By Faith: Moses (& the Often Unfaithful Israelites)

Originally published Monday, 19 August 2013.

This week we continue our study on Hebrews 11, looking to the faith of Moses.

By Faith: Moses is Preserved

But Moses’ faith, didn’t really begin by his own actions:

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 (Hebrews 11:23).

Born the son of Jochebed and Amram, from the tribe of Levi (Numbers 26:59Exodus 6:20), Moses enter life at a dismal time of oppression and hardship for the Hebrew people. The Israelites fruitfulness (Exodus 1:7) threatened Pharaoh and he decided some massive population control was the answer. Hoping to eliminate the problem once and for all, Pharaoh issued and edict (Exodus 1:15-16), commanding the Hebrew midwives to kill all the boy babies upon birth. Moses’ was born in a time when his very life was literally at risk.

But God preserved the life of Moses through the faith of others. The Hebrew midwives feared God (Exodus 1:17) and chose to ignore Pharaoh’s edict. In doing so, their faith saved Moses. Pharaoh, noticing the continued increase among the Hebrew people issued another edict: drown the surviving boy babies in the river (Exodus 1:22). Again, Moses’ life was preserved – this time by his faithful parents who chose to hide him instead of obey Pharaoh.

Moses’ life was preserved through the faith of others.

By Faith: Moses Identifies

Next, after a forty-year time lapse we see Moses the man, choosing his identity with the people of God, over his identity as royalty:

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. Hebrews 11:25-26

Moses believed God’s plan for Israel was greater than wealth and fame. He believed God’s kingdom was lasting and Pharaoh’s was not. This step of publicly denying adoption into Pharaoh’s family would have been a slap in the face to both Pharaoh and his daughter. Yet Moses aligned himself with greater royalty, choosing to identify with the far greater treasure. By faith, Moses believed the reproach of Christ was better than health, wealth, and prosperity.

Moses believed God, identified with Christ, and looked to the reward.

By Faith: Moses Separates

Moses and over 600,00 people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth (Exodus 12:37) and followed God into the wilderness toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18). He did so after Pharaoh commanded him to leave and promised to kill him if he ever saw Moses’ face again. Faithfully unafraid of the anger of the king, Moses looked to God for his strength (Exodus 10:28-29).

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

By Faith Moses Keeps the Passover

By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. Hebrews 11:28

Scholar Raymond Brown notes:

“The instructions were strange, the demands costly (a lamb without blemish) and the ritual unprecedented, but [the Israelites] did precisely as they were told. In simple faith they kept the Passover. They relied on the God who had spoken to them through his servant: ‘Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.’”

Not only did Moses “keep” the passover, Moses instituted the passover. His faithfulness to God throughout the plagues and his continued obedience was a testimony to the watching Israelites and when he initiated the passover, his faith equipped their faith to follow. And by Moses’ faith, the Israelites believed too.

And then, by faith the Israelites are graciously included into the Hebrews 11 hall of faith, joining by association, the faith of Moses:

By Faith: Moses’ (And Israel’s) Deliverance

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

The Israelites didn’t have an awesome track record of faith, as noted in their griping and complaining to Moses in Exodus 14:11-12: “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians in the desert!” But Moses’ faith rallied them and secured their deliverance, answering the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”

Commentator R. Kent Hughes writes:

“What a sublime fact we have here! One man’s faith can be so authentic and effectual that it can elevate a whole people and secure their deliverance! In lesser ways we have seen this in the lives of such people as Martin Luther and John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. This truth holds great promise for us. Vibrant, authentic faith can elevate our families, churches, and communities. It is not too much to say that it can be the vehicle for corporate deliverance! Never underestimate the power of real faith!”

Moses’ faith delivers others and set them free too. What a beautiful picture of God’s purpose for us amidst the body of Christ. Our faith not only helps us obey and follow Jesus, but it also testifies and strengthens the faith of those watching. I pray this truth will help me to look toward the reward, like Moses, and live out my faith fearlessly and faithfully!