Moses Identifies with Israel by Faith
“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 11:24–26
Moses did not die at Pharaoh’s hands, for his parents trusted God. They did not fear what disobeying Pharaoh might bring, but they hid Moses and he escaped Pharaoh’s wrath (Heb. 11:23; see Ex. 2:1–10). However, Moses did not rely on the faith of his parents for the rest of his life. Instead, Hebrews 11:24–26 explains, Moses himself trusted the Lord, and so he enjoyed salvation.
We noted in our study of Hebrews 11:22 that as Pharaoh’s second-in-command, Joseph had every reason, humanly speaking, not to identify with God’s people but to believe his everlasting home was Egypt (see Gen. 41:37–57). Moses was in a similar position. Raised as a prince of Egypt (Ex. 2:1–10), Moses had all the riches anyone could want, the best education money could buy, and more power than almost anyone on earth. But like Joseph, who sought burial in Canaan (Heb. 11:22), Moses saw that all these things are nothing in comparison to the eternal blessing of God. When the time came to identify with the suffering people of God or with the powerful people of the world, Moses by faith chose the people of God (vv. 24–26).
In so doing, Moses rejected the “fleeting pleasures of sin” (v. 25). As noted, the position of Moses in Egypt gave him everything anyone could want from this world. But these were “pleasures of sin” because having them would have required Moses to reject God and His covenant people. Enjoying good things we find in this world is not inherently wrong; the Lord often rewards those who fear Him with “riches and honor” (Prov. 22:4). Yet, partaking of the good things available in this world is sin when we must reject God and His people to do so (Matt. 19:16–30). Thus, we must ever be working to reject love of this world and to seek the Holy Spirit to kindle our love of the Lord both outwardly and inwardly. John Owen comments, “Self-denial is not just saying no to outward actions but is a mortification of the desires and affections of the mind that wants to place a value on things in life, especially the things of this world that oppose spiritual things.”
It took faith for Moses to identify with the people of God, for he could do so only if he thought the “reproach of Christ” better than worldly success. Ultimately, it is better to suffer rejection from the world for the sake of God’s kingdom. The hardship this may bring is temporary, but the blessings received through Jesus are eternal (John 3:16; 1 Peter 5:10–11).
The Bible does not teach that the good things of this world are automatically forbidden to God’s people. In fact, we are free to enjoy them, provided that we can enjoy them without sinning. When the choice is between obeying the Lord and enjoying something pleasurable, however, we must choose to obey God. Let us this day choose obedience over the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Passages for Further Study