The Faith of Moses

Moses’ suffering was different from that of others. Whereas Joseph was sold as a slave and Daniel taken captive, Moses was taken from his parents while he was still a child. Only for the first twelve years of his life was Moses able to spend time with his people before his departure to the court of Egypt. His parents were enslaved, making him a son of a humble background. And yet he was to move into Pharaoh’s palace to live among Egyptian royalty and became the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:24–28). The life of Moses is outlined in this passage by some decisions he made.

1. Not Her Son

The first of Moses’ decisions that Hebrews records is the choice to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. A careful student of Scripture and history should be immediately alarmed at Moses for this choice. This woman saved his life. While Moses was floating on the Nile River with reeds as his only anchor and a small ark as his single source of safety from the elements or predators, it was Pharaoh’s daughter who rescued him.

Knowing that he was a Hebrew boy, “she had compassion on him” (Ex. 2:6). To Jochebed, she said, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you wages” (Ex. 2:9). What a great person this woman may have been! She saves the life of a slave, has compassion on him, pays a slave to ensure his proper care, and then takes him as her own. In most cases, it would not be a sign of disrespect for Moses to adopt this woman as a second mother. However, Moses refused the closeness of this connection.

2. Choosing to Suffer

The second decision Moses made was to choose suffering. Normally not something people choose, suffering is often simply endured. No one wakes up in the morning and, given the option, chooses suffering and affliction. For some honorable cause one might choose to suffer, but not typically for the people who are the cause of the suffering. Yet, Moses was of a different breed—he not only endured affliction, but he chose it.

3. The Mathematics of Faith

The third choice Moses made is one of value. Given the simple mathematical problem to solve, Moses was asked if the riches of the greatest country in the world were less than, greater than, or equal to the reproach of the cross. For Moses, the reproach of Christ was greater than the greatest riches of the wealthiest country in the world up to that time.

The narrative states that Moses didn’t fear the king. Fear is intelligent. In many cases, fear keeps us alive. Fear prevents us from doing things that are unreasonably dangerous. A person who has no fear is not safe to be around. But in Moses’ case, he was not afraid of the most powerful person in the world.

There was a reason for the unreasonable actions of Moses. Rather than fearing, Moses was a man of faith. He “endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). Faith opened his eyes to see what sight and reason are incapable of understanding. Yet he did not arrive at this place on his own. By example, his parents had educated and instructed him. Because “they were not afraid of the king’s command” (v. 23), “he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king” (v. 27). In the highest sense, this is true education—instilling in others our own faithfulness to God.