Moses: His Faith and Decision
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to he 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.”— Hebrews xi. 24— 26.
WE generally picture Moses with, beams of glory rising from his brow, and the two tables of the law in his hand; a stern man holding forth a sterner law. But we must correct our idea. Moses is as much an example of faith as he is a representative of law. What he did was as much due to his faith as were the acts of Paul or John. In describing Moses, the summary must begin “By faith,” as much as if we were describing Abraham. Continue to regard Moses as a representative of the law, but also view him as a man of wonderful and powerful faith.
I need scarcely remind you that the faith of Moses was peculiarly active and operative. I might apply the words of James to him, and say, “Likewise also was not Moses justified by works when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose to endure affliction with the people of God?” The faith of Moses was what ours must be, a faith which worked by love— even love to God, and love to his people. It was no mere belief of a fact; but that fact had an overpowering influence upon his life. Moses believed, believed firmly and intensely, believed for himself, so that he took fast hold of that which is invisible. Moses showed the reality of his faith in his life, by what he refused to do, and by what he chose to do. Both the negative and the positive poles were made right by his faith. Everything about Moses proved the truth and the vigour of his faith in God. He was second to none among those “who believed God, and it was accounted unto them for righteousness.” He was king in Jeshurun, and he was the greatest of law-givers; but yet he happily takes his place among believers who find their all in God. On the Arc de Triomphe which is raised in this eleventh chapter of Hebrews the name of Moses is written among the very greatest of those who lived by faith in God. I pray that while I am speaking this morning, faith may be wrought in some here present who have it not as yet; and I pray also that others who have true faith, but have not yet avowed it, may find themselves drawn to take a decided step, and take their place on the side of God and his people. The question, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” is the one I would press upon you this morning, in the hope that, like Moses, many of you may be willing to suffer the reproach of Christ, which has not ceased.
Our first remark shall be, Moses had faith; the second shall be, Moses exhibited clear decision as the result of his faith; and then, thirdly, we will say, Moses should be imitated by us.
I. First, then, MOSES HAD FAITH. I am not going through the whole life of Moses, that were much too large a theme for one discourse; but I shall very much keep to my text.
It is very clear that Moses believed in God. He was learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, he had been brought up in the very best academies of the period; but he had not been seduced from faith in his God. There were gods many in Egypt; but Moses worshipped the one God, the God of his fathers; and though he may have known comparatively little of him, he knew enough to have no other God but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I suppose that his mother and father could tell him but little of the family faith; but as they were God-fearing, believing people, they taught him what they knew. He believed in the living God, Creator of heaven and earth; he worshipped one God, the ruler of providence; one God, who is to be obeyed and adored; and to this God he adhered. I would that all of you believed in the living, personal, working, ever-present God! In these days many do not believe in a personal God, but in some sort of force or mystic energy, they know not what. This is virtually to have no God at all. To Moses the existence and ruling power of God were the greatest facts of life. He believed in the one living and true God, bowed before him, desired to be found serving him, and to have him as his friend, even though this should put him into opposition with all the world. Although the pomp, and power, and glory, and wisdom of the ruling nation were all on the side of idols, Moses worshipped the one God; for in his power and Godhead he solemnly believed.
In the next place, Moses believed that the Israelites were the chosen people of God. This, of course, he had learned from his parents, and he heartily believed it, though it certainly did not look to be true. If the seed of Jacob were the people of God, why were they left under oppression? Why were they enslaved by Pharaoh? Why were their children doomed to die? Could the elect of God be left in so evil a plight? If God be the God of this people, why are they made to endure affliction? Peradventure they told him that God had revealed unto their fathers, that they were to go down into Egypt, and to be strangers in a strange land; but whether or not, it was the solemn conviction of Moses that the living and true God had chosen the seed of Abraham to be his people, and had taken them into covenant with himself. They were the election of grace. For this cause Moses loved them, and desired to be numbered with them. Certainly, they were not in themselves a very lovable people: there was much about them that must have saddened the heart of Moses. They were ignorant, while he was educated: they had been debased by slavery, while he was of that brave disposition which is nourished in freedom. When he himself attempted to be their champion, they did not receive him. He found two of them striving together, and when, with gentle words he would have made peace between them, one of them replied, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Yet Moses said to himself, “Whatever they may be, they are the people of God, and I will be one of them.”
Even to this day the Lord has a chosen people, a remnant according to the election of grace. Looking critically at the church of God, we soon detect much that is faulty, many shortcomings and many grievous evils; yet the church of God is God’s choice, and we may not. despise it. I can say of God’s people—
“These are the company I keep;
These are the choicest friends I know.”
If they are good enough for God, they are good enough for me. If you never join a church till you find a perfect church, you must wait till you get to heaven; and if you could go there as you are, they would not receive you into fellowship. Consider who are the people that acknowledge God in their lives, who hold the truth as it is revealed, who believe the Holy Scriptures, and worship God in the Spirit, having no confidence in the flesh. Cast in your lot with these people, however poor and common-place they may be. If they are not all you would like them to be, neither are you yourself all you would like to be; but simply, because you believe them to be the people of God, cast in your lot with them, begging the Lord to have mercy upon you, and deal with you as he is wont to do to those who fear his name.
Moses further believed that the reproach which fell upon his people was the reproach of Christ. It is said that he “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” But Christ was not there. Christ as yet had not been born into the world. How could the reproach of Israel in Egypt be the reproach of Christ? This shows us that the Christ was always one with his people. Even as the church is the body of Christ now, so were the Lord’s people the body of Christ of old. The Lord Christ so sympathized with Israel in Egypt, that what they bore he bore. “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them.” Jesus is that “angel of his presence.” Brethren, it is a grand thing to discover and know by faith that the reproach which falls upon the people of God is the reproach of Christ. When Stephen was killed, it was Stephen, was it not, that died? Ay, but the Christ stood up from his throne that day. When Christ spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus he did not say, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute the church?” but, “why persecutest thou me?” Christ suffers in the least of his people. The poorest and the most obscure of them, when ridiculed and put to scorn for his sake, is not alone in his grief: the head suffers in the members. The reproach of believers is really the reproach of him in whom they believe. The reproach of Israel is the reproach of Christ, and Moses believed this. “Ah!” said he, “whatever they say against these people, and whatever they do against them, they are really saying and doing against the Lord’s anointed.”
Furthermore, Moses believed it to be wisest to be upon the side of God. “He had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Adding all things up and making a deliberate calculation of the whole business, he believed that it must be right and wise to stand on that side which was in agreement with the living God. He made up his mind that he would be where the Lord was. Now, dear friends, that is a wise conclusion to come to: is it not? Should we not be on the side of God? We are his creatures, should we contend with our Creator? He has been infinitely good to us, ought we not to side with our Benefactor? All that he does is right, all that he permits is just, all that he advocates is pure; should we not be on that side? The other side is the side of evil and darkness, the side of the devil: should we be found there? I trow not. O young man, it will be your glory to be upon the side of God. O young woman, it will be your beauty to espouse the cause of Christ. What can become of us if we are opposed to God, the good and true? Shall the tow contend with the flame, or the wax with the fire? If we are on the side of God, we are on the right side; and being on the right side, we shall have peace of conscience, and rest of heart. The right must ultimately win the day; but even if it were not so, a brave heart is content with being right. Is it just? Is it true? Then put down my name as a soldier in that army.
It must be well to be upon the side of God, because God’s worst is better than the world’s best. Did you notice how Moses put it? He brings forth affliction, and he esteems it to be better than the “pleasures of sin.” Now, pleasures are certainly better than afflictions, according to any ordinary judgment; but Moses came to this conclusion, that although affliction might be God’s worst, it was better than the pleasure of sin, which is evil’s best. He mentions reproach, which is one of the bitterest kinds of affliction, for many a man can bear pain, but cannot bear ridicule. Moses set down reproach, and he counted it to be better than the treasures in Egypt. Yet the treasures in Egypt were the best things in Egypt— its gold, its horses, its fine linen, and the many things that made Egypt famous. I say he put all these down in the schedule, and then preferred the reproach of Christ to them all. God’s fast is better than Egypt’s feast. Thus he calmly and deliberately made his decision, and said, “I throw in my lot with the people of God. I take their God to be my God, and where my duty to God may call me, there will I go.”
Next, dear friends, note this— Moses had faith in a future judgment. He looked beyond the present; for he “had respect to the recompence of the reward.” It is dangerous to be always looking at things from one point of view. If we could go quite round, and see things from the future, looking back upon them rather than forward to them, how different they would appear! “Oh!” said a lady to her minister, “I find great pleasure in going to the play. There is the pleasure of anticipation, there is the pleasure of enjoying it, and there is the pleasure of thinking it over afterwards.” “Yes,” said her minister, “I know all that, madam; but there is one pleasure you have forgotten, namely, the pleasure of meditating upon it on a dying bed.” She shrugged her shoulders, she could see no pleasure there. I wish that men would estimate their pleasures by that rule. How will they look when we lie dying? How will they appear when we stand before the judgment seat of God? When I have once come into eternity, and have to spend it according to the final sentence, how shall I look back upon what I have done? As a Christian man, how shall I look back upon wasted opportunities and idleness in my master’s vineyard? As an unbeliever, how shall I regard wasted Sabbaths, rejected entreaties, a neglected Bible, a disregarded mercy-seat? If we could only view things in that clear light which beats about the eternal future we should avoid a thousand mistakes. View the course of life as Moses did, in connection with the recompence of the reward, and a resolve will be taken which will make you commence a life for God and holiness.
Let me not quit this point till I have said that Moses had a personal faith by which he realized the whole business for himself. He did not say, “Yes, there is a God undoubtedly, and these are God’s people, and there is an end of it;” but he said, “There is a God for me to worship, for me to trust, for me to obey. Here are God’s people; I resolve to be numbered with them. Their God shall be my God. I will be one of the sheep of his pasture, and take my part with his flock; if they suffer, I will suffer with them; if they rejoice, I will wait to rejoice till they rejoice.”
His faith led him on to personal action. He did not say, “I am placed by providence in the palace of Pharaoh, and so I am not called upon to suffer like the rest of my race.” No, no, but he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He did not say, “I am so circumstanced that I need not suffer, and therefore I will keep out of the general trouble as well as I can.” You know how men feel, that there is nothing like keeping on the warm side of the hedge. Moses resolved that he would suffer affliction with the people of God. Moses would be on a level with his brethren. He declared himself to be one of the despised nation. The reproaches of them that reproached Christ in his people fell upon him.
This was the faith of Moses, a real personal faith. Come, dear friends, ask yourselves, have you all such a personal faith in God? I tell you, if your faith is not personal and practical faith, it is not worth twopence. It will do you no good, either here or hereafter. It will leave you lost to God if it leaves you still a friend to the world, and an alien from the people of God. Oh, that you may say from your heart, “This God is my God for ever and ever. He shall be my Guide even unto death.”
Faith in Moses was the foundation of the whole building of his life. Hast thou faith? then every good thing will come of it. Hast thou no faith? then thou hast no beginning from which a happy end can come. How canst thou read thy title clear to mansions in the skies, when thou dost not, as yet, know the first letters of the alphabet of grace? Thou canst never build up a character such as God will approve; for thou hast not even laid the first corner-stone of faith.
II. Our second point is this: MOSES EXHIBITED A CLEAR DECISION. Oh, that the Spirit of God would work the like in all of us!
Note, first, the time of his choice: “When he was come to years.” We do not know the exact time to which this refers. When he was forty years of age he visited his brethren, but his mind may have been made up long before. It was “when he was come to years.” I suppose that means early in life, so soon as he was of full age. Why not earlier still? He was in Pharaoh’s court under many influences, which may have prevented an earlier confession. We are not sure that God had yet spoken to his heart, so as to make him feel the importance of following the Lord fully. Anyhow, it was in early life that he declined the world and chose his God. It is a grand thing for young people to decide for God soon: it will save them from a thousand mistakes, and bring them a thousand advantages. Early piety leads on to eminent piety: he who begins his journey early travels far in the day. The great bulk of those who have distinguished themselves in the church of God will be found to have been converted while they were yet young. “When he was come to years.” Does some youth here claim that he has not yet come to years? I answer— Is this so? Why, the other day you were demanding of your father certain liberties because you felt yourself quite the man; I find that lads nowadays become men earlier than they used to do. I wish they would take upon themselves ripe responsibilities as well as covet ripe privileges. Oh that they would act as Moses did when he came to years! If you feel you have come to years in one way, own that you have come to years in another way; and say, “Now is the time when I must come right straight out and be a Christian man.” You young women who do not care to be called girls any longer, I pray you give your hearts to Christ; the sooner you are decided the better.
Still it is said, “when he was come to years,” as much as to say, that whatever his decision was while he was yet young, that decision was carried out more practically when he was come to years. We do wish to see young people converted, but we wish it to be as thoughtful a conversion, as clear and deliberate a change as if they were advanced in age. We trust that their following years will confirm what they do in their youth. Now, what say you, men and brethren of mature years? If you could lay aside your religious profession and begin again, would you still make to-day the decision which you arrived at when you were young? Oh yes, we can say, and do say— We have lifted our hand unto God, and we cannot go back; and instead of wishing to go back, we lift both hands now, and cry—
“’Tis done, the great transaction’s done,
I am my Lord’s, and he is mine.”
We do not wish to retreat from the covenant of our youth, or draw back from the bond of our baptism into Christ of long years ago. We repeat the vow, and cry, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” Moses decided for God early in life; but he also decided when he was capable of forming a mature and deliberate judgment.
Moses went about arranging his life like a man of business, and decided wisely; but we must note well the prospect which he gave up. He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” To be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter made him a prince of Egypt. Some have thought that the Pharaoh then reigning had no other child but this daughter, and that her son Moses would have succeeded to the throne of Egypt. We cannot be sure of that, though it may have been so. The son of a princess has noble rank and grand opportunities. Wealth was evidently to be had: the treasures of Egypt were before him. Honour was his already, and as he grew older titles would multiply upon him. But he said firmly, “No; I cannot be an Egyptian. I am an Israelite, and I prefer the privileges which come to me from Father Abraham to those which come by Pharaoh’s daughter. I cannot relinquish my part in the promise and the covenant, but I can and will relinquish all the honours which come of Pharaoh’s court.” He did so: deliberately did so. “He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”
A great many would say— What a fool he was to give up what others covet! I fear that many of you professors would not lose a situation for Christ. Some of you could not lose a shilling a week of extra pay for the Lord. Ah me, this is a miserable age! Go with a lancet throughout these Isles, and you could not get enough martyr-blood to fill a thimble. Backbones are scarce, and grit is a rare article. Men do not care to suffer for Christ; but they must be respectable, they must vote in the majority, they must go with the committee, and be thought well of for their charity. As to standing up and standing out for Christ, it is looked upon as an eccentricity, or worse. To-day if a young man proposed to sacrifice his position for Christ’s sake, father, and mother, and friends would all say: “Do not think of such a thing. Be prudent. Do not throw away your chance.” Once men could die for conscience sake: but conscience is nowadays viewed as an ugly thing, expensive and hampering. No doubt many advised Moses to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he steadily refused. He deliberately divested himself of his rank that he might be numbered with the down-trodden people of God.
For a moment, I will show you some of the arguments which Moses must have had to meet. In his own mind, when having come to years, he began to think the matter over, many arguments would arise and demand reply. The first argument would be, “You will be acting very unkindly to your adopted mother— What will she say? She drew you out of the water when you might have been drowned; she took you home, she saw that you were nursed and cared for, she has had you trained and educated. She has spent no end of money on you; there is nothing you could wish for but what she has supplied it: her heart is entwined in yours: and now, having come to years, if you refuse to be called her son, it will be a very sad return for her love.” Natural affection has often proved a serious difficulty in the way of grace. The Lord Jesus has said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and many are thus unworthy.” In the case of Moses, a sense of honour would join with affection. He knew that it was right to refuse to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; but still, there was something to be said on the other side; for how could he disown a tie which the hands of love had fastened? Could he rend that fond connection? Could he persist in saying, “I am no Egyptian”? I doubt not that he felt, “I should be playing the hypocrite if I professed to be of Egypt, and I must tell the princess as gently as I can, but still most firmly, that I cannot be called by her name; for I am the son of Amram, of the tribe of Levi, of the seed of Jacob.” Moses was an Israelite indeed, and he would not conceal his nationality nor renounce it by becoming a naturalized Egyptian. Though it should tear the heartstrings of his foster-mother, and be even as a sentence of death to himself, yet he would take his stand. Moses thus proved his faith to be stronger than that of many who are mastered by family ties, and held captive by the bonds of earthly love. Unequal yoking is the ruin of thousands. The friendship of the world is the blight of piety. Happy are they who love Jesus more than all!
Next, there would come before the mind of Moses the plausible argument, “Providence has led you where you are, and you ought to keep your position.” When Moses looked back he saw a remarkable providence watching over him in the ark of bulrushes, and bringing the Egyptian princess down to that particular part of the Nile to bathe. How singular that she should see the ark, and save the life of the weeping babe! Could he fly in the teeth of providence by relinquishing the high position so specially bestowed? Thus would flesh and blood reason. How often have I heard people excuse themselves for doing wrong by quoting what they call providence! Arguments from providence against positive commands are ingenious deceptions. Providence is of God, but the lesson which we draw from it may be of the devil. When Jonah wanted to flee to Tarshish he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish. How providential! Nothing of the sort. When Cain killed his brother Abel was it providence which found the club? Whenever a man wants to do wrong he will find opportunities at hand; but let him not excuse his wickedness by the apparent opportunity for it. Be afraid of that kind of providence which makes sin easy. When a providence comes across you in doing right, do not give over your gracious purpose, but know that it is sent to try you, whether you can serve the Lord under difficulty. A providence which chimes in with your natural inclination may be a stone of stumbling by which your hypocrisy will be made clear. Moses felt that providence did bring him into Pharaoh’s court, but he also felt that it brought him there that he might be put to the test to see whether he would come out of it for the Lord’s sake. Do not believe in the reasoning which suggests that providence would have us slide along an easy, though evil, way. Providence, if it be read aright, never tempts to sin, though it may put before us trials for our faith. Our rule of life is the commandment of the Lord, not the doubtful conclusions which may be drawn from providences.
Yet another argument may have met Moses, for it is one which I have heard repeated till I am sick of answering it. Moses could do a deal of good by retaining his position. What opportunities for usefulness would be in his way! See how he could help his poor brethren! How often he could interpose at the court to prevent injustice! Moreover, what a bright fight he would be in his high position: his example would commend the faith of the true God to the courtiers and great ones; nobody could tell what an influence would thus be exercised upon Egypt. Pharaoh himself might be converted, and then all Egypt would bow before Jehovah. Thus have we met with brethren who say, “Yes, I am in a church with which I do not agree; but then, I can be so useful.” Another cries, “I know that a certain religious Union is fostering evil; but then, I can serve the cause by staying in it.” Another is carrying on an evil trade, but he says, “It is my livelihood; and besides, it affords me opportunities of doing good!” This is one of the most specious of those arguments by which good men are held in the bonds of evil. As an argument, it is rotten to the core. We have no right to do wrong, from any motive whatever. To do evil that good may come is no doctrine of Christ, but of the devil. Fallen nature may maunder in that way, but the grace of God delivers us from such wicked sophistry. Whatever good Moses might have thought that he could do in a false position, he had faith enough to see that he was not to look to usefulness, but to righteousness. Whatever the results may be, we must leave them with God, and do the right at all cost.
But, dear friends, do you not think that Moses might have made a compromise? That idea is very popular. “Now then, Moses, do not be too strict. Some people are a deal too particular. Those old-fashioned puritanical people are narrow and strait-laced: be liberal and take broader views. Cannot you make a compromise? Tell Pharaoh’s daughter you are an Israelite, but that, in consequence of her great kindness, you will also be an Egyptian. Thus you can become an Egypto-Israelite— what a fine blend! Or say an Israelito-Egyptian— with the better part in the front. You see, dear friends, it seems a simple way out of a difficulty, to hold with the hare and run with the hounds. It saves you from unpleasant decisions and separations. Besides, Jack-of-both-sides has great praise from both parties for his large-heartedness. I admire this in Moses, that he knew nothing of compromise; but first he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and secondly, he made a deliberate choice rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” My hearers, come out, I pray you, one way or the other. If God be God, serve him; if Baal be God, serve him. If it is right to be an Israelite, be an Israelite; if it is right to be an Egyptian, be an Egyptian. None of your trimming. It will go hard with trimmers at the last great day. When Christ comes to divide the sheep from the goats, there will be no middle sort. There is no place for trimmers. Modern thought is trying to make a purgatory, but as yet the place is not constructed, and meanwhile you border people will be driven down to hell. May God grant us grace to be decided!
Notice the lot which Moses chose. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he chose to take his portion with the oppressed, reproached, and ridiculed Israelites. I want you to see the terms in which his judgment is expressed; for no doubt the Holy Spirit tells us exactly how Moses put it in his own mind. He chose rather to suffer “affliction with the people of God.” Does not that alter it wonderfully? “Affliction” nobody would choose; but “affliction with the people of God,” ah! that is another business altogether. “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I choose the “great tribulation,” not because I like it, but because these came out of it, and have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” “Affliction with the people of God” is affliction in glorious company. I was reading the other day the life of John Philpot, who was shut up in Bishop Bonner’s coal-hole in Fulham Palace. There he and his friends sang psalms so merrily that the Bishop chided them for their mirth. They could have quoted apostolical authority for singing in prison. When there were seven of them, Philpot wrote: “I was carried to my Lord’s coal-house again, where I, with my six fellow prisoners, do rouse together in the straw as cheerfully, we thank God, as others do in their beds of down.” To be with the people of God, one would not mind being in the coal-hole. No one wants to be in Bonner’s coal-hole; but better be there with the martyrs than upstairs in the palace with the Bishop. To hear the saints’ holy talk, and sing with them their gladsome psalms, and with them behold the angel of the covenant, is a very different thing from mere suffering or imprisonment. “With the people of God”: that is the sweet which kills the bitter of affliction. Nobody here wants to go into a burning fiery furnace; but none of us would refuse to be there with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and that “fourth” who was “like unto the Son of God.” I admire this in Moses, that he does not look at half a thing; he views it all round, and, having seen it all, he forms his judgment. He did not choose affliction for its own sake, but affliction with the people of God he preferred to the pleasures of sin.
Note the next expression: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” Nobody desires reproach for its own sake; but “the reproach of Christ” is a very different matter. That gives a new flavour to it. Nobody wants to stand up in yonder pillory, where everybody is hurling mud and filth at the object of their scorn; but tell me that the sufferer is the Lord Jesus Christ, and I will find you a host of volunteers to stand with him and gather honour by sharing in his dishonour. “The reproach of Christ.” Why, that is glory! Thus Moses placed things in their right light, and they seemed to undergo a complete change.
Now, notice what he said about the baits upon the other side: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” See! he calls the pleasures of the court “the pleasures of sin.” Why, Moses, you need not fall into vice. You could be an Egyptian, and yet be chaste, and honest, and sober, and just, and good. Yes, but he regards his proposed life as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter as full of “the pleasures of sin.” Now, mark this: If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it becomes your duty decidedly to come out and stand on his side; and if you do not do so, the pleasures derived from your sin of omission will be the pleasures of sin. You are living a life of disloyalty to Christ, and that is a life of sin. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”; that is to say, if you have not faith that you are doing right, you are doing wrong; and as Moses could not feel that he was doing right by being an Egyptian, whatever pleasure he might have gained from his remaining at court would have been “the pleasure of sin.” Then note the word, “For a season.” Did you hear the tolling of a bell? It was a knell. It spoke of a new-made grave. This is the knell of earthly joy— “For a season!” Honoured for doing wrong— “For a season!” Merry in evil company— “For a season!” Prosperous through a compromise— “For a season!” What after that season? Death and judgment.
Note once again, that Moses spoke about treasures; and as a great man in Egypt, he knew what wealth there was in the land; but he qualifies the treasures by saying, “treasures in Egypt.” For an Israelite those treasures were nothing, since they were in a foreign land. Treasures in the land that floweth with milk and honey— these were real treasures; but treasures in Egypt were a mockery. Moses shakes his head at them. He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. So, you see, most deliberately, with great discrimination, Moses made his choice and kept to it, and God blessed him in it. He was preserved in the ark of grace from the hand of the enemy, and was drawn out of the waters of temptation to be consecrated to the high service of God.
III. I want, in the last place, hurriedly to say that MOSES SHOULD BE IMITATED BY US.
First, brethren, we should have Moses’ faith. The things which Moses believed are true; and therefore ought still to be believed. They are as important to-day as when he believed them; let us lay hold upon them, and feel their practical bearings this very morning. Young men especially, I entreat you to believe in God, and in his work of grace among his people, that you may be numbered with his chosen now, and in the day of his appearing.
Next, we must imitate Moses in this, that if we do believe we must come out on the Lord’s side. Now that you have “come to years,” do let it be seen on whose side you are. Let there be no doubt, no hesitation, no vacillation; but let those who see you in the house or in business know that you are on the Lord’s side.
Let me exhort you also to see things in the eternal light. Do not look at things in their bearings upon to-day, or to-morrow, or the next few years. Judge by eternity. For the present the good man may be a loser. You must look further than your foot. Take the measuring line of the sanctuary, and use it when you judge of spiritual things.
Note another important matter: I pray that you may get into fellowship with Christ. Oh to know Christ and love him, to have him to be your Saviour, and then to feel that you can wear the reproach of Christ as a Chain of gold! This is a great help in the life of a tried child of God.
Dear friend, if you are a believer in Christ, give yourself up to God without reserve: say, “I will follow thee, my Lord, through flood or flame. I will follow thee up hill or down dale. I will follow wherever the Lord shall lead the way. I will follow at all cost and hazard.” Say this in your soul. Take God for your all in poverty and disgrace. Take God on the bleak winter’s day, and say: “I am resolved, God helping me, to do his will.”
If you do this, you cannot tell what God has in store for you, nor need you give it a consideration. Moses, after all, was not a loser by his self-denial. He became King in Jeshurun, and was more than a monarch in the wilderness. He refused to be Pharaoh’s son, but in the Book of Exodus God said to him: “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh.” Egypt’s haughty monarch feared his plagues, and entreated his intercession. The Lord made Moses so great, that among those who are born of woman he ranks among the first unto this day. Even in heaven he is remembered; for they sing “the song of Moses the servant of God and of the Lamb.” Young man, if you give yourself unto the Lord you can little guess what he will do with you. What you lose will be a mere trifle compared with what you will gain. As to honour, all honour and glory lie in the service of the Most High.
I am come to this pass, my brethren— whether I sink or whether I swim, I am the Lord’s! By his grace I will believe his Word and cling to its inspiration, whether the Lord shall roll away my reproach or not. I would say with the three holy children, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” With Job my heart has said: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Be this the resolve of each one, for Christ’s sake. Amen.