By G. Andre
When Moses had reached the age of forty it came into his heart to visit his brethren. He went out to them, looking on their burdens. Certainly he had not learned at the court of Pharaoh that these despised Hebrews were his brethren – still less that God had made promises about them (Gen. 15:13-14). However, the teaching received from his parents was still deep-rooted in his heart.
The day of decision arrived. It seems when he was to be officially called “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24 JND), Moses refused! Moses’ decision involved immense loss in terms of an honored position, material advantages, riches and many pleasures.
Similarly, we live in a day when we must be able to say “no.” Joseph’s action in Genesis 39:10 illustrates this. In a situation where a wholehearted decision to cling to the LORD was required in order to refuse, break off and go away from temptation, he triumphed by God’s grace.
Even if we are never called to give up all that was refused by Moses, we can be sure that we will face tempting circumstances. Some material advantages of this sinful world will have to be declined so they may not stand in the way of our fellowship with the people of God – even if such a decision involves a measure of self-denial.
This takes more than the negative side of renouncing or rejecting. Moses “chose.” What did he choose? He chose “to suffer affliction along with the people of God” (Heb. 11:25). Although our level of decision may not reach to that of Moses, we also will find many opportunities to choose in favor of those whom the Lord loves.
The Word says that the pleasures of sin are only for a time, “but he that does the will of God abides for eternity” (1 Jn. 2:17). Moses’ renunciation and choice would later confer on him the authority necessary to ask others, especially his own people, to do the same in their measure.
Hebrews 11 gives us some insight into the heart of Moses and reveals to us the secret that prompted his faith. He did not choose by sheer force of will or through self-denial, but because he “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” That which pertained to Christ (although no doubt only in figure) had more value for Moses’ heart than everything else. It was a greater treasure!
Moses thought that his brethren would certainly admire his devotion to their cause. He supposed that they would understand that God would deliver them up through his hand. What terrible disappointment! They did not understand (Acts 7:25). The very Israelite whom he was reproving for wronging his neighbor pushed him away. What was the good of having “refused,” “chosen,” and “esteemed” if this was the result?
Fearing Pharaoh, Moses fled to Midian and sat down near a well. There the most bitter reflections must have weighed on his mind, but he did not lose courage. As he witnessed the mistreatment to which the daughters of Reuel were exposed, he did not remain engrossed in his own pain but came to their help. Thus he remained in character both a deliverer and a servant.
How was all that possible? Hebrews 11:26 reveals it: He was looking to the reward. His eyes were not focused on the immediate future with its lost advantages and ongoing afflictions. Even at the well of Midian and in the depth of distress, his actions proved that faith was enduring in his heart. He was looking farther ahead and higher up. In fact, the path which he had begun to walk was to lead him to the song of triumph at the Red Sea, the revelations of Sinai, the glory reflected on his face, the intimate relationship with the Lord on Pisgah and finally the glorious appearing on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There is another side to this account. Before going out the first time to his brethren in Egypt he did not consult the LORD. The LORD’s time had not yet come for the people or for Moses. It was in his own strength that Moses was going, and this way did not exclude the fear of men. On the contrary, “he turned this way and that way” (Ex. 2:12).
However, in Midian under quiet conditions and alone with God, he was trained as a shepherd just as Jacob and Joseph had been trained before him and as David would yet be trained. Moses’ faith was real and deep, but he needed to pass through God’s schooling to serve for His glory.