The Better Choice Of Moses.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”- Heb_11:24-26.
Moses had everything to bind him to Egypt, to Pharaoh, to Pharaoh’s house: ties of silk, chains of gold; natural affection, gratitude, learning, pleasure, love of ease, pomp, splendor, riches; everything that the flesh desires, that the intellect covets, and that the world contains. For what was there of worldly glory, pleasure, learning, pomp, and power, that were not to be found in Egypt?
Yet he broke every tie; he came out; he separated himself; he ceased to touch the unclean thing; he flung aside the riches of Egypt, and trampled on the crown of Pharaoh.
What prompted this severance? Was he a disappointed man? Had his life been a failure? Had Egypt used him coldly? Was there no prospect of rising in it? Had its pleasures run dry, or its riches failed? No, these were not his reasons. But he had met with something better than all these. It was this which disentangled his feet, and which broke the bonds.
Yet that which had come across his path was not a new thing. As an Israelite he had known it long, but now his eyes had been opened to see it aright. Nor was it a noble thing or honourable in the eyes of men. It was known as a reproach, a matter of scorn. It is called the reproach of Christ, or the reproach attaching to all who held Israel’s hope of a coming Messiah. This hope was a mockery and derision to all in Egypt. Yet it was this decided hope which Moses took hold of, ‘preferring it to all the treasures of Egypt.’ This was, if not Moses’ conversion, at least the turning point in his life, when he was compelled to make an open choice. We know not what the occasion was, but it brought matters to a crisis. It compelled him to decide for Jehovah or for Osiris, for Christ or for the false worship of the Egyptian temples. It was faith that led him, and enabled him to make the choice; faith that saw through the falsehoods of heathen idolatry, and the vanities of human pleasure and learning; faith that saw the realities of divine truth and joy as centered in Him who, even when seen afar off, was the way, and the truth, and the life. What then does faith accomplish for us? and how? and when?
As to the when, we may answer, the moment that it comes into action by the power of the Holy Ghost. In its state of death or dormancy it effects nothing, whatever its words or professions may be. Has the when in your life come yet, O man? Or is it still a futurity, an uncertainty? When art thou to believe and to act upon what thou believest?
As to the how, we answer, it is the substance of things hoped for. It operates by giving to the future its proper magnitude, to the present its proper littleness; to the heavenly things their true fullness, to the earthly their true emptiness. It sets all things on their right basis, and represents everything in its true proportions. As to the what the answers are endless. What is there that faith cannot do? But the special thing noted in our text is Moses’ change of choice and estimate.
I. His change of choice-He chooses affliction and oppression, degradation and hardship. He chooses them deliberately, joyfully, and not by compulsion. He chooses his company, ‘the people of God,’ as distinguished from Egypt and from earth. With them he casts in his lot for better or for worse. In making this choice he rejects what the world calls pleasure,-the pleasures,-the short lived pleasures of sin. They are worthless and unenduring, as well as evil. He had once chosen them, now he chooses them not.
II. His change of estimate.-‘Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches.’ Faith alters the value of everything to us. That value in itself is incapable of change; but to us it is altered. What we once esteemed we esteem no more; what we disesteemed we now prize, and honour, and love. Faith applies new tests to everything, and finds dross in what we counted gold, and gold in what we counted dross. It changes our estimate, (1) Of sin; (2) of self; (3) of righteousness; (4) of Scripture; (5) of God; (6)of Christ; (7) of earth; (8) of heaven. The aspect of all these things is altered to us. They are not what they were to us, and we are not what we were to them.
Or, to use another figure, faith is the great unveiler. It takes off the mask, or veil, or covering from every object, and shows them to us as they are. There are two kinds of veils or masks on everything here,- bright and dark. The former hides deformity, and makes objects appear fairer than they are; the latter hides beauty, and makes objects appear uncomely. Faith removes both of these. It takes off the bright veil, (1) from earthly pleasure; (2) from worldly riches; (3) from human learning; (4)royal glory. It shows us the dark interior,-the hollowness of all these. It does not misrepresent them or belie them, but simply removes the unreal attractions which deceived and misled us. It does not underestimate, yet it does not over-estimate. It takes off the dark veil, (1) from Christ, and shows Him to us as altogether lovely; (2) from holiness, and shows us what a blessed thing it is to be holy; (3) from the kingdom to come, and shows us what a recompense of reward it is; (4) from the Church of God, showing us what a glory belongs to her, though it doth not now appear what she shall be; (5) from reproach and affliction, showing us how good it is to be afflicted, how honourable to be reproached for Christ, and as He was.
Thus faith works. It does wonders in us, and for us, and through us. It separates us from the world. It brings us out, of the haunts of vanity; it leads us out of the ballroom, and the theatre, and the gay party; it shows us better riches, better pleasures, and brighter glory than the world contains.