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Living by faith (5)

Unshakeable faith expresses itself in the fear and serving of God only

Scripture readings:

  • Exodus 2:1-12
  • Hebrews 11:23-28

Hymns/Songs:

  • “Consider Christ
  • “The power of the cross
  • “May the mind of Christ my Saviour”
  • “Standing on the promises of Christ my King”

Introduction

My dear brother and sister,

Christians live in the world as people with no fixed address.  Our home is in heaven.  Paul writes to the Colossians:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1, NIV)

John writes:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2:15, NIV)

Jesus prayed for his church and said:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:15–16, NIV)

Paul writes to the Romans:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2, NIV)

In this world we are sojourners, or foreigners.  Our deeds, our minds and our actions are not, or should not, be shaped by the thoughts of this world.  Christians are God’s people and therefore their minds are shaped by the Word of God once they are reborn by the Spirit of God.  What we say, how we say it, and how it influence the way we display our new nature in the world are dictated by God, our Father.  The world should not be allowed to have any input in the way we live.  This is the challenge of the church.

Daniel and his friends knew this very well: they did not bow to the image of the king.  Joseph knew it very well and did not yield to the temptations of the wife of Potiphar. The martyrs over the centuries knew this very well: they did not compromise their faith when the world around them demand it of them – they rather chose the option of losing their lives than gaining the world.

Allow me just one example of Scottish martyrs who refused to live other than the way the Master demanded.  His name was Robert Garnock.  At the age of seventeen he came to the Lord and received salvation.  Two years later, May 1679, he was apprehended and put in jail, waiting two years without trail.  When he was eventually put to trail he was asked to renounce his allegiance to the Scottish Protestant Refomation.  He didn’t, and when he was brought to the scaffold where his head would be cut off, he spoke to his prosecutors,

O sirs! His cross has been all paved over with love to me all along, and it is sweeter now than ever.  O, will you be persuaded to fall in love with the cross of royal Jesus?  Will you be entreated to come and taste of his love?  O, sweet lot this day for me to go to the gallows for Christ and his cause.  I think the thoughts of this do delight my heart  and soul, and make me fall out in wondering!

The parents of Moses, as well as Moses himself, knew very well to fear God above all.

Parents who feared God more than the king

Jacob and his son arrived in Egypt as a group of seventy souls.  Insignificant in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they lived in Goshen, more or less out of the way of the everyday life.
Joseph and all his brothers and all of that generation died. But the bible tells us:

…but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them. (Exodus 1:7, NIV)

They became a national security risk for the Pharaoh who feared that they might ally with other nations and war against Egypt.  So they were put in slavery and hard labour.  Furthermore, the Pharaoh issued a decree:

When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” (Exodus 1:16, NIV)

The midwives however feared God more than the king and did not do as the he decreed. Then the king issued the next decree:

“Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:22, NIV)

Newborn Jewish boys were fair game.

But think about the parents:  what agony if a boy was born to a family!  The question is: does the boy belong to the king or to God?  Should Amram and Jochebed, who both were from the line of the Levites, be obedient to the king or to the Lord.

Their choice is recorded in the Bible, “they were not afraid of the Kings edict.”

They lived by faith in the living God.  Their house was a godly house where God was honoured and worshipped daily.  Aaron was their eldest son, followed by Miriam, a girl. Both these children would have received a solid example in loving and trusting the Lord; they both played a major part in the further history of Israel. So, when their parents decided to protect their little brother, Moses, from the Egyptians not to be killed, but instead trusted God for his protection, it must have left a lasting impression on their minds. Their parents’ act of hiding Moses in the reeds of the Nile was an act of defiance to the Pharaoh, but an act of obedience to God.  They feared God, rather than the king.  Why? Acts 7:20 in the ESV is a better translation than the NIV, and tells us how the parents saw their child:

At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, (Acts 7:20, ESV)

Every child should be seen from God’s perspective, as a gift from Him.  Therefore, even in our time, or maybe even more so, governments of our day has no right on our children.  It has become custom for governments to lay down certain rules for the upbringing our children, when, how and if they should be disciplined, when their education should commence, and even what they should eat. It is a known fact that public education is now a world-wide tool for social engineering.

Governments and their agencies are not always family-friendly; they might seem to excel in caring for the individual, but family units are not high up on their agenda.  Governments assume certain rights over children and in some cases expect the parents to just do as told.  Certain programs at public schools are openly hostile towards traditional family units and values, while certain services provided to young people may actually help children to divorce from their parents!  So-called hate speech against gay and lesbian people now applies in public schools and no child has the right to even think that this type of behaviour is against the Word of God.  Teachers who live in unmarried relationships, or even in same-sex relationships, are protected by the state against any form of discrimination, and there is even pressure on Christian schools to not discriminate against gays and lesbians as teachers.

So-called sex education in public schools protect students from the input of parents when it comes to the choice of sexual orientation, contraceptives and even abortion.

We must ask ourselves, where do we obey God rather than the State.

It was a high price to pay for Amram and Jochebed, but they trusted God and did not fear the king.  But their family life, and the values they instilled in their children paid off.

It is remarkable to see the young sister, Miriam, come up with a plan to see her little brother live under their own roof for a while longer. He lived with his family for some years, at least until he was weaned – probably at the age of three, or even four.  In these years he was there when his parents talked about God, prayed regularly, and even maybe yearned for the day God would make his promise come true to send his people back to their promised land.

Moses – regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ

It must have been a very sad day for Jochebed and Amram when Moses was taken to the palace to become the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.  The Bible says he became her son.

Yes, he was a prince, receiving the best of education, living according to their customs and traditions, eating the best food, being dressed in Egyptian clothes, and even speak the language of the oppressor.

How many nights would his parents pray to God that He would protect their son!  And how many days did the evil one think he had Moses in his clutches.  Just think, the blood-son of Levites, now in the palace of the oppressor.

But God was faithful.  He had his hand on Moses even before he was born.  He held him in his grip and never could the Pharaoh and his house make Moses one of them.  God had a plan to prepare Moses to be the one who would lead his people to the Promised Land.  He was fluent in the Egyptian language; he knew the Pharaoh and the palace family; he knew the customs; he had an excellent education.  He got it all from the enemy.  In some way he was the trojan horse in the palace of the Pharaoh, but they did not know it.

The faith of Moses made him to reject the idea that he was a son of the Pharaoh’s daughter.  Deep down he knew who he was and what God he worshipped.  The Pharaoh was not his god, nor Ra, the sun god.  His God was the living God, who created the Nile and the whole universe, who used kings like the Pharaoh for his purpose and then dispose them when it pleased Him.

It was by faith that Moses chose to mistreated along with the people of God “rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”  Then this verse in the Scriptures:

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26, ESV)

What gain is it to win the world and lose your soul?  Paul says:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7–11, ESV)

It was with an eye of bright faith that Moses could see into the future glory of Christ and his Kingdom. And compared to what he knew then by faith, the palace of the Pharaoh was nothing.  The luxury of passing, earthly royalty is nothing compared to the home of the Master to which He will come to take us when He returns.

O, that we will have such a faith!  That nothing in this world will ever be more important for us, or higher in value than the kingdom of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Moses saw his reward in the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the Pharaoh.  We who believe, have a reward waiting for us.  Listen to what Peter says about our reward:

… an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:4–7, NIV)

The Psalmist shouts it out:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25–26, NIV)

When Moses had to flee from the Pharaoh he did so not fearing the king’s anger.  Yes, he did make it very clear who’s side he was on.  He killed an Egyptian who mistreated his own people. I don’t know that Moses was right in doing so, but he surely stuck his colours to the mast. And he could expect the retribution of the Pharaoh.  Remember he was supposed to be killed at birth; now that he turned against Egypt he could expect the full fury of the king.  But he didn’t.  By faith he left Egypt.  God looked after him from day one, why would God not do it now?

The Bible says he saw Him who was invisible. The invisible God who protected him from his earliest days now, by faith, became reality.  And there in Median at the burning bush, the Invisible would talk to him and call him to go back and face the Pharaoh.  His main objection in going back to Egypt was not necessarily facing the Pharaoh, but his own people – his concern was that they would not believe him.

Christ and Egypt

Many, many years after Moses there was another murderer-king who decreed that all boys be murdered – this time it happened in the Promised Land.  Herod, then in the grip of the Devil, hoped to have the Messiah, who was born in Bethlehem – the promised King – killed.

Well, history, like in Egypt under the Pharaoh, did not belong to any king or person.  It is God’s domain.  Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt and escaped the murderous Herod. In God’s timing Jesus and his parents went back to the Promised Land.  He mission was to seek and save the lost, and so He lived with sinners, tax-collectors, lepers, prostitutes and all other who realised they needed salvation.  Of Him Isaiah said:

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 53:1–3, NIV)

He chose to be disgraced, He chose to side with the lost to free them of sin and bring them to the Father.

… rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (Philippians 2:7–9, NIV)

Conclusion

Of Him, Moses was a forerunner.  In Him Moses had his hope.  For Him Moses chose to be disgraced.

His own people rejected Him and ultimately they nailed Him to a cross.  But they could’t really get rid of Him, because He was the author of life.  He rose again and is victorious over death, hell and Satan.  He is coming again, and then He will take those who now live by faith in Him to their eternal Promised Land.

Are you living by faith? Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 14 October

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