Sermon #7 Exodus Series
Title: Faith, Supposition,
Fear, and Faith
Text: Exodus 2:11-15
Subject: Moses’ Flees Egypt
Date: Tuesday Evening — December 13, 2005
Tape # Exodus 7
Readings: Bob Poncer & Bob Duff
Let’s turn to Exodus 2. My text will be verses 11-15. Moses is now a grown man, forty years old. He is not an old man, but he is not a young man. He is now a man in the prime of life, full of strength, well-established in the world, and in the position of highest possible honor, advantage, and usefulness.
(Exodus 2:11-15) "And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. (12) And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. (13) And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? (14) And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. (15) Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well."
If we would understand what we have just read, we must read two more passages of Holy Scripture (Acts 7:22-29; Heb. 11:24-27) in which God the Holy Spirit explains what we have read here id Exodus 2.
(Acts 7:22-29) "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. (23) And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. (24) And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: (25) For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. (26) And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? (27) But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? (28) Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? (29) Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons."
(Hebrews 11:24-27) "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (25) Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; (26) Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. (27) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
Proposition: Moses is held before us by divine inspiration as a picture of God’s saints in this world, a very clear and vivid picture of the lives of sinners saved by God’s free grace in Christ.
A Man of Faith
Let me begin my message by stating emphatically that Moses was a man of faith. He believed God. — “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.” It is obvious that Moses’ parents had taught him what God had revealed to him, that he was the deliverer ordained of God to save his people. And that which his parents taught him, the Lord God had revealed to him as well. Like the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom he was a type, Moses was a man chosen out of the people to save the people of God’s choice. — “And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.” It came into his heart to visit his brethren, because God put it into his heart.
I stress the fact that Moses believed God. He trusted Christ. He acted in faith. But Moses the believer, the saint, the redeemed, blood washed righteous man, while acting in faith, while living by faith, while seeking to serve God and his people, was still just a man of sinful flesh, just like you and me. He knew that he was the man chosen and appointed of God to deliver his people, and he chose to identify himself with God’s afflicted people.
Who could question his devotion? Who could question his zeal? Moses knew full well what the consequences of his actions would be if Pharaoh found out what he had done. Yet, when he saw an Egyptian beating one of his brethren, Moses stepped in, slew the Egyptian, buried him in the sand, and sent his brother safely home.
· I must pause briefly, just to point out that is a blessed picture of what Christ has done for us (John 12:31-33; Rev. 20:1-3).
Yet, Moses made a grave mistake. He made a supposition. — “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.” Go through the Scriptures, looking at how that word “supposed” is used (Matt. 20:10; Mark 6:49; Luke 2:44; 12:51; 13:2; 24:37; John 20:15; Acts 2:15; 7:25; 14:19; 16:27; Phil. 1:16; 1 Tim. 6:5). Anytime a man supposes something, his supposition is wrong. Faith is not an act of supposition, but of confidence.
Moses knew that he was the man God had chosen and appointed to deliver Israel. He knew it by divine revelation. But he supposed that the time had come for Israel’s deliverance forty years before God had determined to deliver his people, forty years before he was prepared by God to be their deliverer, and forty years before they were prepared by God to be delivered. And his supposition got him into a mess of trouble.
What a lesson there is here for preachers and those who would be preachers! As in everything else, God’s ways are not our ways. God had chosen to prepare Moses by putting him in Pharaoh’s palace for forty years and by putting him in the Midian desert for forty years. He will not have a novice to do his work.
· Moses ran before he was sent. And when a man does that, he is sure to run into trouble.
· Moses thought he was ready; but he was only ready for withering.
· Moses was ready to work; but he must first learn to wait. God’s time had not yet come to judge Egypt and deliver Israel.
· Still, the Holy Spirit is specifically talking about this very event in the life of Moses, when he tells us, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.”
Like you and me, Moses made mistakes, displayed infirmities, was sometimes impatient, sometimes rash, and sometimes hesitant. All these facts are plainly exhibited the more to magnify the infinite grace and inexhaustible mercy of our God. You see, Moses was a man who was saved by God’s free grace in Christ, accepted in the Beloved, and a man who lived by faith just like you and me.
Let me show you something else about this remarkable man who lived by faith. His deeds of faith were also deeds that showed the terrible weakness of fear. Moses acted with boldness, but with fear, with confidence, but with uncertainty (v. 12).
(Exodus 2:12) "And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand."
Moses was hoping for the favor of his brethren, and he feared the wrath of Pharaoh. Yet, the Spirit of God tells us that he acted in faith. How can that be true?
Have you ever noticed that when the Spirit of God gives us the history of Old Testament saints in the Old Testament, he always presents them to us as they are, warts and all? He makes no attempt to hide any of their sins, or weaknesses, or failures, or imperfections. But, when he relates the same history of the same people in the New Testament, he never talks about their sins and failures. In the New Testament, he only talks about their faith, their righteousness, and their triumphs. In Exodus we read, that “Moses looked this way and that way,” — that “he feared and said, surely this thing is known,” — and that “Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh.” In Hebrews we are told that everything he did he did by faith in Christ, “not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.”
· In the Old Testament, under the law, sin is always exposed.
· In the New Testament, in this gospel day, in this age of grace, God always covers the sins of his people.
Moses was, just like you and me, a man born of God. And a regenerate man or woman is a person with two natures, flesh and spirit, that which was natural and sinful, and that which was spiritual and holy. That which is born of flesh can do nothing but sin. And that which is born of God cannot sin (Rom. 7:14-8:4; 1 John 3:5-9).
(Romans 7:14-25) "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
(Romans 8:1-4) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
(1 John 3:5-9) "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Yes, God’s people do sin. Sin is mixed with everything we do, even with our greatest deeds of faith; but the sin is not what we really are! And our God, having put away our sins by the sacrifice of his dear Son, will never impute sin to his own, but only righteousness. More than that, he accepts our deeds of faith as deeds of perfect righteousness through the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness (1 Pet. 2:5).
Illustrations: Faith’s Dandelions
Following Dad in the Snow
Not only does he accept us and accept our works as works of righteousness (perfect righteousness — That is what he declares them to be – 1 John 3:7), he shall, in the last day reward us for them as works of perfect righteousness. By and by, when “the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor. 4:5).
Now, let me show you what Moses did for the glory of God, by faith, because he believed God, because he trusted Christ, because he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
· He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.”
· He chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
· He esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” — He preferred the cross of Christ (the Gospel) to the crown of Egypt.
· “He had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” — He lived for eternity!
· “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: — for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”
By faith, because he believed God Moses despised all the pleasures, the attractions, and the honors of Pharaoh’s court. Faith caused him to relinquish what could have been a wide sphere of usefulness. Human expediency would have led him down another path. It would have led him to use his influence on behalf of the people of God — to act for them instead of suffering with them.
Human wisdom might very well have said, “Moses, Providence has opened a wide door for you. Look what you can do for Israel as Pharaoh’s grandson. This is manifestly the will of God.” — But faith does not interpret God’s revelation by his providence. Faith interprets God’s providence by his revelation!
Thus might poor blind nature reason. But faith thought differently; for nature and faith are always at issue. They cannot agree upon a single point. Nor is there anything, perhaps, in reference to which they differ so widely as what are commonly called “openings of Providence.” Nature will constantly regard such openings as warrants for self-indulgence; whereas faith will find in them opportunities for self-denial. Jonah might have deemed it a very remarkable opening of Providence to find a ship going to Tarshish; but in truth it was an opening through which he slipped off the path of obedience.
No doubt, it is the Christian’s privilege to see his Father’s hand, and hear His voice, in everything; but he is not to be guided by circumstances. A Christian so guided is like a vessel at sea without rudder or compass; she is at the mercy of the waves and the winds. God’s promise to His child is, “I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Ps: 32: 8) His warning is, “Be not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” It is much better to be guided by our Father’s eye, than by the bit and bridle of circumstances; and we know that in the ordinary acceptation of the term, “Providence” is only another word for the impulse of circumstances.
Now, the power of faith may constantly be seen in refusing and forsaking the apparent openings of Providence. It was so in the case of Moses. “By faith he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;” and “by faith he forsook Egypt.” Had he judged according to the sight of his eyes, he would have grasped at the proffered dignity, as the manifest gift of a kind Providence, and he would have remained in the court of Pharaoh as in a sphere of usefulness plainly thrown open to him by the hand of God. But, then, he walked by faith, and not by the sight of his eyes; and, hence, he forsook all. Noble example! May we have grace to follow it!
And observe what it was that Moses “esteemed greater riches than the treasures in Egypt;” it was the “reproach of Christ.” It was not merely reproach for Christ. “The reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon me.” The Lord Jesus, in perfect grace, identified Himself with His people. He came down from heaven, leaving His Father’s bosom, and laying aside all His glory, He took His people’s place, confessed their sins, and bore their judgement on the cursed tree. Such was His voluntary devotedness, He not merely acted for us, but made Himself one with us, thus perfectly delivering us from all that was or could be against us.
Hence, we see how much in sympathy Moses was with the spirit and mind of Christ, in reference to the people of God. He was in the midst of all the ease the pomp and dignity of Pharaoh’s house, where “the pleasures of sin,” and “the treasures of Egypt,” lay scattered around him, in richest profusion. All these things he might have enjoyed if he would. He could have lived and died in the midst of wealth and splendour. His entire path, from first to last, might, if he had chosen, have been enlightened by the sunshine of royal favour: but that would not have been “faith;” it would not have been Christ-like. From his elevated position, he saw his brethren bowed down beneath their heavy burden, and faith led him to see that his place was to be with them. Yes; with them, in all their reproach, their bondage, their degradation, and their sorrow. Had he been actuated by mere benevolence, philanthropy, or patriotism, he might have used his personal influence on behalf of his brethren. He might have succeeded in inducing Pharaoh to lighten their burden, and render their path somewhat smoother, by royal grants in their favour; but this would never do, never satisfy a heart that had a single pulsation in common with the heart of Christ. Such a heart Moses, by the grace of God, carried in his bosom; and, therefore, with all the energies and all the affections of that heart, he threw himself, body, soul, and spirit, into the very midst of his oppressed brethren. He “chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.” And, moreover, he did this “by faith.”
Let my reader ponder this deeply. We must not be satisfied with wishing well to, doing service for, or speaking kindly on behalf of, the people of God. We ought to be fully identified with them, no matter how despised or reproached they may be. It is, in a measure, an agreeable thing to a benevolent and generous spirit, to patronise Christianity; but it is a wholly different thing to be identified with Christians, or to suffer with Christ. A patron is one thing, a martyr is quite another. This distinction is apparent throughout the entire book of God. Obadiah took care of God’s witnesses, but Elijah was a witness for God. Darius was so attached to Daniel that he lost a night’s rest on his account, but Daniel spent that selfsame night in the lion’s den, as a witness for the truth of God. Nicodemus ventured to speak a word for Christ, but a more matured discipleship would have led him to identify himself with Christ.
These considerations are eminently practical. The Lord Jesus does not want patronage; He wants fellowship. The truth concerning Him is declared to us, not that we might patronise His cause on earth, but have fellowship with His Person in heaven. He identified Himself with us, at the heavy cost of all that love could give. He might have avoided this. He might have continued to enjoy His eternal place “in the bosom of the Father.” But how, then, could that mighty tide of love, which was pent up in His heart, flow down to us guilty and hell-deserving sinners? Between Him and us there could be no oneness, save on conditions which involved the surrender of everything on His part. But, blessed, throughout the everlasting ages, be His adorable Name, that surrender was voluntarily made. “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2: 14) He would not enjoy His glory alone. His loving heart would gratify itself by associating “many sons” with Him in that glory. “Father,” He says, “I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with Me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17: 24) Such were the thoughts of Christ in reference to His people; and we can easily see how much in sympathy with these precious thoughts was the heart of Moses. He, unquestionably, partook largely of his Master’s spirit; and he manifested that excellent spirit in freely sacrificing every personal consideration, and associating himself, unreservedly, with the people of God.