Hebrews 11:23-26

“Through faith, Moses’ parents hid him for three months, for they knew he was a destined child. They were not afraid to disobey the king’s decree. Through faith, Moses later refused to be known as Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing to endure maltreatment with God’s people rather than enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin. He considered abuse, such as was heaped upon the future Messiah, more precious than all the wealth of Egypt. He looked beyond to the ultimate rewards awaiting him.”
    (paraphrased)

Having briefly sketched the faith of the patriarchs, the writer provides an overview of the faith of Moses. As the founder of the Levitical system, Moses would naturally be a prominent figure in the minds of his readers. The writer passes over centuries of enslavement to personify the parental fearlessness of an Egyptian monarch.

v. 23
Seventy people went into Egypt at Joseph’s invitation (Gen. 46:27). God’s promises to Jacob were perfectly fulfilled as God’s people settled in the most fruitful section of Egypt and became a great nation (Ex. 1:1-7). There they enjoyed peace and prosperity for many years. But the prophecies concerning their subsequent oppression were also fulfilled (Ex. 1:8-14). At some point in the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, a Pharaoh came to power that was unconcerned about Joseph’s former greatness or how the Hebrews came to live in his country. Pharaoh feared these immigrants might one day side with Egypt’s enemies and help overthrow his empire. This prompted drastic efforts to reduce their numbers.

The first measure adopted was enslavement (Ex. 1:11). Appointing Egyptian taskmasters to oversee their work, Pharaoh hoped their strength would diminish under harsh oppression. “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied” (1:12). The second step Pharaoh took was to command the Hebrew midwives to destroy all male children at birth (1:16). However, they deceived him and did not comply (1:20).

As the nation of Israel continued to grow, so did the fears of Pharaoh. His third and final solution was genocide through infanticide. He ordered the drowning of all Hebrew male babies (Ex. 1:22). Pharaoh’s edict foreshadowed one made by a tyrant many centuries later. In an attempt to kill the Jewish Messiah, Herod ordered all children of Bethlehem under two years old to be slain (Mt. 2:16). Warned in a dream, Joseph took Mary and Jesus into Egypt until Herod died (2:13-20). Hosea’s prophecy was thus fulfilled; “Out of Egypt have I called my Son” (Mt. 2:15 & Hos. 11:1). 

Moses was born during the darkest hour in Israel’s history. But Pharaoh’s murderous mandate actually led to the preservation of Israel’s deliverer. Moses parents were descendants of Levi, the tribe Moses later appointed as priests (Num. 26:59). Amram and Jochebed parented three children. Aaron was the eldest, then Miriam and Moses. When Moses was born, Jochebed saw he was a “goodly child” (Ex. 2:2). In recounting this story, Steven said the infant Moses was “exceedingly fair” and “lovely in the sight of God” (Acts 7:20). The writer to the Hebrews records that Moses’ parents saw he was “a proper child.” These references combine to picture a remarkable and exceptionally handsome boy. Jochebed and her husband Amram were somehow aware that Moses was destined for greatness. They were unafraid to defy Pharaoh, for they knew a greater King who ruled a greater Kingdom.

After hiding Moses for three months, the faith of his parents was further demonstrated by an act that defied all logic. Placing Moses in a waterproof ark of papyrus reeds near the bank of the Nile, Jochebed instructed Miriam to watch what would happen (Ex. 2:4). Pharaoh’s own daughter came to bathe there, saw the basket, and opened it to discover a crying infant (2:5-6). Miriam stepped forward to ask Pharaoh’s daughter if she would like her to fetch a nurse for the baby (2:7). Like many of the ironies in Hebrew history, Jochebed was paid to nurse her own child (Ex. 2:9). Her care and influence ensured Moses would be reared as a child of Jehovah, rather than as a victim of Egyptian paganism. This inconspicuous couple thus became the chief instruments in the preparation of Israel’s greatest hero. They courageously defied the sectarian authority. Their reward was watching their son free their nation from bondage.

v. 24
Adopting the infant as her own child, Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses, meaning “he who was rescued from the water.” The same river that was the instrument of death for other male Hebrew infants carried Moses to a safe haven. Ever faithful to the promises made to the patriarchs, Jehovah guided and protected Moses. Providentially, he was raised in the very palace of the man who murdered thousands of other Hebrew babies.

Stephen indicates Moses made his decision to leave Egypt when he was about forty years old. He fully comprehend the significance of his decision (Acts 7:23). Furthermore, he made it at a time in life when former associations were difficult to sever. Although a definitive break with his past was essential in order to fulfill his destiny as a deliverer, Scripture does not record when God specifically revealed to Moses his mission.

Pharaoh’s daughter reared Moses as her son. He knew he owed her his life (Acts 7:21). His prospects were phenomenal, for his position promised him great honor, wealth, and respect. But Moses’ renunciation of the ties to his stepmother does not suggest ingratitude. Had he not been guided by his faith in God, he might have made a different career move.

Some have imagined Moses might best have served God’s plans for Israel’s deliverance by continuing as a member of the royal family. Moses knew Joseph had also formerly enjoyed a favored position in Egypt. However, Joseph became prominent in Egypt four centuries before Moses and the political winds had radically shifted. Joseph’s family had grown and become a great multitude. Although an earlier Pharaoh had favored Joseph, the current Pharaoh felt no obligation to favor Moses (Ex. 1:8). Whereas Joseph had been called to preserve his people in Egypt, Moses was called to lead his people out of Egypt. 

v. 25
This verse focuses on the decisions which Moses made. Several things should be noted about the voluntary relinquishment of his position:

<> His choice was determined by his faith in the future God had promised him.
<> His choice involved enormous sacrifice, for his prospects as a royal prince were great.
<> His choice exposed him to degradation, defamation, and suffering.
<> His choice was made at the risk of his life, for Pharaoh sought to slay him.
<> His choice brought him into close association with hordes of discontented slaves.
<> His choice caused him to face persecution by the very people he was called to lead.

Once Moses had seriously considered his people’s plight, he knew palace life would never bring him lasting satisfaction. Knowing the Egyptians would blame him for the exodus, he deliberately chose to identify with this despised nation of slaves. He preferred suffering maltreatment with them over the comforts of the Egyptian court. Moses knew his kinsmen, not the Egyptians, were the ones destined to receive God’s promises.

The luxuries Moses enjoyed since he was an infant could have influenced him to stay. But the palace pleasures were temporal compared with the eternal rewards awaiting him. He realized loyalty to Egypt was irreconcilable with loyalty to Jehovah. He knew it was a sin to remain there. To choose “the treasures of Egypt” would mean rejecting the people of God. Only through renunciation of all claims to royalty was he free to face the trials that awaited him. The nation of Egypt typifies the sinful world with which Believers must completely sever all ties.

v. 26
This verse serves to intensify the typology between Moses and Christ. “Esteeming” (hegeomai) means “to consider after giving a matter careful thought.” Moses weighed the promises of God against Egypt’s wealth. It is clear the Hebrews endured much physical abuse from their taskmasters (Ex. 1:11-14). Their sufferings are equated with the sufferings of Christ. Moses underwent some of the shame and reproach the Messiah experienced. He opted to identify with God’s people, despite the sufferings his choice entailed. The writer seeks to encourage his readers to also esteem the defamation of Christ as “greater riches” than apostatizing from their faith. The word Christ is used to draw their attention to the Messiah. The phrase, “the reproach of Christ,” is employed to remind them of the ill treatment He endured. Similar shame was heaped upon Jesus centuries after Moses left Egypt. His readers were in danger of disassociating themselves from Christ’s reproach by returning to Judaism. Later in the epistle, they are encouraged to bear the shame of Jesus (13:13). 

The vast wealth of the Pharaohs is evident by the magnificent treasures discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamen, a Pharaoh who lived only a century after Raamses. The Egyptians possessed great material riches, but the Hebrews possessed great spiritual riches. Had Moses stayed, he would have inherited vast material wealth. But as the deliverer of Israel, he is honored and revered throughout the world. Moses faith proved him worthy of greater riches than those buried with the Pharaohs. With the eye of faith, he saw the future and sacrificed everything in order to obey the Lord’s directives. He looked forward to the same reward that awaits all true Believers.

QUESTIONS: THE FAITH OF MOSES

Hebrews 11:23-26

1. Name the two “treasure cities” built by the Hebrew slaves (Exodus 1:11)

2. According to Exodus 1:7, Pharaoh’s daughter did not know the baby she found was a Hebrew. True or False?

3. According to Acts 7:20, how long did Amram and Jochebed hide baby Moses?

4. The river in which bay Moses was set adrift was:
A. the Euphrates
B. the Tigris
C. the Jordan
D. the Nile
E. none of the above

5. In what two ways did Moses grow to be mighty? (Acts 7:22)

6. According to Acts 7:6, how long were the Hebrews in bondage?

7. About how old was Moses when he decided to deliver his people? (Acts 7:23)

8. Moses’ decision to relinquish his position in Egypt involved:
A. great sacrifices
B. degradation
C. misunderstanding by others
D. persecution
E. all of the above

9. Moses chose to sever former associations in order to serve God. List old friendships you have relinquished in order to serve Christ.

 


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