Faith Evaluating (Hebrews 11:24–26)

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A little over two years ago, at a family camp in India, I spoke on the subject of the Christian home. At the end of the meeting a man stood to give a testimony. He said that, for most of his life, he had been a nominal Christian. He was what we might call a submarine Christian: He surfaced twice a year—at Christmas and Easter.

He went on to say that the Lord, over the preceding several months, through the ministry of a missionary to India, had been working in his life. Over that period, he had been evaluating his life and his relationship to the Lord. He was now prepared to publicly profess the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. But he went further. With deep passion in his voice, tears in his eyes and a deep sense of dependence upon God, he said before us all, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Apparently he really meant it. Recently, I had the great privilege once again to have a meal in his home, and it is clear that his home is indeed serving the Lord.

This brother was, of course, quoting the words of Joshua as recorded in Joshua 24:15. This great soldier of God had stood before his nation and reviewed God’s faithfulness to them over the centuries. He exhorted them to evaluate God’s faithfulness and then to make a choice based on their consideration. He said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” And then immediately, without hesitation, Joshua humbly and yet confidently proclaimed for all to hear, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” He made a choice regardless of what others chose to do. I wonder if he learned this from Moses.

In the passage before us, we have the account of Moses making a life-altering, future-shaping and world-impacting choice. And he made it by faith. Moses faithfully evaluated his position in the world in the light of God’s purpose for him in this world. His faithful evaluation resulted in faithful choices.

As with Abraham, the writer of Hebrews focuses on five aspects of the faith of Moses. We saw in our last study that Moses’ life exemplifies the principle of faith deciding. Believers are confronted with many choices in our pilgrimage, and in each situation faith in the character of God is to be the deciding factor.

Moses exemplifies this in many ways and, as we learned, the seeds of his faithfulness were sown in his life by his parents. Upon his birth, Moses’ parents “by faith” hid him for “three months” because “they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command” (v. 23).

God rewarded their faith in a most marvellous way as He providentially ordered the confluence of both the currents of the Nile and the decision of Pharaoh’s daughter to bathe at the river. Both converged at just the right time. It put Moses into her arms and his life was spared.

A Faith Building Aside

As an aside, consider her decision to bathe at the Nile. She was royalty, and there is every reason to assume that she had her own bathhouse in the palace. So why would she choose to bathe publicly?

The Nile was esteemed religiously; it was seen as having divine powers. Like the Ganges in India, the Nile was attributed with supernatural powers. It was related in some way to the Egyptian gods. I raise this point to highlight that God used what was most likely a sinful, idolatrous decision by this woman as a means towards His end. Someone recently tweeted, “God has no hand in the sins of human actions but he has a hand in the actions of human sin.” This is clear here. God was faithfully fulfilling His purpose for the life of this “beautiful” child by sovereignly using irreverent behaviour. What a God!

But, back to the account in Hebrews.

The writer now picks up on Moses having grown into adulthood. And we are told that he, like his parents, made faithful decisions. We will focus on his major decision to identify with his own people rather than with the Egyptians. But just what led to this decision? In other words, why did Moses refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter? Why did Moses choose to “suffer affliction with the people of God” rather than to “enjoy the passing pleasures of sin”?

The answer is simply that he rightly evaluated his options. His evaluating empowered his refusing and his choosing. And what was true of Moses is always true of us. That is, if we properly value the treasure of Jesus Christ, we will choose to refuse lesser treasures, regardless of the cost.

In summary, we could say that Moses decided for Christ. And that made all the other, related decisions necessary. It quite literally made all the difference in the world.

We will study these verses by asking three questions.

When Did Moses Do It?

Our text tells us that Moses made his evaluation “when he came of age” (v. 24a). From the record of Exodus 2, and from Stephen’s sermon before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7), we know that the writer is referring to Moses at forty years of age. It was then that Moses clearly and once for all renounced his cultural identity and identified openly with the people of God.

Literally, the Greek speaks of “when he became great.” The translators have perhaps interpreted and then translated. The translation is not wrong for it is clear that it was “when he came of age”—that is, after time enough for mature reflection—that he made these all-important choices. But it is also very much true that, when Moses “came of age,” he also had became “great” in position, possessions, prestige and political stature. He was perhaps in line to take the throne in Egypt. To properly appreciate this passage, we need to keep these two issues together.

Moses made his most important spiritual evaluations in what was perhaps the most difficult of times. This is what makes his choices so much more impressive. If anyone in Scripture ever faced a midlife crisis it was Moses. And by faith he handled it exceptionally well to the glory of God.

I seriously doubt that at it was at forty years of age that Moses all of a sudden made this radical decision out of nowhere. Rather, for forty years he continually evaluated his position in the light of his purpose. In fact, the word “esteeming” in v. 26 indicates, not a sudden decision, but rather careful thought. In other words, this was not a knee-jerk reaction but the culmination of many years of keeping his focus. And so, when the time was both right and most tempting—when he became great—he proved that he truly was great (Matthew 18:1–4).

When the text says that at his birth his parents saw that he was a “beautiful child” (v. 23), it implies more than natural parental affection. Rather, as we saw, they had some indication that Moses was no ordinary baby. As Karl Marx’s mother feared that she had given birth to a “devil,” Amram and Jochebed on were aware that they were the parents of a child with a unique purpose in God’s redemptive plan. Certainly they made Moses aware of this, particularly in those early years when Jochebed nursed him. The point is that Moses grew up with an understanding of God’s covenant and of his place in that covenantal faithfulness of God. He was simply waiting for the right time. And that time came when he was forty years old, when he was at the height of success (see Acts 7:23–25).

We can learn some things from this.

When we are surrounded by success, it is an excellent time to evaluate our pursuits in the light of God’s purpose (Matthew 6:9–10). We must continually be evaluating as per above. This will prepare us to make the right, yet often difficult, choice when faced with one.

In other words, Moses no doubt had settled in his heart, long before this crisis period, what his purpose in life was. And this made it all the more easier to do the hard thing when called upon to do so. We need to develop such patterns of thinking, such patterns of evaluating our purpose in the light of God’s purpose long before a crisis arises. If we have done so then we will respond principally rather than reactively. Like Daniel (Daniel 1:8), we must purpose in our hearts long before the temptation to do what is righteous.

Perhaps you have become “great.” That is, perhaps you are successful, or are on the verge of being so. Prosperity may be your lot—or position, prestige or power. That can be a wonderful blessing. It can be used for the glory of God. It can be used to demonstrate your faith in Christ. But it can also become a stumblingblock. The factor that determines which it will be is your proper evaluation of why God has put you in such a position and an evaluation of what is of the most importance. Will you respond in faith, or will you be like the rest of the Egyptians?

When I was growing up, my dad, working for IBM, was given the opportunity for a great promotion. He was becoming “great” in the organisation, and was offered a golden opportunity to further his personal greatness. He turned the offer down. At the time, I didn’t understand his decision, but my mom many years later told me the reason that he had refused it. Had he accepted the offer, he would have had to move our family to another state, and consequently away from our local church. After consulting with leaders and friends in the church, he decided that it was best to stay at the church of which we were members. I learned from my mother that day that my father had actually been demoted when he refused the offer, and had taken a consequent pay cut. He started to work multiple jobs in order to support the family, all because he had evaluated an opportunity and taken the biblical rather than the pragmatic path. His faith in Christ enabled him to evaluate what was at stake and he did the unusual thing. I thank God that he did.

What Did Moses Do?

Having made an evaluation, Moses acted on it. We are told what he did in vv. 24a–25: He “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.”

An Identity Crisis

We know from these words that Moses chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” He made this choice because, when he was at the height of his success, he made another choice: He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” And as we will see, this involved several other related choices.

Fundamentally, Moses chose his spiritual identity over his cultural identity. Let me explain.

Holiness Not “Hebrewness”

Moses’ a choice was not merely an ethnic one. That is, he was not choosing Hebrews over Egyptians. Yet, he was choosing one particular people over another people. He chose “the people of God.” Andrews is correct: “By faith he saw that Israel were the people of God and there lay the secret of his extraordinary decision.”1

In Exodus 2:11 we read these words: “Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren.” This means much more than Moses taking a walk to have a chat with fellow Hebrews. Rather, as later Jewish interpreters saw this, it “was understood … to mean that Moses chose to dissociate himself from the Egyptian court.”2 He evaluated who he was before God, and this empowered him to make some major countercultural choices.

Moses saw himself as one chosen by God’s grace to be a part of a people who were chosen by God’s grace. That was his identity. He belonged to Yahweh. He was one for whom Christ would one day die. That, not his passport, position, prosperity or possessions, was his identity. And that self-awareness of who he really was was the key to every other decision he made.

We need to think long and seriously hard about this. If we go wrong here then are likely to go wrong everywhere else. History is strewn with the destruction resulting from wrong self-evaluations. If we will make righteous decisions in this world then we must come to grips with who we are in Christ. Our spiritual identity must be prioritised over our cultural identity. In fact, I think that an argument could be made that the epistles of the New Testament have this as a primary theme. The apostles wanted Christians to come to appreciate who they are in Christ and all that this entails. You see, once we get our identity settled, we will be far more motivated to live out that identity. Once we realise that faith has changed our “status” in this world, we will be in a far better position to live it out.

Note some of the terms the New Testament writers use to identify the community of faith. It speaks of us as “saints,” “called” and “chosen.” We are said to be “in Christ.” We are “beloved” and a “peculiar people.” We are “holy” and “overcomers” who are “more than conquerors.” We are the “children of God.” We are “Christians.”

When we properly understand and begin to live out this identity, we are freed to make choices that are countercultural. Let me address some practical issues before looking at some specific choices of Moses.

Application

I have several roles: son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, church member, pastor-teacher, elder. But none of these are my identity. They are important, but they do not define who I am. Rather, being in Christ defines who I am. And this is not a distinction without a difference. It makes a big difference!

If my identity is found, for example in being a husband, what happens, God forbid, if my wife dies? What happens then to my identity? Many parents have lost all sense of purpose and perspective when they have lost a child because their identity was so wrapped up in that child. At a less traumatic level, when they merely leave the nest, some mothers especially have no idea how to function, for their entire life was wrapped up in being mom.

I don’t generally appreciate the use of titles, but titles are a big deal to many in our culture. Titles speak of “success.” So “Dr” is writ large on the sign, or “President,” “Professor,” “Advocate” or “Pastor.” Be careful. These describe what we do, not who we are.

I remember many years ago reading the autobiography of Colin Powell, a remarkable four star general in the US army, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and, later, Secretary of State. In his book he said that he learned not to confuse his identity with his job, for if you lose your job then you will also lose your sense of who you are. He is not a Christian, but he gets it. We should as well.

It is for this reason that I don’t like being addressed as “Pastor.” Thats is what I do, not who I am. I am Doug; a member of Christ’s church. That is honour enough!

Moses faced this “identity crisis,” but he overcame. By faith, he believed that his identification with God and with what He was doing was far more important than any identification with his pagan culture and with what it was up to. He believed that the unseen was real and that that was why he was on earth. We need such faith; the faith to break with our shortsighted culture. As Jay Adams writes, “Moses, and men of faith like him, all have sense enough to weigh the short term over against the long term.”3 Do you?

Now let’s note five specific countercultural choices made because of Moses’ self-identity. As we do we will no doubt make connections with our own faith challenges and related choices.

He Chose Affliction Over Affection

Moses had a stepmother. I have no reason to doubt that she loved him and that he loved her.

It would seem that she loved him at first sight (Exodus 2:5–10). Though Jochebed nursed him, Pharaoh’s daughter raised him. And why should we doubt that Moses loved her in response? I don’t know if Moses had any brothers in the palace, and I don’t know about his relationship with Pharaoh, at least up until this point. (And please don’t fill in the blanks with either Walt Disney or Christian Bale!)

What I do know is that, when Moses chose to identify with Yahweh and His people, he was cutting ties with those who had been his family for many, many years. And the same was the experience of many to whom this epistle was addressed.

When Moses clearly chose to serve Yahweh, he at the same time rejected the gods and religion of his Egyptian family. This, no doubt, did not sit well. And it will not sit well with many of your family members either. But let this passage encourage you to persevere and, by faith, choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to compromise your allegiance to Christ by choosing family over Him. I know this is not easy, but it is right (see Matthew 10:32–38).

He Chose Affliction Over Affluence

God tells us that Moses’ choice involved forfeiting “the passing pleasures of sin.” What does this mean? There are perhaps several answers (which we will look at here and in the next three points as well), but certainly his being surrounded by opulence was one of them.

There is nothing inherently wrong with nice things or with a lot of nice things. In fact, Christianity, particularly through the incarnation, helps to restore our appreciation for things material. However, we all know the danger of abusing such things (1 Corinthians 7:31). Moses grew up surrounded by affluence, but he chose to forego further enjoyment of it in order to cast his lot with the people of God, people whom he well knew were suffering affliction. Moses chose to leave a palace to become a slave. Does that sound familiar?

By faith in God and in His revealed purposes, Moses turned away from the temptations to be ruled by things and chose rather a greater thing: Christ, His gospel and His kingdom.

We face the same challenge and the same calling (see 1 Timothy 6:17–19; Ephesians 4:28). The point of these passages is that our identity in Christ turns our view of wealth right side up. God enriches us to enrich others. Think about that when you receive your increase this year. Consider helping the afflicted rather than, like the rich young ruler, hording your affluence.

In December 2013, Ethan Couch, a teenager from North Texas, was sentenced to ten years probation for a drunk driving incident in which he killed four pedestrians and injured eleven. His attorneys argued that he suffered from “affluenza,” an inability to understand the consequences his actions because of financial privilege. Supposedly his privileged background blinded him to the fact that there would be negative consequences for reckless actions.

I would surmise that some of these Hebrew Christians were blessed with material things, which, in a form of spiritual affluenza, were holding them back from pursuing the Lord. Don’t fall into that quagmire of materialistic worldliness.

He Chose Affliction Over Appetite

“The passing pleasures of sin” certainly included the temptation for Moses to misuse his position, prestige, power and prosperity for sinful purposes. With such affluence constantly surrounding him, hedonism—the if-it-makes-you-happy-then-do-it approach to life—was always a mere whisper away. Moses was a red-blooded man who, like us, was a sinner. He was therefore not immune to various appetites, which, if not under the Spirit’s control, could lead to sinful self-indulgence. But he chose to believe God rather than his gut. In fact, this makes me think of another Hebrew who at one time had lived in the same palace. Perhaps Joseph’s testimony was of great encouragement to Moses at this time. His faithful example indeed may have been a stimulus to Moses’ faith. And often this is the case. Learn from the faithfulness of others.

The life of allegiance to Christ is a constant struggle with our appetites. We can either cave in to self-indulgence or we can choose to believe God’s Word and fight the good fight of faith by putting off immediate gratification and putting on the patience necessary to obey. These Hebrew Christians in the early church needed such putting off and putting on as much as we do. Choose hardship over hedonism. The alternative is eventually not appetising at all.

In the award-winning film A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe’s character, John Nash, says at one point, “I have learned that I have certain appetites and that I must not feed them.” Wise counsel!

He Chose Affliction Over Advantage

Moses enjoyed all the palace pleasures, but at whose expense? Ultimately, it was on the backs of the servile labour of the people of God. I think Lane is spot on when he notes that Moses “recognized that the advantages that accrued to him as the son of the pharaoh’s daughter were obtained through the oppressive enslavement of the Hebrew nation.”4 What Moses enjoyed came at the price of the abuse of the Hebrew slaves. God’s people were afflicted so that Pharaoh could indulge. But Moses had had enough. He chose rather to give up his advantage and to identify with the disadvantaged. He would no longer be party to a corrupt system that mistreated others—especially one that mistreated God’s people. Sometimes, we have to make a similar choice.

Perhaps you are employed in a wicked industry and you need to make the choice to stand for righteousness rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. Perhaps you notice the wicked abuse of the poor all around you—even at the hand of Christians—and you are being called to righteousness rather than joining the wicked (see James 2:1­4). Perhaps there is a call for you to stand for righteousness against corrupt leadership in a church, like Martin Luther and others did in the Reformation. You may not have been raised in an Egyptian palace, but you will certainly as a Christian be faced with the choice to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season or to suffer with the people of God.

He Chose Affliction Over Apostasy

Many commentators make the connection between this phrase and the particular concern of this epistle: the temptation to apostasy. I think they are correct to do so. These Hebrew Christians were being tempted to turn away from Christ, to quite literally abandon the faith. Had Moses chosen to continue to identify with his culture rather than with Christ and His people then he too would have been guilty of apostasy. But he did not. And neither should the recipients of this epistle.

As Bruce comments, “He could not identify himself both with the Israelites and with the Egyptian; he had to choose the one or the other.”5 Moses, like the recipients of this epistle, was confronted with the decision to obey God’s call or the call of his culture and present circumstances. Thankfully he chose allegiance over apostasy. And you?

It is costly to follow Christ. It has always been and will always be. The costs are different from place to place. But what is the alternative? Heaven trumps hell. Reconciliation trumps alienation. Justification excels condemnation. Forgiveness beats guilt. Joy excels despair. God superabounds over self, sin and Satan.

Moses was confronted with options. Would he live for his own name or for God’s name? You too must make this choice.

Moses was confronted with two roads: one rather than the other. You cannot have it both ways. In such a case, it is not both/and but rather it is either/or. Choose the narrow way and find life. Faithful choices will be applauded by some, but they will be misunderstood and even scorned by most.

Moses evaluated his options and counted the cost. And when all was said and done Moses chose to be an outcast for the name and fame of God rather than to be a member of the “in” crowd without Him. Of course, this is precisely what these Hebrew believers were up against.

Importantly, this highlights the need for the faith community, a community of those committed to making faithful choices (see Hebrews 10:24–25).

Why Did Moses Do It?

The main issue, of course, is why. Why did Moses do what he did? Why did he choose to suffer with the people of God rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin? Verse 26 offers the answer: He did so “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”

The reason that Moses made those faithful and therefore costly and courageous choices was because he properly evaluated what was at stake. He certainly understood the grand treasures of Egypt that were right at his fingertips. But he was also aware of something far better. He knew of the riches of Christ. He was therefore willing to embrace “the reproach of Christ.”

Some are troubled by what they see as an anachronism; that is, a reading into the Old Testament a later New Testament revelation. But there is no reason to make such an accusation. For if Abraham saw Christ long before He came to earth (John 8:56) then Moses, who came long after Abraham, could also have believed on Christ. And as I have argued before, the point of Hebrews 11 is that these Old Testament did indeed believe on Christ—and therefore those living after the incarnation have no excuse for not doing so.

But further, Moses clearly understood his call from God concerning His redemptive plan. As Guthrie observes, “All that Moses suffered was in the cause of God’s plan of salvation for His people.”6 So no, the writer is not taking literary liberties. Rather, he is telling us that Moses in fact looked to the reward of redemption and renewal in Christ. And because he believed God for this future event, he was in a wonderful position to evaluate the present. The promise of the future was esteemed to be of much greater value than what was being offered in the present.

Let me put it this way: Moses treasured Christ above all and that informed every choice he made. So it will with you and me. We need to treasure Jesus above all and this will be reflected in our life choices. We will often choose the hard thing over the culturally accepted thing.

There are many lessons to be learned from this, but let me suggest one major one: Where we look influences how we evaluate, and this influences what we choose. In other words, our focus is directly related to our faith.

The word “looked” means “to look intently.” The look of faith is both intentional and intense. Moses was focused on the unchanging Word of God because of the unchanging character of God.

When we are focused on the Lord, our faith is strengthened. And when our faith is strengthened, so is our ability to refuse what we must refuse and to choose what we should choose.

Practically, this raises the issue of our devotional life.

I am aware that the Bible does not prescribe that a Christian read through the Bible once a year, and I am aware that there is no commandment to have a “quiet time.” Yet it is clear from reading Scripture that men such as David spent dedicated time in the pursuit of knowing God. In fact, he wrote at one place, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud” (Psalm 55:17). Whatever David meant specifically, it is clear that he was concerned about his spiritual focus.

The anonymous author of Psalm 1 exhorts and exemplifies for us the necessity of delighting in and devoting ourselves to meditating on God’s Word “day and night” (v. 2). Daniel prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10). His is a good example of how focus drove him to pray faithfully, and faithful praying fed his focus.

The apostle Paul mentions often about his prayers for others, and from the way he writes it is clear that he was spending ample time in learning the Word. But of course the supreme example is the Lord Jesus Christ. He prayed in front of His disciples time and again. In fact, after one such session they were so moved to ask Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). But perhaps there is no better incident in His life which reveals this than Mark 1:35: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

The context indicates the value that Jesus placed on such a “quiet time,” for it reveals how busy He had been the day before. Yet He was up early the next day to seek His Father’s face. Interestingly, what follows is another very busy day. He did not choose to sleep in because he had a busy day. He was, in the words of a book title, too busy not to pray. This needs to be our outlook.

If we will live faithfully in 2015 then we must prioritise our devotional life. We need the upward look if we will face our days with a proper, God-centred outward look (see Proverbs 2:1–5).

Faithful Choices Require Evaluating Riches

It is clear that Moses had two treasures with which he was confronted: Christ or the court. He made the right assessment. He thought through the implications of what was at stake. His esteem, his consideration of what God had promised in Christ, was the deciding factor. He understood what he would lose, but it was of little consequence in the light of what he would gain. “Spiritual rewards, unlike material advantages, have an enduring quality which infinitely enhances their value.”7

When we treasure Christ above all, the choices are in some ways already made for us.

Note how Paul gloried in the cross and therefore in the “stigmata” of the cross. In a sense, Paul chose a permanent tattoo over a temporary treasure.

Faithful Choices are Rewarded

In the words of Paul, Moses had set his affections on things above rather than on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1–3). Moses believed God’s covenantal promise because he was convinced of God’s covenantal faithfulness. This made faithful choices easy. They were no brainers. As Raymond Brown helpfully comments, “The stigma that rests on God’s Anointed was for Moses a treasure of priceless worth.”8

Our problem is that we are not heavenly-minded enough. Therefore, we are often of little earthly good. We need the eternal perspective that Moses had. Moses had this perspective even though he was surrounded by opulence. I assume that he guarded his heart, and that is why he could see the future, heavenly reward. He did not get too bogged down in the physical land and luxuries he faced every day because he really was convinced of the future Promised Land. This should be our perspective. And so, when things are difficult, we will continue to make faithful choices.

Alvin Townley’s Defiant tells the story of American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. It focuses on eleven POWs who were tortured in Hanoi. They were kept in solitary confinement and were allowed out of their cells for but twenty minutes per day. At one point, they managed to bore small holes through their cell walls to adjacent cells so that they could whisper to and catch a glimpse of one another. At one point, Townley recounts a discussion between Robbie Risner and Ron Storz.

By that afternoon, he’d bored a hole through the mortar to Risner’s cell. “I’m really down in the mouth” Ron told Risner once they could understand one another. “I have nothing. Thy have taken everything away from me. They took my shoes, my flying suit, and everything I possessed. They even took my glasses. I don’t have a single thing.”

“Ron,” Risner replied, “I don’t think we really have lost everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“According to the Bible, we are sons of God,” Risner said. “Everything out there in the courtyard, all the buildings and the whole shooting match, belongs to God. Since we are God’s children, you might say that all belongs to us, too.”

“Let me think about it, and I’ll call you back,” Ron said,

After some time, the junior officer called back to Risner. “I really feel a lot better,” he said. “In fact, every time I get to thinking about it, I have to laugh.”

“What do you mean?” Risner asked.

Ron exclaimed, “I am just loaning it to them!”9

We really need to seek the Lord’s help so that we might begin to truly see what is worthwhile. We need to believe God’s promises concerning the reward of a glorious body and a glorified world. When we do, then we will truly live like it. This was certainly the case with Moses. “It was so real to him that he was able to picture what was ahead as vividly as if it were present to him.”10 May it be to you and me as well.

Before leaving this, let us note that Moses’ choice to experience the “reproach of Christ” had a particular historical application to the recipients of this letter as well as to us. Morris notes, “When Moses suffered, he suffered with Christ—the same Christ whom the writer is encouraging his readers to identify with.”11 Or as MacArthur puts it, “Moses believed that the worst he could endure for Christ would be more valuable than the best of the world.”12

Our Lord Jesus suffered in a similar, though greater, way to Moses. He also chose to leave a palace, albeit an absolutely holy one. If Christ would do that, how much more should we then be willing to identify with Him and with His sufferings? But we will only do this to the degree that we come to proper evaluation of His glory. Paul did, and so he did (Philippians 3:10–14). And this is our privilege as well.

So, may 2015 be a year in which we spiritually mature so as to evaluate what is really important and then to make our choices accordingly. Like Moses, may we exercise God-glorifying faith to refuse that which will blur our focus and rather choose that which will improve it. May this be a year characterised by faith evaluating resulting in faith pleasing God.

Show 12 footnotes

  1. Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne: Hebrews Simply Explained (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2003), 387.
  2. William L. Lane, Hebrews: Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 2:371.
  3. Jay E. Adams, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, Jude: The Christian Counsellor’s Commentary (Woodruff: Timeless Texts, 1996), 113.
  4. Lane, Hebrews, 374.
  5. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 318.
  6. Donald Guthrie, Hebrews: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983), 241.
  7. Guthrie, Hebrews, 242.
  8. Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 216.
  9. Alvin Townley, Defiant: The POWs Who Endured Vietnam’s Most Infamous Prison, the Women Who Fought for Them, and the One Who Never Returned (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2014), Kindle edition.
  10. Adams, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, Jude, 113.
  11. Leon Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:126.
  12. John F. MacArthur Jr., Hebrews: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1983), 353.