The Wisdom of Faith
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:23-28
It has been well said that greatness is usually forged in the fires of affliction. God put Moses through the Desert University of Sinai for forty years. Greatness comes through service. The head of the class is reached in God’s School by being servant of all. Holy decisions and high resolves are followed by severe testings. So it was in the remarkable life of Moses, the man of God. It is summed up by the Spirit in six verses in God’s roll of honour, Hebrews 11:23-28:
“By faith Moses, when he was born was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the first-born should touch them.”
Moses was “mighty” (Deut. 34:12), and “meek” (Num. 12:3), he was the man who sang the first song (Ex. 15:1); the man who saw God face to face; the only man whom God buried (Deut. 34:6); the only man for whose body the devil fought (Jude 9); the only man whose name is associated with the last song, “the song of Moses … and … the lamb” (Rev. 15:3). Truly a giant of God towering over the sons of men. In such a wonderful personage is seen the discipline of self-renunciation. The faith manifested by his parents in their defiance of the royal decrees is later reproduced in their son. The commencement of our course gives colour to the whole; and the earliest tuition received in the divine school gives shape and tone to our characters which after-years cannot obliterate. The story of Moses is summed up in four special characteristics by the writer to the Hebrews.
His life is marked by the ability to say no. Though he had been educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in word and deed, yet he was a master in self-discipline. As son of Pharaoh’s daughter, what opportunities for pomp, wealth, fame, splendour, and majesty undreamt of in Israel’s day! Yet he calculated all carefully and definitely and whole-heartedly refused it all. The magnitude of his own renunciation entitled him to be the leader of God’s people. No leader of God’s people suffers less than the people he is called to lead. Human leaders rise to place and position in various ways; but God’s man can rise only through the suffering and chastening process of life. One must have a firm hold on self ere he leads others. Moses knew what it was to deny self. So must all who follow Christ. We are to “cease to do evil” then “learn to do well” (Isa. 1:16, 17). We are exhorted to “abhor that which is evil,” then “cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). God takes note of what we “do” as well as what we “do not.” Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; he chose the very best by faith in seeing Him who is invisible. Moses made a great choice and as a result his fame has survived the centuries. His contemporaries have long been forgotten; the glory of Babylon and Assyria, the wealth and wonders of Ancient Egypt are passed away, but the influence of Moses is deathless. Why has the memory been so vividly preserved?
He heroically chose suffering and affliction with his brethren. Historically, it is one of the first choices of the Bible. “to suffer;” it is the forerunner of an innumerable host to follow in its train. The Egyptians were aliens, worshippers of false gods. Moses’ people were worshippers of the one true God, Jehovah. How much better to be in poverty and pain with “his brethren” than with the heathen princes and aristocrats in the palace of plenty.! Their pomp was “for a season,” whereas God’s pleasures are eternal.
His choice led to a new course in the purpose of God. Forty years of exile are appointed for him where he was no longer to be a prince but a pupil under the tuition of the Lord. Everyone from the king on his throne to the maid grinding at the domestic mill, knew what he had done. He kept back nothing, he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God. His tongue told it, his face showed it, his actions proved it. His motto was, “No neutrality. If God be God, follow Him; if Baal, follow him.” Forty years as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he was taught the wisdom of men. For forty years as a shepherd and a servant he was taught the wisdom of God. In the common round of the desert as a shepherd, Moses moved subject to the will of God. Oh the lessons learned in the patient waiting for God’s time in the carrying out of His purpose!
Moses had the twin graces of patience and perseverance. He endured the refusal of “his brethren;” he endured the coldness of the daughters of Jethro, who left him standing at the well; he endured the opposition of Pharaoh; he endured the long years in the seclusion of Midian; he endured the murmurings of Israel in the wilderness; he endured the idolatry of the nation with whom he was associated; throughout the forty years in the “waste howling wilderness,” he endured. The only way that any one shall ever endure is by seeing Him by faith who cannot be seen with the natural eye. Thus in a full, faithful and fruitful life, Moses exemplifies that wonderful principle of life, faith that so honors God in national and personal history.