Second Reformed Church

Sunday, November 03, 2013

"Moses, Part 2" Sermon: Hebrews 11:24-26

“Moses, Part 2”

[Hebrews 11:24-26]

November 3, 2013 Second Reformed Church

            Let us keep in mind how this chapter began, as the author explains what we receive by the means of faith:  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV).

            Forty years have passed since last week’s passage:  Moses is now forty years old, and he lives as the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh, and lives in the Pharaoh’s palace.  What we read in these verses actually takes place between Exodus 2:10, when the child is turned over to the daughter of Pharaoh, and Exodus 2:11, when Moses kills an Egyptian, which, Lord willing, we will consider next week.

            However, let us consider one thing to prevent any confusion:  hear what Moses writes in the beginning of Exodus 2:11, “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” (Exodus 2:11, ESV).  Prior to the incident we will look at next week, Moses called the Hebrews, “his people.” 

And so we continue:

            And, as we consider the forty-year-old Moses, we find four doctrines:

            First, we who believe have been adopted by God, which is preferable to all other heritages.

            Second, as the people of God, we ought to turn away from sin.

            Third, the reproach of Christ is of greater value that all riches and power without Him.

            And fourth, endurance is found in setting our eyes on the promised reward.

            “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,”

            Our text begins by telling us that, through receiving the Word of God, Moses rejected the adoption of Pharaoh – Moses believed in the God of the Hebrews and His promises, and called himself a Hebrew.

            Commentators point out that Moses would have known that he was adopted and not born of the Egyptians, because he was circumcised, whereas, he would not have been, if he was a natural born Egyptian.  Some commentators go on to speculate that Pharaoh’s daughter kept Moses’ mother on as a nurse to raise him, and it was while she raised him that he learned the Hebrew faith.  But there is no evidence to support that, so it is only a theory.

            What the young Moses would have been able to put together on his own was that the Hebrew people were circumcised as he was, so he was a Hebrew.  He would have been able to hear their history and worship from their being around – remember, Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews because there were so many of them.  It would not have been hard for Moses to learn what it was to be Hebrew and Who God is from all the Hebrews around him – whether or not his parents had access to him.

            By whatever means he came to learn about being a Hebrew and about the Hebrew God and His promises, Moses knew he was a Hebrew, and he rejected his adoption by the daughter of Pharaoh and affirmed that he was a Hebrew – a worshipper of the Hebrew God.  As we saw in the text from Exodus, before the incident we will talk about next week, Moses called himself a Hebrew, he called the Hebrew people his people, he empathized with their suffering, and he considered himself one of the people of God.

            “choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God”

            Moses rejected his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter – with all its rights and privileges – because he would rather mistreated – even enslaved – with the people of God.  Moses embraced his biological heritage and he received his spiritual heritage by faith.  Moses had heard the Word of God and embraced his adoption by God as a believing Hebrew.

            Moses believed that word that would be written by David, “For a day in [God’s] courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10, ESV).

            Here we understand, first, we who believe have been adopted by God, which is preferable to all other heritages.

            No matter how high a station a person was born in, being a son or daughter of God is preferable to it.  As Paul explains:

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

            “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14, ESV).

            In being adopted by God, we understand that love that God has for us, having chosen us to be His from before the creation of the world, that through Christ, we should receive all the blessings of Heaven, as He predestined us to become like Christ in holiness.

            In being adopted by God, we bring praise to God, who has blessed us through Jesus Christ, by redeeming us through Christ’s blood, and lavishing upon us all the riches of His grace, by which we understand the mystery of His will.

            In being adopted by God, we obtain an inheritance, with our brother, Jesus, so we might bring praise and glory to Him.  For, when we believed the Gospel by faith, receiving what God had promised through Christ – salvation – we were sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

            In these ways – and more – we see that we who believe have been adopted by God, and we see that this adoption is preferable to all other heritages.

Moses rejected his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter – with all its rights and privileges – because he understood that being mistreated with the people of God was worth more than “enjoy[ing] the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

As the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses would have been expected to worship the Egyptian gods and take part in the subjugation of the Hebrews – among other things – all of which were sin, and would give, at best, fleeting pleasure. 

As one who believed the Word of God – an adopted son of the Almighty – he understood that he could not enjoy those things which God has forbidden without offending Him.  And, secondarily, sin is only a temporary pleasure, whereas the pleasures of God are eternal.  As David would write, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV).

Despite the fact that we continue to sin as Christians, we know that is true, don’t we?  Sin doesn’t have the staying power that obedience to God and His promises has, does it?  And still we think:  one more time – I want to feel that pleasure – that rush – one more time.

We all have sins that we struggle with – I do.  Understand that they are sins against the Almighty Holy God Who has adopted you as His son!  He has sent His Son out of love to forgive you and indwelled you with the Holy Spirit so you never have to sin.  Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:15, ESV).  Besides which, the pleasures of sin are short-lived.  Would you rather have the blessings of God – which are eternal – or the pleasures of sin – which may not last through your sinning?

Do not despair, but repent, and fight, and flee to that way of escape that God has always provided, so we need never sin against Him.  And remember what Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained [the resurrection from the dead] or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:12-16, ESV).

Still, do not let Paul’s words become an excuse for you – “well, if Paul still sinned…”

Remember what John wrote, “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. 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. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17, ESV).

And Peter reminds us, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does” (1 Peter 4:1-6, ESV).

So, we understand, second, as the people of God, we ought to turn away from sin.

“He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt,”

Moses rejected his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter – with all its rights and privileges – because he considered receiving the “reproach of Christ” to be worth more than all the treasures of Egypt – which he would have had.  As an adopted son, and a Hebrew, it is unlikely there would ever have been a time when he could become Pharaoh, yet, he would have had great power and wealth all the same.

The word that is translated “considered”  in our text means “esteemed” – which is stronger than merely “considered” – it means to “value highly” and “to prize.”  The “reproach of Christ” was not just something he thought was better, not just something he was willing to receive, but it was something he prized and longed for as the adopted son of God.

What does our text mean by the “reproach of Christ”?

Isaiah, in his fifty-third chapter describes the reproach of Christ:  “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, …smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, … and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, ….”

Christ suffered verbal abuse and physical affliction – this is the reproach of Christ – brought upon Him by the will of God and the sin of unbelievers.

Why would Moses consider this suffering more valuable for him to experience as a believer in the Savior Who was to come than the power and wealth of Egypt?

For at least three reasons:

If we suffer for Christ and like Him, we are proven to be heirs with Christ.

Paul explains, “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:12-17, ESV).

If we suffer for Christ and like Him, we are proven to be united with Christ and all other believers.

As Jesus said, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40, ESV)

And, if we suffer for Christ and like Him, we are supported by the Holy Spirit.

As Paul wrote, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10, ESV).

Paul explained that all of the benefits of his heritage and training were garbage to him, in comparison with the blessings of and suffering for Christ:

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:1-11, ESV).

If we are Christians – if we are believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – though we do not seek out suffering – if we should suffer for the sake of Christ, as His brothers, co-heirs with Him of the Kingdom, is it not worth more than everything else we could possibly attain in this world?  Honor and titles and wealth and possessions will all fade away when Christ returns – our heritage and job title will be meaningless on the last day, but, if we have suffered for Christ and like Christ, because we believe in the Gospel, that will survive to the Glory of Jesus Christ and His salvation of us.

And so, we understand that, third, the reproach of Christ is of greater value that all riches and power without Him.

“For he was looking to the reward.”

 Moses rejected his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter – with all its rights and privileges – because he was setting his eyes on the reward.

What “reward” was Moses looking forward to?

The first question we need to ask is what does the word “reward” mean here – and that leads to a problem:  the word that is used here means “the payment of wages” and could refer to the wages that the sinner will receive at the judgment, or the wages the believer will receive at the judgment, or both – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, ESV).

Since the author of Hebrews has been talking about Moses’ choice between the riches of Egypt and the riches of following Christ, we could take it to mean both that he was comparing the rewards of the believer and the unbeliever, and since he was looking towards one, we understand that he was looking forward to the riches of following Christ.

We could also look back a few verses and see that the author of Hebrews wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV).  Here again, the author is comparing those without faith and those with faith, and the rewards one looks forward to as one who has faith.

In other words, it would seem that the context leans towards understanding the word as Moses looking at the rewards of both the unbeliever and the believer, but emphasizes, by his “looking to the reward,” the reward of those who have faith and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is the reward of those who believe – those who have faith?

Paul wrote, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9, ESV).

Paul explains that God Almighty – the Owner of all of Creation, set everything aside that He might be born in the Person of a poor human being and save God’s people.  Through this poverty of putting aside His claim on the Creation while He lived and died to make His people righteous.  Since He did that for us, we are able to lay aside all of our possessions and titles, to “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, …” (Matthew 6:33a, ESV).

Through faith – having received the promises of God, we can lay aside our desires to possess and be noticed, and seek first – and long for – the coming Kingdom of God and the restoration of the Creation at the return of Jesus, and work diligently to become righteous – holy – like Jesus is – those are to be our priorities.

            So the reward that Moses was looking forward to was the Second Coming of Christ with the restoration of the Creation and his being made holy – in the Image of Jesus.

            Is that what you long for most of all?

            Do you think you might better be able to handle the daily stresses and trials that you go through if you keep before you that fact that Jesus is returning and will make all things new again – and you, yourself, will be made holy?  If we understand that as meaningful as this life is – and as much work as we have before us in proclaiming the Gospel and living obedient lives – if we keep before us that Jesus has finished the work – all is sure – and we are just waiting for it to come to pass – might that not help us to endure from day to day?

            If so, fourth, endurance is found in setting our eyes on the reward that is coming at the end of the age.

            Moses rejected his adoption by the daughter of Pharaoh, understanding that he had been adopted by God, which is preferable to all other heritages.  He sought to turn from sin and welcome with longing the reproach of Christ as of greater value than all riches and power without Him.  And he found endurance as he set his eyes on the promised reward.

            May we do likewise.

            Let us pray:

            Almighty God, we thank You for the witness of Moses, and we ask that You would help us to understand our adoption and glorify You for it.  Help us to always turn from sin and to welcome joining with Christ and our brothers and sisters in the faith in receiving His reproach.  And may we be buffeted by the Holy Spirit, that we may be strong to keep our eyes on the promised reward.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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