Hebrews 11:24-29 deals primarily with the faith of Moses, but I want to emphasize a secondary element. Did you notice in v.25 that Moses had to make a choice? He had to choose.
I believe we need to look at this concept of choosing because is not life but a series of choices? And the choices we make, in essence, determine our character. God created us with the capacity to choose. Man has volition. The Bible teaches that man has the ability to choose or not to choose God; to choose or not to choose Christ; to choose good or to choose evil; to choose to obey or to choose to not obey. And then man must live with the consequences of those choices. Napoleon said, “In every battle there is a crisis point of time in which the choices we make will determine the outcome of the battle.”
In our lives we are also faced with crisis points in which we choose good or evil and those choices will determine the outcome of whatever battle we are fighting. So it has been since the beginning of time. Choices carry consequences. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life that you may live.” In Joshua 24:15 it says, “choose for yourself today whom you will serve.” Even the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is filled with illustrations of choices: In Heb. 11:2 Abel chose God’s way and gave a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. In Heb. 11:5 Enoch chose to walk in God’s way and walked right into the presence of God. In Heb. 11:3 Abraham chose to live a life of faith. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph all chose to believe God and were blessed by God. Choices — that’s just the way it is in life. And here in Heb. 11 is one of the best illustrations of making the right choice. Moses made a choice and yet that choice is not much different than the choices you and I must make every day. But I want you to notice today that there were four things that Moses had to reject in order to make the right choice.
First, Moses rejected the world’s prestige v.24 Here Moses makes his first choice and it was against the prestige of the world. Moses had risen to the heights of Egyptian society. His story is told in Ex. 2:1-10. You recall it? Pharaoh passed a law that said every Hebrew boy born in Egypt was to be cast into the Nile River. His mother tried to hide him but she ran out of places in her home so she put him in a wicker basket and hid him among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. The daughter of Pharaoh found the baby, took pity on him, and raised him as her son. Ex. 2 says the child grew and the next time you hear of Moses he is 40 years old. So for at a minimum of 28 years he is taught the wisdom of Egypt and living the life of a Prince. He’s got it all – the power, the prestige, the prince of Egypt.
But in Ex. 2:11-12 Moses is forced to make a decision, to make a choice. Hebrew 11 simply summarizes that choice by saying, “he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” You know what happened as a result of that choice, don’t you? God drove him out of Egypt and then called him back to Egypt as the leader of Israel. But it was Moses who exercised his will for Heb.11:25 says he made a choice. The world’s prestige is usually comprised of four components: the right family, money, education and position. Moses had it all, didn’t he? The family of Pharaoh, all the money of Egypt, the best education to be offered, and a position second only to Pharaoh. Yet he did not consider all of that an equal to the call of God in his life. So he chose against the world’s prestige. Need I remind you that the world’s prestige is fleeting? It does not last long. Baron Von Welch, an incredible wealthy man, renounced his title, his estate, and all his revenue to leave Germany to go to British Guyana as a missionary.
Today his body lies in a lonely grave. But listen to what he wrote near his death: What is it to me the title well born when I am born again to Christ? What is it to me the title of Lord when I desire to be the servant of Christ? What is it to me to be called your grace when I have need of God’s grace? All of those vanities I will away with and all else I will lay at the feet of my dear Lord Jesus. He turned his back on the world’s prestige. So did Moses. Do we?
Secondly, Moses rejected the world’s pleasure v.25. You do know that sin is fun? I mean that is the problem with sin, its fun. But need I remind you that it is fun only for a season. The Greek text reads the enjoyment of sin and there is a certain enjoyment to sin. Moses chose rather to suffer affliction than to reach out for the momentary thrill of sin. Job 20:5 says, the triumphing of the wicked is short and the joy of the godless is momentary. Have you ever asked the question I found in Job 21:7, “Why do the wicked still live and continue on and even become very powerful?” Look at their parties and prosperity and it looks like they are having so much fun. But v.13b hits you like a thunderbolt. It says, “Suddenly they go down to hell.” The point is that you can choose the pleasures of sin for a moment and pay the price long after that moment is gone. Psalm 73 says, “Behold the wicked. Always at ease and increasing in wealth. Maybe I have kept my heart pure in vain. When I pondered to understand this it was troublesome in my sight. But then I came into the sanctuary of God and I perceived their end. They are in a slippery place, they will be cast down in destruction, they will be destroyed in a moment, they will be swept away by sudden terrors. Like a dream when one awakes, the Lord when aroused will despise their form.”
Moses chose to reject the pleasure of sin for a season. What choice do we make? You do understand that the willingness to reject the world’s pleasure is predicated by whether you love the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart.
Oh how I pray that we, like Moses, will choose against the world’s prestige and the world’s pleasure.
Thirdly, Moses rejected the world’s plenty v.26 phrase “the anointing of Christ” in the Greek is literally “the anointing of Christ.” The reproach Moses had to bear, as a leader was a special anointing of God. He could have had all Egypt had to offer and if you read any of the archeological studies on Egypt during this time period you would have discovered that Egypt had a lot of riches to offer. You and I are the anointed one’s of God, the called of God, set-apart, sanctified, separated and we have got to learn to turn our back on the world’s plenty. Psalm 37:16 says, “Better is the little of the righteous then the abundance of many wicked.”
I would rather identify with the anointed of God then the riches of Egypt. You have read about the rest of Moses life – he didn’t have much in a material sense. But he gave up all those riches because he saw the plan of God for his life and that plan demanded the kind of commitment that involved turning your back on the world’s plenty. Now I am not advocating poverty. Just choose righteousness and let God decide if you will be rich or poor. But why would Moses walk away from all the riches of Egypt?
v.26 says he was looking to the reward. Why did he turn down the world’ prestige? Because he saw a greater glory in heaven. Why did he turn down the world’s pleasure? Because he saw a greater blessing in heaven. Why did he turn down the world’s plenty? Because he saw a greater reward in heaven. He didn’t give anything up. He would have said, “Don’t cry for me! Don’t pity me!” All that stuff that Pharaoh had went into the ground and is now dust but I am still enjoying the riches that God gives to the righteous.
What did Jesus tell us to do? Lay up treasures where? In heaven. Lastly, Moses rejected the world’s pressure v.27 You do realize that Moses had plenty of pressure on him? And all the pressures were against making the right choice. The pressure of pleasure. The pressure of riches. The pressure of a debt to Pharaoh’s daughter for what she had done for him. Notice the text says he forsook or left Egypt. That speaks of both a physical departure and of a renunciation of the heart. It is the same word used in Luke 5:28 where it says Matthew left everything and followed Jesus. Let me say it in a contemporary fashion. Moses “chucked” Egypt. Satan will use any pressure he can to get you to make the wrong choice. Peer pressure. A personal friend pressuring you. The pressure of being considered a prude. We all have pressures, don’t we?
Abraham was pressured when he called his wife his sister. Jacob was pressured when fleeing from Laben. Aaron was pressured into yielding to the people when he made the golden calf. Israel was pressured into refusing to go up against the nation Canaan. 20,000 soldiers in Gideon’s army were pressured into leaving that army. David was pressured when he fled from Absalom. The disciples panicked under pressure numerous times. Peter denied Jesus three times when pressured. And Christians everywhere, everyday buckle under pressure. John says in his epistle, “Do not love the world nor the things of the world for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” There is only one way to counter those kinds of pressure. To take the book we call the Bible and the greater the pressure gets the deeper you need to study it. Men of faith have always found the faith to stand up to pressure. Gideon did when he destroyed the idols of Baal. Joshua and Calab did when they entered the land despite the pressure of the other spies. Deborah did when she led Israel’s army to victory. David did when he slew Goliath. Ester did when she went into the king fearing for her own life. Daniel did even if it meant the lion’s den.
And we ought to be praying to God that we would also stand up against the pressures of the world. But where did Moses get the courage to do what he did? To make the right choices? V.27 says he saw him who is unseen. A little runt king is nothing when compared to the king of kings. The next time you get pressured by somebody remember whom the real king is and that you have already identified with him. So Moses chose. He chose against the world’s prestige. He chose against the world’s pleasure. He chose against the world’s plenty. He chose against the world’s pressure.
I want to introduce to you Edwin Thomas, a master of the stage. He debuted in Richard II at the age of 15. He was a premier Shakespearean actor who performed Hamlet for 100 consecutive nights. Edwin had two brothers, John and Junius, both actors. In 1863 all three brothers performed Julius Caesar. Edwin’s brother played the role of the assassin Brutus. He later took on the role of the assassin in Ford’s Theatre when he fired a bullet at the back of the head of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, his last name was Booth. Edwin was never the same again and the shame of his brother’s act drove him into retirement. Years later he stood at a Jersey train station when a well-dressed man passed him and lost his footing and fell between the platform and a moving train. Without hesitation, Edwin locked his leg around a railing, grabbed the man, and pulled him to safety. Edwin never recognized the man he had just saved but the man recognized him.
Weeks later Booth received a letter from the chief secretary to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant thanking him for saving the life of a child of an American hero. Who had Edwin Booth saved, Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln. How ironic that one brother killed the president while the other saved the president’s son. Edwin and John Booth, had the same father, mother, profession and passion, yet one chooses life, the other, death.
The story is dramatic but not unique. Abel and Cain, both sons of Adam. Abel chooses God, Cain chooses murder. They both made a choice.and Lot, both pilgrims in Canaan. Abraham chooses God. Lot chooses Sodom. They both made a choice. David and Saul, both kings of Israel. David chooses God, Saul chooses power. Both made a choice.
In every age of history, on every page of scripture, God allows man to make their own choice. And there are choices to make: A narrow gate or a wide gate. A narrow road or a wide road. Build on a rock or build on sand. Serve God or serve riches. Be numbered among the sheep or be numbered among the goats.
God gives us choices and each choice we make carries consequences. When it was all said and done, Moses made the right choice v.29. What choices will you make this week?
The Rev. Dr. James Barnes is currently the pastor of White Memorial Church in Milroy.