Exodus 1:1-2:10 describes the background for Moses’ parents’ faith.What do the following expressions tell us about the work of faith: 1) “they saw he was no ordinary child”; and 2) “they were not afraid of the king’s edict”?What practical applications can we think of for our modern society?
Put yourself in the shoes of Moses, the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.What difficulties might Moses have faced when he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter?Yet, by faith he refused to be known as such.What does this tell us about the work of faith?What wisdom is there for a Christian to learn?
Verse 25 uses the word “chose.”How many choices did Moses have?How are the choices characterized?The context suggests that it was “by faith” that Moses was able to make the right choice.What does Moses’ example teach us about the work of faith?
Moses lived many centuries before Christ, and yet verse 26 indicates that Moses lived for the sake of Christ in his own generation.What does this teach us about the overriding theme of the Scriptures?The context also allows us to put “by faith” in front of the passage in verse 26.What do the words “of greater value,” “treasures,” and “reward” reveal about the work of faith?
Verse 27 says that Moses persevered because he saw Him who is not visible.What does “saw” tell us about the work of faith?How long did Moses persevere? (Acts 7:23; Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 34:7)The Scripture says that perseverance builds character.What character traits did God construct in Moses during this period? (Numbers 12:3)What does Moses’ example teach us about how to see difficulties in our life?
Exodus 12 is a backdrop for verse 28.What does Moses’ faith teach us about assurance of salvation for those who have faith in Jesus Christ? (Romans 5:9)
Moses is known as one of the great leaders whom the Lord God used for his redemptive purpose. The book of Exodus shows us that he became instrumental to bringing a slave nation into God's liberty. More importantly, it was through Moses that the Lord God produced the first five books of the Bible. What made him such a great man of God? Six points can be made.
First, the test (23)
Moses was born in a tough generation. Look at v. 23. "By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict." This passage has Exodus 1-3 as an historical backdrop. At that time the Israelites lived in Egypt as a slave nation. About four centuries before, while Joseph was the prime minister of the Egyptian Empire, the Egyptians treated the Israelites favorably. But Joseph soon died. More than four centuries passed. The Egyptians forgot all the good deeds Joseph had done. In the meantime the Israelites grew in number. The Egyptians felt threatened and so they began to persecute the Israelites. They put them under hard labors. The slave masters made their lives bitter. In addition, the king issued an edict that all the newborn Hebrew boys must be put to death. As soon as a boy was born the parents must throw the baby into the Nile River. Moses was conceived in his mother's womb during this tough time.
The toughness of Moses' time however was just a test from God. What kind of test was it? It was the test of faith. In what respect was it a test of faith? In view of Hebrews 11:1-3 it was a test of faith because God was testing whether or not the Israelites could put the unseen God above the menacing Pharaoh, who is seen.
We see the same test taking place in our daily lives again and again. In fact, every phenomenon that happens in our life is a test of faith from God. Good things like getting a promotion at your work or bad things like losing a job or receiving a letter of rejection from a graduate school all serve as tests of your faith from God.
Of course not all tests are easy to pass. This is particularly true with tests from God.But God does not tempt (or test if you will) anyone more than one can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Plus the tests (or exams) from God are “open-book tests,” for the Bible has all the clues for us to correctly handle the tests so we would pass them with all A’s. For example, each time we are given a test of faith, we can find the wisdom to pass the test by remembering such Bible passages as Hebrews 11:1-3 or 11:6, for these Bible passages give out tons of clues to knowing how to handle the situations before us. In the case of Moses’ parents, for example, this passage tells them that God created the universe and everything in it. He made Pharaoh. He made those who make laws and regulations. By the same token one can say that behind good things and bad things that are happening, there is always God who sends these things for a reason. One interesting point for us to remember is that on many occasions God sends us bad things only as stepping stones for better things to come. Does not Hebrews 11:6 say that we must believe that God exists and rewards those who earnestly seek him? So during times of seemingly bad things that are happening, instead of doubting God's love, we must absolutely believe in God's will, which is good and perfect, and continue to earnestly seek God. Then he gives us wonderful wisdom. He gives us also action plans. Then as we follow through with them with absolute faith, God eventually blesses us as much as we believe in him.
The Exodus account, then, shows that in the case of Moses' parents, God blessed their faith and used the king's edit as a stepping stone to not only get Moses saved but also adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, and then to get admitted into the Royal Academy all at the government’s expense.
How have you been doing? Are you faced with one bad thing or another? Or have you been so blessed with one blessing after another? Remember then that every phenomenon that is happening in your life, either good or bad, is a test of faith. So today and tomorrow, learn to take care of your faith in God. Then God will lead you to the right path of life step by step, all according to your faith in Him.
Second, the identity (24)
In v. 23, we saw that faith sees God's good will even in tough situations. Indeed this faith then gave rise to the glorious opportunity for Moses to receive the finest education in the Royal Academy of the Egyptian Empire.
Thanks to Moses' parents' faith, Moses grew up in the Pharaoh's royal palace. Then Moses became about 40. By that time Moses started thinking about the meaning of his life. He began to seriously ask questions like, “Who am I,”“Why am I here,” “What is the meaning and purpose of my life?” In view of Hebrews 11:24, of all the questions of life, the question of his identity bothered Moses the most.
But defining oneself is not as easy as it seems. Nowadays some people are so confused about themselves that they even try to change their gender through operations. Less severe cases include people trying to improve their images by changing fashion styles or having cosmetic surgeries. In this way, not knowing who he is makes him insecure. It renders him vulnerable to temptations. The Gerasene demoniac in Mark’s gospel chapter 5 did not know who he was. He even forgot his name. Because he did not know who he was, someone else came inside and ran his life.
Living in the royal palace, Moses also must have been confused about his identity. His physical appearance was no different than that of regular Egyptians. He wore Egyptian clothes. He ate Egyptian food. He spoke the Egyptian language. He drove Egyptian-made chariots. He lived in an Egyptian palace. He held Egyptian citizenship. His mother, namely Pharaoh's daughter, was an Egyptian woman. He went through Egyptian schools. So, he could have very well defined himself as an Egyptian. After all, defining himself as such was not a bad idea, for almost every one is dying to establish some connection with power figures like George Bush or Bill Clinton.
But one will never be able to find one's true identity by using people or material things around him as references. They can never define your true self correctly.
How then can one find one's true self? How did Moses find his true self? We find an answer to this question in v. 24. "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter." The answer is faith in the Lord God. He saw God who made him. He believed in God who wove him in his mother's womb, got him inside of a basket, sent him floating down the river only to be picked up by the Pharaoh's daughter, and then had him nurtured by his real mother.
Faith then helps man see himself from God's point of view. When he saw himself from God's point of view, he could see everything that happened to him as God's providence, not a series of mere coincidences. It was the Lord God who blessed Moses' parents' faith and therefore orchestrated the events in such a way that Moses would become what he became and who he became. Of course, he was thankful to Pharaoh's daughter for all the favors she bestowed upon him. But ultimately, he knew that the credit goes to God the Father who sent her into his life in honor of his parents' faith.
Moses' example helps us to see who we are and what we are. Who are we? John 1:12-13 answer the question, for when one believes in Jesus and accepts him as Lord and Savior, he is born of God. The expression "of God" means he belongs to God, for God gave birth to him. This clearly defines a believer’s identity as God’s child. By professing faith in the Lord, he then admits that God made him to be God’s possession. He then appreciates that he has come from God and lives for God. He knows that he is under God’s provision and protection. The appreciation of one's status as God's child helps one to rise above the waters of adversity. It enables him to develop his roots in God. As he is rooted and built in God, God who is the source of life makes him deeply satisfied. The Lord then helps him to say what Jacob said to his irksome neighbor, Esau, in Genesis 33:11. “‘Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.’ And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.” Let us all say once again, "I have all I need." King David also said the same thing in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want." In a way, King David's faith helped him to have a clear sense of identity as God's child. Likewise, thanks to Moses' faith, he could find himself before God as God's child, not as the son of a daughter of a heathen king.
The realization of one's status as a child of God is a truly liberating experience. It liberated Moses from the human bond with even the daughter of the most powerful political figure of Moses' time.
Third, the choice (25)
The third reason why Moses rose above the multitude of people as a prominent leader in Christian history is his decision to choose what is right rather than what makes him feel good or gives him some quick benefits.
Look at v. 25. "He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." Three things demand our attention: the number of choices, the cost of his choice, and the character of his choice.
1) The number.
Verse 25 presents only two options and two alone. Moses was given only two choices, not three or four but two and two only. The first one was to be mistreated along with the people of God. The second was to enjoy the pleasures of sin.
To some this may sound odd. Why only two? Why not tens, hundreds, or even millions of different choices? After all, don’t we live on American soil, the land of millions of different choices? Didn’t Frank Sinatra say, “I did it my way”? Indeed nowadays so many people have come up with so many different patterns of so-called “alternative life-styles” that emerging generations are getting increasingly confused.
From a Biblical standpoint, however, just as Moses was stuck with two alternatives and two alone, so is everyone else. You've got to choose either to be mistreated with the people of God or enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. Do not fantasize. There is no middle ground. No other possibilities exist.
Still, this may sound strange to many. But we can easily understand this truth when we think about what the Bible teaches us. In the Bible we have only two camps: Jesus' camp and the devil's camp. According to the Bible, all you do are either good or evil. Thou art either an instrument of righteousness or instrument of wickedness. Each time you do anything, it is either right or wrong. Daily you either obey God or disobey God. More fundamentally, you are either a descendant of the first Adam or a descendant of the second Adam. And the Bible classifies everyone as belonging to either of the two camps: Jesus' camp or Satan's camp. This is consistent with the way the Bible sees each person: at a particular moment of your life, you have been either saved or lost, and therefore belong to either God's kingdom or Satan's kingdom. In the same way, verse 25 gives out only two choices.
2) The cost
Each choice has its own cost. By the same token each choice has its own benefits. The first choice was to be mistreated along with the people of God. Its cost then is to be mistreated. It is to lose all the privileges in Egypt as a son of Pharaoh's daughter. What is the benefit? It sounds like there is no benefit. Maybe you can consider the title "people of God" as kind of benefit. But, certainly you cannot eat the title. It does not pay the bills either. The first choice is particularly costly because you identify yourself with a slave nation. In those days a slave did not have any privileges. They were not allowed to own their own PCs or cell phones or anything. Certainly the first choice was extremely costly.
What about the second one? It looks like you lose nothing: you only gain, and you gain everything. Look at the second choice. It is to enjoy the pleasures of sin. To many, enjoying the pleasures of sin is not cheap; it costs a lot of money, time, and energy. But it was not so with Moses. To him, all the pleasures of sin were available free of charge. As the royal prince of the Egyptian Empire he had power, honor, fame, money, and women, all at his finger tips. With all these resources at his disposal, he had unlimited opportunities to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Indeed the second choice had all the benefits that are immediately available, all appealing to his fleshly desires.
When we compare the two choices, it looks like the first choice is the worst possible one, whereas the second is the best possible one. In fact, in this American world of capitalism, a lot of people work really hard to reach as close as possible the status that Moses had. In addition, the age of 40 is the prime of life, so one knows how to enjoy his life better, if he has the means and resources to enjoy it. Moses had the means and resources. He was on top of the world.
3) The characterization
The cost-and-benefit analysis of the two choices indicates that anyone in Moses' position could have picked the second choice, never the first one. Yet, verse 25 says that Moses picked the first one. Why? We can find an answer to this question from the way verse 25 characterizes the two choices.
Right characterization of a choice helps one to make a right choice. The Israelites were slaves. They belonged to a social underclass. They were not well educated. They were uncivilized. As a slave nation they did not know how to take care of themselves. They did not know how to get along with one another. They were not good in getting anything done. If they were good at anything, they were good at eating and complaining. They resembled animals like dogs or possums, creatures of natural instincts, not knowing how to exercise self-control. But, the Bible still calls them the people of God. What a characterization!
It is also interesting to note the way the Bible characterizes the second choice - enjoying the pleasures of sin for a short time. At first glance it appears as though the life as a prince in the royal palace is a highly sophisticated and civilized one. It sounds like the finest way of living life. According to human standards Moses lived in the highest society where only the best of all the best citizens had membership. Naturally, he was surrounded by highly sophisticated people. His advisors were all masters in their own fields such as international politics, oratory, mathematics, physics, engineering, astronomy, and so on. His table manners were perfect. The way he talked was smooth. And no doubt that he was one of the most favorable husband materials favored by all the ladies within the empire.
Yet, the Bible does not describe his life in the royal palace in a favorable light. To a carnal mind, his life may look glamorous. But to the author of Hebrews, it was nothing but a cursed life – the life that piles up God's wrath on one’s head.
This characterization helped him to discard the wrong choice, and select and go for the right choice, that is, the first choice.
How then was Moses able to secure the insight to view the slave nation as the people of God? How did he come to the realization that his life in the Egyptian Empire was the life under God’s curse? The answer is found in the phrase "by faith," for the context allows us to read verse 25 by putting this phrase in front of it: "[By faith] Moses chose to be mistreated..."
Indeed, faith brightens our spiritual eyes to see the essence of matters in life correctly. It helps us to have a piercing insight as to the essential nature of the choices we have in life. It gives us the wisdom to discern what is right and what is wrong. It gives us eyes to see through the confusing appearances of a matter. Faith is faith in God. By faith we can see the way God sees the world and her people. Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
Fourth, the value (26)
The fourth reason why Moses came to be regarded as one of the most respected spiritual leaders in God's redemptive history is attributable to his keen sense of value. He knew what is valuable and what is not, what reaps a lasting reward and what does not. Based on this sense of value he invested his life in what is valuable. He stayed away from the way of life that looks profitable but in the end reaps only emptiness.
Look at verse 26. "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." Here again the passage puts two values on a scale with two plates, one on each side. On one side of the scale there is a plate containing a weight called “disgrace for the sake of Christ,” and on the other there is a plate containing a weight called “the treasures of Egypt." Upon weighing, Moses found the disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.
Again, to many this value judgment may be viewed as strange. Here "disgrace for the sake of Christ" refers to pains, sufferings, and hardships you have to go through in serving the Christ. Christ came to serve, not to be served. Naturally, Jesus took the position of an unworthy servant. In order to become so, he gave up his glory as God and made himself nothing. Then as a servant of all, he served all kinds of people. In the end, in order to take away the sins of the world, he went through a lot of disgraceful things such as being spat upon his face, severely beaten up, and so on. The Israelites were also a bunch of sinners. As a slave nation they were steeped in a slave mentality. Having lived at the bottom of a heathen society, they picked up a lot of dirty desires and beastly characters. The Lord appointed Moses as their servant. Naturally, Moses suffered a lot. But he regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt. Here “treasures of Egypt” include lots of good things like limousine services, chauffeurs, access to the bundles of money in the Bank of Egypt, palatial office with a gorgeous bathroom, private tennis court, private swimming pool, etc. and so forth. According to a worldly standard, certainly the treasures of Egypt are of greater value than the disgrace for the sake of Christ. Yet, Moses judged differently. He valued the disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.
Why? Was it because he was stupid? No. It was because he was looking ahead to his reward. Here reward refers to the reward which God will bestow upon him not in his life in the present world but during the life to come after his physical death.
How then could he see the invisible reward in the world to come? Again the flow of the passage allows us to read verse 26 with the phrase “By faith.” By faith he could see the reward to come. This reminds us of what we learned from the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They all looked forward to the heavenly city.
Fifth, the discipline (27)
The fifth reason why Moses rose to a prominent position in God's redemptive history is that he persevered during a long period of discipline. Look at v. 27. "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible." Here the word "persevered" refers to the 40 years of desert life. There he took care of the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. Although he was Jethro's son-in-law he could not live there for free. But he had no money to pay for room and board. He did not have a Social Security number. He was undocumented. But still he had to put bread in his mouth in order to survive. He had to earn wages to pay rent. In exchange for a shelter and three meals a day he worked as a shepherd for the sheep belonging to Jethro. And he did this for 40 long years. Forty years is a long period of time. During this period he had to chase after speechless sheep. While tending sheep he did not have much to entertain himself. All he could see around himself was some grass areas here and there, tumble weeds, rock formations, rugged lime stones, scorpions, lizards, and lots of dirt. If one is asked to spend time like this for one weekend or two, it would be a lot of fun. But, certainly it must have been hard to spend the prime of his life in this way for forty long years.
During this period he could have grown bitter. Yes. He was born a prince. Yes. He got the finest education. But what did they all amount to? Yes. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God. But the people of God rejected him. Yet v. 27 says, "he persevered because he saw him who is invisible." While he spent time in the Midianite desert, he saw someone else, that is, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Of course God did not say anything to him. He remained silent. So was Moses before him. Yet, by faith Moses saw him who was not visible.
What then did he gain? The word “persevered” gives us an answer. Romans 5:3-4 say, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." For those who do not have faith in the Lord, suffering makes a man to be crooked. But for those who have faith, suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character. What kind of character did God produce? Numbers 12:3 indicates that it was during this period of long discipline that the Lord God developed in him a humble character. A man of hot temper became a man of love, for love is long patient. It is kind. It is not rude. It is not easily angered. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Sixth, the mission (28)
Finally he was ready for the mission the Lord God had in mind. After forty years of character-building the Lord God sent him back to Egypt on a rescue mission.
How then did he fulfill God's mission? Look at v. 28. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel." The mission was to save the people of God out of the iron grip of Pharaoh and into God's freedom. By any stretch of the imagination, it was a mission impossible. But by faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. The Passover and the sprinkling of blood are foreshadows of the gospel of Jesus. In this passage, the firstborn is an idiom for representation. The firstborn of Egypt represents all who do not believe in the gospel. The firstborn of Israel represents all who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Next Sunday we will then study how the Lord God used Moses to help the Israelites cross the Red Sea and march onward to the promised land.
In conclusion, we learned that, thanks to the seed of faith which Moses' parents planted in Moses, Moses grew in faith. Then this faith enabled him to rise above a sinful world and sinful people. The Lord God then molded him as a shepherd leading many to God's freedom. This generation requires a lot of servants like Moses. Let us all pray to raise up many shepherds after Moses' image.
In this passage, we can learn Moses’ faith which saves many (even millions) from bondage to the power of sin and Satan into the freedom to worship the Lord and serve Him with great joy.
Exodus 1:1-2:10 describes a background for the faith of Moses’ parents. What do the following expressions tell us about the work of faith: 1) “they saw he was no ordinary child”; and 2) they were not afraid of the king’s edict”? What practical applications can we think of in our modern society?
** 1) Faith enables us to see each person from God’s point of view. For example, when we have faith that God created men, we can see each person as a soul with God’s image within him or her. Then we can understand God’s good purpose and will for each person.
2) Faith sets us free from the fear of (visible) men, for this faith helps us to see God who is in control of all creations, including fearsome dictators like Pharaoh.
** We can learn: 1) how to value man’s life as from God, even the life of a baby conceived in a mother’s womb; 2) the wisdom and courage to overcome the environment instead of falling victim to the circumstances. The second point is especially important, for when we have faith in God, the Lord God helps us to see temptations, hardships, trials, ordeals as God’s great opportunities to gain victories, even out of the deep pockets of our enemies. See how Moses’ parents’ faith helped Miriam to keep following the basket (containing the baby), and when the opportunity presented itself, by faith she jumped on it, and thereby helped Moses get admission to the royal academy all at government expense. The rule of thumb for those who live by faith is that every hardship is a test from God, testing to see if our faith is truly genuine, as pure as silver refined seven times over. 1Pe 1:7-9; Job 23:10; Prov 17:3
Put yourself in the position of Moses as the [adopted] son of Pharaoh’s daughter. What difficulties might Moses have had in refusing to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter? Yet, by faith he refused to be known as such. What does this tell us about the work of faith? What wisdom is there for a Christian to learn?
** Perhaps it might have been difficult to “betray” his foster mother, that is, Pharaoh’s daughter. Another difficulty might be the temptation to have power as the successor of the Egyptian Empire.
** Again, faith provides a believer with spiritual eyes to see everything correctly, like who is indeed behind Moses ending up in the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter, etc. It helps man to see above and beyond what is visible (or physical).
** It helps us to have a clear identity as child of God, born of God, not of natural descent, human decision, or husband’s will.
V. 25 uses the word “chose”. How many “choices” did Moses have? How are the choices characterized? The context suggests that it was “by faith” that Moses was able to make the right choice. What does Moses’ example teach us about the work of faith?
** Only two
** Israelites were not just a mere slave nation, but the people of God!
The life in the royal palace is not something to be envious of, but to be shunned, for the palace itself is a den of all kinds of evil including idol worship, sexual immorality, etc. and so forth.
** Moses accomplished what is impossible with human ability. By nature people hate suffering. But Moses chose to suffer for God’s people. With human will power, it is impossible to overcome the pleasures of sin. Prov. 5:22; Romans 7:14-24; John 3:19. The reason for it being so difficult for anyone to reject the pleasures of sin is its deceitfulness. Heb 3:13.
** Faith helps us to see through the devil’s schemes, enabling us to make a right choice. Satan always turns the value system upside down by tempting people to think that suffering for God’s flock is always a bad idea, or by luring people to sin little by little until they are hooked on sinful pleasures. But faith helps man to see what is wrong and what is right, even in all the subtle aspects of life’s issues.
Moses lived many centuries before Christ, and yet v. 26 indicates that Moses lived for the sake of Christ in his own generation. What does this teach us about the under current theme of the Scriptures? The context also allows us to put “By faith” in front of the passage in v. 26. What does the word [of greater] “value”, “treasures”, or “reward” point about the work of faith?
** The Scriptures all point to God’s salvation in and through Jesus.
** Faith helps us to have a correct value system. It helps us to know what is valuable and what is not. Jesus Christ is the source of all that is valuable. Disgrace for the sake of Christ is the normal way to get to know Christ. 1Co 1:23; 2:14. Consider how Paul’s value system changed upon becoming Christ’s person. Phi 3:8-10
V. 27 says that Moses persevered because he saw him who is not visible. What does “saw” tell us about the work of faith? How long did he persevere? (Acts 7:23; Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 34;7) The Scripture says that perseverance builds character. What character traits did God build in Moses during this period? (Numbers 12:3) What does Moses’ example teach us about the way to see the difficulties of our life?
** Humility, which is one of the most important qualities of a “leader” (shepherd) for God’s flock. Other qualities include patience.
** When we have faith in the Lord, we can see hard circumstances such as humiliating situations as opportunities to build godly character.
V. 28 has Exodus 12 as a backdrop. What does Moses’ faith teach us about the assurance of salvation for those who have faith in Jesus Christ? (Romans 5:9)
** Many go to church and attend worship services but still lack assurance of their own salvation. But Moses’ example assures us of our salvation in the Lord, for the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb is symbolic of the reality to come, that is, the blood sacrifice of Jesus.