March 3, 2019

Moses: The Decision of Faith

Passage: Hebrews 11:23-28

Good morning! If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to Hebrews 11. And if you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can grab a Bible, we are going to be in Hebrews 11, this morning.

We are continuing in our sermon series on the Heroes of the Faith, looking at the Old Testament individuals, mentioned in Hebrews 11, and the faith they had that made them the heroes they were.

When I first started this sermon series, I didn’t know that it would affect me as deeply as it has. I felt like a series on faith would be good for this church, because of some of the things that many of us were going through. But I didn’t know that I would need this series as much as I have needed it.

The month of February was a rough month for me. With this sermon series on faith and our Bible Study on Spiritual Warfare, on Wednesday evenings, I have been under all kinds of spiritual attacks from the devil, trying to get me to lose faith in God.

So, I don’t know what God has been bringing to your attention, throughout this series, but as I’ve been preaching, God has been exposing all kinds of areas in my life, where He is growing my faith in Him. And I’ve just been reminded, over and over again, how, even if I am faithless, He remains faithful. So, this series on faith has been a real blessing to me, and I hope it’s been a blessing to you.

This morning, we are going to look at a guy by the name of Moses. And when we think of Moses, we tend to think of the parting of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments, and the wandering around the wilderness for 40 years.

And while we could look at any of these points in Moses’ life, as an example of how to live by faith, it’s actually how Moses’ story begins, that I want us to focus on, this morning. What the faith of Moses teaches us is the decision of faith.

We all make decisions, every day. The average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000.

The decisions we make range from minor decisions, such as, what I should have for breakfast and what I should order from the restaurant, to the major decisions that we face in our lifetime, such as, whether or not to get married, whether or not to have children, what we would like to do as a career, and where we would like to live.

We make decisions in our occupations. Farmers decide what they should plant and when they should buy and sell. Teachers decide how to best communicate the curriculum they are given to the children they teach. Pastors decide how much time, each week, to devote to things like visitation and sermon preparation.

We all make many decisions throughout our lives. Some decisions we regret; some decisions we don’t. There are some decisions we wish we had made years ago, and there are some decisions we aren’t looking forward to making.

We are always faced with decisions. And in our text for this morning, we will look at two good decisions, and what they can teach us about the most important decision that we will ever make.

Let’s look at Hebrews 11:23-28: “23 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. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

1. The first decision that we see in our text this morning is the decision of Moses’ parents to defy the king’s edict.

Just to give some background, turn over to Exodus 2. Last week, we looked at the heritage of faith, and how Abraham passed down his faith in God to Isaac, who passed it down to Jacob, who passed it down to Joseph and to Joseph’s sons. And the people of Israel were fruitful and multiplied in the land of Egypt.

But then, Joseph and his brothers all pass away, and a new king of Egypt rises to power, Scripture says, who did not know Joseph and all that Joseph did for the Egyptians. And he sees the great number of people that Israel had become, and he’s afraid. He doesn’t want the Israelites to overthrow them.

So, the king of Egypt enslaves the Israelites, afflicting them with harsh labour. But they continue to increase.

The king of Egypt, then, commands the Hebrew midwives to kill all the Hebrew boys that are born, and to only let the Hebrew girls live. But the Hebrew midwives feared God, so they did not obey the king of Egypt’s command. And the Israelites continued to increase.

And this causes the king of Egypt to give this command to all his people: “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

And this brings us to Exodus 2, beginning in verse 1. “1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 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. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 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. 6 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.’ 7 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?’ 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, ‘Go.’ So the girl went and called the child's mother. 9 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. 10 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.’”

The decision of Moses’ parents to defy the king’s edict and hide their son for three months was a major decision in their life. I don’t believe that they made this decision lightly, but that they made the decision “by faith,” because for them to go against the order of the king was putting the entire family at risk. All of them could have been put to death, if it was found out that they disobeyed the king.

Imagine how carefully Moses’ parents had to live. They wouldn’t have been able to take him anywhere. They would have had to shush him, if he made any noise. They would have waited in silent terror, as the king of Egypt’s men roamed the streets, looking for newborn baby boys.

What we need to realize is that this couple did not know the end of the story. It’s not like they could look ahead and see that everything was going to be alright. They were stepping out in faith, believing that God had something great in store for this child. They saw that he was beautiful. There was something about him that made them choose to obey God and risk the consequences.

If we think about all of the decisions that we have ever made in our lives, good or bad, how many of them would be at this level of risk? How many of those decisions could we look back on, and go, “I risked everything for that?” If we knew the risk, would we stand up for what's right?

The State of New York recently passed the Reproductive Health Act, which now legalizes abortions after 24 weeks. At the time the bill was being signed, it was being hailed as historic and was being applauded by all those in the room.

And just this last week, the U.S. Senate voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would have put in place requirements for the care of infants born after failed abortions, and could have sent doctors to prison if they failed to comply.

In Canada, abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy. We’re already there and have been for quite some time.

That’s the reality of where our world is at, in regards to protecting life. If someday the Canadian government mandated that we must abort all babies beyond one per family, would we risk obeying God by defying the government? If the risk included imprisonment or loss of income, would we stand up for what's right?

As Christians, we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human life, including those in the womb. If we are not willing to risk something for that, then where is our faith?

The decision of faith of Moses’ parents was risky, but look at the sovereignty of God in this story. Moses’ mother didn’t know what would happen to Moses the moment she put him in the basket and placed him among the reeds of the river bank. But God did.

God planned for Pharaoh’s daughter to go down to the river at that moment, and to find that Hebrew boy, and to take him as her son—the grandson of the king who would have otherwise put him to death. God had His hand in all of it.

The seemingly small decision of faith of Moses’ parents to save this little life would have huge consequences for world history. Their son, Moses, would grow up to be the greatest leader in Jewish history. He would lead the Jews out of slavery. And under divine inspiration, he would write the first five books of the Bible.

We don’t know what blessings await us, if we don’t step out in faith. We don’t know what God has in store for us, if we aren’t willing to risk comfort and security and the praise of man for the sake of following Jesus.

But we can have the confidence that, if we step out in faith, God is in control and He is good and He is worth the risk.

2. The first decision we see is the decision of Moses’ parents to defy the king’s edict. The second decision we see is the decision of Moses to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and to identify with Christ and His people.

Look at Hebrews 11:24-28. “24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

If Moses had survived in his Jewish family, he would have been exposed to a life of harsh labour and poor living conditions, as a slave. But since he was the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had his life made.

One commentator mentioned that Moses would have grown up in a position of honour higher than almost anyone else in Egypt. He would have grown up enjoying the most luxurious living conditions imaginable. He would have eaten the best foods and worn the nicest clothes. In terms of education, Acts 7:22 says that “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.”

If there was anything he wanted—anything that tickled his fancy—he could have had it. And yet, our text says that Moses chose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Look at Exodus 2:11-15. “11 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. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 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?’ 14 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.’ 15 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.”

How does one make the decision to go from luxury to slavery? How does that happen when you are so steeped in the culture?

Hebrews 11:26 says that Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”

When Moses went out that day to look upon the people of Israel, God revealed to him the sinfulness and depravity of man and the treasure and reward of Christ. And it changed Moses that day. He made the decision to no longer live for the fleeting pleasures of sin, but to suffer mistreatment with God’s people.

But notice that Moses made this decision “by faith.” That’s significant, because it points to the reality that Moses didn’t make this decision in his own power, but that God was producing faith in Moses, giving Moses something greater to look forward to than what Egypt could offer.

And I believe we need to be reminded of this on a regular basis, because we are still so easily susceptible to the treasure of Egypt. On the surface, what the world has to offer, looks good, because we think that we can have whatever we want, but we’re really just enslaved to fleeting desires that never fully satisfy the longing of our heart.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Moses made the decision of faith to consider “the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Have we made the same decision? Do we see the emptiness of sin? Do we fully grasp our depravity—our need? But then, do we see what a treasure Christ is, when everything else fades away?

When we are brought to our knees by what is going on around us, it’s not like God is just sitting up in heaven, unaffected by what we’re going through. No, God is here with us, caring deeply about what we care deeply about.

The writer of Hebrews is alluding to the fact that Jesus felt the weight of the oppression of His people, all the way back in Exodus 2. When it says that the chosen people of God were beaten and scourged and enslaved, Jesus was experiencing their pain.

And it points us to the decision of Jesus to submitt to the will of His Father, and to go to the cross on our behalf, and to take our sin upon Himself, so that we might also look to the reward that comes by faith.

The decisions we make today will determine the rewards tomorrow. But among all the decisions that we will ever make in our lifetime, the decision about what we believe about Jesus is the most important decision we will ever make.

If we believe that Jesus is the greatest treasure and our only hope of eternal reward, then this should cause us to despise our sin. If we truly believe in Jesus, then there should be no doubt in our minds of our daily need for a Saviour.

There comes a point at which we must make the decision: Am I going to continue to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin, or am I going to turn away from my sin and turn to Jesus? The decision is ours. What will we decide?

A little over a week ago, Helena and I had the opportunity to visit with a missionary friend, who is on furlough, and to hear the testimony of this one Iranian couple that she knew. And it was really good to hear their story, because hearing it made every problem that we were facing, disappear.

They were both born into Muslim families, and grew up believing Islam. But the man said he had a cousin who believed in Jesus. He would ask his cousin questions about Jesus, and his cousin would answer them for him. And he came to the point where he found the truth about Jesus to be more fulfilling than Islam.

So, he put his faith in Jesus Christ. But at the time of his conversion, he was married and had a son. And his father-in-law was going to have him arrested, so he made the decision to flee to Turkey, leaving them behind. He was considered dead to them.

And it really puts into perspective what Jesus says, in Mark 10:29-30, where He says, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

What about you? Have you made the decision of faith? Do you believe what God has said about sin and about the Savior? Have you weighed in the balance the treasures of Egypt against the greater riches of Christ, and chosen to renounce the world and trust Jesus?

The decision of faith can be risky and it can be costly, but it is the most important decision you or I will ever make. May God continue to increase our faith, as we make the decision to follow Him. Let’s pray…


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