"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 recompense of the reward." (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Perhaps, above all other Old Testament believers, Moses is the example of faith best suited to us. Those men of God who are mentioned in the first part of this chapter are all examples to be followed. But we cannot literally do what most of them did. We follow them in spirit, but not in deed. God has not called us to offer up a literal sacrifice, like Abel. God has not called us to build a literal ark, like Noah. God has not called us to literally leave our homeland and families, to dwell in tents, or to offer up our Isaac, like Abraham. But the faith of Moses exactly tallies with the experience of all God’s saints. Moses’ faith made him walk in the same path, make the same sacrifices, and endure the same trials as true faith requires of us today. As it was with Moses, so it is with all believers. True faith in the heart manifests itself by certain characteristics of life.
Moses gave up some things he would have preferred not to give up. Here we are told that Moses gave up three things for the sake of his soul. He could not have followed Christ; he could not have been saved, had he kept them. So he gave them up. He sat down, counted the cost of following Christ, and willingly paid the price of doing so. Moses made three of the greatest sacrifices a man could ever make.
First, Moses gave up rank, position, and greatness. – “When he was come to years, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” We are told, by tradition, that Pharaoh had but one daughter, his only child; and that Moses was her only child. She had adopted him as her son. He was next in line for the throne of Egypt, the greatest nation in the world. He could have been a great man, the most powerful, influential man in the world. But Moses refused it. This was a very great sacrifice. He refused the throne of Egypt. He forsook his family, a mother whom he loved. And he made this decision when he was a man of forty years of age.
Second, Moses gave up earthly ease and pleasure. The pleasures he gave up would have been for other men matters of indifference, involving no sin in themselves. They were simply the pleasures of wealth, security, comfort, luxury, and ease of life. But for Moses, they would have been “the pleasures of sin,” because they were contrary to the will of God. This, too, was a great sacrifice. Moses gave up that which all men and women of all ages and social conditions most naturally seek. – Pleasure!
And, third, Moses gave us great riches. “The treasures of Egypt” would have been his. This, I dare say, was his greatest sacrifice. Most men are far more willing to give up both position and pleasure than give up prosperity. Yet, Moses did not give away only a portion of his wealth. He gave up all his wealth.
Consider how great these sacrifices were. He gave up all of these things, position, pleasure, and prosperity, all at one time. He gave them up deliberately, as a wise, well-educated, mature man, a full forty years old (Acts 7:22). His was not a hasty, rash decision, made in an emotional moment, but a deliberate, willful, calculated choice.
He was in no way obliged to give these things up. Pharaoh did not disown him. The children of Israel did not beg him to become their leader. He was not a dying man, who was about to leave the world, and therefore willing to give it up. He was not a beggar, who had no rightful claim to or hope for these things. He was not an old man, who could no longer enjoy these things. Moses willingly made these sacrifices, for the honor of God and the good of his people, hoping for and expecting nothing in return.
Moses chose some things he would have preferred not to choose. His choices were as great as his sacrifices. He chose to walk in a path that was completely contrary to the flesh, contrary to worldly wisdom, and contrary to personal desire. The Holy Spirit tells us that Moses chose three things. They were hard, costly choices. But they were necessary to the salvation of his soul. The things Moses chose did not in any way merit, earn, or cause his salvation. But had he not done these things, he could not have been saved (James 2:17; Matt. 6:14-15). Obedience to Christ is necessary.
First, Moses chose a path of affliction and suffering. – Conflict instead of comfort – Adversity instead of prosperity – Sorrow instead of satisfaction – Pain instead of peace – Suffering instead of solace.
Second, he chose the company of God’s despised people. He left his family and friends and became one with the people of God. Their troubles became his troubles. Their sorrows became his sorrows. Moses not only preferred God’s despised people to the people of this world, he preferred God’s people to himself.
And, third, Moses chose a path of reproach and scorn. He was mocked, belittled, ridiculed, and laughed at. He was the joke of Egypt. He saw reproach and scorn before him, and deliberately chose them. For most, little is as difficult to face as scorn and ridicule.
Never was there a man, but the God-man, who made such sacrifices and choices as Moses. He gave up a king’s throne and chose a slave’s rags. He gave up the king’s palace for a place among God’s people. He gave up riches for poverty. He gave up respectability and chose reproach. Why would any sane, reasonable man make such choices?