Online Bible Commentary
A Great Example of Faith
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. (NIV)
The book of Hebrews was originally written to Hebrew Christians of the 60’s A.D. It was intended to encourage them in the faith and discourage them from turning back to Judaism. In this chapter the writer is giving them Hebrew examples of men and women who remained faithful to God, in spite of the hardships of their lives. In this passage, the writer gives an example of the faith of Moses.
Moses did not have to live a life of hardship. He chose a life of hardship. He was a Hebrew who was adopted into the family of the King of Egypt and initially lived a life of privilege, fame, and riches. But he “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter” (v. 24). Instead “he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God” (v. 25a). The “people of God”, the Hebrews, were slaves in Egypt, confined to hard labor. By faith, he chose the best path for the long term, for eternity. He chose to be with his own people and worship their God, “rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (v. 25b).
Moses chose his people in a manner that ruled out the possibility of his ever returning to the king’s palace. He murdered an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. When the king discovered Moses’ crime he tried to kill him. Moses then fled to Midian, in the desert in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. There he lived with Arabs. He was forty years old when he fled to Midian and started a new life. The first third of his life was over.
So Moses fled Egypt in disgrace, a wanted man. But he “regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (v. 26). His reward was the favor of his God. When Moses saw one of God’s people being mistreated he took action. He feared disappointing his God more than the king’s anger. His focus was more on pleasing the invisible God than pleasing the very visible king. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (v. 27).
Moses lived in Midian for forty years, the second third of his life. He settled down, married and had a son. He married Zipporah, the daughter of an Arab. He named his son Gershom, saying “I have become an alien in a foreign land” (Ex. 2:22). He became a shepherd, and slave, to his father-in-law. Moses used the next forty years to commune with God, and with nature. God was preparing him in his exile. God was making him into the man that he would need to be in order to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. But Moses must have felt forgotten by God. He was away from his people and the worship of his God. Through it all, his faith endured.
Moses was eighty years old when God finally called him to the work He had for him for the last third of his life. He would lead his people out of Egypt. But Moses did not feel prepared, or worthy of such a calling. Every excuse he made was refuted by God. Moses did not think he was ready but God did, and that was all that mattered. All God asked him to do was to have faith, and Moses did.
But Moses’ ministry got off to a rough start. The old King of Egypt had died but the new king was just as determined to hang on to his Hebrew slaves. Through Moses, God sent many plagues upon the Egyptians. Still, the king would not let God’s people go.
Finally, God sent the plague of the first Passover. He would kill every firstborn son and animal in Egypt. The Hebrews were to put the blood of a lamb on the doorframes of their homes so that they would be passed over, and not harmed, by the “destroyer” (v. 28b). “By faith” Moses “kept the Passover” (v. 28a). He remained faithful to God, and he and his people were blessed. God’s people were released from captivity.
Many men and women are commended for their great faith in this chapter on faith. It can be argued that none displayed more faith than Moses. Two thirds of his life was over before God used him. Moses easily could have questioned his purpose in life. Even after the exodus from Egypt, Moses faced great difficulty and hardship while he and his people wandered in the desert for the last third of his life. Through it all, he kept his faith.
Like many others, Moses never experienced the promise of God. He could only view the Promised Land from a distance. He died, not being allowed by God to enter the Promised Land. And yet, even in a disappointing death, Moses maintained his faith. His faith is a great example for us all.