you see something that pushes you over the edge. We read, “Moses looked,he observe closely, he payed close attention to, and he came to understand and identify with, their burdens. The word ‘burdens’ speaks of the Hebrews who were engaged in forced labor, hard labor, painful toil. As Moses saw these thingshe sawsomething that caught his attention/ He witnessedan Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.” (11)
The word used here for “beating” (macah) is a word that can refer to someone who is inflicting multiple blows on someone. Moses witnessed a man being pummeled (Danker). It speaks of someone who is being hit with the hand, or with a staff, or with a whip (Thayer). This word can refer to someone who is being battered, ruined and destroyed (Holladay, Hebrew Lexicon). It can speak of someone who is being struck down which results in their death (Brown, Driver, Briggs Lexicon).
It is likely that while Moses was out visiting his people he saw an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew to death right before his eyes. What a horrifying moment this must have been. This Egyptian was not simply disciplining the man for something he had done bur he was killing him.
In that moment Moses, who was an Egyptian prince, did not commanded the Egyptian to stop. Instead, Moses looked all around and did not see anyone so he struck him down. We read, “He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hidhim in the sand.” (12) Having killed the man Moses concealed the crime and acted to prevent it from being seen by anyone. Therefore he buried the body to cover up the crime.
Our text shows us three ways in which Moses’ conscience has been troubled by what he has done.
First, Moses looks all around to see if someone is going to see what he is about to do. No one was around so he made the decision to murder this man.
Secondly, Moses’ conscience convicted him and so he buried the Egyptian so that no one would know what had happened.
Third, we will see Moses’ conscience at work when he realizes that people know about what he done and in fear he flees to Midian.
We see this third reaction of Moses’ conscience as we continue to read, “Moses went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” (13-14)
Can we not see the LORD at work in these things? The day before all Moses could see was the burdens of his people and an Egyptian man beating a Hebrew man. The next day his attention is drawn to two Hebrews who are fighting with one another. Acts 7:26 describes this moment by saying, “And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?”
Moses tries to reason with them by asking, “Why do you strike your companion?” In response to Moses’ question the wrongdoer asks Moses two questions, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” and “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
The first question told Moses that he did not have the support of his brothers and that they did not understand that he was being used by God to deliver them. The second question made Moses afraid because he knew that his sin had been made known.
Because it had become known we read, “When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.” (15) We may wonder how quickly Moses’ secret began to unravel? Acts 7:29 gives us an idea of how quickly things progressed. We read, “At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian…”. Moses does not return to his home but immediately flees to Midian.
Moses sinned when he killed the Egyptian and his conscience testified to his guilt several times. Because of what Moses had done to the Egyptian Pharaoh sought to kill him. In contrast to the condemnation of Pharaoh concerning these things we see that God is ready to show Moses mercy and kindness. This mercy is not free. Jesus Christ will die for Moses’ sins so that he can be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Moses flees from Egypt but God’s invisible hand guided Moses to safety. God has always been looking after Moses. For example, after Moses killed the Egyptian he could have stayed at the palace and laid low the next day but he didn’t. The same grace that compelled his heart to go out to his people the day before compelled him to go out again. The first time he went out his eyes were opened to the harsh reality of his people in Egypt. The second time he went out he saw two Hebrews fighting with each other. As things unfolded Moses saw that now his own life was in danger so he immediately fled.
Hebrews 11:26 is rather astonishing to consider. It says, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
Moses’ actions brought upon him the condemnation of Pharaoh, but Moses’ faith would grant him forgiveness from God. Moses had forsaken everything in Egypt to be with God’s people, but he would be rewarded by God.
Faith in God and His promises will always bring blessing and reward. We don’t deserve these things based upon our actions, but when we confess our sins and receive God’s mercy we will be saved. These blessings are by Christ’s mercy and given freely by His grace. Like Moses, our sins will condemn us before a holy God, but Christ died for the ungodly.
Hebrews 11:27 states, “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who was invisible”. There is some discussion as to whetherthis verse is a reference to this occasion when Moses flees to Midian or if it refers to when he left Egypt at the time of the Exodus.
I think that you can see the faith of Moses on both occasions. If it is referring to the time when Moses flees to Midian then this refers to Moses’ faith in God’s unstoppable redemptive plan. Moses fled from Pharaoh that day in fear but he did not fear that God wouldn’t fulfill His plan to redeem his people even though in a matter of twenty-four hours his actions seems to have ended any plans God may have had to use him for Israel’s deliverance.
We have seen over and over again that when the grace of God comes into a persons life we may struggle to understand and respond rightly to what God is doing. Abraham and Sarah devised a plan and tried to have the child of promise through Hagar. Joseph was given dreams about his brothers bowing to him and he began to boast of these things too much. Today, we have seen that as the grace of God worked in Moses’ life he did not always respond rightly. Despite these things, God is faithful because He cannot deny Himself. God is faithful because His gifts and callings are irrevocable. We have seen the LORD protect these saints and continue to guide them towards His wise ends.