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 recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them (Hebrews 11.24-28).
In a previous article a general description was given of the events leading up to, and encompassing, the departure of Moses from the courts of Egypt. Paramount in all that transpired was the evidence Moses had received faith as a gift from God. Moses, though living centuries ago, received his faith in exactly the same fashion all the rest of the family of God receive it; it was a fruit of the Spirit.
We seek now to examine how that faith moved Moses.
THE PLEASURES OF SIN
"Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." The choice of Moses to suffer affliction was covered previously. Now notice, at the outset, affliction is singular but the pleasures are plural. Afflictions "with the people of God" are always an abiding way of life, while sin's pleasures are transitory, elusive, and usually, seasonal. May our Lord enable us to see that whatever relation we endure with His people, it is vastly preferable to the fleeting sensations derived from sin. That includes any and all sin.
Like a stupefying drug, sin, as a sweet morsel, is lusted after, then embraced in the mind prior to the actual deed. Example: "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise...(Genesis 3.6)." Eve was exhilarated with the prospects of indulging in her desires prior to actually partaking of the tree. The chase (desire) is everything. The unholy anticipation, combining lustful desirous moments that lead to committing sin far surpass in stimulation and pleasure the foul action, for with the act of sinning comes condemnation. A reminder; if there is no condemnation in sinning, beware!
The subject of sin! Not simply sin, but "My sins! My sins!" Have those words pierced your conscience at some time? Job said "I have sinned (Job 7.20)." David said "I have sinned against the Lord (II Samuel 12.13)." Peter lamented "...Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.8)." Paul confesses "...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (I Timothy 1.15)." Words cannot paint pictures suitable to portray sin in its awful ramifications or its consequences.
Neither would it satisfy our current study if all the texts in the Bible describing sin were called to remembrance. Thus, only a few various texts will be offered. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14.23)." "The thought of foolishness is sin (Proverbs 24.9)." "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3.4)." These, and a multitude more, might be drawn from to give some faint idea of sin. It may fairly be said, sin is the corruption that fills the void where there is no faith (Romans 14.23); it is the meanderings of corrupt minds left unfettered by the Spirit (Proverbs 24.9); sin is the workings of the creature, at his best estate, when fettered by the law (I John 3.4).
An examination of sin from the perspective of Moses' faith will be helpful. Beginning at the outset - Moses attained no perfection by refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Nor was his sinful nature lessened by choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. What transpired with Moses is what, to some degree or another, takes place in every heaven-born child of God. Moses found he was repulsed by his own sinfulness and would, if possible, flee from all sin forevermore. How so, it may be asked? Here is how: when Moses turned from the pleasures of sin it was an inward reaction resulting from an inward renewing. Viewing the dramatic change in the affections of Moses, it would be a serious mistake to fail to recognize the quickening work of the Spirit in him. Moses was renewed! Surely there could have been nothing else to move a man to act in so bold a manner. What Moses did was, in man's eyes, tantamount to rude disrespect to his adoptive mother; treason to the court and Pharaoh the king; folly of the highest order and totally wrong. What else could possibly have been the reason? He was driven by a renewed heart to lay aside the splendor, magnificence, power, and attending pleasures of the courts of Egypt. He abandoned all, everything, for a life of affliction, and that with the subjected tribes, these Israelite slaves he claimed as his people.
Suffer on one hand or enjoy a sumptuous fare on the other? That was a panorama of the future as Moses surveyed it. To stay among his adoption family would assure a continuity of enjoyments unparalleled in the world at the time, and would rival the splendor of any period of time. To go and join with his brethren meant there would be squalor, pain, desperation, and abandonment; what more need be said? The impending circumstances Moses faced in refusing his current status was bleak indeed; yes, worse than bleak. Moses had never known such wretchedness as he chose to suffer. His awareness of the Israelites' plight could not prepare him for what was coming. He was consenting to exchange the royal robes for tatters; and to borrow a thought from the Puritan, Brown, "Moses dared to exchange his golden bracelets for manacles; the studded neck-wear for chains." (Moses did not know the perfect plan of God at the time. That would come at the burning bush.)
The court perfume would give way to the putrid smells of toil. Rather than the warm embrace of princely contemporaries there would be the whip, the curses, and abuses of the taskmasters. This was what faith led Moses to choose! As far as sight was concerned there were various choices, and all better than what Moses contemplated. But - with faith leading Moses' mind - there was no other course. Only faith could look beyond the degradation of Jacob's children and witness the blessed benefits of suffering affliction; afflictions with the people of God rather than the pleasures of sin for a season.
Mark well! The alternative to leaving Pharaoh's graces was the same as choosing the temporary pleasures of sin. The word of God calls this temporary stay a season. Faith, however, views the grace of God infinitely better than the graces of any earthly potentate.
"The pleasures of sin for a season." "To every thing there is a season... (Ecclesiastes 3.1)." The season of Moses' residency in Egypt was coming to a close. A new season was dawning. "A time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away (Ecclesiastes 3.6)." Moses was to become both a loser and a keeper. His losses, however, would actually be his gain. Gone would be his servitude to a lie, being what he was not. Gone would be the transparent joys of the monstrous regime of wicked Pharaoh. Gone would be love for a world soon to be dead to him. The season of these transient things was suddenly passing. A new season, an eternal season was dawning with the rising of the Son of Righteousness in the soul of Moses, and that by faith.
What Moses experienced by faith is nothing, more or less, than what the prophets and the apostles told us would occur. "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord (Proverbs 16.1)." Surely God prepared the heart of Moses when He imparted faith as a gift to him. The ground was broken up and the seed of faith planted. The fruit of this planting was the answer of the tongue. Moses declared, both by word and deed, that he was not the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Concurrent to his declaration he chose "rather" to walk the path of afflictions with the dear troubled saints. He could tarry no longer in the courts of Egypt. To have done so would have been sin, larded with its awful consequences.
Witness how closely the life of Moses parallels the words of Jeremiah: "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10.23)." Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, or us today; none of us have power to direct our steps.
Consider the way Moses first came to the courts of Egypt. He had absolutely nothing to do with his being there. Neither did his parents. By faith, not by wisdom, they placed Moses in the little ark, and launched him into the currents of the river. The hand of God alone directed the currents, their flow, and the entire river of water. (See Proverbs 21.1.) Where to and how far Moses would sojourn in the Nile was known only to the Lord. It was not in Moses to get into the family of Pharaoh and it was not in him to get out. Moses had no more power or wisdom to direct his steps out of the regal palace than an Egyptian grasshopper possessed to build a pyramid. Moses could no more walk out of the courts of Egypt than he could walk in. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Moses was at that time, much as David was later, when he pleaded, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139.23, 24)." Yes, Lord, lead me in the way everlasting. The way of Egypt was temporal. The pleasures of Egypt were but seasonal sins. Moses, being a child of faith, must now follow the paths faith opened for him. Thus, Moses, by faith, being led in the way, walking in the paths of the Lord's choosing, was actually passive. At the time of the original creation, when God said, "Let there be light," all was passive, answering only the voice of God. So too Moses. Moses chose. Moses refused. But God directed his steps, put the words (answer) in his mouth as sure as there is a heaven. The lot may have been cast by Moses but the disposing was of the Lord. Faith was victorious. The pleasures of sin would be abandoned.
THE REPROACH OF CHRIST.
"Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward." Moses had refused, and Moses had chosen. Now Moses is engaged in esteeming. He esteemed! On what was it that Moses placed his esteem? The reproach of Christ; the blessed reproach of Christ! "What is this Moses? Would you esteem loss and deprivation, suffering and shame, hatred and scorn, above and before the embellishments that have been yours for a lifetime, and are secured to you till your end? Moses! Moses! Stop your madness and consider what you are giving up. Do not be a fool." Is this the language of a blind world or not? Sadly, it is. Many of us have heard similar from those our loved ones and friends when the Lord fixed our gaze on things above.
Generally, reproach is thought to be a reviling or upbraiding. This appears to be the way the word is intended here. Consequently, in the estimation of Moses, it would be preferable, vastly preferable, to be reviled and castigated for the dear Name of his Saviour than to revel in the wealth of Egypt's coffers.
Readers, no poor sinner, unaided by the Spirit, and without faith, can evaluate the seeming options and come to the conclusion Moses came to. Splendor, ease, comforts and luxurious appointments to satiate the wildest lusts cannot be discarded, nor soon abandoned by our carnal natures. There must be a cause. (There are those that choose the austere life for carnal reasons or from pure miserliness. This cannot be denied.)
Moses had a cause. The best of all causes. He had not always had it. It was a gift from God. His cause was faith; the faith of God's elect. It was the faith that had moved Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph before him, along with untold hosts of others. Now, in the passing of time, Moses came to years. God called him out by the voice of the Son of God, implanting faith within and stirring him to action. Be not deceived; Moses was then as good as gone from the courts of Egypt when God laid His hand on him. All that was left was the actual event coming to pass.
The just shall live by faith. Just so did just Moses. With faith exercising his faculties, Moses surveyed the circumstances. Values were considered. Conclusions were reached. The darling of Pharaoh's daughter was at his Rubicon. On the one hand was power, opulence, grandeur and ease. On the other hand was degradation, misery and distress. But these were all earthly values; values that were to perish with passing time. Moses, by faith, looked beyond these temporal things and viewed the grander prize. He would press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
Doubt not that Moses knew what he was getting into. He did not estimate the riches of Christ greater riches. No! He estimated the reproach of Christ greater riches. Moses had the eye of a businessman. Not an earthly businessman but a spiritual businessman. Nor did Moses look over the scene with the limitations of the natural eye. It was the eye of faith which perceived the options.
No study of the word reproach could be deemed thorough unless the lamentations of David on reproach were examined. "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people (Psalm 22.6)." David's words were the prophetic grief of Christ, as evidenced elsewhere in this psalm. How lowly the opinion our Lord assumed for Himself; a worm; no man. A reproach of men! Despised! We probably cannot know if the Lord fully accepted these expressions or not but it is clear that he did not reject them. We learn elsewhere from Scriptures that these things were all necessary. In a passage in complete harmony with our subject we are afforded more light on the reproached Saviour. "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isaiah 53.3)." This must be taken as the collective estimation of Israel concerning Christ before the light of life had been implanted in any of their souls. Centuries earlier, Moses had the very opposite view of Christ. So lovely, and so worthy was Christ, Moses could, and did esteem the worst physical benefits accruing from union with the Lord to be preferable to all the accumulated treasures of Egypt or the fulfilling of the wildest passions man could imagine to indulge in. The reproach of Christ was not just preferable to the treasures of Egypt; it was greater! This worm, Jesus; this despised man of sorrows, afforded Moses a luxury unknown in all the halls of Pharaoh's courts. The priests of Egypt could not provide it. Fame nor possessions afforded Moses what the reproach of Christ did. Moses could now, by faith, esteem this reproach of Christ with proper and complete esteem.
There must be no mistaking what is spoken of here. This is not a reproach that Moses would experience as a result of leaving the palace of Pharaoh and denouncing his adoptive name. That reproach would only be a by-product of the reproach of Christ. What Moses esteemed was that worthy and inestimable cost our Lord paid by descending heaven's glories and majesty to be robed in the likeness of sinful flesh. Jesus suffered humility, indignity, disgrace, revilings, abuse, aspersions of every variety; this and more. It was so that Moses and all other called children of God might be blessed to properly esteem the sacrifice of all His dignity and resplendence.
"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camps bearing his reproach (Hebrews 13.13)." Joy of joys! We, the sojourners and pilgrims, in search of a city have the directive to join our dear redeemer at a point outside the camp. As we go, we are clothed in His reproach. Can a sweeter journey be imagined? To travel in the garments of our Lord's reproach is a rich mercy indeed. May we be hastened by the anticipation of both the journey and the attainment.
The camp may well be understood as a reference to the incident in the life of Moses when he pitched the tabernacle without the camp after the Israelites were provided a golden calf by Aaron (Exodus 33.7). It will be remembered that Aaron had made the people naked unto their shame and many were slain at the time. "And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men (Exodus 32.28)." This appears to characterize the difference between those that are clothed in the shame of a crucified Lord and those that are clothed in their own shame and nakedness. In summary, this probably is the reproach that aroused such esteem in the heart of Moses.
"For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me (Romans 15.3)." This verse was taken by Paul directly from Psalm 69, which could well be described as a Psalm of Christ's reproach. An introduction to that vein of thought is discovered in verse 7. "Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face." Hear the Saviour speak by way of prophecy. "For thy sake!" For the Father's sake: that is why he had borne reproach and why shame clothed His countenance. Then comes the text quoted by the apostle: "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me (Verse 9)." Whatever can the Psalmist and the apostle mean by this? Just this: God the Father has been reproached (defamed, railed at, chided, taunted, reviled, upbraided) by mankind. Abuse had been heaped up at God in the multitudinous sins of the people. Indignities towards the holiness of God gathered like a lowering cloud. God's justice would demand exactness and retribution. Man, wicked man, must either find reconciliation or the debt would be called due.
It is at this point that we see the glories of a suffering substitute. A kinsman redeemer would intervene and make good all the debt incurred by certain ones (His elect). Yes~ Jesus bowed His holy head and accepted the weight of all the reproaches that man had defiantly reproached the Father with. It was as if Jesus had said, "Father, I will bear your reproach. Lay their sins of reproaching on me. I will assume all responsibility and pay in full any grievances that may have accumulated by their wickedness." "Yes, let the reproaches of them, my sons and brethren, that reproached thee, Father, be my reproaches. I will assume them all!
The awful burden of these reproaches cannot be underestimated. "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness (Psalm 69.20)." This, reader, is the reproach that Moses esteemed greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. Can you see its worth?
Moses, by faith did see just that. Centuries before any of the suffering and reproach was ever felt by our redeemer, Moses esteemed its intrinsic excellence. Moses esteemed it highly and for its value gave up, forsook, all. Was he a fanatic? Was he deranged? Never! Moses was never more sane. In fact, he had only just then come to his senses. Prior to this Moses was as spiritually deranged as any other of Adam's fallen posterity.
The remainder of the account of Moses will be taken up in a final article, the Lord willing.
Elder James F Poole
Volume 13, No. 3 - May-June, 1999