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.
24 – By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
25 – He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
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.
27 – By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.
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.
You know, one of my favorite RBC youth events was the annual hike that our young people used to take up Old Rag Mountain. You get a clear view of Old Rag from one of the overlooks on the Skyline Drive. In fact, you can’t miss it for…it is the only mountain in the area with a rocky summit. All the rest of the peaks lining the Shenandoah Valley are covered with trees. Old Rag really stands out. We first heard of the trail that leads up to the summit of this rocky peak from the then-youth parent and lover of the out doors, Dale Pursell. And for several years Dale and one or more of his daughters would go along with us as our guide, Well the hike or, more accurately, CLIMB is grueling! If I remember correctly it’s about three miles up and then five miles down around the other side. You begin your trek on a snake trail through densely forested areas, back and forth up the side of the mountain … always steeply inclined of course. You never see the summit nor can you see much of the trail
… only thirty yards or so at a time. You walk up paths that are tunnels through mountain laurel bushes. I’d love to hike this in the Spring! Imagine the blooms! There are several times on the way up when you think you have reached the peak only to find that it is only a small ridge and the real summit is still farther and higher ahead. Along the trail you skirt around sheer drop offs. At times you have to leap over bottomless crevasses to continue or to squeeze through giant boulders or pull yourself up over rocky ridges. It is a tough climb! But finally — just when you think your strength is totally spent and you can’t take another step — finally, you reach the peak and see that it was worth it all-for the views are breath-taking! We’ve got some spectacular pictures! In fact one made it into one of Redland’s earlier pictorial directories.
Well,from that lofty perspective you can look down and see things that you couldn’t while following the trail up. You can look down and see where you’ve been. You can gaze back along the trail and see that you did indeed take best route — which is something you frequently doubt on the way up! You can see towns and highways miles away in the distance. The vantage point that this ragged mountain peak provides is truly amazing! And you know-the vantage point that FAITH provides is like that! For, it allows us a perspective on life that FAITH-LESS people don’t have. When we look at our lives through the “lenses” of faith we have the ability to see things as they really are….not as they appear. FAITH gives us the BIG picture! It lifts us up so we can see clearly enough to distinguish the incidental from the essential, the temporary from the eternal, the partial from the whole, the trees from the forest. From the perspective that FAITH provides we can even look back down the “trail of our lives and see that the difficulties we endured really were for our own good.
I think that if we stood with Moses on Mt. Nebo at the moment of his death and looked back down at the trail he walked in life we would be able to see four important principles of faith. We’ll see the POWER-the potential IMPACT of a heritage of faith. We’ll also see that faith assures us that GOD IS AT WORK in our lives even when we don’t know it, shaping us to do His will. We’ll see that faith OPENS OUR EYES so we SEE SIN FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS a temporary but deadly source of pleasure. Faith helps us to be more eternity-minded… And then Moses faith also shows us….that when it comes to avoiding death — God’s way is the ONLY WAY!
Now,that’s a lot to look at in one sermon-no matter what the perspective-so let’s get right to it. Looking at Moses’ life from the perspective of faith….
1. ….shows us the amazing impact of a HERITAGE OF FAITH.
Verse 23 of our text for today indicates that Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed had a deep faith in God. And they needed the strength that this quality of faith provides, for they lived in a time that things were very difficult for God’s chosen people. 400 years had passed since the death of Joseph and in that time the descendants of Jacob had grown from 70 people into a great nation-probably numbering in excess of two million. But another thing that happened in these four centuries was that Joseph’s great exploits of faith had been forgotten. Exodus 1:8 says, “A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” And, this new ruler felt threatened by the people of Israel due to the ever increasing size of their population.
In Exodus 1:9 he says, “Look! The Israelites have become much too numerous for us….if war breaks out, they will join our enemies.” To deal with this problem he first tried to demoralize the Hebrews thinking that if he could wear them down in both body and soul they would stop reproducing at such a rapid rate.
So, as Exodus records, he “put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.” But ironically, the harder these men were forced to work, the more children they produced. Since the Pharaoh’s initial plan didn’t work, he went to PLAN B and ordered the midwives to kill all the newborn sons of Israel. And again this failed. For these midwives were more loyal to God than to their Pharaoh. They were staunchly pro-life and let the babies live.
When Pharaoh demanded an explanation they said, “…the Hebrew women are not as Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before we can get to them.” Now…the word “vigorous” means “lively.” So in essence they were telling their ruler, “these Hebrew women are fast! They give birth and go back to work even before we get there!” Well, in a final frenzied step the Pharaoh ordered all Egyptians to kill every male infant by throwing them in the Nile.
Imagine the weeping and wailing among the families of Israel…as soldiers cast hundreds of precious infants into the river to drown! Well it was into these days of horror, that Moses was born. And scripture records that this young couple faced this time of crisis with a faith that was deep enough and strong enough to give them the courage to boldly disobey the Pharaoh’s cruel & immoral law. They hid their son for 3 months to protect him from the Pharaoh’s soldiers.
Now, how would you like to hide a baby and keep him quiet for three months? I don’t think I could do it for three minutes! I remember when we brought Daniel home from the hospital. I thought we would never be able to sleep through the night again! He was anything BUT quiet!
Well it came to the point that Amram and Jochebed could no longer keep Moses hidden either. He was growing to the point that his level of activity was just too much for them to hide him any longer. Something had to be done or he would surely be discovered and killed.
So Moses’ mother devised a creative plan. You remember the story. She got a wicker basket and covered it inside and out with tar. Then after no doubt filling it with hay or soft clothes she put Moses in it and placed him and the basket in the Nile.
And please note, she didn’t just put him into the current and begin singing, “Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be….” No, she had a faith that enabled her to use her head as well….a rational faith. You see to walk by faith does not mean you stop using the mind God gave you.
Jochebed put the basket in a certain place among the reeds…a place where she knew the princess came to bathe. Then she sent Moses’s pre-teen sister, Miram, to watch. I think they must have rehearsed the whole carefully thought out plan over and over again, watching every day and timing the princess’ arrival, helping Miriam memorize her lines so she sounded convincing, checking to see how long the basket could tread water. And, the plan went flawlessly. As you know, the daughter of the Pharaoh “found” the baby Moses, adopted him as her own son, and without realizing it even hired his own mother, Jochebed, to nurse and raise him. Scripture infers that she and Amram took care of him well past the age of weaning. They probably had him into the mid-childhood years — certainly long enough to firmly establish his Hebrew roots and teach him of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. For, when Moses became old enough — when he reached the age of accountability — he decided to follow his parent’s example and place his faith in the one true God.
So — think of the fruit of the work of these faith-filled parents! Moses-a true hero of the faith exists-he did not drown in the Nile — simply because Amram and Jochebed trusted God! And, thanks to their courage in teaching their son about God, the Hebrews did not remain slaves to the Egyptian people but became a nation and entered God’s Promised Land! All this because two parents had enough faith in God to not only save their son’s life but teach him of God’s love and power.
You know six million Americans-a significant number of them right here at Redland-will take a life-changing step this year….they will have children. And HOW they raise these youngsters will have a greater impact on our society than anything else they do in life. In the next 12 months, six million new Americans will become a part of our culture and, depending on how they are raised, will either become a part of the solution or a part of the problem.
So parenting is a BIG deal. It has an enormous impact on our society. AND, I think many parents realize this. They are anxious to do the right thing but are not sure how to proceed. I mean, how DO you make sure that your baby grows up to be a godly man or woman like Moses? How do you hand down your faith to your children? The words of Proverbs 22:6 offer hope, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” But what do these oft-quoted words really mean?
Well, the first word, “train,” comes from a Hebrew word that was used to describe the action of a midwife, who, soon after helping deliver a child, would dip her finger into the juice of a chewed or crushed dates. Then she would reach into the mouth of the newborn infant, and massage the gums and the palate with this burst of flavor so the baby would be motivated to learn to nurse.
So the word “train” here literally means to “create a thirst in” The next phrase of that verse, “in the way he should go,” literally means “in keeping with his bent-in line with his unique God-given characteristics” You see every one of those 6 million new humans that will be born this year are different.
No two are alike. They are unique. God has “bent” them… “molded” them in different ways.
So this scripture is saying, if you want to increase the chances that your child will grow up and decide to embrace a faith in God, create in him a thirst to use his unique talents for God’s purposes.
Well, you might ask, “How can I discover the God-given design of my child?” I mean, they aren’t born holding little owner’s manuals! The answer is in another passage from Proverbs…20:11-12, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. The hearing ear and the seeing eye, God has made both of them.”
So to discover your child’s “bent” study him. Use the ears and eyes that God gave you to observe what they do and how they do it. Become the world’s foremost expert on your child’s uniqueness. Understand….this is a homework assignment from God that will take years to complete. The price of leading your son or daughter to decide to use their uniqueness for God is expensive. It will cost you YEARS of concentration and time. But, a parent cannot afford the luxury of simply housing, feeding, clothing, and educating their offspring. There is too much riding on this! Parents who, like Amram and Jochebed, want to hand down their faith to their kids, will not try and shape each child to fit in the same mold….better known as the “shape-up-or-ship-out” philosophy of parenting. Children raised under this style usually “ship out” as soon as they can. They rebel against their parent’s training.
No — the parent who is wise and sensitive comes to discover the way God made the child, then plans his or her training accordingly. They partner with God in the rearing of their children. And this is what Jochebed and Amram did. Verse 23 says that they saw — they observed, “…that Moses was no ordinary child.” In other words with God-empowered sensitivity they observed their little boy and saw his unique “bent.”
They saw the fingerprints of God on their son and this motivated them to save his life at all costs.
Parents each of your children has a unique God-given bent.
No child is ORDINARY! They have special abilities and insights-just as Moses did-and the best thing you can give them in life is not possessions, not even an education, but faith…a faith that leads them to thirst to use their uniqueness to accomplish God’s will. When you do this, you are having an incredible impact on our world. And the perspective of faith makes it possible for us to see this truth so clearly. But that’s not all we can see from this vantage point. Faith also enables us to look back at our lives and see that…
2. GOD HAS BEEN SHAPING US FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
He doesn’t just “bend” us a certain way and then “birth” us into the world….no…faith shows us that all throughout our lives, He is re-molding and shaping to prepare us to do His work. Ephesians 2:10 says, “…we are GOD’S workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared IN ADVANCE for us to do.” God does prepare us ahead of time to do His will and Moses’ life is a perfect proof of this. You know, being adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses opportunities that he never would have had-if he had been raised as a Hebrew slave. As the adopted grandson of the Pharaoh, Moses was like Little Orphan Annie taken in by Daddy Warbucks….He was reared with the proverbial “silver spoon” in his mouth. He ate food prepared by the world’s greatest chefs and had access to the best health care. He wore only the finest clothes, lived in most opulent palaces, and had the best education money could buy. Acts 7:22 says that “Moses was educated in ALL the learning of the Egyptians.”
Being part of the Pharaoh’s family would have meant that Moses attended a school called, “The Temple of the Sun.” — which is what archeologists and historians refer to as “the Oxford of the ancient world.” So this was no PARTY SCHOOL! In this ancient center of learning-probably the best in the world at this time-Moses learned hieroglyphics-the language of the Egyptians.
He would have also studied sciences, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, theology, philosophy, and law. His transcript probably listed courses taken in the arts-sculpture, music, and painting. AND….Moses would have taken the Egyptian equivalent of ROTC, studying the battles, combat tactics, and foes of that nation’s proud military history. In fact extra-biblical historians tell us that by the time he reached 30 Moses had already led the Egyptian army in a powerful victory over the Ethiopians.
So, Moses was well-educated-intentionally groomed to be able to lead an entire nation. Then when he left Egypt his father-in-law taught him to be a shepherd. Moses learned everything there was to learn about guiding and caring for sheep-including the skills necessary to survive in the desert wilderness.
So, when it finally came time to lead the Hebrew people’s exodus from Egyptian bondage — when it was time to form the Hebrew people into the nation of Israel, and lead them across the desert to the promised land, Moses could look back and draw on all his education and experience. He found that he was perfectly “bent”….ideally suited…for the task to which God called him. He could look back and say, “I’m glad I took that course.” or “I’m glad Jethro taught me that.” or “This or that experience sure came in handy.” He could gaze back down the “trail of his life” and see that God had been actively involved from the very beginning, training him, shaping him, preparing him for his life’s calling. And seeing this truth increased his faith in God for the present and future. Since he knew that God was faithful to him in the past, Moses knew he could place his trust in God in the years to come. That’s the way it is in our lives. Faith allows us to look back and realize that God has been molding us-using every experience in life to prepare us for His call. I don’t think God even allows our pain to go to waste. He even uses IT to help us in some way. Looking at our lives from the perspective of faith shows that the Apostle Paul was right! God DOES indeed works in all things for our good.
As most of you know, I am a P.K — preacher’s kid. My dad pastored churches in Maryland and Delaware for over 30 years.
Well, when I was a kid, every Saturday night, while my siblings were enjoying FLIPPER on TV, Dad would come and drag me up to his study so that he could practice his sermons on me. Then the next morning he always took me with him to the 8:30 a.m. service and then I had to stick around for the 11AM service as well.
So I heard every one of his sermons for all those years at least three times. And I remember thinking as a kid, “Why do I have to endure this? Why can’t I have a quiet Saturday evening just like my siblings? Why have to listen to a sermon three times? What possible benefit will this have in my life?”
Well, God knew! From His perspective He could see the trail I would have to walk in life and he knew what waited 30 years up that trail. He knew I would need to learn to preach. He knew that I would need to be trained in how to prepare a message. He knew that someday I would have to preach every week and that Saturday nights with Flipper wouldn’t have a whole lot of a benefit.
In Philippians Paul wrote, “He who BEGAN a good work in you will carry it on to completion.. ….for it is GOD Who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.” God does work in us, using life to train us to do His will and FAITH makes it possible for us to understand this.
3. And then…faith also enables us TO SEE SIN FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS…
Moses looked at sin through the lense of faith and saw that it’s pleasures were temporary! And this realization helped him to become eternity minded. He understood how foolish it would be to sacrifice the permanent on the alter of the immediate. Look at verses 25 and following. It says Moses… “…chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a SHORT WHILE. 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….”
The heritage of faith that Amram and Jochebed passed on to their son was so powerful that when Moses was 40 years of age, having been trained in the culture of Egypt and even regarded as an heir to the throne itself, he renounced these prestigious earthly privileges. He refused the royal title of SON OF PHARAOH’S DAUGHER. Moses decided to turn away from the greatest throne on earth in order to identify himself with the people of God. Think of it. Moses knew nothing BUT the land of the Nile…he had never been to Canaan. He knew ONLY Egypt. But he left all this behind. Why? Because of his faith in God. Verse 26 says, “he considered disgrace for the sake of Christ of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.”
In other words he came to a fork in the road of his life and he looked both ways and he calculated which way was best. He considered. He weighed all the world would give him against what God promised and he made a choice. Moses had enough “faith sense” to calculate that doing God’s will was of more value than even the riches of Egypt. Faith enabled him to see the sinful pleasures of life for what they really were: a temporary source of pleasure that separates us from God and eventually leads to pain and death.
The fact that he was so eternity-oriented is why he is listed with other faith heros in Hebrews 11 where it says, “These men of faith….agreed that this earth was not their real home, but that they were just strangers visiting down here..,If they had wanted to, they could have gone back to the good things of this world, but they didn’t want to….for, they were living for heaven…” This is another way faith works for us. It gives us the perspective necessary to see clearly the importance of following the guidance of Colossians 3:1-2 which says, “…keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
You know, faith-less people ARE in many ways SIGHT-less people for they are blind to the eternal joys and pleasures of godly things and so they eagerly embrace sin’s temporary pleasures.
There was once a Mexican man who made his living in southern Arizona by selling scrap metal that he found a junk yards. One day he came upon a full load of scrap-enough to insure there would be food on the table and money in his pocket once he transferred the metal into cash at the scrap metal recycler in Mexico. But the scrap included an antique dental X-ray machine and as his truck pulled onto the highway, little steel balls from the machine began to drop into the ribbed bed of the truck. After the scrap metal had been transformed into pesos, the man hurried back to his village, with those metal balls still rolling in the grooves of the truck bed.
In no time at all the children, who loved to play the game of marbles, discovered the shiny, bright treasures. These balls became a coveted addition to any child’s collection of…glassies, cat’s eyes, and jumbos. At first they were a source of great joy to the children. But…before long, many children in the town began to complain of similar symptoms: red rash, fatigue, loss of hair, vomiting.
After many months and several deaths in the village, the truth was discovered: dozens of people were suffering from severe radiation poisoning. The pretty little balls, held, traded and treasured, turned out to be both delightful and deadly.
And, sin is this way. It looks fun and it is — for a little while. But it always lead to pain and death. Have you ever wondered why there are no sphinxes in Egypt with Moses’ image carved on them? This is because Moses turned away from the road that leads to earthly fame.
So he is forgotten in Egypt but he is greatly honored in heaven. And when the sphinxes and pyramids have crumbled to dust people will still remember the enduring faith of Moses. And you know if we let it, faith will do for us what it did for Moses. It will enhance our vision so that we too turn away from sin because we see it for what it really is. We too become eternity-oriented.
But you know, there is one other principle that the perspective of faith enables us to see. Looking through the lenses of faith shows us that when it comes to avoiding death….
4. GOD’S WAY IS THE ONLY WAY.
You remember the story. After 40 years tending the herds of his father in law, Jethro, God called Moses to return to lead the Hebrew people from bondage to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh would not let the people go so God sent plagues of frogs and locusts. God even turned the water of the Nile to blood but the Pharaoh would not relent and free the people.
So God sent the death angel to kill every firstborn in Egypt and to protect the Hebrew children God gave Moses mysterious but very specific instructions. On the tenth day of the month they were to select a year-old, lamb from their flocks, a lamb without spot or blemish. On the fourteenth day of the month they were to slaughter the lamb and spread blood on the doorposts of their homes. God promised this would keep death away.
Now think about it. Here is a man with an advanced degree in hieroglyphics, a magna cum laude graduate of The Temple of the Sun. And he is smearing blood on the sides and top of a door. That made absolutely no sense to this logically educated man but he had the faith to do what God instructed. He believed that God’s way to avoid death was the only way. Understand, this was the first Passover observance. Moses had no tradition to fall back on. How could he do this? How could he follow these odd instructions just as God told him to? Well, in the same way Noah could pound those pegs into the ark when there had never been any rain. FAITH enabled him to do this. Faith means trusting God’s way instead of ours. Even when we can’t understand, faith teaches us that His way is always best. And Moses had the faith to trust that God’s way to avoid death was the only way.
You know, one of the most effective tools being used today to leading people to embrace a faith in Jesus Christ — God’s way to avoid death — is a video called The Jesus Film. If you have seen it then you know that it is not flashy….just the basic story of the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. But this simple film has been translated into 520 languages. Over a billion people have seen it. Millions have come to faith in Christ through it all over the world. Our own Tad Wehunt spent an entire summer a few years ago lugging movie equipment up and down the mountains of Albania so that he and his team could show this film to people who had never heard of Jesus. Stories of miracles have followed this film wherever it has been shown. But the most spectacular miracle by far occurred recently in northern India in a remote area that is home to the Malto tribe. I read of it this amazing story this week in a letter from Bill Bright.
Now, many of the Malto people worship Satan and hundreds of false gods.
Christians who went there before never made progress. In fact the area used to be called the “graveyard of missionaries.” Not long ago a JESUS film team went to the Malto tribe to try to show the film but they were turned away. A few days later a 16 year old Malto girl died. That evening the girl’s family gathered around to pay their respects. They were about to bury the body when suddenly the girl sat up. She sat up and said, “I went to the place of the dead. But God told me I must come back and tell you about the real God.” The people asked, “Who is the real God?” And she told them it was the God they had heard about from the film team. Then she said, “God has given me seven days to tell as many people as I can that He is real.” The following day the girl found the Jesus film team in a nearby village and for the next 7 days she went with them as they showed the film in the Malto villages. At every showing of the film, she stood up and said, “I was dead, but God has sent me back to tell you that this film is about the true and living God. You need to believe in Him.” So people watched the film! And during those 7 days, hundreds of Malto people became Christians. At least 6 new churches were started in this area that had been Satan’s stronghold. Then after the seventh day, though she seemed fine, this girl died. At least her body did….thanks to her faith in Jesus, she is in heaven today. This girl and hundreds of her neighbors made a decision that gave them eternal life. Like Moses, they, “saw Him Who is invisible.” They put their faith in God’s plan as the only solution….the only way to avoid death.
You know the views from the top of OLD RAG are something to see. You should talk Dale into taking you sometime. But I think you agree that the view that faith’s prospective provides is even more impressive. You see the incredible impact that parents make when they teach their children about God. You can also look and see God at work in your life….shaping and molding you…custom- designing you for a special mission in His kingdom. You can see sin for what it really is….and you can see that when it comes to dealing with death, God’s plan is the only plan.
What if you were to look at your own life through the lenses of faith this morning?
I encourage you right now to take a few moments in faith look closely at your own life. I want you to respond to what you see. You may see your need to commit to becoming a student of your child and want to bow your head and ask God to help you see his unique bent.”. You may see your need to commit to God’s plan for your life, to thank Him for molding you the way he has and ask him to use you in some way to further His kingdom. Or you may see the need to accept God’s offer to help you deal with death asking His forgiveness for your sin and accepting the protection that comes only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God. Faith’s perspective may show you that you need a church home and today you may see or understand that God is leading you to make this church your home. We invite you to respond to whatever need you see as we stand now and sing.