|RUNNING BEFORE THE LAND
Series: Running By Faith - Part Three
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
October 3, 2010
(Video: "Who Is God?")
Do you ever wonder about God? Is God believable? In a cosmic sense. Yes. God is GOD. There is something out there - someone. But in a personal sense? We must wonder about God. Because trusting God is not always our first choice. Right? Sometimes faith is a struggle.
Over the past few Sundays we’ve been looking at faith. God has not created us to live in fear but by faith in Him. Have you heard that? So many people live in fear because they struggle with trusting God. Maybe they’re confused by Who He is or if He even exists at all. They’re living in fear trying to do life without God. Life on your own is pretty scary at times. Or maybe - maybe even like someone here - you know God - but trusting Him isn’t always easy.
Hebrews 11 - the chapter we’ve been looking at - Hebrews 11 brings God down to our level. Hebrews 11:3 says that when we see creation we know there’s a creator. God exists. Behind it all is God. We have the assurance that our faith rests on something - or someone - God.
Hebrews 11:2 tells us that the creator God is personally concerned with His creation - us. Verse 2 says that the people who lived by faith - who lived trusting God with their lives - they gained approval. God Himself personally holds them up for us as examples of how to do life.
What we’re looking at there in Hebrews 11 are example after example of men and women who trusted that that the creator God really does have a plan and purpose for their lives. In life after life we see God showing up. God using them in His great purposes. Even though their lives were often the pits God never left them. He really was there for them. God blessed them - gave them what they needed for life. Example after example for us in the real time of where we live our lives that we can trust God with the stuff of our lives.
God has not created us to live in fear but by faith in Him. Does that sound familiar? Say this with me, “God has not created me to live in fear but by faith in Him.” Faith in God is the way to go through life. Hebrews 11 are examples to us of what that means.
This morning we’re coming to the example of Moses. Hebrews 11 - starting at verse 23 - which focuses on The Faith of Moses’ Parents. Let’s say that together, “The faith of Moses’ parents.”
Verse 23: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
We know how this account goes. Right?
There’s a new Pharaoh in Egypt who’s concerned about the growing number of Hebrews. Basically the Hebrews are multiplying like rabbits. Pharaoh’s concern is that they’re going to be so many Hebrews that the Hebrews are going to overpower the Egyptians and escape. No more slaves to built our cities and pyramids and stuff - oh my.
So Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives to kill all the Hebrew male babies at birth. Which we know didn’t work because the Hebrew midwives feared God not Pharaoh. So Pharaoh orders his own people to kill off the Hebrew baby boys by drowning them in the Nile.
Moses is born into this danger. His parents Amran and Jochebed raise Moses for 3 months. Until its impossible to hide him anymore. So Jochebed gets a wicker basket - makes it water tight - and puts Moses into the basket and the basket into the Nile river - on the shore in the reeds. Pharaoh's daughter comes and finds Moses and the rest is history. We’re together?
In verse 23 - notice the two examples of Amran and Jochebed’s faith.
First - what kind of child was Moses? A beautiful child.
Which doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Every parent thinks their child is beautiful. No matter how ugly the baby is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Have you ever struggled when you saw someone’s baby? To say something polite? When the whole time you’re thinking, “Yeech.” “That baby’s so ugly when he was born the doctor ought to have slapped the mother.”
Let’s put this in a PC way. Some babies are just beauty challenged. But, Moses was a beautiful baby.
There’s more here. You knew that. Right?
Beauty here means that when Amran and Jochebed saw that Moses was beautiful they saw more than just physical beauty. Stephen says in Acts 7:20 that Moses was “lovely in the sight of God.” Josephus, the Jewish historian, suggests that Moses’ parents received a revelation from God concerning their son’s destiny.
When Moses’ parents saw Moses they remembered God’s promise to redeem Israel from the bondage of Egypt. As slaves freedom is a beautiful sight to behold. Watching God at work is awesome thing to see. They saw Moses and thought God’s redemption - God’s salvation of His people. They saw Moses and saw God at work. So - with God’s promises in sight - by faith in God - they hid Moses.
Second example of faith. The Pharaoh’s had absolute power to do whatever they wanted to do. They were seen not just as human kings but as gods. They were worldly - wealthy - and ruthless. The kings edict was “kill or be killed.” To hide a Hebrew baby boy was a death sentence.
But Amran and Jochebed hid Moses - because they lived - not by fear - but by faith in God. They trusted that God was greater than Pharaoh - and any pain or penalty that Pharaoh could inflict.
That’s an example to us. When we wonder about what’s going on around us - the direction this country’s going - or this world - or what it could to mean to us to stand firm for Jesus at work or at school or on a street corner in Merced or at the mall. To choose to trust God when it would be so much safer to be PC about things.
We need to look to see God work - to choose to follow His will - to trust that God is greater.
24 to 29 focus on The Faith of Moses.
Let’s say that together, “The faith
Verse 24: By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Who finds Moses in the basket floating in the Nile? Daughter of Pharaoh. This lady - Hatshepsut. Who really has let herself go in the last few thousand years. Hatshepsut draws Moses out of the river and adopts him. By the way, that means that this really is Moses’ mummy. Sorry.
Its Hatshepsut who gives Moses his name. He had a Hebrew name. But its Hatshepsut’s name that we use.
The name Moses may have something to do with the name of the Pharaoh at the time that was Moses was born. This man - Thutmose I. Notice the family resemblance to his daughter Hatshepsut. Take away the “thut and we’re left with “mose” - Thut-mose I - Moses. Makes sense if he was named by Thutmose’s daughter.
There’s also a Hebrew play on words here. The Hebrew word “masha” -which means “draw out” - as in “draw out of the water” - may have something to with Moses’ name. Moses being drawn out of the water.
Pharoah’s daughter hires who to be Moses nurse? Moses’ mom. Jochebed. Moses’ initial training was as a Hebrew - his values and culture and language and education and religious training - all that was Hebrew - passed down to him by Amran and Jochebed.
And yet - Moses - in Hebrew “drawn out” - was raised Moses - grandson of Thutmose I - educated in the finest Egyptian schools - trained in Egyptian warfare - raised in Egyptian culture - in the household of Pharaoh.
That’s significant. Moses is a Hebrew child adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh - now a prince of Egypt - mature and ready to assume rightful place in Egypt. Top of the food chain. Possible heir to the throne. A god in training.
In verse 24 how grown up was Moses? We don’t know. Probably about 40. Moses - grown up - makes this huge choice of what direction his life is going to go. He turns his back on the wealth and privilege and self-serving pleasures of Egypt and chooses the bondage and suffering of God’s people.
Verse 26 - Moses considered what? “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”
The reproach of Christ is the cross. Did Moses see ahead to Jesus dying on the cross? Probably not. But the writer of Hebrews makes the comparison of Moses who choose to identify himself with God’s plan through history - God’s fulfilling his promises - God delivering His people - redeeming and saving His people - Moses choosing to place himself in obedience to God’s plan through history that goes through the cross of Christ.
Same plan that Jesus choose. Remember Gethsemane? The night Jesus was arrested? Jesus praying, “Not My will but Yours.” Same choice. The easy way out - all the stuff of the world is yours - verses stick to God’s plan and die - horribly. Have faith in God and His plan and you get reproached - disgraced - and crucified. God’s plan in history of deliverance from sin through the sacrificed body and shed blood of Jesus. Trust God with your life and suffer - literally - suffer the consequences of your choice.
Moses choose suffering according to God’s plan over the ultimate of what this world offers. That’s nuts. But Moses considered God’s plan better. Why? Verse 26 - the reward - the reward is beyond anything this world can offer.
Moses see ahead to Jesus
dying on the cross? Probably
not. But Moses did see
beyond slavery and Egypt. By
faith Moses saw down though the years - had
faith that God would fulfill His promises to His
people. God’s promise of
unimaginable blessings. God’s
promise of dwelling with His people now and forever.
Given the reality of the Creator working in you and through you - given the reality of God’s promises - of His salvation - His presence with you in the stuff of life - of eternity with Him - how paltry - how cheap - how worthless is anything in comparison.
We get so caught up in what we see going on around us and think that all this is what’s crucial - the short term - the day to day - our needs for the moment - retirement accounts and which way the market is heading - what we drive - where we live - where we work - our education - what we possess. All those things have their place.
But faith forces us to see beyond today - even the suffering of today - the struggles of today - to see the larger picture of what God is about doing. God’s movement through history. How God calls us to be a part of His great work of saving mankind - of redeeming mankind - us - from the fall - from the pits of Hell - to live with Him forever.
Moses’ example - here in verses 24 to 26 should challenge our thinking as to what we’re fearful of letting go of - what were clinging on to that keeps us back from trusting God.
Let’s go on - Moses’ faith - verses 27 to 29 are 3 results of the choice Moses made to trust God. Verse 27: By faith he - Moses - left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
Endured. Say that
with me. “Moses
At the time when God’s people are being brutalized by the Egyptians - desperate for a deliverer - Moses - prince of Egypt - son of Hebrew slaves - uniquely prepared by God - God’s man - steps in to deliver God’s people. Moses takes His God given uniqueness and does what? Kills the Egyptian who’s beating the Hebrew slave - then orders the Hebrews to stop fighting with each other. Moses the deliverer. Moses the leader. Do you remember this?
The result was what? Moses fails miserably. Moses is totally rejected by the Hebrews. Totally rejected by the Egyptians. He ends up fearing the consequences of his actions - meaning that Pharaoh wants to kill him. So Moses sets off across the desert to Midian.
If you remember your Cecil B. DeMille, Moses ends up at the well of Midian half baked by the desert - dying of thirst - wearing his Hebrew blanket and carrying the staff that Ramses gave him. Can you picture that scene? There’s absolutely nothing accurate in that.
Look with me at the map. To get to Midian from Egypt we have to cross the whole of the Sinai Peninsula - think lots of sand and rocks - desert - heading south east into more sand and rocks and desert. That’s a journey that takes planning - not just a skin of water a blanket and a staff - oh my. Moses purposefully heads out of Egypt - away from Pharaoh’s presence - to Midian where he’s got family. He probably left in a hurry. But he probably left as a prince with the regal robes - heavily armed and on horseback - maybe even in his Lamborghini chariot.
Fear is not what motivated Moses to leave Egypt. Even reading through the Exodus account - Moses had disassociated himself with Egypt even before he’d killed the Egyptian. Before fearing Pharaoh’s consequences - in his mind Moses had already chosen God’s direction for his life. Mentally he’d already checked out of Egypt. Moses goes to Midian because he has faith in God not fear of Pharaoh.
Endurance has the idea of hanging in there. Dogged perseverance.
Moses endures by keeping his focus on God. God Who is unseen - but very present. Very much at work. The God Who sustains Moses in the desert. God Who trains him as a shepherd in Midian. God Who prepares Moses to return to Egypt as God’s chosen deliverer. God Who will accomplish what He has promised to do.
Second result of Moses’ choice: Moses Kept. Say that with me, “Moses kept.”
Verse 28: By faith he - Moses - kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
Verse 28 skips over Moses’ return to Egypt - his confrontations with Pharaoh - over the series of plagues that brought Egypt to its knees - skips over all that and brings us to the final - fateful - night when Moses and Israel kept the Passover.
The central action of the Passover was what? Sprinkling the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of each household so that the angel of death - when the angel saw that blood - the angel would pass over that household - and the first born male child in that home would be spared death. We’re together?
How bizarre is that? Sprinkling some lamb’s blood on the door post means some angel of death isn’t going to kill my son. Woooo. Pretty spooky.
Apparently the Egyptians thought it was a joke. We’d think that all the frogs and gnats and flies and locusts and dead cattle and their sacred Nile River turning into blood - all that might have given them the clue that God just might be serious. Thousands of first born Egyptian boys died - including Pharaohs’ first born son.
Moses believed God. Took God at His word. Moses kept the Passover. The word “kept” has the idea that Moses “did it.” He performed it himself. Following Moses’ leadership all of Israel kept the Passover. Not one first born son of Israel died.
Third result of Moses’ choice - Moses Passed. Let’s say that together. “Moses passed.”
Verse 29: By faith they passed - notice the they there - they - God’s people following Moses’ leadership - as Moses is choosing to trust God - they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
This is a pretty familiar account. God leads His people into a trap. Backs them up against a wall - the Red Sea. Pharaoh changes his mind about the “Let My people go.” “You can go” thing. Chases after Moses and the Hebrews with his chariots.
“To pass” is a word that has a whole lot of imagery behind it. It has the idea of crossing over to the other side - of passing through - of walking through something. The Hebrew word behind the Greek word here in Hebrews has the idea of “to heap up.” Picture the sea all heaped up with this dry path that the Hebrews walked down passing through the to cross over to the other side. All that is in that one verb: “To pass.”
When we read this and we have the advantage. Right? We’ve already read ahead in the book so we know how this all comes out. In a way that kinda spoils the plot for us.
Try to set aside what you know about how this all works out and imagine yourself there with Moses - the sea behind you - Pharaoh and company bearing down on you. No one has ever seen God part a sea before. We’re either fish food or chopped liver. There is no hope. It is the no win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru.
Only God doesn’t believe in the no win scenario. Amen?
Adam sins and the human race is toast. What we have to look forward to is God’s wrath and the fires of Hell. There is no hope. And then God promises a deliverer.
Abraham takes Isaac - builds an altar - arranges the wood - straps Isaac on the altar - raises his knife. All the promises God made to Abraham - his descendants - to us - if Abraham sacrifices Isaac and its all over. There is no hope for God’s people. And God provides a ram.
God’s people are backed up against the sea. If Israel gets wiped out the promises of God die with them. There’s no hope for God’s people. And God sends a wind and parts the sea. Following after Moses - by faith staring at water heaped up around them - God’s people pass through on dry land and Pharaoh’s army does what? The dead mans’ float.
Jesus - Son of Man - Son of God - is crucified to death. Satan - his minions - are loving it - party on - the Son is dead. There is no hope for God’s people. And God stages a resurrection.
God doesn’t believe in the no win scenario. And as God’s people neither should we.
Kierkegaard - the Danish
philosopher - Kierkegaard said, “Life can
only be understood backwards, but it must be lived
forward.” Makes sense. Doesn’t it?
Moses’ parents chose faith in God over fear of Pharaoh - and God raised up a deliverer. Moses chose reproach - identification with God and His working of history - over the pleasures of Egypt - and God preserved him - sustained him - prepared him - used him to deliver a whole nation and lead them towards God.
What will God do in you and through you if you were to let go of your fear and choose to trust God with all that you are?
What would happen if - instead of fearing rejection or isolation or hurt - what would happen if instead of focusing on ourselves we were to trust God and forge forward reaching out to others in our relationships?
What if instead of fearing the unknown we would trust God with our marriages - to prayerfully have the conversations with our spouses that fear causes us to avoid?
What if instead of fearing what may be though of us or what the response will be - what if we were to trust God and have those hard conversations with our kids or our parents or our coworkers?
What if instead of hanging on to pain and our prerogative to retaliate and harbor anger we choose to let go of all that and trust God to work justly?
What if instead of fearing our own discomfort we were to trust God and share Jesus - the Gospel - with others. Not just living like a Christian and praying for people but actually sitting down and sharing with them. Maybe even sharing Jesus with people we’ve never even met before.
What if instead of fearing the loss of our comfort and our vision for our lives - all the stuff we’re hanging on to - we were willing to trust God with it all? To step forward in faith to go only where He leads us?
There are so many places in our lives where we see only the no win scenario - the edict of Pharaoh - the pleasures of Egypt - sand and death and a wall that we cannot pass through. There is no hope. We fear what will be. And yet God… God has not created us to live in fear but by faith in Him.
Who is God? He is the God behind creation Who is deeply concerned about you - deeply loves you - died for you - is working to fulfill His promises to you. The God Who is trustworthy and desiring that you would trust Him.
_________________________Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.