- The Entrance (verses 1-9)
- The Promising Start (verse 10)
- The Dead-End (verses 11-25)
It's good to welcome you all to our Bible Reading here in the Iron Hall this evening. Thank you for coming, and to all those who are visiting with us we especially give you a warm welcome, and trust that you will enjoy this next hour of fellowship and Bible study together with us. We're turning to the book of Exodus. We have been studying these studies: 'As Sparks Flying Upwards', and I don't want to labour you by explaining every week the reason for our title, but maybe it's your first night here and you don't understand why we've called it 'As Sparks Flying Upwards'. There's a little in verse in the book of Job which says that man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward, and we have been looking at men in the Bible who were born unto trouble. Every man is born unto trouble, but the Holy Spirit through His word has given us individual characters who many of us know of from our Sunday School days, but we have sought in these recent weeks to look into their lives in a little detail - not just to do a character study of every aspect of their life, but specifically to home in on the problems and the trials that they have gone through in their life, and identify them with what we go through in our life and try to derive from these studies strength for ourselves as we go through the turmoil of life.
We've looked at 'The Agonies of Abraham', 'The Life Journey of Jacob', we looked at Joseph and his life story in two studies, and tonight we're in our fifth study and it's probably going to take two parts at least, and we're looking at 'The Maze of Moses'. The Maze of Moses, and our reading is Exodus chapter 2. Moses himself, we believe, writes: "And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? Why is it that ye have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them".
In recent weeks we have been studying in a little detail the life of Joseph. In chapter 1 of Exodus and verse 8 we read these words: "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph". You remember that Joseph had risen to very high status in the land of Egypt, but there came a time and an age and a generation when a new king, a new Pharaoh, arose in Egypt who had forgotten and did not know Joseph. We read in the book of Exodus that this king cruelly persecuted Israel, he enslaved them, he ordered many of them to death, and especially those Hebrew children as we find in verse 10 of chapter 1 if you look at it, he said: "Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest these Hebrews multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools for delivering the children; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live".
This Pharaoh who had forgotten Joseph, who had forgotten the Hebrews, was concerned that as the Hebrews multiplied even under bondage that one day they would join with Egypt's enemies and Egypt would be overrun by the Hebrews. He instructed the midwives to take the children that were males who were born and to slay them. But as you read on in this story and look at verse 17 of chapter 1, it says: 'the midwives feared God'. What a wonderful statement: 'the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive'. In verse 20 we read: 'Therefore God dealt with the midwives gracefully' - He dealt well with them. Isn't it wonderful to know, right at the outset of our story, that God, when He sees obedience in one of His children, deals well with us. But you know, God's grace is right throughout the whole of the book of Exodus. Indeed the name 'Exodus' means 'deliverance', deliverance out of bondage, deliverance unto salvation as God's people. We see God's grace in chapter 2, if you look at it, and verses 24 and 25: 'God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them'. God had grace toward His people.
If you are familiar with the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, you will know that God's grace usually takes the form of a man. God usually personifies His grace in the person of a deliverer, a patriarch, a judge, a prophet, a priest or a king - and then finally in none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It has always been that way right from the very beginning in Genesis chapter 3 and verse 15, after Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden you remember the promise that God gave them in all of their depravity and shame, He said: 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel'. Immediately Abel was born, didn't Eve look toward her son as a deliverer? When Abel was slain then she looked towards Seth, and ever since that day every man-child that was born to the people of God, every mother in Israel saw that child as the possible deliverer, as the possible messiah - and of course it was all pointing toward the Messiah, the One whom we read of in the New Testament. Galatians 4 verse 4: 'But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law'.
Does it not make your heart rejoice this evening that we do not have a God who is a distant God? We do not have a God who is divorced from our life's experience, divorced from the pit of sin that we find ourselves continually falling into, we do not have a God who is disinterested in us, but we have a God who is an interposing Saviour! We have a God who is known in history to intervene in the affairs of men, and to be a saving God - a God who we can say is the God of our salvation!
God's man in this particular epoch was Moses. We read in this chapter that Moses was born of godly parents, and then Moses was hidden for three months in the bulrushes in a little ark. He was set afloat in a basket down the river Nile, you read in verse 3. But isn't it a wonderful spiritual principle that we've been finding out in these weeks in our studies, and I want to recap a little bit again - I want you to realise why we are entering into these character studies, and it is simply this: the whole of biblical revelation and truth testifies to us, as the children of God in our epoch, in our generation and dispensation, that out of the worst, the most tragic, terrible circumstances of life, the Almighty God of heaven can bring immeasurable blessing. That's what you've got to see! Don't be burdened, and bogged down, and drowning underneath all the facts and figures and character relations that we'll give to you every week - but if you see this you will see the message that is upon my heart, and is right throughout the whole of Scripture, that out of the greatest tragedies in all of humanity God, our God, can bring blessing!
Out of the agonies of Abraham, out of the life journey of Jacob, out of the jeopardy of Joseph and his great journey from extreme depression, extreme helplessness, right through prison and slavery, false accusation, incarceration, desertion and everything that we looked at: God, who is God and who is our God, can work all things together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Now grasp that tonight, before we look any further at Moses or any more characters, would you grasp that this evening: our God can bring triumph out of the deepest ashes!
Notice something else, and this is terribly important as we look at the character of Moses. Not only can God bring great blessing out of great cursing, but these men that we've been studying - and especially Moses tonight - would not have become the great men of God, and the great deliverers that they were, if it was not for their trials! If God had not led them down these difficult roads they would never have been the great Abraham, the father of faith; Jacob would never have become Israel and been the father of the nation; Joseph would never have arisen to the throne of Pharaoh and been able to administer all of the relief in famine, not only to Egypt but to Israel - and we would not have our Messiah today! You've got to realise this: the trials, and the problems, and the trouble that they all faced made them who they became.
Now, if you go little bit further and ask me: 'Why is that?', that's when I'm stuck! I don't know the intricacies of why it has to be this way, but that's the way it is. Perhaps we have a little bit of an answer. Harold Kushner, I don't know whether you remember this book or have ever heard of it, but he wrote a book entitled: 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People' - when bad things happen to good people, and this is the mystery of suffering and pain. Why is it that the righteous seem to suffer, and the wicked and the ungodly seem to flourish? That was a great theme within the Psalms of David at times. R.C. Sproul, the theologian and Bible teacher, was once asked: 'Why do bad things happen to good people?'. Listen to his answer, because I think it's excellent, he said: 'I haven't met any good people yet, so I don't know'. 'I haven't met any good people yet, so I don't know' - of course, his definition of 'good' is 'perfection' I think. We're not talking about people who are moral and kind and neighbourly, but what he is saying in a theological sense is: 'There is none good but God, there is none perfect, there is none that seeketh after God, but every human being born into the human race is conceived in their mother's womb in sin, born in sin, shapen in iniquity - depraved in every area of life, maybe not as far as they could be, but they are warped in everything'.
So, bad things don't happen to good people, bad things essentially happen to sinners - and as we look at it we see, therefore, a little bit clearer the paradox that there is in pain, that God lets pain into believer's lives, into righteous people's lives who are saved by the grace of God, for the purpose of making bad people better people! Do we not see that at the very end of Joseph's life? In Genesis 50 and verse 20 he said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery and put him down in the pit and caused him to suffer everything that he went through in his lifetime: 'But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive'. 'You meant it for evil, but God wanted me here for His own purpose, for His own reason, and that reason was blessing'.
In the ways of God, which you know too well - I hope - are not our ways, and in the thoughts of God which are not your thoughts, these trials are necessary for are good. Don't you be standing up like a spoilt child and saying: 'I don't deserve this'. Don't be saying: 'Why is God putting me through this? How have I earned this?', because these trials - if we believe God, and if we are believers we must believe His word - they are purging influences upon our life, they make men and women of God out of us, they mature us, they bring us through the fiery furnace, and like Job who has given us the whole title of this series - he could say: 'God in heaven knoweth the way that I take, and when I am tried He shall bring me forth as gold'. You've got to see this through these studies, please don't miss it - and as we look at Moses this evening, God can bring blessing out of the greatest tragedies, but more than that: God brings maturity and God brings purity. That means that there is a divine purpose in your pain. You may see through a glass darkly as you're sitting in your problems and trials tonight, and you may ask why - but praise God, I don't know why, you may not know why, but there is One in heaven who knows why!
Often in personal conversation with people that are going through problems I liken our walk through trial and trouble to a maze. I've likened Moses' life to that this evening in our study. If you've ever gone through a maze you'll know how confusing it is - you don't know where to turn, right or left, or go back where you came from, or go forward, you have fear that you're going to get even more lost. It's awful until you eventually get out, if you ever get out. But one way of getting through a maze successfully is if you have a friend standing on a hill, and that friend can see down from the heavens, down on your maze - they can see where you're coming from, they can see where you need to go - and if you listen to their directions you will get through and out the other end of the maze successfully. Is that not the way our lives are? We hit brick walls now and then, but there is One above who can see the reason for it all. He can see how He's going to bring us through it.
That's what Moses' life was like. Moses' life, as we read it, is a story of deliverance. God took him through a maze. You might say: 'Why did God take him through a maze? Why didn't God take him through an exit, an emergency tunnel straightaway and get all the people out, and get it over with? Why does God take you through a maze? Would an escape, a fire exit not be better?'. Well, you see Exodus is not just the story of the deliverance of a people, but the book of Exodus is a story of the development of a person. Quick fixes, easy solutions, easy spiritual results do not make developed, mature people - for Moses that took a maze, and for us I think it takes a maze as well. I think we can identify with Moses' maze this evening.
The first thing I want you to note is his entrance into this maze of this tremendous life that he had. We've read it in verses 1 to 4 or so in chapter 2, and it strikes me every time I look at a patriarch or a character in the Old Testament how many of these men of God were chosen from birth. You remember Jeremiah, we have a little bit of a peek into the womb of his mother, and God says: 'Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nation'. The whole of the word of God is filled with miraculous births - you have Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Samson; in the New Testament, John the Baptist, and then you have the wonderful birth of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the virgin conception. In one sense Moses' birth was no different, for his entrance into the world was certainly extraordinary - it was supernatural. Not his conception and his physical birth, but what we read around the events of his birth.
I believe that this woman, Moses' mother, was a godly woman. I'll give you three reasons why I believe she was a godly woman. The first is this: she chose God's will over her natural emotions - she chose God's will over her natural emotions. Imagine you putting your little baby boy into a little ark of bulrushes and pushing him down the river Nile - imagine that! But she knew it was God's will, and there are times in our lives as mothers, as fathers, even regarding ourselves and our own problems, when we have to let God's will conquer over our emotions - the things that we feel we should be doing, rather than what we know we should be doing. The second reason I believe she was a godly mother is that she trusted in God's sovereign and supernatural protection. Do you think that she would have pushed that child down the Nile if she didn't have faith in God to believe that the sovereign supernatural God had providence to protect her child? Of course she did, it was by faith that she pushed him down the river! Thirdly, and probably most of all the reason I think she was a very godly mother is that she was deciding for heaven and not for earth. Do you see that? She was deciding for heaven and not for earth. I've told you before that the desire of all Hebrew women was to give birth to messiah, to be the mother of a great deliverer - even since Eve, as we've already said, since Genesis 3:15 every Hebrew Jewish woman wanted to be the one who would bring Messiah into the world. In a sense all of these deliverers in the Old Testament were messiahs - messiahs with a small 'm' - pointing toward the Messiah, the Messiah, the Deliverer of God.
I believe that this mother of Moses was no different than any other Hebrew woman. It was in her heart, she wanted to be the one to bring forth the deliverer. It was the same as Hannah, remember Hannah? At the end of the books of Joshua and Judges we find that there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes - do you think that Hannah was ignorant of that? Of course she wasn't! A godly woman and her husband, and there she was praying to God - was she just wanting to fill her barren womb? Of course she wasn't, she wanted a son, a child who would come and glorify God, and be a deliverer for the people who had no deliverer. So Moses' mother was the same. Hannah trusted her son Samuel up to Eli, to the service of the temple, for that's why he was born. She trusted him into the home of debauchery, where Eli's sons were in such abomination and pagan idolatry - but she trusted in His providence, in His supernatural protection and care.
Let me say to us all this evening, that more than ever in the generation in which we live God needs women, God needs men, God needs parents and Christians who will point young people and children in the direction of godliness. The question that I feel needs to be asked, and must be asked is: what is more important to us tonight? Parent, what is more important to you: that your child passes the 11-plus, that they go to university, or that they go to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them? What is more important? We have a society and an education system and a status ladder that says you're worthless if you don't know something, if you don't have qualifications, if you don't have a skill. It is only right that we push our children in that direction, and I'm not decrying education and all of these things, but the question is this this evening that we all must face: what is most important?
There are hard choices that young people have to make, and parents have to make, but there is no greater choice than this: that the infinitely more important thing is that we point our children to Christ, that we push them toward the things of God, and that we give our children to God! Don't make the mistake, as many Christians in a modernistic age are doing, of putting all their energies into their sons and daughters and encouraging their children to do well in everything but the things of God. Then when they become career people, and all they're interested in is a big car and a flashy house, they're standing asking themselves: 'Why has my son and daughter no interest in the things of God?'. Let us give our children to God - even then they have to make their own choice, but let's do what we can for them.
But another spiritual principle here that warms my heart and is such a blessing to me, and we've seen it already in our studies - when you give something to God, God always gives you back in abundance. Do you believe that? The Lord Jesus said it in Luke chapter 6:38: 'Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again'. Can you see that mother pushing that child down the Nile, giving up that little boy to God? Look at chapter 2 with me for a moment, verse 7. Pharaoh's daughter comes down to bathe in the river Nile, and one of her servants spots this little package in the water. 'When she had opened it', verse 6, 'she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept'. She recognised, from its complexion probably, that it was one of the Hebrew children. Then in verse 7 his sister, Miriam, who had followed the little boat all the way down the Nile, she said to Pharaoh's daughter: 'Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages'!
Now watch this: she gave her child to God, and how painful that must have been, but God gave her child back and He paid her wages to look after it! What about that! Don't be afraid of giving things to God. Remember Abraham gave up Isaac, he was ready to plunge the dagger into his young son's breast, and what did God do? He stopped him - and because he was willing to give Isaac, God gave Isaac back - and God gave Abraham all the promises that his seed would be like the sand of the sea shore, and the stars of the sky, and He gave him an A+ in the test of faith! God is no man's debtor, and still today them that honour God, He says: 'I will honour'. Believe me, if you give everything to God you'll not lose out. I think, and I know I labour on this always, but I think that after salvation there is no more important truth - I think that this is the summary of all practical spiritual things, it is the secret of the spiritual life if there is any secret, and it's an open secret: child of God, give everything to God! That's it! You can talk about second blessings, you can talk about everything under the sun, but my friend give everything to God - that is the secret if there is any secret, it is this:
'All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
All to Thee my blessed Saviour,
I surrender all!'
If you do it you'll not lose out. Well, that was his entrance into life. We don't read too much really about his life, but we find that at least this happened: after Pharaoh's daughter took the little babe he had a promising start in life. Your second point: he had a princely, promising start in life. Now I'm sure that this, as we read it here, would not have been the road that Moses' mother would have chosen - for him to go into the royal palace of the godlessness of Egypt, in fact the oppressor of his own slave parents, the enemy of the Hebrews. Yet, as I've told you recently on our Sunday mornings, Augustine had to go to pagan Italy to be converted even against the prayers of his own mother! God does not always answer our prayers in the way that we look for them to be answered, but He always gives us good things.
So, Moses' ascendancy to Egypt's royal family, we must believe, was all of God. Do you believe that? We know little about the first 40 years of his life in the palace, but we know this much: Moses was no mean man. As soon as he came into that home as a little babe in the bulrushes he became, as it were, the grandson of Pharaoh. When he was old enough we believe he was probably sent and educated in college in Egypt, a college or university which had grown, scholars tell us, around the Temple of the Sun - it has been called the Oxford University of Egypt. Turn with me to Acts chapter 7 for a moment, Acts chapter 7, and in Stephen's great sermon before he was martyred for the Lord he says, going through Jewish history and how God had led His people, in verse 22 speaking of Moses: 'Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians'. And you see even here in Egypt God was fitting Moses for the days that would lie ahead, God was training him to be a ruler - not a ruler in Egypt, but a ruler in the new state and nation of Israel. But look at Acts chapter 7 for a moment, because we see that Moses was more than a royal student. Stephen tells us that he was a statesman and he was a soldier, it says that he 'was mighty in words and in deeds' - the words are his statesmanship, and the deeds are his prowess as a soldier.
So here is a scholar, here is a prince, here is an eloquent statesman, here is a courageous valiant soldier. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that while Moses was still in his early manhood the Ethiopians invaded Egypt. The routed army of the Egyptians had been threatened and destroyed, and the Ethiopians were going to destroy the city, the Egyptian city of Memphis, and in a panic all the Egyptian leaders consulted the oracles of Egypt. On the recommendation, we are told, of the oracles, Moses was entrusted with the command of the royal troops. He immediately took the field, surprised and defeated the enemy, captured their cities and returned to Egypt laden with the spoils of victory. That's what history tells us! This was a great young scholar, a royal prince, a noble statesman, and a valiant victorious soldier. You would be forgiven for thinking that things in many ways couldn't have got any better for Moses. For the first 40 years of his life he lived a royal life with the foremost positions of Egyptian state open to him. You would think surely it would be onward and upward for this young man - but we read that it was not the case! It was not to be, because buried deep in the soul and in the heart of the young man Moses was his identity.
This is wonderful, look at Acts 7 and verse 23, it says that 'it came into Moses' heart to visit his brethren'. The flame of his identity, who he really was in the eyes of his Hebrew brethren and in the eyes of Almighty God, was beginning to be kindled as an unquenchable fire as he daily heard the cry of the slaves groaning in the brickfields under the lash of the whip. He heard it, and it had an echo - deep called unto deep in his breast, and I'm sure that there was a period were he went through a wrestling between his royal statehood and who he really was deep down in his heart. You know the story. Can you imagine the courage that it would have taken for this man, and what it would cost him to go to his adopted mother, Pharaoh's daughter his benefactress, and break the news to her that all he had been raised for, all he had been groomed for was not his destiny after all, but he would rather choose the citizenship of a slave nation!
Josephus tells us that this Pharaoh had no children apart from this daughter. He tells us that his daughter had no children apart from the adopted Moses, and the likelihood is that Moses would have succeeded the throne of Egypt. But he came into that throne room and talked to his adopted mother, and he denied it all! F.B. Meyer, the great Bible scholar, says: 'The noble ingredients of Moses' resolve was threefold' - I want you to listen to this, how he came to this decision, and how he plucked up the courage to go through with it. First of all this decision was made in the full maturity of his powers. Moses had nothing to gain through this decision, he had everything in Egypt, but he was descending from the steps of the loftiest throne in the world - the number one superpower - and he was letting it all go. Secondly, it was made when the fortunes of the children of Israel were at its lowest ebb. He was going from the highest heights and riches of splendour to the lowest depravity of humanity. Imagine it: he was giving up a palace for a mud hut, he was giving up the finest food for the coarsest bread, he was travelling from respect and honour to hatred and contempt, from treasures to poverty and hardship. Yet he bowed his head beneath the yoke, though it was rough, though it was heavy, he bowed his head beneath it because it was God's will and it was his calling! Thirdly, this was a decision made when the pleasures of sin seemed the most fascinating. There was nothing that Moses could not lay his hand upon and sin with, but he denied it. Fourthly, and perhaps most of all, it was made decisively. He was not double-minded in his decision. If it was you or if it was me, we would probably use our influence as Pharaoh or a prince in the palace to help our blood relatives, the Hebrews, in slavery - but not him! He made a clean cut, he cut himself off completely.
You might say: 'Oh, I wish I could be like the man Moses', do you? I do! How could he do it? Let me show you how he could do it, turn with me to Hebrews 11, Hebrews 11. Something tells me we're not going to get through this first study tonight - but let's take our time over this because this is very important. Hebrews 11 and verse 24: 'By faith Moses, when he was come to years', 40 years 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 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. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible'. How did he do it? How did he make this decision in the full maturity of all his powers, in the fortunes of the children of Israel that were at a low ebb? How did he do it when all the pleasures of sin were open to him? How was he so decisive in cutting himself off? I'll tell you: by faith! Don't miss that!
To define it for you plainly and simply: he believed God. He believed God's promise to his fathers, he believed God's promise to Abraham that after 400 years of bondage in Egypt that his people would be delivered. He believed - he must have known by the dates on the calendar - that the period was nearly expired. He had faith because of God's word! You know that, and I know it, in the light of the New Testament, that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. He had heard the word of God in his heart, he had heard the word of God from the prophets, and he believed that God had something more dazzling for the child of faith than the royal palace of Egypt had for the child of Pharaoh. Faith! Hebrews 11 verse 1: 'the evidence of things not seen'. Abraham was told to go out from his home and to walk into the nothingness of unknowing, and he walked in faith not knowing where he was going. Joseph went in faith, Jacob went in faith, these were all men and women of faith - and here we have Moses not knowing what he was going to perhaps, but knowing certainly what he was leaving, but he chose to believe God.
Isn't that wonderful? When you see by faith what the eye cannot see - the evidence of things not seen? What the ear cannot hear, what cannot be conceived by the heart of any man, and you cheerfully take the path of affliction to receive what you cannot see, what you cannot prove - but the only proof and the only evidence you have of it is faith! Oh, if we could be like Moses and we could deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Christ, as Moses did. Note that now, I'm not confusing dispensations here - it says that he followed Christ! It was the reproach of Christ that he counted greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. He counted the Judgement Seat of Christ a better reward than all he could get on the throne of Pharaoh, and by faith he forsook Egypt and he endured, seeing Him who is invisible.
That's the kind of faith that great men and women of God have had. To put it bluntly: they see what most other people can't see, and that's faith. Moses came to a dead end, and we haven't time to look at it tonight - but isn't it wonderful, and isn't it strange, that in the maze of God, after his entrance into it, after he was started promisingly, he was doing well, everything seemed to be looking up for Moses, isn't it strange that God took him out of all those riches? God took him away from the palaces, God stripped him of it all, and it was a voluntary surrender for him in many ways, but it was according to the sovereign will and way of God - and that happens to you and me, doesn't it? There are choices that you and I have to make at times, and they cost us. There are times that we don't even make the choices, but the disciplining hand of God, a loving Father, comes into our life and He takes away some of the crutches that we have been using, some of the things that we have a love affair with and are on the mean altar of our hearts.
Why does He do it? He does it because it's better - do you believe that? That's what Moses believed: it was better to forsake Egypt and to suffer as a slave. Let me read you a poem by Martha Snell-Nicholson, I read one recently to you, it's from a book called 'Ivory Palaces' and the poem is called 'Treasures'. It sums up everything that Moses has experienced in his life hitherto, and what some of you are experiencing even tonight. Listen, 'Treasures':
'One by one God took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
"Lift those empty hands to Me!"
And I turned my hands toward heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches,
Till they could contain no more.
And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God could not pour His riches
Into hands already full!'
Have you realised that? That God cannot pour His riches into hands already full? It's the same today as it ever has been, that whoever will save his life for his own sake, saith the Saviour, will lose it; and whoever loses life for My sake will save it. Moses was a man who could sing these words:
'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I'd rather be His than have riches untold.
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.
I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause,
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause.
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I'd rather be true to His holy name.
Than to be the King of a vast domain,
And be held in sin's dread sway.
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today'.
Our Father, we know that what we're talking about this evening is the road that the Master trod. It is that road of humiliation, where He who was rich for our sakes became poor, who stepped from that heavenly throne out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe. We thank Thee for that love that is typified in Moses, but perfected in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that we will learn to take up our cross, denying ourselves, and following Him. In His lovely name we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth tape in his 'As Sparks Flying Upwards' series, titled "The Maze Of Moses - Part 1" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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