By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
The entire life of Moses is an example of powerful faith in God. Even when he was born, strong faith was exemplified in the hearts of his parents. As Hebrews points out, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (11:23). The account in Exodus records how the king of Egypt tried to control the Israelite population first through slavery, and then through the genocide of all of their male children (Exodus 1:8-22). Imagine the trust Moses’ parents had in God to not fear what the most powerful man in the land could do to them for defying his command to kill their child!
Most know what happened next, how his parents hid him in a small basket and placed him in the Nile, and how the daughter of Pharaoh found him and adopted him as her own (Exodus 2:1-10). She allowed Moses’ mother to nurse him (Exodus 2:7-10), which possibly opened the door for him to have a relationship with his Hebrew parents in spite of being raised by Egyptians. They must have taught Moses to have the same faith in God that they had, considering that as an adult he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25). Read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to see all the hardship this choice brought to Moses: becoming a fugitive, spending forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness, putting his life in danger repeatedly by challenging Pharaoh, and then spending the last forty years of his life wandering through the desert while continually being challenged by hundreds of thousands of grumbling, contentious, immature people. He chose all of that over a life of royal luxury in Egypt as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Why did he make these choices? As the Hebrew author points out, he saw that sin’s pleasures, including those which would come with all of Egypt’s treasures that were his for the taking, were “fleeting,” as brief as the longevity of mist when compared to the eternal “reward” from God for which he was looking (v. 26). As Paul directed Christians today, Moses had “set (his) mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Moses looked at life from the eternal perspective. That is a big part of what faith is all about.
It was because of this kind of faith that “he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). Not being allowed to see God (cf. Hebrews 11:1), Moses still “saw” him through his faith, and thus trusted that this invisible God would keep him safe as a fugitive from the king.
It was this faith that prompted him to “keep the Passover and sprinkle the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch” the firstborn of the Israelites in the tenth plague (Hebrews 11:28; cf. Exodus 12:21-30). Imagine the deep faith needed to trust that all that would be needed to keep the plague of death from one’s children is sprinkling a lamb’s blood on the doorposts of your house! Yet that is what Moses directed Israel to do, and their children survived what Egypt’s firstborn could not.
Faith like this can be shared. Having faith like this can influence others to have it too. We see this in the Hebrew writer’s next citation: “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned” (11:29; cf. Exodus 14:21-30). Think of the trust in God needed to overcome the undoubtedly massive amounts of terror one would naturally have when faced with the prospect of walking between massive walls of water that were being held up by wind! Israel had this faith because of the faith they saw in their leader, Moses.
Is our faith similar, friends?