July 22, 2018
Next to Jesus, Moses’ name is mentioned more times than any other human in the Bible…by a long shot. To be exact, it shows up 852 times across 789 verses.
You have heard me say this before, the Bible as a whole is all about Jesus and more so than any other Biblical figure, Moses’ life prefigures the life of Christ.
- Both were saved as babies from the wrath of an angry king
- And both found safety in Egypt
- Both were redeemers of their people
- Both were lawgivers and are well known for sermons on the law given on a mountain — Moses in the Ten Commandments and Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (which is not surprisingly a sermon on the Ten Commandments)
- Both worked numerous miracles including the feeding of a multitude
- And the two Christian sacraments established by Christ, Baptism and Communion, were prefigured by Moses: Communion in the Passover meal and Baptism in the Red Sea Crossing — noting that the Apostle Paul said that the Israelites were “Baptized into Moses” in the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2) — on bone-dry ground
It then should be no surprise to us that as there are 4 books of the Bible (Exodus — Deuteronomy) that tell of the birth, life, ministry, miracles and death of Moses the Covenant Mediator that there are also four books of the Bible (Gospels) that tell of the birth, life, ministry, miracles, and death of Jesus the greater Covenant Mediator.
And so we enter into the author of Hebrew’s focus on the life of Moses and in doing so, we find him focused on four things:
The first of these, we find in verse 23:
“By faith, Moses, when born, was hidden for 3 months by his parents because they saw that the child was handsome and they were not afraid of the edict of the king.”
You know the account: Pharaoh began to fear that Israel had grown too numerous, so he created an early form of Planned Parenthood and instructed that the male babies be thrown into the Nile to drown or be eaten by the animals therein.
Moses’ mother and dad, though, hid Moses in their house for 3 months prior to building an Ark for him to be placed in within the Nile where he could be found by Pharaoh’s daughter. They did this because, we are told, he was handsome. Do not read this in terms of him looking cute (all parents think that of their kids) — but think in terms of the promises of God. They saw that even as a baby, the hand of God was clearly seen on his life.
And they did not fear the edict of Pharaoh.
You see, here’s where this strikes home in today’s context. We have an obligation as Christians to obey the law (Romans 13:1-2), but the scriptures also speak of contexts where, if that law would cause us to sin, we have a moral obligation to break the law (Peter’s preaching in Acts 5, for example). The question is, where is that line drawn?
Today, that has become a hot-button topic:
- the Bakers not wanting to bake cakes for a gay couple
- those working to prevent the establishment of a Islamic youth center in New Castle
- places that are beginning to mandate the use of certain pronouns to refer to people
In the case of the seminary I attended, there was a mall located across the street that was closing. It was discovered that the property had been purchased by a developer who was going to put in a strip club. Knowing that this was neither good for the seminary nor for the community, the Seminary petitioned the city to allow them to purchase the property instead. The city agreed and the school made it into a library and a family counseling center, benefitting the school and the community at once.
We don’t have time this morning to lay out a whole class in the relationship between the law and ethics (that is better suited for TOPIX), but people are asking questions like this. If you are familiar with Quora, of late I have been getting a lot of questions from people on the relationship of the law and ethics as well as to the origins of ethics. It is something worth exploring, but let me just say this to you for now, for the Bible to give you license to break civil law, that law must be clearly demanding you to do something that is contrary to God’s moral law — not your preferences. But note, that if you do break the civil law, you need to be prepared to accept the civil consequences of that decision. In the case of Moses’ parents, had they been caught hiding the baby, they would have been executed. In Peter’s case, he was arrested. Are you prepared for consequences like that? In America, we have the ability to change unjust laws, but in most of the world, you have no recourse like that and, sadly, things are changing in America.
The second item is found in verses 24-26:
“By faith, when Moses was older, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, instead choosing to suffer alongside fo the people rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, even considering the disgrace of Christ to be greater than the riches of the treasury of Egypt, for he was looking toward the reward.”
Last week we talked about how Joseph chose to be identified with the people of God. Moses takes very much the same approach. As opulent as the gold of Egypt was (and a trip to the museum of history will illustrate that), the gold of God’s word and of heaven is greater.
And again, I will remind you that identifying with the body is not a matter of well-wishes, good intentions, or self definition — it is a matter of action and lifestyle. So, does your life point to this? Do you fulfill your vows to the church?
But we are told that Moses adds something to the mix — in verse 25 the text says that he chose to suffer rather than to enjoy temporary sins.
Folks, here is one more mark of the life of a Christian — though at times the pleasure of sin may draw you, but we are called to prefer suffering because in the long run, that suffering will conform us into the image of Christ. Our society will tell you that instant gratification is the way to go — do what makes you happy. God has a different view.
Try this sometime: the next time you are watching one of those pop-culture talk shows like Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz, listen for and count the number of times they say something like, “at least they are happy” or “and this makes you happy?” It is the world’s mantra.
But folks, while at times you may be happy as a Christian, the Christian faith is not about making you happy. In fact, God could care less about making you happy — he wants to make you holy and wholly committed to Him. And like Moses, he would prefer you to prefer suffering for what is right rather than to enjoy the instant gratification that comes with sin. And, this is not just with the big stuff like idolatry, sexual immorality or murder, but it is the little stuff too — bad language, dirty jokes, gossip, causing division in a group, being a busybody, violent talk or actions, et… These are sins and are not acceptable to Christ or to the Christian life (and I can give you chapter and verse for each of these sins).
And so, inverse 26, the author goes as far as to say that Moses preferred the reproach (disgrace) of Christ (and think of reproach not in terms of Christ reproaching Moses, but in terms of the reproach Christ received in his earthly ministry) to any treasure that the treasuries of Egypt could produce…and it was immense.
Lets apply this idea of the reproach of Christ this way: Imagine that one Sunday morning there was a gentleman standing outside of church with a clipboard, pad, and pen and he is writing down names of everyone who walks through the doors to enter the church. Now, let’s say that you knew that the second your name was on his list, your taxes would double or for those of you who are retired, your Social Security would be cut in half. Would you come in those doors? Would you sneak past or do so plainly and in the open. Or, would you even be so bold as to walk up to him and make sure he was spelling your name right? Could you be that bold? Would you prefer reproach to the wealth of the world?
Third, we arrive at verse 27:
“By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured — serving Him who is invisible.”
Moses witnessed God at the burning bush. Later he witnessed God’s goodness passing before him on Mount Sinai where he was hid in the cleft of the rock (Egypt 34). As a result, he feared the wrath of God and not the wrath of an earthly king. The lesson for us should be obvious — but how often we back down due to human threats.
Finally, we arrive at verse 28:
“By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled blood so that the Destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them.”
And, at the mention of Passover, we arrive at the sacrament of Communion or the Lord’s table —
4 things about Moses:
The first and third deal with him fearing God and not man
The second and fourth in terms of drawing near to God in worship and obedience rather than to draw near to men in sin.
I invite the Council to come forward…