THE MANY FACES OF FAITH: MOSES
Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 8, 2019
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. 29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
— Hebrews 11:23-31, ESV
When you look into the face of Moses, what do you see? I see Carlton Heston, who played him so authoritatively in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” I see a majestic, stony, white-haired face, almost like the face of God.
In his day, Moses was the face of God to the Israelites, and well as God’s mouth and hands. His legend lived on throughout the history of Holy Scripture, as his name appears more times in the Bible (848) than anyone else except for God and King David.
When someone is larger than life it is hard to picture them as a helpless little baby, or a mischievous adolescent, or a privileged young adult who did not have a serious job until he was 40. But that is the face of Moses, one of the truly great faces of faith, a faith that grew and developed at every stage of life.
The Faith in Moses’ Baby Face
The writer of Hebrews, in inducting Moses into the Hall of Faith, starts off sounding like Moses had faith from birth, and indeed he did. But it was not his faith, it was his parents’ faith, that soon enough would become his.
Thank God for godly parents! Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, were devout, God-fearing, Old Testament Jews from the tribe of Levi who lived at the end of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. They lived in the land of Goshen in a forced labor camp devoted to building the Egyptian pyramids and other great architectural wonders. In spite of their circumstances, or perhaps because of them, they had great faith in God and prayed for God to send them a deliverer. God answered their prayer in a very personal way, giving them a son who would eventually lead Israel out of Egypt to the border of the Promised Land.
At the time of Moses’ birth, Amram and Jochebed already had two children, Miriam and Aaron. Because the population of the Israelites was growing too large for the Egyptians to control, the Egyptians issued an edict that all male Hebrew children should be thrown into the Nile River at birth. These faithful parents actually obeyed the decree with Moses, only they pitched him into the river in a pitch-sealed basket, where he floated until he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and adopted. It was the only way that Moses could have lived, and live, and live faithfully, he did.
We shall look in a moment at the rest of Moses’ life, a life of great, great faith. But look where his faith began, as it does with so many of the faithful. His faith in God began with faithful and godly parents, in a nuclear family designed by God, with God at the center of family life.
I have read statistics as high as 90%, but the fact is that most people of faith come from faithful families. Those who are born to born again parents are almost all born again themselves. Those who leave the nest without God rarely fly to where He can be found. Grace grants many exceptions, of course, but I would not want to be a parent and stand before God one day having failed to teach and model to my children a true faith in God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Faith in Moses’ Adolescent Face
Like the caricature of today’s millennials, Moses did not move out of his adoptive parents’ basement or find his purpose in life until he was 40. This means he had a long adolescence. Moses was a child of privilege, Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, but he was also aware of his heritage as a Hebrew and knew the members of his biological family.
Moses knew the great difference between Egyptian and Jewish culture, morals, and religion. He knew the difference between the mythological Egyptian gods and the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He knew allegiance to Egypt would bring him great fortune and fame, while aligning with the Hebrews could mean slavery and poverty. He knew one day he would have to make a fateful choice, which he eventually made in faith.
A child has his or her choices made for them. Adolescence is the growing process of learning to make decisions on your own. The simplicity of choice lies with the ultimate answer of either yes or no. The complexity is the basis behind the answer, whether it be selfish desire, conformity to the community, or the higher power of God.
For years Moses had said “yes” to Egypt, her power, her luxury, her soft and easy life. “No” quelled any thoughts of moving back to Goshen with the lowly Israelites. But one day, the day great faith came to Moses, grace enabled him to refuse Egypt and their pleasures and choose God and His people.
This is the day Moses became a man, a man of great faith. He was not a perfect man with perfect faith. Adolescent faith is like that. His imperfect faith resulted in crimes and misdemeanors and a long flight into the wilderness. It was in the wilderness, however, where his faith developed and emerged into one of the most significant faces of faith of all time.
The Faith in Moses’ Adult Face
Moses became a man in Midian. He married, had children, and took up shepherding as a vocation. His faith grew strong, although it took another 40 years. But when God was ready to call Moses to his ultimate life’s work, Moses was ready, with a strong, mature faith.
Faith goes where God says to God and does what God says to do. Faith cannot be separated from faithfulness, for you cannot really have one if you do not demonstrate the other. By faith a person can trust God and do legendary things, like Moses.
God called Moses to go back to Egypt, where he could face slavery or death. Moses went. God called Moses to gather the struggling souls of Israel to stand up to the Egyptians and demand their freedom. They did, and they got it. God called Moses to trust Him for this great deliverance and give Him the glory. Moses, in the keeping of the Passover, kept faith in God, kept a faithful people for God, and watched the awful judgement of God upon His enemies.
Great faith does great things. But I think I would be remiss if I did not add another caveat to faith, and I think Moses would want me to add it, for he was the meekest man on earth. By faith a person can trust God to do great things. On the other hand, by faith a person can swallow their pride and obey God in doing the small things that no one else may notice. Behind the faithful face of Moses are a million men and women who quietly love, obey, and serve the Lord, in a faith that goes from infancy to adolescence to adulthood and beyond.
The Faith in Moses’ Dying Face
It took yet another 40 years for Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. Before they crossed the threshold, Moses died. But his faith did not die. Faith never does. It passes on from generation to generation.
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, but it was Moses’ faith he fought it with, a faith that was passed on to him and his house. Rahab became a new person of faith before that fateful battle, because she had heard the word of God about Moses. Rahab, also a member of the Hall of Faith, married into the tribe of Judah and became an ancestor of the only two men more mentioned and beloved than Moses, King David, and, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The face of faith is many faces. It is a baby face, a kid’s face, a beautiful woman’s face, an old man’s face. It is a Jewish face and a Gentile face. It is the remembered face of a person who died a long time ago, it is the fresh face of a new convert welcomed into the life of the church. It is your face, if by grace through faith you have trusted and obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
By the way, if you have faith in Jesus and long to see His face, remember Moses’ face, too. His face of faith paved the way for yours.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org