The Heroes’ of Faith: Moses Part 2

‘By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.  By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them’ (Hebrews 11:27-28).

The writer of the letter has impressed upon his readers that Moses did not conform to the sinful pleasures of Egypt which surrounded him as a younger man.  Rather, he was an example of faith.  Nonetheless, verse 27 raises an interesting question, as Moses left Egypt twice.  Much ink has been committed to paper on this matter, and there are reasonable arguments for either event, but I feel it refers to the Exodus.  The first time Moses fled in panic, due the Pharaoh’s anger, therefore, this reason for leaving does not really represent an act of faith, but in my opinion, the Exodus does.  Now I know some will say Pharaoh was defeated rather than angry, but I would argue his anger manifests itself in his change of mind and pursuit of the Israelites, which then leads to the decimation of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-29).[1]   But we must not get so tied up in these arguments that we miss that Moses’s motivation came from: ‘seeing him who is invisible’ (v27) which is probably a reference to Moses’s encounter with the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:16) – and this means his focus was on the Lord and it was he who motivated him.

But perhaps the most incredible act of faith for Moses was the keeping of the Passover.  The Lord had given detailed instructions of how his people were going to be preserved and saved (Exodus 12:21-28). And even though Moses had seen the Lord at work through the plagues, he might doubt, perhaps, as to how putting a bit of blood round the door post was going to protect families from the forewarned death coming upon their firstborn?  Yet, as Moses demonstrated trust in this promise, and obediently followed the Lord’s instruction, he brought about the protection and salvation of God’s people!  John Calvin sums up the extent of Moses’s faith.  ‘It could seem absurd that Moses set up a few drops of blood as a remedy for the vengeance of God, but he was content with the word of God alone and had no doubt that the people would be exempt from the plague which was coming upon the Egyptians.’[2]   Now, that is living by faith!

The example of Moses must have been a tremendous encouragement to these Jewish Christians. He gave up so much to stand with God’s people.  They could relate to this, as they had endured hardship and struggle, and had even had their property confiscated in their stand for Christ (10:32-34). But once again, Moses only got just a glimpse of his reward!  In Deuteronomy 34:1-7 he views the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, but never actually sets foot in it.

In conclusion, Moses – like others in this chapter – saw only from a distance what had been promised (v13), but never doubted that he would receive it!

[1] The arguments concerning Moses departure from Egypt are rather helpfully summed up by F.F. Bruce when he writes: ‘Some commentators, however, have preferred to see here a reference to Moses departure from Egypt at the time of the Exodus.  One argument in favour of this view is the statement that “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible”, which might be understood as an allusion to his experience at the burning bush.  Against it, however, is the consideration that reference to the Exodus here, before the institution of the Passover in verse 28, would be out of its natural order, as well as the consideration that fear of the king’s wrath would be irrelevant to this later departure from Egypt, since the king and his people like then urged Moses and the Israelites to get out as quickly as they could.’  F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Printing Company, 1964), 322-3.
[2] John Calvin, The Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews and the First and Second Epistle’s of St Peter, Calvin’s Commentaries (Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1963), 179-180.

Want to listen to a sermon on this passage? What’s so Special about Someone who gave up the Easy Life?

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